By Cheng Su Qi
Finally, the long-anticipated annual Youth Entrepreneurship Symposium (YES) 2017 is over! The 3.5-days symposium, by nEbO, was jam-packed with various keynotes conducted by entrepreneurs from different industries – ranging from the F&B industry to the digital industry.
As a participant, I was taken aback by the number of speakers invited to speak to us. The speakers gave genuine sharing in the process of starting-up, as well as the troubles and rewards they faced in their respective start-ups. One common view held by most speakers is “Starting-up is hard. But extremely rewarding.” Indeed, alongside my team members, Corrine and Donovan – we had a small taste of ideating and planning for a start-up. It was not easy, but the experience we received was invaluable.
YES 2017 gave us a platform to concretize abstract plans that we had. We went through various ideas and revenue models, before deciding on the idea of a mobile gym – a novel concept that we believed would interest the judges and serve the community of both able-bodied and physically-disabled individuals.
With the formation of our idea, we had the privilege of being mentored by various entrepreneurs. Our mentors offered us many suggestions and advice that shaped the way we thought about our final pitch. Additionally, they shared about the way they ran their start-ups. Many of our mentors had a common experience of starting-up and failing, but always picking themselves up and tweaking their business-idea based on consumer demands. Eventually, they succeeded and they shared that the rewarding experience comes not solely from the profit, but rather the lives they impacted with their business. The sheer drive they had in their respective start-ups was extremely tangible, inspiring all the teams they mentor.
On the last day, all teams had to pitch their final business idea to the judges. SNCF sent 4 teams that competed in the Co-operative sector. It was an eye-opener, witnessing the presentation of Co-operative business ideas by students from the Junior Colleges, Polytechnics as well as the Indonesian participants. Most teams had concrete ideas, with sustainable revenue models that could benefit the community they sought to serve. Really, age was not a limiting factor to the teams that were present. The excitement and believe they had in their ideas far outweighed the lack of experience each team had.
In the last quick pitch challenge, 6 teams were chosen out of 80 teams to present their ideas to a separate set of judges. I was particularly impressed by the Indonesian participants, as it was evident that they had prior planning for their start-ups before entering the symposium. In fact, some groups had already started on their ideas and were going on to phase 2 of their business proposals. Furthermore, the lack of good grasp in English did not prevent them from sharing their vision to the other teams. They presented with stunning visuals, and simple English, that effectively conveyed their ideas. It was not surprising that the top prize was eventually clinched by an Indonesian team, Tanujoy Co-op!.
Overall, the experience of YES 2017 was no doubt stressful, with the strong competition from the other teams. However, the knowledge and experience gained has left an indelible impression in me. Perfectly phrased by Donovan – our very own SNCF scholar, “Inspirational and thought-invoking, YES 2017 was an enriching experience that encompassed the entrepreneurship spirit and values.”
If you have an interest in entrepreneurship and starting up your own business, do keep a lookout on the SCOOP portal and nEbO website for further updates on any upcoming events!