Organised by nEbO, the Youth Entrepreneurship Symposium (YES) is a youth-run symposium targeting youths aged 17 to 25 who are keen in enterprising. YES has been steadily growing and 2016 marks their 9th year in action. The symposium took place on 11, 13 to 15 June at the National University of Singapore, School of Business.

Three reasons why YES 2016 was such a great learning experience:

1. Established speakers and entrepreneurs

A significant number of established entrepreneurs attended YES 2016. Participants were given the opportunity to interact with them during panel discussions. One aspect of YES 2016 I found commendable was the inclusion of social enterprises. For one of the panel discussions, the invited panelists came from various social enterprises. They shared their motivation behind joining social entreprises and the difficulties they faced in their respective work. They also took on challenging questions such as “should we ensure profitability before looking at social mission?” and “is the term ‘social enterprise’ being mis-used by some?”. I could tell that I must have enjoyed the session to have remembered so much of it.

Besides the social aspect, I was also glad to see Ms. Rachel Lim from Love, Bonito. I first heard about Love, Bonito when I was in secondary school. My school had managed to invite one of its founders to give us a talk on their enterprising experience. As a 15 or 16-year-old myself back then, I was really amazed by this group of youths who dared to pursue their dream at such a young age.

2. Hands-on practice

I personally think that the most exciting component of YES 2016 was the Quick Pitch Challenge. Each team had to present their business plan in front of 2 judges who had a wealth of experience in the ‘real world’. They have tried and tested their ideas, met obstacles and roadblocks, and subsequently overcome them.

After the quick pitch, I could not help but wonder how many of us had a reality check. I certainly did and I was glad that one of our judges was from the industry we were pitching the idea for: F&B, hawker heritage. From his body language and the questions he raised, I could tell he was genuinely interested to know more about our idea and it was really encouraging. At the same time, he was also familiar with the challenges of the industry; one of his concerns was on the food delivery cost.

The Quick Pitch Challenge was meant to stimulate the pitching process entrepreneurs go through to seek interested partners and investors. To carry out the quick pitch, each team has to carve out a unique selling point that makes the business different from those existing on the market, build feasible marketing strategies and plan the finances well. Essentially, reality check begins not on quick pitch day but when the team starts brainstorming their very first business idea on day 1.

3. Exchange of ideas

Besides having a wide network of speakers and entrepreneurs attending this symposium, YES 2016 also had a considerable number of participants whom we could exchange contacts and ideas with. Altogether, 300 students from various tertiary institutions – Institutes of Technical Education, Junior Colleges, Polytechnics and Universities – attended the symposium. During our Quick Pitch Challenge, teams from the same orientation group sat in each other’s presentations and gained insights from each other. A few teams even had prototypes made and this showed the amount of hard work teams went through to make their businesses come true. After the Quick Pitch Challenge, we proceeded to the lecture theatre to listen to the finalists’ presentations. Lastly, the organising team also arranged for a networking dinner so that we could interact with other students as well as speakers and entrepreneurs.

In our journey in YES 2016, my team had to come up with a business plan within 2 weeks, I gave my first ever quick pitch and I discovered how difficult it is to start our own business. It was an eye-opening experience that I am really glad to have gone through (:

For more event photos, click here