Sunday, December 15, 2013

A fun learning experience with my Korean friends @ The Singapore Dream programme

This entry is written by DBIT Year 1 student, Sia Chen Ren who was one of 5 DBIT Year 1 students selected to participate in a 3 days special technopreneurship programme with a group of Korean students.

When not studying, Chen Ren loves to spend his time playing games such as DOTA2 and Planetside 2.  Chen Ren is very strong at programming and loves to code in Java / HTML etc.

Perhaps it is because he is an optimistic Leo by nature, or perhaps it is because of the motto he lives by "Nothing is impossible".  Whichever reason, Chen Ren is not a person who is afraid of failure.  "As Confucius says, 'Our great glory is not never falling, but in rising every time we fall'", he quips.  His dream is to have his own business one day.

Connect with Chen Ren at his Facebook profile to talk to him! :)

What is this event about?
Well, this event is an exchange programme focusing on technopreneurship with Korean students. The Korean students are here in Singapore to research on two things: 1) the policies that the Singapore government has put in place to help first-time entrepreneurs  2) the market in Singapore.

Group picture at Blk 71 Plug-in

Who are involved in this programme?
A total of 15 Korean students from various Korea Universities, 5 Korean teachers as mentors, 2 Korean professors and 5 Year 1 Singapore Polytechnic students and 1 Year 3 Singapore Polytechnic Student :)

What did you do over the 3 days?

For the first day, we met the Korean student at NUS Enterprise Plug-in@BLK71.

We started the session by giving a short self-introduction of ourselves. Thereafter, we listened to the Korean students' presentations of their objectives and mission on their trip to Singapore.

Subsequently,  the five DBIT Year 1 students were separated into groups and Richmond, our third-year senior was assigned as the surveillance and leader.  After all the ice-breaking, each team was dispersed to do our specific research.

My team went to City Hall to find the old Supreme Court.  Unfortunately, it was a futile trip as we discovered it was under construction!  After that we went to Suntec Tower One to have an interview with Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), to know more about the different initiatives that Korea and Singapore take to support foreign businesses.

Group photo at Kotra

On the second day, we met the Korean student at Joyful Frog Digital Incubator  (JFDI), also known as Just Fucking Do It. After meeting my team, we stayed in JFDI to interview some of the start-up entrepreneurs and CEOs of companies to find out what and why they decided to start-up in Singapore and the difficulties of starting up in Singapore.

After that we met up with two SMU students who are one of the Korean students' friends.  We proceeded to the Korean Embassy near Newton station to check if we could have an interview with one of the officers there.   Sadly, there were no officers available whom we could interview. Well, although it is an exchange programme, there should be some fun as well, hence we went for a walk around Raffles Place MBS (Marina Bay Sand) taking photos and chit-chatting. At 5.30 pm, we left MBS and travellted to Tanjong Pagar to meet up with other teams.  After meeting the other teams, we dined at a Korean restaurant in Amara Hotel.

Having dinner together

For the third day which is the last day, we met them at the Carlton Hotel lobby in the morning to help them out with the presentation slides, translation, etc. During the lunch break, we decided to take a 2 hour leave and travelled to Bugis to buy some souvenirs for them. After all the shopping and travelling, we went back to Plug-In to listen to their presentations of what they have learnt and discovered during the trip in Singapore with some Q&A. After dining at Plug-In, we became their tour guides and brought them to Orchard, Ion Mall to shop and enjoy until 9pm.

The different topics that each group gave presentations on

Chilling out

What did you learnt or what are your takeaways?

I learnt that you must enjoy what you do to bring out the best,  whether it is entrepreneurship or technopreneurship, it is about improving and solving problems of your product.

I also learnt that starting up a business is never easy although there are various policies to help you financially. You can never depend only Singapore to growth your business as the market is too small so always think big and global.  Someone told me this as well, if you only depend on market in Singapore, you will only die slowly.

Finally, I learnt some Korean words from my teammates! Another surprising thing I found out was that the Korean students seem to like Charles and Keith though this brand is not popular with our local girls.  I also learnt that I am quite a failed Singaporean as there are a few locations I am not familiar with.  Luckily, I have 4G and Google Maps to depend on :x

How have your views  changed after going through this programme?
I always thought that opening business is very easy in Singapore. This trip proved me wrong and you should never ever have the mind-set of having investment or investors as a main source of income for business as your business is targeting customer, not investors. There are always some communication barriers when expanding your business to foreign countries but it should never stop what you want to succeed.

Our Korean friends on MRT

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