Singapore’s Startup Scene

Singapore’s startup ecosystem has been ranked among the Top 10 in the world, and even more opportunities are bubbling up. In the last year, the coordination between SPRING Singapore, the Economic Development Board, the Ministry of Manpower, and others, has improved so that many valuable resources are available to entrepreneurs who need some support as they get going. Co-working spaces are becoming more readily available (and, if you have seen The Hub’s new location, they are also becoming much nicer!). Hackathons and other events organized by firms like Padang & Co offer startups a chance to show what they can do and continue building their skills. Venture capitalists are getting more active on the island, and companies like Bridge & Tower International are helping entrepreneurs make the leap into new markets beyond Singapore.

When I taught university in Singapore in 2008-2009 I thought the culture could really help young entrepreneurs. Given that most Singaporeans live with their family at least until they are married, rather than moving out after finishing school, they had a built-in safety net — you could explore something new while knowing you would always have a roof over your head and food on the table as you got your business going. At that point, though, there seemed to be a tendency among some younger folks to use that merely as a chance to wake up late, play video games, go to the gym, then out with friends, followed by more of the same tomorrow. Those days seem to be gone. Undergraduates are starting their own companies while still in school, and parents seem to be more open to the idea of their kids not aiming to be finance professionals but instead focusing on building their own business early on.

Arnaud Bonzom published a great resource this week for anyone working in, or trying to break into, the startup scene. His Singapore Startup Ecosystem and Entrepreneur Toolbox SlideShare features 100 pages of agencies, incubators, VCs, resources for startups, and a list of “100 people you should know” which is very eye-opening. This is a great tool for anyone at the early stages of a business, or for people outside the country looking to expand their business into Singapore.

It’s a great time to create your own company in Singapore (and it does not have to be a tech company — there are opportunities for small businesses that do so many things!). Entrepreneurs should set some goals for themselves, identify their own capabilities, look for the support and resources they need to fill any gaps, and then start moving forward. Why wait?

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