I am not talking about the entrepreneur who sells red bun and starts yet another coffee shop. I am talking about technology entrepreneurs who create products, services, generate jobs and stimulate growth.
Singapore is probably the only country in the planet which has a Ministry of Entrepreneurship staffed by eminent and scholar Ministers. The first to head the Ministry in 2003 was Raymond Lim a Rhodes and a Colombo Plan scholar. Subsequently it was headed by Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan for a very short time before Lee Yi Shyan took over.
Despite such scholar Ministers, Singapore has had limited success as entrepreneurs and very less of technology and new media entrepreneurs. The Government has put in all kinds of incentives and generous funding.
My own assessment after having done some serious thinking is as follows:
- Few angel investors or Series A investors
- Start ups don’t collaborate and create partnership networks themselves
- Start ups don’t think global – they depend too much on the local market
- Big Singapore companies are not encouraging about start ups
- Start ups build business the traditional way – Not disrupting anyone
- They try to copy other successes blindly
- Clearly no game changing ambition
- Less idealistic, hence do not get the new business models.
- Excessive focus on making money quickly – No big picture or long term picture in mind
- Focus on sales, not on a compelling value proposition
- Start ups don’t even do simple, free marketing – blogs, viral marketing etc.
James Chan has some interesting observations and I would agree with all of them.
Does anyone have anything to add to this?
Isn’t is a paradox that we were once a nation of entrepreneurs? Our forefathers from China and India arrived here without any support with barely to survive and set up businesses. Even today the Chinese and Indians have successfully set up businesses not just in their own countries, but all over the world.
Where and how have we lost the spirit?