Start up, give back

19 October 2017 | Entrepreneurship
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Ms Tan (middle in grey cardigan) with the audience at one of her talks

In spite of the hard work involved in managing their respective companies, a number of start-up founders, such as Ms Tan Peck Ying of the pslove company and Mr Kenneth Lou of Seedly, return to NUS regularly to mentor current students.

Ms Tan Peck Ying is the Founder and CEO of the pslove company, which produces pain-relieving heat patches. A graduate from NUS Science, she attended the iLead programme in Singapore (now known as the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) in Singapore programme), where she was introduced to entrepreneurship.

“NUS was integral to my start-up journey, and I hope to pay it forward in any way I can so that the start-up community can become self-sustaining and can continue to flourish,” she said. Ms Tan even offered an internship in her company to a candidate whom she felt needed working experience in a start-up to enhance the latter’s skills for the NOC programme.

Mr Kenneth Lou, Co-Founder and CEO of Seedly, which helps individuals manage their money by leveraging the latest technology, believed that as a graduate from the NOC programme and NUS Business School (NUS Business), giving back is at his core. “Start-ups would not have otherwise existed if there was no support network of seniors helping juniors along the way,” he said.

I find satisfaction when students derive clarity in their direction and business through conversations we have.

Mentorship is one of the many forms of support that budding entrepreneurs at NUS receive. Entrepreneurial ambition here is nurtured through incubation programmes and spaces on and off campus, and bolstered by a global network of start-up communities, as well as access to funding and seed grants — all of which add to the dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem that was built over the years by NUS Enterprise.

Both Ms Tan and Mr Lou return to NUS regularly throughout the year and actively share their time and knowledge. Ms Tan speaks to a captivated audience in the start-up community some three to four times a year about her start-up journey, provides mentorship for student groups, and volunteers information on her company as a start-up case study. For the past few years, she has also been part of the selection panel that interviews candidates for NOC programmes.

A firm believer in mentoring, Ms Tan estimates that she has personally spent time with close to a hundred students and groups. Speaking of the joy she finds in mentoring, she said, “I find satisfaction when students derive clarity in their direction and business through conversations we have.” It is a win-win situation for both parties, she added, as most of the time, she would benefit from their perspectives, energy and passion.

Ms Tan has contributed her time at NUS Science as well. In 2017, she was invited by the Faculty to be a featured alumna during NUS Science Open House to mingle with potential students and share about her entrepreneurship journey.

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Mr Lou making a point at a talk

Since his graduation in 2016, Mr Lou has revisited NUS on more than 15 occasions including Startup@Singapore, Technopreneurship courses at NUS Business, and N-House Wicked Wednesdays, where he served as a panellist and mentor. In addition to panel sharing sessions and presentations on his “tough but fulfilling start-up journeys”, he has also been invited to one-to-one meetings with young founders from polytechnics and NUS Entrepreneurship Society to educate them about the framework which investors use in assessing start-ups. In all, he reckons he has spoken to some 300 participants over the years.

“Over these four years, I have seen at least three to four really serious entrepreneurs whom I have gone the extra mile to help with link-ups, connections and pointing them in the right direction,” said Mr Lou. One student whom Mr Lou is giving close guidance to is Year 2 NUS Business student Amos Goh, who created TaxiBot in his first year at the University. “I’m sharing with him more on how to properly balance studies and work-life, especially when both require a huge amount of effort to do well,” he said.

It is a revelation serving as a mentor, added Mr Lou, as one can discover more about oneself as well how to better communicate ideas.

 

This is the third article in a series by NUS News profiling young alumni who are sharing considerable time and energy to mentor a new generation of NUS students. The earlier articles in the series include: