NUS Business graduate finds opportunity in the face of adversity

For Joshua Ng, enrolling in NUS was a distant dream in his secondary school days due to financial adversities. Growing up, Joshua lived with his parents in a 2-room HDB flat. During his secondary school days, Joshua helped to defray his living expenses by making notes and giving tuition for A-level students taking Principles of Accounts. Unbeknownst to him then, this was the beginning of an inspirational road to becoming an entrepreneur.

During secondary school, Joshua excelled in a business-related subject known as Principles of Accounts, which he attained a distinction for during O-levels in 2014. However, having placed too much emphasis on his subject of interest he scored 34 points for his L1R5.

But that did not deter him from maintaining his keen interest in business. He enrolled into Republic Polytechnic’s Sports and Leisure Management course as many of the modules were related to business. Putting in long hours into his studies, Joshua excelled academically and even obtained an additional Diploma Plus Certificate in International Business (DPCIB) from Republic Polytechnic.

While enrolled in Republic Polytechnic, he co-founded a pantry management company, putting the business-related modules of his course of study to work. “It was a subscription-based venture where companies would pay monthly to get snacks and drinks replenished in their pantries, as well as free pantry equipment rentals,” said the 25-year-old. 

His stellar polytechnic results earned him a place in NUS Business School in 2019, where he picked a specialisation close to his heart – Innovation and Entrepreneurship. It was as close to his dream course as possible, given his strong passion for business.

During his time at NUS, Joshua received financial aid in the form of the Kwai Fong and Raymond Goh Scholarship, Higher Education Community Bursary and NUS Bursary.

“I chose NUS Business School as there was a lot of flexibility in how I could arrange my modules. Coupled with the financial help from the scholarship and bursaries in covering the tuition fees and daily expenses, I was able to focus on my studies and embark on solopreneurship while doing both fieldwork and research for my honours programme,” he explained.

When COVID-19 hit, he was forced to close the pantry management company down with offices being emptied out. But after experiencing the rush of building a business, he didn’t give up and went on to start another company called OfficeBud.

In fact, OfficeBud, a cloud-based employee experience platform, came out of a class project at NUS. The business idea was developed at The Hangar, NUS Enterprise’s start-up and entrepreneurial incubator, and early customers of OfficeBud included big names such as digital media giant DoubleVerify. Joshua also partnered with other start-ups, such as Immortalize.io, an eldercare start-up that he worked with during an entrepreneurship module that he took at NUS Business School.

“The Hangar provided me with a lot of support, like legal support,” said Joshua. “I was also able to join various business competitions through The Hangar.”

But while OfficeBud was successful, it shut down in January 2023 due to bugs in the system that were too costly to resolve. Despite the second body blow, he didn’t give up this time either.

His never-say-die attitude is evident even in his academic performance. Driven and diligent, he made it to his school’s Dean’s List two years in a row. Today, he continues to work with his professors on research projects and remains active in the start-up sphere.

For instance, he still freelances with Immortalize.io, and collaborates with Associate Professor Sarah Cheah of NUS Business School on a research project. 

He credits NUS as having been a big part of his entrepreneurship journey so far. “I learnt how to carve out a niche. NUS helped frame my mindset as an entrepreneur,” he said.

And he’s not quite done yet.

“Combining solopreneurship with freelance work provides me with a unique path of freedom and flexibility to work with, while creating value for people,” he added.

He is also grateful for his groupmates he had come across through his course of study at NUS as well as his Field Service Project team who were instrumental in his success.

Joshua will be receiving his Bachelor of Business Administration degree with Honours (Highest Distinction) on 12 July 2023. In recognition of his outstanding academic performance, he will be awarded the KLP medal and prize (Innovation and Entrepreneurship) as the best graduating student in his specialisation.

This story is part of NUS News’ coverage of Commencement 2023, which celebrates the achievements of our more than 14,700 graduates from the Class of 2023. For more on Commencement, read our stories and graduate profiles, check out the official Commencement website, or look up and tag #NUS2023 on our social media channels!