3 Key Takeaways From An NUS Entrepreneurship Module As A Startup

3 of the members from Team Savour! took part in a virtual Demo Day to pitch to Mr Kelly Choo (Co-founder and CMO of Neeuro), Mr Alexander Kho (Investment management(Fund Raising) of CapitalLand Fund Management Pte Ltd), Ms Lauren Teo (Associate at Cocoon Capital), Mr Shrikant Patil (Investor at Bansea) and Mr Eugene Yeo (Regional Director(Jarkata) of Enterprise Singapore). This was part of NES Start Phase 2, an NUS entrepreneurship module co-created by students and faculty, which took place on 4th April 2020.

Throughout the span of 8 weeks, the Savour! team attended a slew of workshops focusing on early stage commercialisation with the curriculum including marketing, financials and route to market.

Team Savour! also attended mentorship sessions with experienced mentors, Ms Bethia Wee (Business Development & Partner Operations Team Lead of Fave) , Ms Elena Chow (Founder of ConnectOne) and Mr Kenneth Low (Entrepreneur in Residence at 500 Startups) who shared with us pretty valuable and insightful advice. Through this module, we were also graced with the opportunity to network with over 33 student entrepreneurs from 11 startups.

Here are 3 invaluable takeaways which we have gleaned from the module that we find applicable to our startup. These tips might also benefit you if you currently doing involved in a startup or intending to launch or work for one in the future.

1. Stay Focused
This is probably the most important reminder at every point of revisiting how far the startup has come since it was first started. Meeting customers and merchants will make you think deeply about whether the problem you are trying to solve is really the prioritised problem of both ends. For every meeting with different customers and merchants, you must take into account each of their concerns, and look at how you might be able to help them. This leads to generation of a list of new ideas and how you can incorporate these ideas into constantly iterating our startup idea to achieve product-market fit.

However, the fact remains that you cannot solve all and any needs. The market has different types of needs, in which different problems require different solutions. The market also has different types of customers, different habits, and many other different things. Instead of trying to solve every customer’s and merchant’s problem, develop a plan that allows room for continuous innovation. This way, the startup will be able to add on complementary solutions in the future. Hence, rather than test all the ideas that the team has brought to the table during the regular meetings, the team would analyse and narrow down on the ideas generated to then come up with a system that helps the team to weigh the pros and cons, evaluate the possible results achieved and finally prioritize which idea(s) to further work on.

2.Determine if your business is scalable
“I want our startup to grow!” That was our main goal initially as our team thought growing means scaling, but we were not quite right. There is in fact a great difference between growing and scaling. Growing refers to adding resources and gaining revenue at the same rate. While scaling refers to adding resources at an incremental rate while adding revenue at an exponential rate. Thus, increasing margin at a rapid rate within a few years.

In order for a business to scale, it is essential for a startup to have a minimum viable product (MVP) to validate the model. That means to show that there are customers who are willing to pay the full price for the product offered. It is not easy to build and scale a business model if the product offered requires high-support, as high-support products have low margin (less than 50%), high support and high manpower cost. Thus, at the initial phase of starting out, the founding team should ensure that they have a MVP in order to be scalable. Only then when opportunity strikes, the startup will be ready to scale.

3.Speed is key!
Today’s business world differs greatly from that in the past. Traditional businesses spend time planning and perfecting their products over years.

However in today’s digital era, speed is of the essence. This means talking to customers constantly, sealing as many partnerships as possible and also pivoting fast when the initial idea does not work when put to test in the real market. Businesses and customers prioritise efficiency today. If you are not able to show customers that your solution solves a real problem of theirs, they would not be keen to explore it further. Furthermore, while you are trying to perfect your product offerings and value propositions, do always keep in mind of your competitors who are also constantly experimenting with new ideas and refining their own value propositions with your target customers.

In the early days of building a startup, the founding team has to practice kaizen, the process of constantly improving. This means that one needs to be efficient, decisive, and open to learning. Be flexible and adaptable to product design according to new demands from the market, as well as refining outreach methods according to market situation.

🌅 Although this is the end of our journey in NES Start Phase 2, it is only the beginning of our entrepreneurship journey. As learning is a lifelong journey, we are always constantly looking to gain more knowledge and experience as learning never stops.

We would like to thank NUS Entrepreneurship Society for making this module possible and providing startups like Savour! the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals, receiving valuable advice from mentors and industry experts. 😃

The feedback given by mentors, judges and speakers have given team Savour! a further boost in motivation to hustle harder and actively bring more value to solving the problems of our target customers with our product offerings. 💪