Here’s How 3 Entrepreneurs Are Using Technology As A Force For Good
Updated: Aug 13, 2020
This is the third piece in our Reactor Changemakers series, which discusses the multi-faceted, impact-driven role entrepreneurs play in our societies and communities.
SINGAPORE’S GROWING RELATIONSHIP WITH TECH STARTUPS
Whenever one talks about tech startups in Singapore, the oft-mentioned household names such as Carousell, Grab and Sea would come to mind. But beyond that, there appears to be much untapped potential for tech startups to rise and emerge within the startup ecosystem. Earlier this year, before all chaos broke loose (due to COVID-19), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hosted a candid and rather low-profile lunch discussion with 10 Singapore entrepreneurs running high-tech start-ups from various industries on new and innovative ways — in a bid to nurture “more homegrown unicorns”.
In light of this rather muted event, it signals a growing commitment to nurture the startup scene and bolster support for budding Singaporean entrepreneurs — as they develop their ventures.
Currently, budding entrepreneurs now can access a wide range of startup support, from early-stage funding to accelerator and incubator programmes. One of Reactor’s alumni startups, Skilio was the recent recipient of the S$30,000 Start-up SG Founder Grants, a financial grant for first-time entrepreneurs. National University of Singapore Overseas College (NOC), has seen 3,300 students graduate from this entrepreneurship programme. Software engineer Anh Vu Mai, also a Reactor alumni, previously who worked at a tech startup as part of the NOC Silicon Valley programme. These examples reflect the growing trajectory of entrepreneurship, and reflects a positive undertone within the local startup microcosm.
HELPING OTHERS IN TIMES OF SOCIAL DISTANCING
We have all seen acts of kindness and compassion this period, from our appreciation towards the frontline workers to essential services such as food delivery personnel. But that doesn’t have to stop there. We can do more to extend help not just to friends and family, but to neighbours or even a stranger. This can be done through Outside, where users can help others with various errands, for a reward. Afterall, experts have stated that helping others raises the production of endorphins, a feel-good hormone, which helps us to feel ‘happy’ especially in times of duress.
Screenshot of Outside’s revamped website Credit: Author
I spoke with co-founder, Nicholas Lim, who shared with me that Outside is doing more to serve the community — by ‘providing [their] free business services’ in order to activate as many people as possible to assist each other with daily inconveniences. With full social distancing measures in force, Outside wants to ‘keep everyone together and to ensure that people are effectively connected with others nearby to assist them.’
Nicholas opined that ‘Outside will be a bridge of opportunities connecting people across communities so that they’ll always be able to get help from others around them and make the world a kinder place’.
TRANSITION TO POST-PANDEMIC WORK ENVIRONMENT
While we are all struggling to recreate some semblance of normalcy in our daily lives, there are others who are striving to make this new reality a little bit less tedious for us. Local workforce management startup, StaffAny, has led the development of the StaffAny CICO app, which enables employees to automate their timesheet, in accordance with SafeEntry and temperature-logging measures. This could potentially help many companies by giving business visibility on their operations, beyond the COVID-induced reopening of businesses.
Screenshot of StaffAny’s website Credit: Author
StaffAny’s chief executive, Janson Seah, said “With remote working being the default norm, and more people are working independently, there is a greater need to enable the culture of remote work — which is why his team is looking to improve on their existing CICO app.” Especially in the current global economic slowdown and the possible loss of jobs, StaffAny wants to help employers better adapt to future new normals and crises.
NEED FOR MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT AMID PANDEMIC
Amid the struggle, everyone copes differently, from binging Tik Tok quarantine videos and circuit breaker memes, to finding time to exercise or even starting up a home-based business. The universal struggle has always been to create order amid discord and opportunities within obstacles.
To many, the pandemic has brought much fear, job uncertainty and a poor economic outlook. It’s no surprise that mental health & wellness has taken on paramount importance during this time.
Reactor School’s Head of Marketing, Elaine Yeoh, was a co-founder of the winning team at this year’s fully virtual Startup Weekend Singapore 2020 hackathon. The team also went on to enter the Global Top 20 of the Techstars Global Innovation Bootcamp. The Mind Hyve was inspired to redefine the culture of work by rethinking access to mental care for employees. With stress-related illnesses costing our economy 3.2 billion annually, the co-founders felt the dire urgency to look into improving mental health at the workplace.
Screenshot of The Mind Hyve website Credit: The Mind Hyve
With the normalisation of work-from-home arrangements and employees now working longer hours as a result, raising mental health awareness can help with early intervention and prevention. From suffering a burnout to work-induced anxiety, employees now struggle with the challenges of having to work, play and rest within the four walls of their homes.
Working adults are not the only ones struggling with day-to-day anxiety and stress. According to 2020 findings by the SG Youth Action Panel, youths identified issues surrounding mental health as one of their top concerns.
In June, The Mind Hyve team ran a Mental Wellness Webinar in collaboration with SCAPE Entrepreneurship for 71 youths. During this session, they actively engaged in open discourse on various mental health topics, and learnt about emotional mastery and mindfulness techniques from guest speakers. While the co-founders of this mental-health startup have purposefully decided to venture out onto their alternate pathways, Elaine maintains her drive to build her next startup in the Mental Wellness space. More than ever, we’re thrilled to continue sharing her entrepreneurial journey in the near future.
TOWARDS A BETTER FUTURE
On the bright side, history has shown that there are silver linings in every bad cloud, with big brands e.g. Apple, Mailchimp today being founded in recession times. For example, the 2008 Financial Crisis has seen the emergence of unicorn startups, such as Slack and WhatsApp. This poses the question as to whether the COVID-19 predicament could be an opportunity for companies to rethink their business model and innovate.
In an increasingly VUCA world, being entrepreneurial is one of the ways in which we can better cope with this new reality — by creating the change we want to see. This can be materialised by building new ideas with people and uplifting communities across borders, through the power of design thinking and entrepreneurship.
Additionally, National Youth Council’s MehGoWhere offers additional resources for youth, from providing interview tips to mental health resources. If all else fails, you can just do the #HomeChefChallenge or like me, make memes.
Inspired by these young founders? Here are three unique virtual entrepreneurship programmes that can cultivate the inner young founder in you:
Reactor Education & Career Guidance Startup Internship Prep Course (Virtual)
Reactor EntreCamp (Virtual Edition)
Reactor Design Thinking Bootcamp (Virtual Edition)
Interested to run an Entrepreneurship Programme for your School? Contact us now.
Written by Sherman Tham
Sherman is the Marketing Ensign at Reactor School, and a Reactor Student Alumni.
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