I'll confess straight away that I almost always come away from such discussions highly enthused, and this one was no different. It was partly the energy and the ideas, but what was particularly impressive about these young Singapore entrepreneurs was their maturity, which was well beyond their years. They knew what they needed to do to test their ideas in the market, from educational tools to messaging platforms, and they were doing it.
We wrapped up the conversation with an impromptu roundtable about the role of entrepreneurs in Singapore today. What were the obstacles? What were the advantages? What societal/financial/legal issues did they face?
Everyone agreed that the Singapore government has been remarkably enlightened about its support for entrepreneurship, both direct and indirect, from visas to capital to university programs. At the same time, living in a society built on tangible limits, land, resources, etc., builds in its residents an appreciate for the merits of doing more with less, which could be the credo of the successful entrepreneur.
On the other hand, Singapore is also still a society where parents generally want their children to grow up to be doctors and lawyers (professionals!) and not entrepreneurs. While that is changing, it also makes entrepreneurship among young people in Singapore more difficult than an outside observer might expect.
Nevertheless, it was a great visit, and a super capstone of my visit to Singapore during Global Entrepreneurship Week. Next up: Johannesburg, South Africa, and then New York.
Dr. Paul Kedrosky is an analyst for CNBC television; a columnist for TheStreet/RealMoney; the editor of Infectious Greed, one of the best-known business blogs on the Internet; and he is frequently quoted in major publications around the world. Kedrosky is a Senior Fellow at the Kauffman Foundation, where he is focused on entrepreneurship, innovation, and the future of risk capital.