It is heartening to see the seeds of entrepreneurship being planted early in youths today. I firmly believe innovation and entrepreneurship will be vital traits for every individual in this new economy. And with this new wave, brainstorming sessions, mentoring and networking events will soon become the new norm.
Quickening my steps towards the Mochtar Riady Building of the NUS Business School, I’m invited to be one of the judges of the NUS Entrepreneurship Society Bootcamp Pitching Competition 2015.
As the name suggests, the bootcamp is a 3-day event where like-minded enterprising students gather from the various local universities and polytechnics to brainstorm, refine and pitch their business ideas. They didn’t let their youth get in the way of chasing their dreams. It’s a celebration of the entrepreneurial mindset among today’s youths. And today being pitching day, is the culmination of their efforts.
Having started my own entrepreneurship journey in 2008, today’s judging duties offer me a dual opportunity to firstly reconnect with my alma mater and juniors; and secondly contribute to the local entrepreneurial spirit by helping the camp participants fine tune their business ideas after hearing their pitch.
Ranging from tech ideas, campus solutions to community support, you name it, the 5 teams had it.
You may ask – in a short 5 minute presentation, how much can one really achieve? I say plenty. Let me share with you the three evaluation criteria that we, the judges, used to assess.
Evaluation Criteria #1: Novelty
There is a critical difference between creativity and innovation. Being creative means doing things differently from how it is currently being done in the market. Being innovative on the other hand, refers to coming up with a novel idea.
It is novel because you can feel it in your veins. Your heart beats faster, your ears open wider and you simply sit up in delight. It’s like going travelling to a new country without knowing what’s in store.
I love novel ideas because you are the pioneer. No one else has done it.
Evaluation Criteria #2: Feasibility
Many ideas remain ideas because they are not feasible. Imagine coming up with a brilliant idea…only to realise you cannot actualize it because of constraints. That is a great pity.
Ideas come in different shapes and sizes. Some are too forward-looking (and ahead of their times) whereas others require further fine-tuning before they can be implemented.
Personally, I’ve had some ideas that were too forward-looking too back then in 2008. But as society progresses and technology advances, they can now be implemented.
Evaluation Criteria #3: Scalability
Your business cannot grow if it’s only made of one element – you.
I consider scalability a very important factor – how can you grow the business in the next few years so that you can leverage on other people’s expertise and time? Are their new elements you can include in your business? Or create sub-businesses from the main one?
In short, you need to have a team. Being a one-man show is not going to give your business the edge over other competitors.
Besides these three evaluation criteria, there were other factors I considered such as presentation skills and confidence.
The points among the top few teams were very close. But at the end of the day, staying true to the three principles listed above, we chose our winning team.
Yet I must offer my heartiest congratulations to all participants. Only by participating will you derive the true value of entrepreneurship. After all, the most important step in life is always the first step. Baby steps they may be, but gradually they will become great leaps of faith =)