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TMG Founder: Singaporeans Have a Tough Time Expanding to Developing Markets

Willis Wee

Singapore is considered a developed market, but developing markets are all around it. This evening at a Founder Institute event, TMG’s founder Alvin Yap, who recently raised more than a million from SingTel and Softbank, was put on stage to share his entrepreneurship experience.

One of the topics touched on how Singaporean entrepreneurs do not having the right mindset to expand to nearby regions. One day could be good, another day could be effing shitty so that’s actually part of the life as entrepreneurs.

Alvin also says that it is tough for sheltered Singaporeans to expand abroad because we just don’t have the right connections in developing markets 1 . To overcome these difficulties, Alvin says that it is important to get out of your comfort zone and go meet people. He talked about his experience when expanding to Indonesia and other developing markets:

We don’t know anything, so we have to get a good local person to help us . I do not work in a developing market without a local partner.

Alvin also talked about how aspiring Singaporean entrepreneurs can get a head start. He offered to key points:

  1. Start working as early as possible : Alvin says that the pressure of working is far greater than pressure we faced in school. Starting work early will help to build your stress endurance young.

  2. Travel to as many developing markets as possible : This advice reinforces his previous point that Singaporean entrepreneurs need to get out there to network and make friends in developing markets.

Alvin and I meet from time to time when we are both in Indonesia. And sometimes we see him working at a Starbucks while waiting for openings in someone else’s schedule, just so he has a chance to speak to him/her. He's clearly hungry to expand his network. I believe there are many lessons we all can learn from him.

(See also: Monetizing the Feature Phone Industry)

  1. (Yes, I’m a Singaporean too)

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