Talent Pool Problem

Excerpt on my post on e27:

For this Barcamp, since I was there from 10am all the way till 6pm, I had the opportunity to hear from 8 speakers. While hopping around the various rooms for the talks, the topic of Singapore’s talent pool kept surfacing and became one of the most discussed topics (in my opinion). Apparently, many agreed on the fact that there is a serious startup talent pool problem in Singapore. For those of you who may not know, in Singapore, the “good” and “quality” engineers are poached away by the finance and investment banks even before they graduate. They are often lured away by the attractive offers and hefty starting paycheck from these finance and investment banks who engages in a battle for local talent. This often leaves the startups with minimal choices to choose from in what is already lacking local talent pool, creating the difficulty in looking for quality tech cofounders. Elisha Tan of Learnemy is one such victim, where she shared in her session “Hey I founded a web startup OH SHIT I CANT CODE” that even with an interesting idea and the ability to pay (Elisha received fundingfrom the YES! Fund!), she has still not found a tech co-founder to venture with her.

Let’s forget about the paycheck for a moment – it is arguable that startups might not be attractive enough to entice Singaporeans to join them, because for one, Singaporeans are brought up to believe in the Singapore dream – you get a good education (certificate), you get your car, and you get a safe job with a good paycheck. The risks for entering startups/starting up are too high. It can also be argued that working in huge companies like Facebook and Google is also working in a startup, because one can learn more from the already proven platform and also mingle with the best in the industry, on top of enjoying the awesome facilities and their infrastructures. Personally, I’m with the “working in a startup company” camp as opposed to “Getting a safe job” camp but I think a lot of effort must be done to change the current mindset of the Singaporeans and their perceptions of working in/for startups.

Of course, Jeffrey Paine, the man behind Asia’s Founder Institute scene is trying to remedy the problem with his new initiative, Cofoundify, which is an exclusive mailing list of founders looking for cofounders. Derrick Ko also launched a new initiative called the StartupRoots that places the country’s most elite students in innovative startups in hopes of cultivating quality tech cofounders and promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship in Singapore, which he shared in his topic “Fixing the talent pool – the startuproots way”.


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