Tag Archives: talent pool problem singapore

[Startup to Watch] Learnemy

Learnemy is the brain child of Elisha Tan. Elisha was supposed to go NOC Shanghai with us but because there were some complication with her graduation extension, her school could not allow her to come onboard with us to Shanghai. She got herself admitted into the Founder’s Institute while we were at Shanghai and she founded Learnemy as well, which subsequently got funded by Spring. I always think that it is a blessing in disguise that she did not come to Shanghai with us.

Idea: A platform for connecting people who want to learn something with others who can teach

Revenue Model: Unfortunately Im not quite sure what is the revenue model for Learnemy for now, because there aren’t any payment system on the website, which would then allow transaction (payment between instructor and student), and where Learnemy could get a cut. There are also no ads on the website, so I guess no revenue through advertising for now.


  • Learnemy is a site connecting instructors and people who want to learn. When I asked Elisha how she plan to market Learnemy to the correct people since there are a wide variety of skills that people might be interested to learn (think calligraphy or horse riding), and where would she find the correct instructors to provide this kinda skills, she mentioned that she could advertise through Google Ads. For now, Learnemy only provides swimming and guitar lessons, a more commonly sought after skills.
  • In my opinion, I feel that it would be very challenging to market Learnemy because there are a lot of competitors out there. I happen to have a friend who runs a guitar learning agency who is doing really really good in Singapore. Guitar instructors can also sign up with the agency which has a sizable amount of user traffic to the site thanks to SEO.
  • Other than that, a simple google could also provide me with a list of swimming lesson agency that is more established, and which has the option to introduce the proper instructors to the students based on the budget.
  • Learnemy must have a competitive advantage and differentiating factor. To do this, Learnemy can provide other kind of skills which are not commonly offered online, and which are highly sought after, for example, coding, how leverage on social media to market your product,photoshop or even photography. I would love to learn all of these for a small fee. Usually these kinda skills are offered in courses by professionals and cost a bomb. I think Learnemy can find people who are good in all these and engage them to be an instructor. I’m sure there are a lot of students in the university who are good at say photoshop who would not mind earning a few buck for giving a lesson. These are the skills that has high demand and that are offered as professional courses. Learnemy should change that.
  • Learnemy could introduce a referral system for now to encourage users or even the site visitors to refer friends to Learnemy (whether as a student or an instructor), because without users, it is quite hard for Learnemy to build up its credibility.


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It would be really good if Learnemy could provide more than just swimming and guitar lessons, and be a one stop skills learning platform for everyone. =) Lets see how it goes.

O yea, if you are a tech person, Elisha is looking for a tech cofounder. Its nothing new since I’ve mentioned it on my post on e27 as well as a few of my previous posts on talent pool problem.

P/S Personally I don’t know Elisha (ok might have said hi to her on Barcamp) so I am not advertising for her heh.


Shanghai Entrepreneurial Ecosystem

Ever since I came back from Shanghai from the NOC programme, I have been actively involved in a few events outside school. Some of the events that I went to were the Founders Drinks organized by e27, which I currently write for, Barcamp Singapore7 at Blk71, and I also went to check out the NTU startup scene by signing up for one of their Entreprize workshops. NCSH taught me how to step out of my comfort zone and to meet with people, to have the courage to speak up.

Because at the end of the day, “Its who you know, its not what you know”

If you compare Shanghai to Singapore, Shanghai is not lacking in all these tech related or entrepreneurial events. In fact, there are barcamps in Shanghai, which was organized by Techyizu, who also organized the demo day pitch, which I happen to have the opportunity to go to. For those of you who don’t know, Barcamps are informal peer learning meetups which feature discussions on various topics, and demo day is a pitching session where they have a panel of heavyweight judges, selecting the best and most promising startup for VC investment.

There is a common misconception that the China NOC Program is for non tech startups where you go there to “experience their culture and how business are carried out there”. Of course, the way Chinese do their business is really unique and one must be there to truly experience it, but really, Shanghai is not lacking in terms of tech related startups or exposure. In fact companies from the West are flocking over to China and expand their operations there. Shanghai is also not lacking in the number of aspiring entrepreneurs or even those that have already succeeded. The startup ecosystem in Shanghai is also picking up where there are many young people trying to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, or even striving to emulate Jack Ma, Steve Jobs of the east.

One thing about the entrepreneurs in Shanghai is that, there are more willing to take risks, as compared to most Singaporean who dispel the idea of entrepreneurship or startup because the risk is too high (as opposed to living the Singapore dream – get a good education, get a stable job, get married). For the Chinese, since some of them are not that affluent and that there is a high competition for jobs, many has resorted to creating their own jobs and settling for startups. The Chinese has lesser to lose and having brought up in a relatively harsher situation, the spirit to do something different with their life is stronger among the Chinese. I’ve met someone who borrows money from friends and family just to run a coffee shop because education was too expensive for them, at the age of 19.

For Singapore where the human resource is the only resource it has, the government has allocated a lot of resources to develop its human talent and shape it to best sustain the economy. The Singapore government has been grooming business managers, top notch engineers as well as brilliant researchers through its education system, and although recently it is focusing more on building the local entrepreneurial ecosystem (by giving various generous grants and providing mentorship and support), many Singaporeans still opt for the safer way – getting a good and stable job. It doesn’t help when huge firms and investment banks are also engaged in the battle for the best talent in what is already lacking in the local talent pool. Personally, I feel that although Singapore has a better infrastructure in place for budding entrepreneurs, we are still lacking in terms of entrepreneurial spirit, as compared to the Chinese.

Singapore is looked upon as a country to model upon, but I think a lot of us can learn and benefit from interacting with the Chinese in China, especially those that really work hard to earn a living, and those that wants to make a difference in their life. These are the people that motivate me, even today when I’m back here in Singapore.

NCSH was a good choice, although the company list needs serious polishing.

About Jacky: Jacky was from the NOC Shanghai batch 14 and currently writes for e27. You can follow him on his twitter @jackyyapp

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”.