We’re privileged to receive many requests for interviews, school project studies and case projects, especially among highly-driven, motivated students in university. From computing students on a quest to study project management in a tech environment to final-year business students completing a Final Year Project, we are humbled to receive such requests, and usually we try to accede to them. The community is after all, what made us who we are.
Over this past year, we have sat down with more than a dozen student groups and we tend to hear the same questions over and over again. Why did you choose to leave universities in the US to run a startup? What advice would you give to students starting up? What were the biggest challenges you faced? What are your marketing efforts?
We love these questions, but our mouths are often parched from hours of answering the same questions, sometimes in the span of days! Recently, Tech In Asia (disclosure: we’re a fellow portfolio company under East Ventures) invited us onto an Ask-Me-Anything session where we opened the platform to the online community to ask us just about anything. Many of these questions are the frequently asked questions that we received, so we thought we share our crowd-sourced FAQ here.
Here’s a few most frequently asked questions (and our responses to them), excerpted from the AMA:
When are you guys fundraising again?
Oswald: Our business metrics are pretty healthy at the moment, and are fortunate that revenue has been growing, so we are in a pretty good cash situation and there’s no immediate need for fund-raising yet 🙂 This allows us to focus on building and growing the business, and we will only raise the next round of financing to scale once we know that we have gotten the fundamentals right and are ready to grow even faster!
You guys are really young. Is your age an advantage or a disadvantage in the business world?
Ying Cong: Hey Peter, being taken seriously is something we have to work on at first, especially when we had no traction. During fund-raising, we have to emphasize that this is not a school project, but a business we are committed to. And that we won’t run off to Disneyland with their money haha. On the plus side, there’s a certain carriage to being younger than average in the industry. It’s not just about being young, but rather being slightly different from the norm. Not that it biases any judgement, but it lends some ease to landing meetings and catching attention when it’s needed. It’s just that this carriage runs out very quickly as we grow up, and last we checked, GoogleX hadn’t cracked the aging issue yet!
Qin En: Well I remember going in for meetings and people asked if I was a student doing a survey. And at a conference I was sharing at earlier this year, the audience thought I was accompanying my dad until I went up on stage. Oswald and Alicia have been mistaken to be interviewing to be a waiter and a waitress during a meeting with a restaurant. These things happen, but Ying Cong is right. There are the pros and cons and we just laugh the cons off 🙂
Hi! What can we expect from you guys over the next year?
Oswald: We will be developing Glints from just an internship/job portal to a career discovery and development platform. The vision is to build a tool that empowers people to pursue and do what they love professionally
What were the first struggles you have faced and how did you manage to get through with it?
Ying Cong: 1st big struggle was commitment -most 20-year-old Singaporeans aren’t prepared by society to start a startup. In fact, there were a ton of repulsion factors -university, NS, family pressures etc. We have to make a very conscious and unconventional decision, and communicate that to all our family and friends.
2nd one was financial management. Took a bit of trial and error to say the least, but there were months where we spent way too much on marketing, with not much results to show for it. I still remember there was once after a sobering monthly financial review, we felt so guilty about our spending that 3 of us shared 1 plate of chicken rice for lunch that day. Not fun.
How is it like to live almost entirely with your co-founder? Do you think living with each other somehow contributed in the success of your startup?
Qin En: Living together does have it’s friction moments (like deciding whether the aircon should be on at night) but I would say it is really valuable that we are in close proximity with each other.
For one, time and schedule is no object. We used to time our work and watch the clock closely at around 11pm in order not to miss the last bus/train, but staying together now means we are not constraint by public transport timings (because where we stay is 10 minutes away from office).
These 10-minute walks have (unintentionally) became mutual sync-up sessions. Especially over the past few months, we have been respectively caught up working with our teams (product, sales, marketing, client success), so interaction time during the day has reduced. The evenings walks have created opportunities for conversations that are otherwise hard to get.
Want to read more? Read the entire AMA here! (Heads-up! It’s more than 100 comments!)