Entrepreneurship and You: Marianne

In this week of Entrepreneurship and You series, we had a quick chat with Marianne, the longest-serving employee at ACE. Read on to find out about her motivations, challenges, and views on Singapore’s startup ecosystem.


  1. What is your role at ACE? What do you do?

As the Head of Internationalisation at ACE, I lead a team to help startups in their international market expansion through providing advisory, running programmes and activities, and building connected ecosystems by establishing partnerships with international entities to benefit startups.  


  1. What inspires you to join the startup ecosystem?

Like a typical Economics and Finance graduate, I joined the banking industry upon graduation, specialising in private banking and wealth management. It was only 4 years later that I chanced upon the startup world through a friend. Little did I know that going for the job interview would change my life. During that time, the startup scene was only starting to pick up with the opening of the LaunchPad@one-north. The opportunity also made me reflect on what I really wanted to do in life. The notion of service, giving back and ‘creating something from nothing’ appealed to me. Thus, I decided to take a leap of faith and embark on something almost entirely different. It has been an exhilarating four years. The learning opportunities have been boundless, and most of all, I find what I do meaningful.


  1.   In your role, I’m sure you’ve met with many different startups. What are some of the typical issues startups face in expanding their business?

The Singapore startup scene has definitely matured over the years. Startup founders nowadays have a more global mindset and are more willing to embark on expansion opportunities as they realise the importance of having a global market. 

However, we have also encountered circumstances whereby startups do not know how to navigate a new market, especially in markets which place more emphasis on knowing the right people, and establishing the right connections and networks. This is where we come in to help. For example, through our Market Access Programme, we understand the startup’s business and help link them up with our suitable ecosystem partners who will provide them with the in-market local support.


  1.    How has the ACE Market Access Programme helped startup to open up new opportunities and minimise risks?

The ACE Market Access Programme provides startups with a good understanding of the market they are interested to expand into. The various consultations, advisory and mentorships help to ensure a good product-market fit and to minimise unnecessary pitfalls. In addition, startups selected under the Programme will also have the opportunity to pitch to investors and industry representatives for potential funding and partnerships.


  1.  As the longest serving employee of ACE, what is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered so far?

I would say that for a relatively small and growing organisation like ACE, the biggest challenge is to attract and retain good talent. There was a period of time where I had to recruit, train and build up the entire team. It was difficult as I had to be familiar with every function in an organisation, develop processes and also provide leadership to the team. This was when I realised the same challenge applies to many other startups out there and the importance of empowering people so that they will grow with the organisation.


  1.   Understand that you travel quite abit as part of your work. Which is your favourite destination?

This depends.. Travelling for work is very different from travelling for leisure! 

But if i were to pick a country, I would say Iceland (for holiday!) In fact, it’s population of sheeps is more than humans! It gives a very relaxing vibe and i’m astounded by nature’s magnificient beauty of waterfalls, glaciers, geysers etc. It is a constant reminder to me that we are small and humble creatures in God’s masterpiece.


  1.      Lastly, what is your advice for people who wish to be their own boss?

Understand yourself, know your reason and purpose for wanting to build your own startup. People usually tend to see all the successes and perks of being your own boss, but they do not know that not everyone is cut out for it. 

If you are game for the challenge, have a great idea and are highly resilient, start building your own business today!


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