Entrepreneurship and You: Clarence Ti

The entrepreneurship landscape has transformed tremendously in Singapore, offering more opportunities for youth today to step into the startup world and consider starting up as a career option. Schools, particularly the Institute of Higher Learnings (IHLs), have an important role to play in shaping the future of youth entrepreneurship.

In this interview, we will be meeting Mr Clarence Ti, Principal of Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Board of Directors at ACE!

One of his main interest is entrepreneurship education, probably a result of spending close to three years as EDB’s Centre Director in San Francisco many years ago. On his watch, Ngee Ann Polytechnic has launched an overseas internship program for polytechnic students which has expanded to 10 cities in less than 3 years, a Startup Talent Factory programme which encourages polytechnic graduates to take a gap year to work in a startup and a joint polytechnic incubator called Pollinate.

Hear from his personal account on how youth entrepreneurship has transformed, and the opportunities in-store for our young entrepreneurs.

What is entrepreneurship to you?
Entrepreneurship is about finding problems worth solving that will improve the quality of life.
Based on your interaction with youths, to what extent do you think they are seeing entrepreneurship differently today?
In a survey of 1,200 NP students, 18% of them consider themselves to be an entrepreneur. Youth today probably see it as cool to be an entrepreneur. They also see it as just one of the many things they can be simultaneously – Blogger. Entrepreneur. Student.

What are the opportunities for youths today in encouraging entrepreneurship in them?
The barriers to entry to being an entrepreneur has dropped significantly especially in areas such as e-commerce and publishing or blogging. Youths interact daily with companies that barely existed 10 years ago and see history in the making every day. Even in Singapore, we have examples of Razor, Grab, Shopback, Carousell, just to name a few local brands making waves internationally. Schools have entrepreneurship clubs, polytechnics and universities have overseas programs to intern students in startup ecosystems. Startup events, hackathons, competitions and festivals are commonplace. If you can’t get exposed to the startup ecosystem in Singapore, it is only for lack of trying.

What are some of the entrepreneurial qualities you hope our youths today will exhibit?
Ambition and a bias for action.

Why are the qualities important for them?
I hope they are ambitious about what value they can create for their customers and a bias for action propels them forward. In the startup world, you got to keep moving.

As ACE’s Board of Director, in what ways do you hope to help youths to be exposed to entrepreneurship through ACE or other means?
ACE has a youth chapter called EDGE where students can get involved in where they can find like minded peers and seniors. EDGE organises learning journeys, run hackathons and startup competitions. I would love to see how we can get more large corporates involved in grooming the next generation of entrepreneurs in their midst.

What is your vision for the Singapore Startup Ecosystem?
Think fashion and cities like Milan and Paris comes to mind. Think finance and we think London, Singapore and New York. Think startups and Silicon Valley comes to mind. I hope that in Asia Singapore will also be synonymous with entrepreneurship.

If there is one advice you need to give to youth entrepreneurs, what would that be?
Find a problem worth solving and start.

The Entrepreneurship and You series is a collection of inspiring stories from people who have made a difference and played a part in the entrepreneurial scenes. In every feature, we will ask the person of interest a series of questions for him or her to share his/her success strategies and advice for fellow entrepreneurs or founders-to-be. We hope that through this series, we will be able to inspire more people to be part of the startup scene.


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