Startup Roots Singapore Update

I just got off the team’s regular coordination call, and figured I’d take some time to update everyone on the momentum we’ve gotten behind Startup Roots Singapore after 2-odd months of work. For an overview, check out e27’s email interview with Derrick Ko.

I learnt of Derrick and Zaizhuang’s plans for Startup Roots Singapore at the end of January while hanging out at a house party thrown by a startup that had just relocated its core team from Manila to Singapore.  I’ve always been intrigued by the possibility of socially engineering a tech ecosystem in Singapore that possesses the unique blend of talent and inventiveness powering Silicon Valley. Paul Graham’s articles (here and here) served as my initial inspiration, while my 2 years at Infocomm Investments allowed me to put theory into practice, collect data and validate and debunk hypotheses.  I really “clicked” with Derrick and Zaizhuang during our conversations, one thing led to another, and I ended up joining the core team behind Startup Roots Singapore.

Since the end of January, we’ve been hard at work reaching out to and filtering promising individuals from our local universities who exhibit “startup-friendly” traits.  Although we have a total of 3 tracks – business, UI/UX design and software engineering – we’ve really only been focused on the latter for the inaugural batch of Startup Roots Summer Fellows.  Given how picky startup founders can be when it comes to hiring, the team made a conscious effort to maintain high standards throughout our selection process, eventually whittling the list of candidates down to 8 for the software engineering track and 1 for the business track.  We have 8 guys and 1 gal, with representation from all universities, i.e. NUS, NTU and SMU.  I’m also happy that of the 9 candidates, 4 have been placed and 4 others have at least 1 offer (with some yet to complete their interviews with startups).  I expect placement to be completed for the 5 remaining candidates over the next week or two.

Don’t you think we’re like Morpheus, offering Neo the choice between the red or the blue pill?

We also welcome the 16 companies who have agreed to participate as hosts for our Summer Fellows.  They are, in no order of merit; buuuk, Smartloans, 2359media, PlayMoolah, Docubuzz, Artyii, NoiseStreet, Zopim, Anideo, ViKi, Chalkboard, Chumby Industries, WikInvest, Insync, Foound, and Brandtology.  I’m confident in their ability to provide a compelling experience to our inaugural Summer Fellows.  I’m sure they’re also happy that we’re only asking for a one-time donation of S$250 upon their first successful placement.  Of course, as a non-profit, more donations are always welcomed ;-).

Last but not least, we’ve drawn up a stellar list of speakers for the Summer Fellows Speaker Series, to connect and expose our fellows to experienced engineers and entrepreneurs.  We’ve yet to confirm the names with all the speakers, but should have plenty of time to do so until our Summer Fellows Kick-off on 23rd of May.  Other than the Kick-off session, all other Speaker Series sessions will be open to the community as well.  More on that when we’re ready.

On behalf of the Startup Roots Singapore team, I look forward to terraforming Singapore’s tech ecosystem, one engineer at a time.

On a separate note, I’m putting the finishing touches on a proposal to scale up our efforts at Startup Roots Singapore. More on that soon in a separate blog post.

Photo courtesy of Arte Kjara – “Branches and Roots”

About James Chan

James Chan is an entrepreneur, investor, geek, photographer and husband/father based out of Singapore. Apart from frequent travels to Vietnam, Myanmar and Indonesia for work, James can also be found online via his trusty 15" Retina MacBook Pro or iPhone 6+.