This post is for all of those who haven’t embraced Singapore‘s entrepreneurial ambition. Block 71, across the street from INSEAD, has a charm that is difficult to parallel in Singapore. For the first 4 months in Singapore, I overlooked the modest building every time I passed by it. I was probably not the only one. An interesting discussion with Patrick Turner, Professor of Entrepreneurship at INSEAD, turned out to be an eye opener about Block 71. Here’s the scoop. When most of the buildings in the West end of Singapore were bulldozed to pave way for the modern vision of Singapore, this former industrial building became one of the very few survivors for no apparent reason.
After several decades of quasi non occupancy and insights from Singaporean visionaries, it is now a buzzing building full of start ups and investors waiting for the next big opportunity. Who would have known? For example, JFDI, the Singtel Innov8 sponsored Joyful Frog Digital Incubator led by Hugh Mason and Meng Wong, has helped a new crop of high-tech entrepreneurs in Singapore get off the ground. I personally had the chance to spend time with the founders of Tribehired and Flocations, Devan Singaram and Tudor Coman,and I have to say that they have been well prepared for the challenges ahead. Here’s a picture of the JFDI offices after hours:
I truly believe that Singapore has the ingredients to build a healthy start-up ecosystem, similarly to what Israel has built in the last few decades. The government is involved in creating an environment that will attract the bright and ambitious to come here. The temperature is incredible, the low taxes are hard to denigrate and life is easy. Plus the region is growing at an unprecedented rate and Singapore is at the center of it.
Singapore will be challenged as it strives to change its culture to adapt to its entrepreneurial ambition. At the same time, the move of Eduardo Saverin may be the start of a new wave.