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NUS Students & Alumni Received Top Prizes At Taiwanese Entrepreneurship Competition



Singapore – Two Singapore teams, consisting of students and alumni from the National University of Singapore (NUS) received prizes at the 2014 Global Talentrepreneur innovation & Collaboration (GlobalTiC) Award last week. Novelsys received the top prize for the Youth Pre-Start-up category, having competed against 11 other teams from Asia, Europe and South America. Called the JohnnyTiC Award, this included US$2,000 in prize money. Jayden Ooi, from Collappe was awarded the Best CEO, in recognition of his leadership performance and strategic vision. The GlobalTiC Award was held from 18 to 21 August 2014, in Taiwan.

“Our heartiest congratulations to Novelsys and Collape for representing Singapore and NUS so well at this year’s GlobalTiC Awards. Both teams won the Start- [email protected] 2014 business plan competition earlier this year – Novelsys under the Business Venture category and Collappe under the Infocomm category. This made them eligible for the GlobalTiC Award and NUS Enterprise nominated them to join, so they could compete against winning start-ups from around the world. We provided coaching and mentoring to help the teams in this international arena, in particular with their commercialisation and investment plans. Both teams demonstrated maturity, confidence and vision for their start-ups,” said Dr Lily Chan, CEO NUS Enterprise.

From L to R: Kenneth Lou, CEO and Co-founder of Novelsys, Kelvin Tan from NUS Enterprise and Jayden Ooi CEO and Co-founder Collappe. Photo source: NUS Enterprise

Novelsys ampereTM – Reinventing the mobile charging experience

Novelsys ( was founded in 2014 by three NUS students – Kenneth Lou (NUS Business School), Delane Foo (NUS Division of Industrial Design) and Mark Keong (NUS Department of Electrical Engineering). They have taken a year off their studies to work on the company, to develop ampereTM, the world’s first wireless charging sleeve for mobile phones. Users simply drop their mobile phone into the sleeve and it charges wirelessly on the go, making it more convenient than bulky power-banks that require wires.

In addition to the US$2,000 GlobalTiC prize money, Novelsys has already received $15,000 in prize money from [email protected], $10,000 from the NUS Enterprise Practicum grant and $5,000 under the Philip Yeo Innovation Fellows Programme. Moving forward, they plan to apply for government grants and launch a crowdfunding campaign by the end of 2014. Novelsys targets to begin shipping their product by Q2 2015, focusing on the U.S. and South East Asia markets. Novelsys aim to position themselves as the leading wireless charging solutions provider, creating an eco-system for wireless charging in the future.

“Competing at the GlobalTiC was a fantastic experience. Over the past year, we have honed our pitch and presentation skills – through [email protected], the Practicum grant and most recently with mentorship provided by Kelvin at GlobalTiC. This event had great networking opportunities – we hope to work with one of the judges in the future as a potential manufacturing partner,” said Kenneth Lou, CEO and Co-founder, Novelsys.

Collappe – Reimaginating Mobile Messaging for Collaboration and Productivity
After observing that many NUS students use standard mobile messaging apps for project work, the Collappe ( team decided to create a chat- based mobile app that would boost collaboration. Their solution encompasses the simplicity and convenience of a mobile messaging app, as well as the productivity of today’s desktop solutions. Centred around a mobile chat interface, Collappe provides users with the ability to perform project coordination, task assignment and meeting scheduling. A minimal viable product has been developed and is undergoing closed beta user testing within the university. It has currently been well-received and its full launch on both the iOS and Android Stores is planned for Q1 2015.

Collappe is founded by a group of NUS alumni and students, Jayden Ooi (NUS School of Computing alumni), Joey Wang (NUS Faculty of Science alumni), Ivan Chong (NUS School of Computing alumni), Rax Suen (NUS School of Computing alumni) and Weilson Tan (NUS School of Computing undergraduate). Incubated and supported by the NUS School of Computing, they have been awarded a $10,000 NUS VasCo grant, as well as prize money of $15,000 for being the Infocomm Champion at the recent [email protected] competition.

“We made Collappe for students. However during the GlobalTiC Awards event, we received positive validation from industry professionals as well, who suggested the potential for corporate usage. We may explore this further in the future. The competition has opened up bigger networks for reaching out to overseas students in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and India. Winning the Best CEO prize was only possible due to the strong team. We want to adopt a mind-set of looking at things differently, in meeting changing consumer behaviour. In this way, we always stay relevant to our customer needs,” said Jayden Ooi, CEO and Co-founder Collappe.

The GlobalTiC Award ( started in 2007, and is an international competition for talented entrepreneurs who have won national or regional level business competitions. The award has two groups; New Start-up Companies and Youth Pre-Start-ups, with both Novelsys and Collape applying for the latter. Teams must fall within five industries; 1) Social Enterprise, 2) Creativity & Culture, 3) Internet, ICT & Cloud Computing, 4) Green Technology, and 5) Biotechnology & Nanotechology. The GlobalTiC Award aims to foster a stimulating environment for entrepreneurship, by providing incubation, internship, investment and business networking opportunities for its participants.

About National University of Singapore (NUS)

A leading global university centred in Asia, the National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore’s flagship university, which offers a global approach to education and research, with a focus on Asian perspectives and expertise.

NUS has 16 faculties and schools across three campuses. Its transformative education includes a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment. Over 37,000 students from 100 countries enrich the community with their diverse social and cultural perspectives.

NUS has three Research Centres of Excellence (RCE) and 24 university-level research institutes and centres. It is also a partner in Singapore’s fifth RCE. NUS shares a close affiliation with 16 national-level research institutes and centres. Research activities are strategic and robust, and NUS is well-known for its research strengths in engineering, life sciences and biomedicine, social sciences and natural sciences. It also strives to create a supportive and innovative environment to promote creative enterprise within its community.

About NUS Enterprise

NUS Enterprise was established in 2001 to provide an enterprise dimension to NUS teaching and research involving the University’s students, staff and alumni. It nurtures talents with entrepreneurial and global mind-sets, and promotes the spirit of innovation and enterprise through a wide variety of programmes and activities. These fall under four focus areas: Entrepreneurial Education, Active Industry Partnership, Holistic Entrepreneurship Support and being Asia’s Thought Leader for Innovation & Enterprise.


Is There A Coworking Space Bubble?



An annual growth rate of nearly 100%, almost five years in a row? More than 60 coworking spaces in a city like Berlin? Are these the characteristics of a bubble? Nope, these are characteristics of a lasting change in our world of work, which has been further catalyzed by the recent economic crises in many countries. But what makes this change different to a bubble? We’ve summarized some arguments of why the coworking movement is based on a sustainable change. However, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy job to open a good working coworking space.

Five reasons why the growth of coworking spaces is based on organic and sustainable growth: 

1. Coworking spaces invest their own money and create real wealth

Already, there is a convincing argument supporting why coworking spaces are not developing in a bubble: the fact that they create real wealth.

Whether referring to the dotcom bubble a decade ago or the real estate crisis in Spain or the United States, the crisis originated in a glut of cheap money, in an environment in which the sender and the recipient were unacquainted. From funds and banks, money flowed in steady streams to investments which offered little resistance and the most promising returns – which only a little while later turned into delusions and ruined investments.

Redistributed risks create illusions. Those people who distributed the money rarely wore the risk of investment decisions. The risk was mainly taken by small shareholders or people who bought parts of those investments. This was because either both parties’ (better) judgement was drowned out by the noise of the market, or because shareholders were unaware of the risk, and were at the mercy of banks and funds for reliable information.

Another fundamental condition for the creation of bubbles are the sheer amounts of money that flow from various locations globally and are concentrated, by comparison, in much fewer places.

Most coworking spaces, however, receive their funding from local or nearby sources and do not operate within this financial system. In fact, the founders mainly inject the bulk of the required investment, and turn to friends or relatives for additional support. They wear the full brunt of the risks that are involved in small-time investment.

They have access to much more information, because it is their own project, rather than a foreign one thousands of miles away. This also includes failures and mistakes that are encountered along the way, but the risk is less redistributed, thereby decreasing the probability of failures.

2. Labor market changes demand on certain office types lastingly

Most users of coworking spaces are self-employed. The proportion of employees is also on the rise, in many cases simply because they work for small companies that increasingly opt to conduct their business in coworking spaces rather than in traditional offices. The industry of almost all coworkers fall within the Internet-based creative industries.

With flexibilisation of work markets, new mobile technologies that are changing work patterns, and the increase of external services purchasing from large and medium-sized enterprises (outsourcing), the labor market has changed radically in many parts of the world.

The long-term financial and emotional security of becoming an employee no longer exists, especially for younger generations of workers. Bigger companies are quicker to fire than hire, and precarious short-term contracts are on the rise. Promising options on the labor market are more often recuded to freelancer careers and starting your own company.

And that’s possible with less money to invest. All you need is a laptop, a brain and a good network. For years, the number of independent workers and small businesses has been growing worldwide – particularly in internet-based creative industries. Anyone who has sufficient specialized skills and the willingness to take risks may adapt more quickly to market conditions if they own a small business or are self employed; more so than if they were to work in a dependent position in an equally volatile market.

Coworking spaces provide an environment in which to do this. Once they have joined a (suitable) coworking space, these factors become apparent to coworkers, who will remain in their space for years to come.

Furthermore, independent workers rarely fire themselves in crises, and even small companies are less likely to give their employees the boot – compared to their large counterparts. This combination enables more sustainable business models – and less business models à la Groupon.

3. Coworking spaces don’t live on crises

Global economic growth is waning while the number of coworking spaces is continually growing. Do coworking spaces thus benefit from this crisis?

The current crises accelerate the formation and growth of coworking spaces, because they offer solutions and space for the resulting problems. Coworking spaces are therefore not a result of a crisis, but the product of change that pre-dates their existence. A crisis is simply the most visible expression of change.

The first coworking spaces emerged in the late 1990s; the movement’s strong growth started six years ago – before the onset of economic downturns in many countries.

4. Coworking spaces depend on the needs of their members

Most coworking spaces are rarely full. Does this mean they are unsuccessful? On average, only half of all desks are occupied. But the average occupancy rate of 50% refers only to a specific date.

In fact, coworking spaces generally serve more members than they can seat at any given time, since members do not use the spaces simultaneously. Coworking spaces are places for independents who want to work on flexible terms. Smaller spaces rely more on permanent members. Larger spaces can respond more flexibilty to the working hours of its members, and, can rent desks several times over.

If a coworking space is always overcrowded or totally empty, the purpose of said space would be defeated. Firstly, it is rather impossible to work in an overcrowded room. Second, it’s impossible to cowork in an empty room. Given the nature of flexible memberships, a coworking space only can survive if they fit the needs of their members. Members would otherwise be quick to leave, and membership would be much more transient.

5. The coworking market is far from saturation

Less than 2% of all self-employed – and even fewer employees – currently work in coworking spaces. Reporting on coworking may increase, but inflated reporting on the coworking movement in the mainstream media is still far away.

Coverage of coworking space are most likely to be found in the career or local sections in larger publications – front cover coverage remains the dream of many space operators. This is because the whole coworking movement can’t be photographed in one picture. What appears to be a disadvantage, however, is actually a beneficial truth: niche coverage allows the industry to grow organically, and avoid over inflation.


Coworking spaces don’t operate in parallel universes – like the financial market. Demand and supply are almost exclusively organic and operate in the real world economy.

For the same reason, there is no guarantee that opening a coworking spaces will be automaticly successful. Anyone who fails to learn how to deal with potential customers in their market, or is unfamiliar with how coworking communities function, will have a difficult time of making one work. In the same way that business people in other industries will fail if they do not understand their market.

Those who simply tack on the word ‘coworking’ to their space’s facade will need to work harder. The structure of most coworking spaces is based on real work, calculated risk, and real-world supply and demand.


About the Author

This article was produced by Deskmag. Deskmag is the magazine about the new type of work and their places, how they look, how they function, how they could be improved and how we work in them. They especially focus on coworking spaces which are home to the new breed of independent workers and small companies. see more.

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Callum Connects

Dextre Teh, Founder of Rebirth Academy



Dextre Teh is a consultant and marketing guru, helping F&B businesses to tighten their operations and grow their businesses.

What’s your story?
I help frustrated F&B business owners stuck in day to day operation transform from a glorified operator into a real business owner. I’m a 27 year old Singaporean second generation restaurant owner and a F&B business consultant. Entering the industry at 13 years old, I have always been obsessed with operations and systemisation. At the age of 25, I joined the insurance industry and earned a six figure yearly income. However, I left the high pay behind because it was not my passion and returned to the F&B industry. Now I help other F&B companies to tighten operations and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services.

What excites you most about your industry?
The food. I’m a big lover of food and even have a YouTube show on food in development. But that aside, it is really about impacting people through food. Creating moments and memories for people, be it a dating couple or families or friends. Providing that refuge from the daily grind of life. So in educating my consulting clients and training their staff to provide a better experience for their customers, I aim to shift the industry in the direction of creating memories instead of just selling food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I love the culture, the food and travelling in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore hands down. The environment here is built for businesses to thrive. The government is pro business and the infrastructure is built around supporting business growth. Not to mention the numerous amount of grants available in helping people start and even grow business. If I’m not mistaken, the Singaporean government is the only government in the world that offers grants to home grown businesses for overseas expansion.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Learning to do things you do not intend to master is a BIG mistake in business. Focus on what you are good at and pay others to do the rest.

Many business owners including myself are so overwhelmed by the 10,000 things that they feel they need to do everyday. We try to do everything ourselves because we think it saves us money. The only thing that, that does for us is overload our schedules and give us mediocre results. Instead we should focus on what we do best and bring in support for the rest.

Who inspires you?
Christopher M Duncan.

At 29, Chris has built multiple 7 figure businesses. He opened me to the possibility of building a business on the thing that I loved and gave me a blueprint of how to do it. He also showed me that being young doesn’t mean you cannot do great things.

Imran Mohammad and Fazil Musa
They are my mentors and inspire me every single day to pursue my dreams, to focus on celebrating life and enjoying the process of getting to where I want to be.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Time is always more expensive than money. Money, you can earn over and over again but time, once you spend it, will never come back.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am a firm believer that your experiences shape who you are. I am grateful for every single moment of my life be it the highs or the lows, the successes and the failures because all these experiences have led me to become the person I am and brought me to the place that I’m at so I will probably do things the same way as everything was perfect in its time.

How do you unwind?
Chilling out in a live music bar with a drink in hand, listening to my favourite live band, 53A. Other than that I’m big on retail therapy, buying cool and geeky stuff.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bangkok. It feels like a home away from home where the cost of living is relatively low, the food is good and the people are friendly.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Everything you know about business is wrong by Alastair Dryburgh. It is a book that challenges commonly accepted business “truths” and inspires you to go against the grain, think different, take risks and stand your ground in the face of the challenges that will come your way as a business owner.

Shameless plug for your business:
I’m the creator of the world’s first Chilli Crab Challenge. It gained viral celebrity earlier this year with 3 major newspaper features and more than a dozen blog and online publications featuring it in the span of two weeks. In the span of the two weeks, the campaign reached well over a million people in exposure without a single cent spent in ads.

Now I help F&B companies to tighten operations, increase profits and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services. Chilli Crab Challenge (

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me on Facebook ( or visit for more information or book a 10 minute call with me @

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here:

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