Minister: Don't switch camps, play for home team

Singapore Minister of State for Communications and IT, Mr Lim Swee Say, gives advice to startups, and asks them to remember who helped the 10% of them that will become successful

Singapore's Minister of State for Communications and IT, Mr Lim Swee Say, calls on future successful technopreneurs not to switch teams

SINGAPORE - The Singaporean minister, who also heads the Trade & Industry portfolio, was speaking at the Technopreneur Forum held Saturday, organized by The Straits Times at Westin Stamford, and sponsored by Computer Associates and Microsoft.

"The raw material in the New Economy is creative ideas"

- Lim Swee Say

Mr Lim was the keynote speaker for the event, and gave tips to the audience, and encouraged them to enter the New Economy armed with knowledge and creativity.

Lim pointed out Singapore had transitioned from a labor-intensive workforce, to a computerized workforce, and was now moving towards an innovative workforce that concentrated on creative ideas.

He also pointed out that today's economy needed a workforce that enabled value-creation.

"You can't add something out of nothing," he said, "But you can create."

"The raw material in the New Economy is creative ideas," he added.

Technopreneurship, said the minister, was the combination of technology and entrepreneurship needed to exploit technology and create new markets, a characteristic which is much needed at this time.

He also commented that technology and infrastructure will no longer be the bottleneck, especially with the local government revising policies to encourage innovative thinking; he gave examples of the changing of current school curriculum to encourage creative thinking.

Great rewards, great risks, and a suggestion

The minister cautioned budding technopreneurs to be aware that though the potential rewards to be reaped were great, the risks were also high.

"If you're not prepared to try again... don't try."

- Lim Swee Say

The success rate, said Lim, is about ten percent - nine out of ten startups fail. But he also encouraged them to keep trying and persevering.

"If you're not prepared to try again... don't try," he said.

Instead, he suggested startups to "be smart": come up with their own ideas, and to learn how to make full use of other people's money and experience, a reference to venture capitalists and 'angels' who were willing to invest in startups.

He also noted that first successes were easier to come by than subsequent successes.

"Competition is global," he said, also pointing out that the factory of the New Economy needed to be fueled constantly with new ideas.

Individual ideas could then be networked with the ideas from others, creating an economy based on ideas.

No one can succeed without team work, said the minister, calling on technopreneurs to always remember the ones that helped them to succeed, "I hope you continue to play for the Singapore team - don't switch camps."

The minister observed that the temptation for successful technopreneurs to migrate their businesses to places like Silicon Valley was indeed high.

He pointed out that "Singapore needs a value-creation network to develop a value-creation economy", something which wouldn't be possible without local technopreneurs.