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Business Advice

New mentoring scheme for start-ups

Recipients of Ace's grants to get help from seasoned entrepreneurs
The Straits Times - May 3, 2012
By: Jonathan Kwok
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New mentoring scheme for start-ups -- PHOTO: ACTION COMMUNITY FOR ENTREPRENEURSHIP

THE Action Community for Entrepreneurship (Ace), which aids promising start-ups here, is launching a mentoring programme for its grant recipients.

It will pair start-ups with experienced entrepreneurs who can guide them in various aspects of the business and help them to grow their companies.

This will be done through an intensive one-year mentorship programme.

This is Ace's latest initiative since January when a programme called Ace Startups replaced the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme for Start-ups, an earlier scheme.

'In addition to funding, Ace will help the start-ups access valuable resources such as networks and mentors,' said Ace chairman Teo Ser Luck, who is also Minister of State for Trade and Industry.

'Having a mentor, one who can provide one-to-one guidance, which can be especially valuable during the formative first year because it helps the start-up get a leg up, shortens the learning curve and accelerates its growth.'

He added: 'This is one of the key initiatives by Ace to seed and build sustainable local businesses.'

Close to 30 mentors, comprising experienced entrepreneurs, angel investors, and senior management professionals, had come forward to volunteer to take part in the Ace Mentoring Programme.

Ace deputy chairman and chairman of the mentoring sub-committee Steven Fang said the 'matchmaking' process of start-ups and mentors has started, and that some start-ups have already found their mentors.

Dr Fang is also founder and chief executive of cord-blood bank Cordlife, which recently listed on the Singapore Exchange. He noted that first-time entrepreneurs will encounter wrong turns and dead ends, as well as global competitors. The guidance and advice of mentors will benefit the start-ups which can learn from their mentors' mistakes and adopt their ways of thinking.

The mentorship programme was announced at a ceremony yesterday at the OCBC Centre East. Mr Teo also presented 11 start-ups with Ace Start-ups grants, of up to $50,000. One recipient was Biggest Baddest Parties, which will offer a mobile application and a website for one-stop information on the local clubbing scene.

The company hopes for revenues to start flowing in three to six months, through channels like advertising.

'We have very little experience in running IT companies or in taking companies to a scale where it becomes regional. We are looking to, within the first 12 to 18 months, take the business regional,' said Mr Mano Kunasegaran, the firm's chief operating officer and president of product. 'We are looking to get that experience... from mentors who have taken businesses to that level.'

Biggest Baddest Parties will be mentored by serial entrepreneur Elaine Teh, executive director of pub chain owner Octopus Group. She said: 'I came on board Ace as I wanted to put my experience from starting businesses - all 15 of them - to good use by sharing it with those aspiring to take that journey. As the more experienced entrepreneur, I may be the sounding board, but I believe more fresh ideas will be generated when experienced and budding entrepreneurs put their heads together.'

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