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By Murray Bourne, 22 Feb 2005

There was an interesting talk by Yee Jenn Jong who is CEO of ASKnLearn, a dotcom that actually survived the crash and is now doing quite well. Yee used to be an NUS (National University of Singapore) lecturer.

ASKnLearn are into LMS (learning management systems), e-learning content and IT training services.

Audience observations: His warm-up exercise (stand up and freeze for 20 seconds) produced reluctance in the audience and I was left asking what was the point? But at least he was trying to do something different...

He gave examples of successful entrepreneurs - Siberian footballer, Michael Dell, the CEO of Singaporean company BreadTalk.

He offered a prize to whoever got up to come and get it. As expected, (for an audience of Singapore students) no-one moved. His point was those who get up and make the most of opportunities get somewhere...

He asked... are you a person who

  • makes things happen?
  • watches things happen?
  • wonders what happened?

Stages in a start up:

  1. Idea
  2. Incubation
  3. Start-up
  4. Growth
  5. Maturity
  6. Decline

He had an idea for e-learning before the Internet was available - and then when the technology developed, he went further in 1999. These are key decisions - leave the security of your job, put your house and future on the line... It's not for everyone, but it is the kind of thing Singapore is encouraging.

He talked of the importance of the elevator pitch (he had to sell to former MOE boss), where you have maybe just a couple of minutes to sell your grand idea to someone important or who has money.

I was wondering as he talked about the feasibility of outsourcing Singapore Maths...?

I also wondered when he was talking about the NASDAQ Crash - do the students know what that means?

Singapore's IDA (Infocomm Development Authority) provided "FastTrack" money to schools in Singapore to encourage takeup of IT infrstructure. And it is an extraordinary infrastructure - and sadly, underutilised. IDA provided work for ASKnLearn in their growth stage.

The audience became quite noisy at 50 min point - the internal clock was telling them it was time to move on.

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