THERE is a romantic notion that entrepreneurs are lone heroes in their business ventures.
The reality, however, is that successful entrepreneurs build their own teams or were part of a team in their endeavours. Creating a genuinely innovative and successful business is rarely the work of one person owing to the range of tasks and different skills required.
One way to get a business off the ground is to join a start-up incubator, which can help develop a brand beyond the business plan, prepare for its launch into the market and capture interest from venture capitalists.
BizPod, located at the Lakeside Campus, serves this purpose for Taylorians of all disciplines, focusing on helping its students and alumni from the ideation stage to an established business – free of charge.
A holistic start-up ecosystem, it is led by BizPod director Jessie Chong and comes fully equipped with a central workspace, seed funding opportunities, mentoring and training at the budding entrepreneurs’ fingertips.
Taylor’s alumni Julius Ho Joon Tat, who graduated in the Bachelor of Computer Science (Honours), had an idea to build a smart-parking solution using license plate recognition called Arrivo.
Both Ho and his partner James Lau Jun De shared a passion for artificial intelligence (AI) and observed that parking is a common issue for Malaysian drivers.
Ho shared, “We dived nose-deep into this issue in a nationwide research and found that the solution is mostly hardware-driven, which made maintenance an incredible investment to operate. The AI solution we came up with was to help make it feasible to optimise cost of operation for its business owners.
“Before we approached BizPod, we struggled to find our business model and product-market fit. The industry was bigger than we anticipated and we didn’t know where to start.
“So we approached Jessie, who graciously agreed to be our mentor. Under her mentorship, we saw a drastic change in our business growth in a few short months. We had access to potential investors and she helped share available grants with us to continue building our business.”
Launched in 2019, Arrivo is looking to begin its seed funding round in the second quarter this year with an estimated RM8mil value.
Taylor's Business School BizPod director Jessie Chong.
According to Chong, “A mentor is important because there will be someone to do a check-and-balance with you and act as a sounding board to help make sense of your business and operational thoughts. The guidance they share will shorten your learning curve and will help paint a picture from real experiences and possible outcomes.”
Currently, BizPod is actively mentoring eight different businesses, monitoring their progresses weekly and if required, assigning them to different mentors based on experience and domain expertise.
There are nine mentors available from various fields, including Vincent Kok from the digital industry, serial entrepreneur and angel investor Kenneth Ho, Dr Aly Alias Stephen Nah in the medical field and Taylor’s College alumnus Datuk James Foo in business, to name a few.
Chong speaks from experience as an entrepreneur and said that most successful tech titans like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Elon Musk had mentors to guide them, especially in the early stages of their start-up.
“I ventured into business at the tender age of 18 going through diverse risks and roadblocks on my own in the first three years of my career until I found a mentor. There was plenty to learn and the support of a mentor, as well as entrepreneur friends helped me through the toughest situations. When you experience turbulence, you just need to find that balance, get back up again and keep moving forward, ” she said.
While there is no simple formula for success in entrepreneurship, the Taylor’s Business School - which founded BizPod - believes that the environment plays an important role in enabling the most effective collaborations.
The Bachelor in Entrepreneurship (Team Entrepreneurship) (Honours) degree programme focuses on three core areas, namely the enterprise, the team and the individual.
With that in mind, the leading private business school in Malaysia recently introduced its new Bachelor in Entrepreneurship (Team Entrepreneurship) (Honours) degree programme. The three-year programme is the nation’s first-of-its-kind that provides a supportive ecosystem for students to kickstart their business ideas even before graduating, assisting them to take the first big leap towards self-employment.
Taylor's Business School, School of Management and Marketing head Assoc Prof Dr Goh See Kwong.
“The Taylor’s Team Entrepreneurship degree was conceptualised taking into consideration the challenges and obstacles that new age entrepreneurs face. Being a business owner is not just about coming up with an idea. It involves strategic thinking, decisiveness, strong management qualities and the drive to be agile in varied circumstances, like the pandemic continues to teach us, ” said Taylor’s School of Management and Marketing head Assoc Prof Dr Goh See Kwong.
The comprehensive approach to laying down strong foundations for a successful entrepreneurship journey also comes on the back of extensive business coaching and mentorship.
The programme has collaborated with business coaches across various industries such as logistics, e-commerce, food and beverage, fashion, social enterprises and consultancies to give students a microscopic insight into what these streams demand, where the gaps in those markets lie and what can be done to overcome these obstacles.
Team Entrepreneurship focuses on three core areas, namely the enterprise, the team and the individual. The degree cohesively brings start-up ideas to life through an action-driven approach of coaching with business mentors from various background and learning support through Taylor’s Me.Reka Makerspace.
Working together with BizPod and Research and Enterprise, the triad, together with Taylor’s Curriculum Framework and its Life Skills modules, produces a Taylor’sphere ecosystem to nurture students’ intellectual, mental, and emotional growth.
The course includes office collaborations through BizPod and seed funding to breathe life into students’ ideas all the way to their graduation.
Ultimately, what does success look like and how is it defined?
According to Chong, “There is no sure measurement to determine or define success. A ‘successful’ business is determined by the entrepreneur themselves, depending on their goals.
“On that note, a successful business is one in which the entrepreneur has done massive research and is well exposed to what is happening across the globe.
“There needs to be a problem that they want to and can solve, which makes them feel truly connected with that matter. Without that conviction, it will be very challenging for the entrepreneur to be willing to go through any hurdles.”
Have a penchant for entrepreneurship? What's your gameplan?
Join Taylor's Digital Open Day on March 6,7, 13 and 14 by visiting https://university2.taylors.edu.my/digitalopenday/.
The Taylor’s Bachelor in Entrepreneurship (Team Entrepreneurship) (Honours) has intakes in January, March, and August.
For more information and to download the e-brochure, click here: Team Entrepreneurship.