(photo courtesy of Ryan Chong)
1. Share with us the activities you took part in while studying business administration (finance) in NUS.
In year 1 I was involved in the NUS Students’ Business Club (Bizad Club). I was involved in the publicity and marketing of the club like designing posters. I went on to kickstart NUS Horology Club – the study of watches where I worked with different key stakeholders and brands in order to write about them. We have covered brands like Orient, Zelos and Luminox.
Thereafter I was inducted into Residential College 4 (RC4) and stayed for two semesters. I founded the RC4 Coffee Academy because I felt that it is very difficult for common folk like us to learn how to make coffee in a comfortable environment. Also, it takes really long for a waiter or waitress to be a barrister in a café, as they would have to serve for four to six months before being taught how to make coffee. So, the coffee academy wants to eradicate that long process and teach people straight up!
It was an extremely viable business and the team grew from 20 to 75 in just a year. The core team, seven of us, were very passionate about bringing more coffee culture to more people.
I also did an exchange programme in Sweden and joined the NUS Overseas College (NOC) programme. I interned with various companies doing a wide range of work involving marketing, business development, user interface, user experience.
Coincidentally, that was also the time where I started Pitchspot—an open-sourced, community driven innovation platform—it’s like a project management tool with innovation capabilities.
2. What is your greatest takeaway from NUS?
Two things, primarily. First and foremost, the opportunities given by RC4. RC4 had really made a tremendous impact on me. The professors also contributed to my growth. They were friendly and extremely helpful, and I enjoyed the familial culture there. I entered RC4 as the pioneer batch. It was fairly new back then, with very little interest groups and culture, but the profs were extremely supportive in making our ideas a reality. The team of people and staff at NOC and NUS enterprise were impactful and grew me as well. The tremendous support and guidance has been largely positive. NOC has taught me a lot on internship and credit-bearing and it works towards building each individual, and I hope the team expands resources in NOC programmes.
3. Share with us what Pitchspot is about. What was the inspiration behind Pitchspot?
Pitchspot was started because we found an alarming problem—budding entrepreneurs don’t know where to start and have challenges looking for people to collaborate with. We wanted to allow these like-minded individuals to collaborate with each other and build their own start-ups. Later on, we discovered that this group of people wanted to know if their idea would work first, before finding collaborators. We therefore shifted our focus to building something that empowers individuals, with a personalised dashboard (like Trello) with resources for budding entrepreneurs who are just starting out to testbed their ideas since collaboration wasn’t their top priority.
We developed a toolkit of resources, with innovation frameworks and canvases, and what it does is that it leverages on an open-sourced community and data analytics to create a cohesive, collaborative innovation community.
4. What are your future plans for Pitchspot?
To gain user traction and make Pitchspot user-friendly. We are trying to onboard as many users as possible. We are working towards pushing user traction and ramping up our marketing efforts with schools, accelerators and the incubators community. We want to make it easy to manage their portfolio of start-ups, learn their behaviours, know what kind of metrics they want to see and provide them with what they need.
5. Where do you see yourself five to ten years down the road?
In five years’, time, I see Pitchspot as a global launchpad for ideas.The product has immense potential to really help people in their early stage of their venture. We want it to be something very comprehensive, and more than just unidirectional input. It must be able to offer insights on how they can improve their ideas, how they benchmark to industry peers for early adopters and so on.
These are not typically shown to start-ups. But here at Pitchspot, we want to give value to both sides, the aggregation of data for customers and offering true direction to our users. This is the end game here. Understand the hard data and improve from there.
6. What are your hobbies?
Coffee, design, music and photography. I have composed and written a few songs!
7. What is one thing you will tell your past self and your future self?
Past self: everything is going to pan out just fine, just keep going at it! Whatever you are doing now, doing it right, don’t stop being yourself, and don’t let anyone change the way you are. And whatever you’re doing is okay, everything is going to pan out in the end.
Future self: You’re getting there, you’re not there yet, but you’re getting there.
8. What is one quote you live by?
Live passionately and adventure often. Live passionately means to do everything with resolve and expecting that there’s always something to do when you wake up. Find what drives you. Use that reason that drives you and channel that energy to feeling that cause. Even if you fail, your motivation is there and you’ve given it your all. The worst is not having put your full effort into your endeavours.
9. What is one challenge you faced and how did you manage to overcome it?
Right now, the challenge we face is to teach users how to use the product. And there is a certain level of inertia. You need to get that knowledge, telling users that it is doable and intuitive, but it takes time.
10. What advice do you have for young undergraduates who are looking to pursue entrepreneurship?
What drives you and what motivates you. For me it is to live passionately, and adventure often! You never know when the next adventure will be. I implore all Budding entrepreneurs to reach out to me and use Pitchspot. Go on the NOC programme and it will surely be a fruitful and rewarding experience! It is a programme not to be missed!
More about Ryan Chong
Ryan Chong is the Co-Founder/COO at Pitchspot—an open-source, community driven project management tool for innovation. He is actively involved in the start-up ecosystem and his entrepreneurial streak saw him co-founding the Coffee Academy in NUS (2015) and attending NUS Overseas Colleges with Eunoia Pte. Ltd., an F&B Technology start-up (2017). Ryan is also holding an appointment as a Teaching Assistant for the Agile Market Validation Module for Entrepreneurship (2018). He has since graduated in July 2018 with a Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours), Finance, and is currently spearheading operations and business development at Pitchspot.
Hit him up at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to have a conversation over a cup of coffee.