Some thoughts on MDA IDM Jamboree

Update 2: The post-event analysis is up and readable here.

Update: I found Professor Ramesh Jain from UC Irvine, CA, who might be attending this event too as a presenter of his startup, Event Web. Check out Ramesh Jain’s blog. More on his startup idea here (no website available, it seems). More on the man here.

idmlogothumbnail.JPGThis event, held Jan 10, will launch an initiative to launch Web 3.0 in Singapore. Frankly, I don;t know how we skipped the evolution cycle because Web 2.0 did not even start in Singapore’s IT and media industries. More on this event at SGEntrepreneurs. I cannot find the actual event site. Looks like this Web3.0 event launch is neither search optimized nor browsable on the website of MDA, the lead agency spearheading this effort. tsk tsk..

And I left a comment on the SGE site which i will reproduce here, in an edited version. As a disclaimer, I am not yet an active practitioner nor entrepreneur in the web industry. But I think I have the right to at least air my opinion on this issue. I am passionate about the Web industry and bullish about the internet medium on business and society and am willing to support any initiative that will propagate its growth. I take issue with the manner of the latest launch by MDA and its affiliated agencies and just prefer to make my thoughts heard in the hope that it lands in the right hands/ ears and we do this initiative right.

“there’s no such thing called “web 3.0” yet. i am attending this event to see just how the govt defines web 2.0 before we attempt to jump the whole world and create this fictitious web 3.0. Even the website of the event is a joke. its so web 1.0 and they still use antiquated terms of no relevance to the subject matter.

This event almost looks like another initiative by some harried civil servant who pulled together a bunch of kakis from the other ministries to show the whole world they are all collectively putting effort in doing something that meets their KPI/ ROI/ whatever. Yes, a bureaucratic kneejerk reaction is what this looks like.

I rant alot here, i know, but the way the government is trying to launch this fund shows they are simply out of touch in trying to understand what really matters in trying to spur innovation here. those who will create any web3.0 already exist. And i think none of these people are inspired enough by the promise of what this web 3.0 can do to them. I might be jumping the gun before i even attend this event but i will seek to offer some suggestions to improve as as an event precursor.

For starters, dun get government to push it. Get industry leaders, academics, foreign thought leaders from technological hubs in israel, silicon valley to speak at fund launches like this. If the govt has 500 million to spend eventually, they can spend a few million trying to do this right for once by flying the right people down to Singapore to launch this. Get any warm body the innovators, the engineers, the entrepreneurs, will respect, NOT govt officials. Unless this is an internal fund for only civil servants to create startups, no one in the audience is going to listen to some civil servants step up that podium and subsequently gladly oblige to follow the commands. Singapore’s culture may be paternalistic but all kids grow up eventually.

I don;t know whether this fund’s creators actually pondered the root to the lack of innovation here which is why we have no notable web 2.0 enterprises of note. The real problem is the engineers and comp science students in singapore flocking to the more financially stable industries of Finance and Banking. Without real efforts put into university admin and policies that effectively overcome the sociological and psychological bias of our nation’s brightest engineers against non-financial careers, this initiative is dead in the water before it starts. This is the real brain drain a fictional Web 3.0 industry in Singapore will face. And this is a chronic cancer no cure seems imminent at present. We need to make this industry more glamorous and credible. Which does not mean more lame advertising campaigns depicting the computing industry as sexy or anything. It means putting more money into the promising startups we already have, helping them hire good talent from local and especially overseas etc…

More importantly, we need to inspire and fertilize the ground which grows those entrepreneurs, ie. the schools. We need to find what ever minor successes we have in the current generation of web entrepreneurs we have in Singapore and cultivate them as role models through the media. Talk about their struggles, their successes and the route they took to success so others can take note and support can be rallied from society and the industry. Influencing the public is key here anda successful push in the Web industry will help greatly in expanding career options to students in the educational institutions in polys ITEs, and the unis.

logo.gifTHe only web “successes” we have so far is? I might be ignorant but only came to mind and they were bought for a paltry SG$7 million. how is that going to inspire any potential local web3.0 entrepreneur to start up? I think this is a question begging to be asked. 500 million from the govt coffers might be huge, but it will not displace the importance nor influence of the VC industry which will be begging to ask whether any future valuations of startups in this region deserve funding after the HWZ precedent.”

Follow-up: For those frustrated with the development of Singapore’s web industry, help it grow at the BarCamp SG event on Jan 20.


15 thoughts on “Some thoughts on MDA IDM Jamboree

  1. There are three sessions listed on their website. The registration form asks me to choose one. Any idea which is Jain’s session?

    Btw direct link to his startup: The development team is in India.

  2. i don’t know, but i guess you could just switch between the sessions once u r there.

  3. Interesting thoughts here. I do agree that a major problem with the IT industry in Singapore is that it is government-pushed, rather than naturally inspired by some need in the IT business community. Government funding helps (a lot), but there is a general lack of passion amongst the IT populace here. Most of the software engineers/IT professionals I have spoken to are doing their “job” for the sake of their monthly salary rather than because of a hungry fire in their belly. 😦

  4. OK ok back up here. Have people finally settled on a definitive meaning for the term “Web 2.0”, and what exactly is “Web 3.0” supposed to be all about?

  5. Singapore should focus on a good grounding for Computer Science education first. The level of software engineering in Singapore is dismal at best. Stop talking about acronymns and jargon and start focusing on the fundamentals. Real software engineering doesn’t quite exist in Singapore right now.

  6. Pingback: Wanderings, Musings and Happenings from Ian on Singapore » Singapore wants to grow a Web 3.0 industry

  7. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Singapore: Kick Starting Web Entrepreneurship

  8. Troodon said “Real software engineering doesn’t quite exist in Singapore right now.”

    I can’t agree more. There are a few bunches of code monkey…but too few and too spread out.

  9. Pingback: Wanderings, Musings and Happenings from Ian on Singapore

  10. Pingback: MDA Jamboree - An Extreme Makeover Series-in-the-making? « iBjorn

  11. Pingback: Review of MDA IDM Jamborre 10 Jan 2007, Singapore Science Centre at Justin Lee’s JBlog 3.0

  12. Bravo! I have the same thoughts too, but ashamedly has also applied for the $50k funding for a new project which I have too. I guess that if the Government has no where to put their money, why not into an idea which I had?

    Seriously, let’s not talk about Web X.X. Let’s talk about nurturing potential entrepreneurs and water them with capital and resources. Anyway, I thought of a good analogy for how things work here and elsewhere:

    Buying Seeds To Plant Trees Scenario
    Singapore – “Let’s allocate $500 millions to buy seeds, but ensure that $50 millions is spend to WOW the public and the rest will be split to as many little companies as possible. Reason? The more little companies we invest, the more chances we have! And even if 1 out of 10 succeed and become a billion-dollar company, we hit our ROI and I can get a hefty bonus to buy that coveted Sentosa Cove and promoted to Director of XYZ Department!”

    Elsewhere – “Let’s allocate $500 millions to buy seeds, but let’s spend it wisely. A typical startup would require not just capital but infusion of resources. Instead of betting across so many startups, what good startups require is a good hoard of cash so that they are able to attract talented individuals into their company to execute the ideas and as well as a pool of reserves. Just like a plane taking off, these startups are going through a tough period and require strong financial backing to ensure that they don’t die midway. In this case, maybe we should judge each startups on a case-to-case basis and ensure that their success rate is high enough. Their business model must be realistic and has the potential return to exceed our risk factors. If things work well, maybe I could get a summer house at Monaco and retire from there.”

    If Singapore Government want to see success, don’t compete with its people. Focus on substance and not style. Don’t need grand events. Convince the media to open up valuable spaces for small startups news, instead of the usual GLC news. Small startups already got no money for alot of things, and only Government has the power to pressure traditional channels to provide support.

    Also, it must also remember that Singapore got no welfare system. If my startup fails, I still have to pay for my HDB flat and bring up my kids. Singapore style – You don’t get help, unless you fill lots of forms and even so, you don’t get alot of money too. Also, if I employ staffs and get an office, I get sued to bankruptcy if I can’t pay them.

    Here’s a better way to do it:

    1. Consider how much each startup would require before it “takes-off” – for example $500k.
    2. Consider tax-free staffs (since companies get tax-free for first 3 years of $100k, why not its staff too?)
    3. Allow startup to focus on core issues, instead compliance to whatever shit-load of reporting.
    4. Provide buzz by getting the big media players to place focus on small companies.
    5. Don’t care what buzzword. Talk about the greatness in smallness. Big dreams. Change the world. And not WEB 3.0. Lame.
    6. Invest across all industries, or else, your little startup here will compete with your little startup there and they kill each other.

    Jamboree? I was at home sleeping instead. Knew what would happen. While I appreciate the funding, I just simply don’t want to join in this bullshit. Period.


  13. thanks peter, you have my support on your startup. yes, if that money is there, lets not waste it. 3.0 whatever is irrelevant, we should focus on building great products. =)

  14. The gov here is known to ‘dump & dumpen’ money and that make us ‘dumb & dumber ‘ ! What not resolve the root problem of lack of innovation, rather than just simply use many startup to dump money to find success ? If Bjorn could just list down all the companies that MDA currently invest and then track its progress along the a 2 years period, there is high chance of closeShop.

    It is not so much of failure in Startup, but the thinking out of the box is just not here and the bridge is not burn to prevent fallback. Worse, majority I meet with with wonderful academic and activities credential could talk loud but fundamentally the implementation work to be done is just throw to some hired sotong.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s