Nic pitching at The Start

Outside Founder interview for The Start – pre-accelerator powered by StartupX and Temasek

  • Outside is a community tasking app that allows busy individuals to effectively outsource their daily inconveniences to other verified users who are able to perform the tasks more effectively with the app processes
  • The untapped labour market consists of capable individuals who can assist others but are unable to due to personal commitments
  • Outside seeks to become synonymous to the concept of the “Sharing Economy” and act as a bridge of opportunity that leads to a collaborative society in the near future

In this article, we interviewed Nicholas Lim, Co-founder of Outside, to learn more about his startup journey.

Founder’s Interview with Nicholas

Can you share with me about Outside?
Outside is a community tasking app that allows busy individuals to effectively outsource their daily inconveniences to other verified users who are able to perform the tasks more effectively with the processes we built. Essentially, Outside seeks to optimise the only currency we cannot earn which is time. We restructured the way help seeking is done and made it so that hirer’s can post tasks which will appear as pins on the map and alert users in close proximity who will then be able to send a private offer to provide assistance.

We seek to become synonymous to the concept of the “Sharing Economy” and act as a bridge of opportunity that leads to a collaborative society in the near future.

What motivated you to create Outside?
The untapped labour market is largely made up of Students and Housewives and Silvers. There was a distinct lack of acknowledgement and utilisation of the untapped labour market consisting of capable individuals who can assist others but are unable to due to personal commitments. We started out as a contract job platform but as we began doing market research and UATs, we realised that these individuals actually prefer ad-hoc tasks more and there was a gap in the market where we could significantly add value to. This thus resulted in our pivot to a community tasking app for daily inconveniences that can potentially allow everyone to help each other more effectively.

What went into building your product?
We did the first MVP on excel when we were unable to code, which then led to a website, app prototype on Invision and Marvel, and lastly, creating the actual mobile app. There was a lot of reading and learning we had to do along the way; we constantly showed our app to people and watched how they interacted with it while explaining what the app is about. Although there were numerous criticism, it helped us to understand the user’s perspective and the value we are bringing to them, which ultimately allowed us to improve on the product.

How/when was your team formed?
The team comprises of my closest friends from all parts of my life. I met Jin in primary school, Dion and Tristan in secondary school and Lu Xian while we were serving NS under the K-9 Unit. The team was formed from previous ventures with most members coming onboard to Outside approximately 4 years ago. We started as individuals with little to no programming knowledge to a team of self-taught programmers within 6 months and launched a prototype of our app while picking up the skills and tools required.

How has your startup journey been so far?
It definitely hasn’t been an easy journey, but being in The Start has been really helpful for my team. The team from StartupX is especially helpful and knowledgeable, constantly keeping a lookout for us and sending us articles and materials that are relevant to guide us. The programme is extremely well planned and the mentors are super candid and shared a lot of knowledge and experiences with us. Being part of this cohort with motivated and talented individuals definitely helps with our progress too!

What are some of your goals for the future?
We hope to find more like-minded individuals and companies that believe in the power of the sharing economy and seek to activate communities more effectively and reliably so that we can create a collaborative society.

Where can we go to learn more about you and your business?
You can learn more about Outside at and @outsideapp on Instagram!

As seen in

outside unicon 2019 runner up

NUS Interview – A Business student journey into the Startup world.

Outside Technologies started as an idea outside a bar called Zouk about five years ago. Just as they were about to enter the club, Tan Tu Jin, a NUS BBA Year 2 student was pitched the idea of a community-tasking app by co-founder Nicholas Lim. Incorporated in 2017, the app would leverage geolocation to allow users in the vicinity to solve others’ everyday problems for a cash reward.

As a person who enjoys trying new things, Tu Jin knew at that moment that he had to be part of this enterprise as an opportunity does not come knocking twice. Since he first joined, Tu Jin has taken on multiple business roles within the start-up, including finance and business strategy. He is currently the Growth lead who focuses on acquiring and retaining customers, as well as corporate partnerships. He speaks to Outside-In about his start-up journey.

outside team 2017
Outside Team

Tu Jin (left) with the Outside team

Can you describe your role and responsibility for Outside App?

Since I first joined Nic and his team in Outside, my job title changed quite a few times from finance to business strategy and then to business strategy and partnerships. In a start-up world especially early stage, it is hard to have a fixed role and responsibility but what I can say is that my responsibilities mainly revolve around Outside’s business functions.

How did you venture into this role with Outside? And when did you join the founders? It seems like you were already with them since day 1.

Nicholas and I met in primary school 14 years ago. After he pitched the idea to me while we were out clubbing, we went back to his place after the party to create a business plan. We finished it within a day and submitted to SPRING for what is now known as the SG Founder Grant. Our first submission was rejected but that only made us more determined. From that day onwards, we met up few times a month to refine the idea.

In an interivew, Nicholas spoke about a range of challenges the team faced at the beginning. What was it like for you? What was the biggest challenge for you and how did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge was getting used to the constant state of change. It was frustrating to keep altering the big idea. In the early days, I would confide in Nicholas and say that the start up culture isn’t my cup of tea as I preferred predictability and consistency.

Tu Jin and Nicholas at Startupweekend Reunion pitch

We made so many mistakes in the process, including hiring staff who were a poor fit with the organisation and choosing to outsource the development our app for a hefty sum.  It came to a point where bad news was delivered at every meeting. Nevertheless, we continued to learn and improve.  Some of us even learned to code from scratch.  This has taught me to see every problem as an opportunity to improve the app and make myself better.

I persevered in order to witness our ideas become reality.  That mindset fueled my determination and kept me going until we launched the private beta app last year.

How do you balance start-up and studies? What’s a typical day like for you?

Planning and prioritising are very important, as there will be so many things to balance including family, friends and other commitments. I started the habit of using a planner last year and now I have it with me 24/7. For me, studies and my work at Outside are equally important. Whatever I learn in class, I try to apply it to my start-up and share it with the team. If I face any difficulties in my start-up, I would ask my professors for advice (a good way to maximise your tuition fee).

In this semester, I planned my timetable such that I have nine hours of sectional classes back-to-back on Monday. This frees up my Wednesday to go to the office to get work done. When we were still in The Start (pre-accelerator program by StartupX and Temasek), I also had to attend weekly night sessions by the program after my class so I had to factor in travel time as well.

Being students, would you feel that it was tough dealing with the start-up world – peers, investors, etc?

It was a steep learning curve because most of the time I did not understand the business and technology terms. Being in a tech start-up, there was no way I can avoid tech jargon and I had zero knowledge in coding. When the developers talked about languages, all I can think of is English, Chinese, Singlish and Python (programming for analytics taught in NUS Business School). Hence, I have no choice but to pick up some basic coding.

Even when the topic is business-related, they used terms which were new to me, such as CAC (customer acquisition cost) and LTV (lifetime value).

Initially, it seemed difficult to fit in but I overcame this by simply asking questions. That said, I would still try to find the answer on Google first (as other people’s time is precious too). The start-up world is not as scary as it seems or what you might have thought, the people there are really nice and helpful.

Can you share the lessons you learned? It can be some skill that you picked up. Or some experience that you will never forget.

I became more open-minded, a quality that is very important in the start-up world. When I share information about Outside to anyone, most of the time they will have painfully honest, and sometimes negative feedback. Eventually, I learnt to listen to their criticism (especially from those with years of experiences in the same industry), view it in a constructive way, and ask them if they have any suggestions. Even if they do not give any feedback, I would ask for it because that is how I validate an idea.

Someone told me before that chemistry and consistency in the team is vital because although the product can change, investors tend to invest in the team and not just the idea.  This shows how important the team is and I am grateful to be part of a hardworking and fun group.

outside unicon 2019 runner up

The Outside team at Unicon, a start-up pitching competition

Please share tips for your peers and juniors who might be going into a life where they have to balance between start-up and school.

Finding the purpose in the things that you do will motivate you. Ultimately, whether you are in school or joining a start-up, you want to bring a change for a better society. Studying equips you with the relevant knowledge and skills to make an impact (so CAP isn’t everything and you should not just focus on getting good grades, focus on learning new things). If you have an idea and you are passionate about, give it your 100% because the world needs entrepreneurs like us – bold enough to make a change in order to make life better.

For more information on the NUS BBA programme, please visit

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game changers singapore

24 game-changers in Echelon Asia Summit 2019’s final batch of exhibitors

Echelon Asia Summit 2019 Exhibitors

These 24 companies are out to disrupt Asia’s tech ecosystem — go see them in action at Echelon Asia Summit 2019!

There are lots of great reasons for you to come to Echelon Asia Summit 2019! With more than 12,000 people attending from over 30 countries, the Echelon Asia Summit brings together a full-range of personalities across the field of tech: from tech enthusiasts, to up-and-coming startup founders, and even to leaders and experts! This makes Echelon Asia Summit 2019 the perfect opportunity for you to brush elbows with potential future partners, investors, colleagues, or other like-minded people who might appreciate your ideas!

More than 120 speakers will also be sharing key insights on emerging trends and disruptive technologies across four key stages, namely: Founder stage, Future stage, Capital stage, and the top 100 stage—where 100 of the most promising startups will be pitching live!

And finally, one of the key features of Echelon Asia Summit 2019 is how it will showcase some of the most brilliant startup products in the region. With 300 exhibitors that will sprawl all over Singapore Expo, participants can witness firsthand how these companies are changing the world.

So without further ado, here is the final set of Echelon Asia Summit 2019 exhibitors!


Outside is a community tasking app that makes it fun and easy for users to help other with daily errands.

PB Grocery Group/Potboy (owned by PB Grocery Group Sdn Bhd)

PB Grocery is an online grocer that uses users’ behaviour data to serve the users better and use data to carry out effective & measurable marketing initiatives.


Pod is a microsaving app to help young people save money for short term goals and rewards users when they manage to achieve their target saving goals.


PouchNATION is the leading cashless payment and brand activation provider in Southeast Asia.

APTG 5G Accelerator

Asia-Pacific Telecom serves customers well by offering innovative rates, products, and services.

RenGlobe Tech Solutions

RenGlobe provides IoT control for AC’s — with proven 30% energy savings — regardless of brand, model or age of AC units.


ReSET is a social enterprise collective that focuses on improving mental and emotional wellbeing.


WOWBID is Indonesia’s first live streaming auction marketplace.

Asia Tech Podcast

Asia Tech Podcast connects people through audio-visual content that are pushed out to all their podcasts both on Soundcloud and their Youtube channel.

SIEGE Advanced Manufacturing

Siege Advanced Manufacturing is a one-stop manufacturing solution, from design to prototyping to mass manufacturing — seamlessly. No MOQ.

Simmonds Stewart

Simmonds Stewart is a technology and VC law firm helping startups and tech companies do business and raise capital globally.

Exabytes Network Sdn. Bhd.

Exabytes helps SMEs grow their business online by powering their customers with the latest technology and innovation, backed by 24x7x365 professional technical support, customer-first guarantee, service-oriented customer service, 99.9% Network Uptime Guarantee and more.

Sixteen Resources & Consultancy

Sixteen Resources & Consultancy provides teaching aids for deaf people to learn sign language more effectively.


Solaku provides job and business opportunities for the local communities.

Spark Amplify

SparkAmplify, an AI-powered media outreach SaaS platform that helps you maximise your press coverage potential like a pro!

Nanyang Polytechnic

Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) is a polytechnic in Singapore.


StackTrek builds high-performance programming teams for some of the world’s largest tech companies.


StaffAny is a workforce management solution for hourly workers. They empower the future of work by connecting the workforce of tomorrow.


Talad is a sharing platform for agricultural ecosystems.


CryoWerx is a retail automation company that build white-labelled New Retail solution for traditional retailers.

Unicess (Fandom Live Limited)

Fandom Live is revolutionising the way events develop through transparency for promoters, opportunities for fans, and no middle man.

Pocket Money Pte Ltd

Pocket Money Pte Ltd provides technologies for financial inclusion.


WayInnovation is powered with IOT, Edge Intelligence, and Blockchain, to help find the missing piece of OmniChannel puzzle and innovate sharing economy.


Strint continuously ingests real-time data streams from any sources, and processes streaming data using AI models.

Where to get tickets for Echelon Asia Summit 2019?

Catch this stunning set of companies showcase their brilliant work and more at the Echelon Asia Summit 2019! The event is happening from 23 – 24 May, at Hall 3A, Singapore Expo, 1 Expo Drive, Singapore. We don’t want you and your team to miss out on the important insights that will be shared by our speakers there, so get your Echelon Tickets today!

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demo day in Singapore

The Start’s pre-accelerator Demo Day stage – StartupX and Temasek

Some startups had 15-year-old founders while others targeted marginalised groups and youth-trends

Three months ago, The Start, a pre-accelerator programme organised by StartupX was kickstarted to catalyse the growth of early-stage startups. For these startups, most of whom had just completed a hackathon, it was a 12-week alternative to returning to their nine-to-five jobs and truly actualising their semi-validated ideas.

The pre-accelerator was also supported by Temasek, which saw this partnership as an opportunity to galvanise the ecosystem.

Under three months of close mentorship and constant refinery, the cohort of 10 startups have finally graduated from the programme and took to the demo day stage to share their tractions and growth.

One of the most impressive startups to present at the demo day was the cohort’s most junior team.


Bridge, founded by four 15-year-old students, is nothing short of being a product of prodigy. Tired of the old “you’re too young to have a debit-card son” situation, these kids set out to bridge the financial parent-student conflict by creating an e-wallet app that digitises pocket money.

The app is able to mitigate both student’s desire to make independent financial decisions, and parent’s distrust over said desire. It does this by equipping students with the tools to pick up better financial literacy while allowing their parents to keep a careful eye on their expenditure. A perfectly poised take on holding on, yet letting go.

Bridge’s cashless payment system has already attracted attention from Favepay and Grabpay, and will test its beta app in Raffles Institution this month.

According to Rafael Soh, Bridge’s Co-Founder and CEO, a “pressing yet ignored” fact of today is that less than 10 per cent of Singaporean teenagers aged 13-16 have debit-cards, while more than 89 per cent of them own a smartphone. This demographic not only represents a huge untapped market potential, but also speaks volumes about a culture that stigmatises a child’s need to learn financial responsibility early.

Therefore, arbitrating the financial strain between parent and student seems like a right move by instilling better financial wit in the next generation of economic drivers.

Interestingly, e27 also saw a familiar face on the demo day stage. StaffAny, our TOP100 Singapore champion, will be making its debut at our Echelon Asia Summit on 23-24 May.


StaffAny started out with a cash poor, idea-rich situation, and has definitely come a long way from humble beginnings. Its app provides a unique workforce management system that accommodates employees with multiple jobs and uses real-time deployment.

Killing the need for your scribbly spreadsheets, StaffAny is a revolutionary mobile app that combines operation systems and HR management to engage and manage hourly workers.

Aided with the rising gig economy, 70 paying locations have already adapted StaffAny’s technology into their management systems. Some notable companies include Killiney, Yah Kun Kaya, and KOI.

Wearing his company logo proudly across his shirt, Janson Seah, Co-founder and CEO of StaffAny shared that the startup was already experiencing a 25 per cent month on month growth and had plans to regionalise.

Janson also attributed part of his success to his entrepreneur buddies from the programme who have “helped each other along the way” and “frequently share leads”.

This comes from StartupX’s effort in making their pre-accelerator programme an opportunity for all startups to scale and grow together in healthy competition and cohesion.

According to Durwin Ho, Managing Director at StartupX, these startups are supported by a curation of the programme’s “community of mentors, networks, and resources to help them get to the next stage”.

Speaking of networks, the graduates of the pre-accelerator programme form quite a remarkable one.

Let’s meet the rest of the teams!


Outside is a community tasking app that believes in solving everyday problems with everyday people. It leverages geolocation technology to allow users around the vicinity to complete other people’s tasks.

What’s fun about Outside is that it’s like a task-based pokemon-go whereby the rewards are actual cash.

The app has already had 500 downloads and 60 posted tasks. Co-founder Nicholas Lim has also previously shared Outside’s entrepreneurial journey with e27.


Mindpalace sees itself as the next best thing to teleportation — virtual reality. It allows long-stay residents from nursing homes to indulge in virtual travel, keeping their minds active and slowing dementia effects.

Founder Eugene, says that Mindpalace will put the AGE back in AGENCY and provide a meaningful way to enjoy life’s decrescendo. It’s even been approved by PM Lee and has been endorsed by SGH and NTUC nursing homes.


As Kpop’s ‘Hallyu wave’ continues to take the world by storm, a deluge of Kpop fans remain deprived of a central, easy-to-access K-pop marketplace. This is where KpopKart comes in to play. It provides a centralised e-commerce site for K-pop fans to purchase fan-made merchandise.

Launched two months back, the company led by CEO and Co-founder Vera Sun, has already bagged Unicon’s Grand Champion title and sees expansion into J-pop and C-pop in its horizons.

SG Assist

SG Assist is a crowdsourcing mobile app that takes care of ‘urban unsupported’ members of society. These include people like live-alone elderly, single parents, and unwell individuals. It does this is by linking these residents with trained and trusted community respondents in their hour of need, granting a commodity of time ambulances cannot guarantee.

The app is already being used in two major districts in Singapore and plans to expand to China, Malaysia and Thailand in the future.


Master’s catchphrase, “the app to remember”, has two meanings. One, that it has great market potential in transforming Singapore’s pressure-cooker type education system, and two, that it literally helps students remember and retain information better. This is done by integrating machine learning with textbook content to customise learning for every student, at an accessible and low cost.

Master plans to revolutionise the way of studying and adapt its technology into our classrooms, helping students excel more effortlessly.

The Kint Story

Much like the Japanese Kintsugi, The Kint Story sees value in old clothes and prides itself in contributing to the circular fashion economy in Southeast Asia. Since their launch in January, Founders YuShu and Elisa have earned the title of ‘Thrift Queens’ in Singapore and continue to curate and sell pre-loved clothing on their platform.

The Kint Story mainly caters to millennials who seek alternatives to fast-fashion, or simply want to look unique.


In Indonesia, many drivers spend up to 160 hours per year servicing their vehicles, given the poor traffic conditions. Veport is an AI-powered vehicle services marketplace that will offer busy drivers price and service provider comparisons and valet services.

The app has already attracted more than 1000 interested users and looks forward to alleviating the 137 million vehicle owners in Indonesia. “The Go-Jek for vehicle services”, envisions Priscilla Artistotles Co-founder of Veport, who hails from an automotive background herself.


HomeyDays relies on VR technology to provide online property walkthroughs to help overseas renters make informed decisions before moving to Singapore. Their main target markets consists of international students and inbound professionals staying in Singapore.

Their app has already received the support of more than 1000 foreigners on WeChat and aims to become a renowned co-living provider in major Southeast-Asia cities by 2029.

The Demo Day was a true celebration of milestones and we look forward to hearing more from these 10 startups in the future!

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Getting into Business with Your Friends

(From Left to Right) Radio Anchor, Timothy Go, Co-Founder of BlackStorm Consulting, Paddy Tan and Co-Founders of Outside Technology, Tan Tu Jin and Nicholas Lim
  • Our Co-Founder, Paddy Tan along with Co-Founders of Outside TechnologiesTan Tu Jin and Nicholas Lim, were invited to MoneyFM 89.3 to have a radio interview session on “Getting into business with your friends”
  • The advantages and detriments of doing business with friends were discussed, and further guidance on how to maintain a good work and personal relationship were given

June 30, 2019: Paddy Tan, co-founder of BlackStorm Consulting was privileged to be invited to be one of the interviewees for an interview session on “Getting into business with your friends” on MoneyFM 89.3 during the Breakfast Huddle with Timothy Go and Finance Presenter, Ryan Huang. It was held on June 30, 2019. Together with Paddy, Tan Tu Jin and Nicholas Lim, Co-Founders of Outside Technologies discussed the sensitiveness of navigating through both the business and personal relationships simultaneously.

Delving further into the details of the interview, here are some of the interesting questions that were being discussed.

Q: Are you for or against having business with friends?

All interviewees are for having business with friends and highlighted that there are many pros in doing business with friends. Paddy shared that working with friends “fast pace the entire courtship since you already know each other”, expediting the whole business process. Tu Jin and Nicholas looked at it from another angle, focusing on the ability to “make use of the untapped labour market of the 23 to 24-year olds” who are fresh out of studies and are brimming with energy.

Q: What are the lessons you have learnt in starting a business with a friend?

From his vast experience, Paddy highlighted that “as your business grows, your relationship will grow, and you have different want or need.” Most owners will choose not to pay themselves first when they start a business and burn their savings instead. Therefore, when the different needs come in and they need money, they find themselves in a difficult position.

Another significant learning point that Paddy recognised was that it is fine to walk away from business temporarily for personal duties. “You may need some time for your family or have personal duties.” It is okay to walk away and revisit the collaboration together next time when both parties are ready. This is to prevent a strain in the friendship.

Q: What happened when you come back? How would your friend feel?

Paddy emphasised that being away does not mean being completely out of touch. There should be clarity between friends on what is happening and give some time for the other party to settle the personal responsibilities. Friends and business partners should be considerate to take up the other stuff to let your partner have a break while keeping the other party updated on what is happening. When they are back, provide them with more details to bring them up to speed.

Q: Never implement corporate rules in business with a friend. What are your views?

Tu Jin and Nicholas feel that there is still a need for corporate rules to run the business professionally. One such rule that they abide by would be: when there is a new skill to learn, at least two Co-Founders need to learn it. This is to ensure that there is at least one party with the ability to cover one another in the case that one of them is not available.

To end off the whole session, Tu Jin and Nicholas shared the importance of finding a good balance between practicality and being visionary when working with his friends. In Outside Technologies, they are the only two co-founders who work full time. The rest of the team have school or other personal commitments that they are managing concurrently. Therefore, the co-founders need to find a middle ground so that everyone can cope with both responsibilities and the business can grow substantially at the same time.

(From Left to Right) Finance Presenter, Ryan Huang and Anchor, Timothy Go from MoneyFM 89.3
(From Left to Right) Co-Founder of BlackStorm Consulting, Paddy Tan and Co-Founders of Outside Technologies, Nicholas Lim and Tan Tu Jin

Click here for the podcast!

As seen on Blackstorm’s Consulting Medium article:

About Outside, Outside App team group photo

Learning from early failures – Improvise, Adapt, Overcome!

I am the co-founder of Outside, a community tasking app that makes it easier for people to help each other with their daily inconveniences.

Our team is made up of students and fresh graduates who are passionate about tech and the sharing economy. We have previously attempted several business ideas together and ultimately got back together to build Outside.

This is how we failed, and then realised it gave us what we needed to succeed.

The Beginning

I met my co-founder and friend, Dion, back at a social entrepreneurship program in secondary school. After graduation, we decided to try starting up businesses together. Within a few years, we attempted 6 different ideas, ranging from tech enabled crowdsourcing, sustainability, gaming, to even contract jobs and events.

After testing out multiple concepts, we finally arrived at the idea of creating a platform that would make it easier for people to help each other. Thus, Outside was born.

Like most people who lack the ability to build an app themselves, we resorted to outsourcing. However, the experience was not the best. The constant check-ins with the outsourced developers were very time consuming and the development process took 3 months longer than what was planned. Worst of all, the app did not perform as expected. The 6 months of designing and gathering feedback led to more functions, and building more functions led to a much bigger price tag.

The constant unexpected delays and changes were slowly diminishing our savings. Soon, we realised that we had to raise more money or drop the app.

As 20 year-olds, this was the toughest decision that we had to make. We considered borrowing money and even tried to apply for bank loans (the banks obviously rejected). Ultimately, with rising tensions and tighter finances, we had no choice but to let go of the app.

Leveling up

However, soon after, Dion and I felt that it was possible to pick up programming by ourselves to save the app.

The journey was not at all smooth. While learning and building the app, we hit roadblocks such as learning a framework that couldn’t support the required functions and had difficulty seeking help. We failed to hit our targets and the release for private beta was pushed back for nearly 3 months.

While rushing for the private beta release, we were constantly in the office up till the last available bus home. This routine of pushing ourselves only resulted in burning out and increased tensions within the team.

After realising the detrimental effects of our working style, we agreed on building a proper work schedule and system to better manage our work process ( You can learn more about it here ). With everything in place, we managed to launch our private beta in December 2018.

While we also initially intended for our public beta to launch in December, we received several crucial feedback and noted problems from our private beta testers. This led to us making the decision of doing a controlled scale test instead. Doing so allowed us to focus on understanding our current testers and helped us in better adding value to the app.

After fixing up issues and restructuring the app we successfully (and proudly) launched the public beta of Outside in February 2019.

(from left to right) Jin, Nic and Dion representing Outside at Unicon Arena 2019

Side note: we were very lucky and thankful that we were given the opportunity to both open our first booth and pitch for the finals at Unicon Arena 2019. We came in as runner up within 48 hours of our launch too yay!

Lessons Learnt

  1. Skills can be picked up

Don’t look at outsourcing as your only option to build the business, there is a huge existing pool of free resources to pick up the basics; Codecademy for programming and Google Digital Garage for Digital marketing and many others as long as you try to search for it. As always, Google (and Youtube) is your best friend, there are also countless tutorial videos online and guides available for app development and most things startup related.

I was actually able to attend all the Blitzscaling classes in Standford thanks to Greylock’s Youtube channel.

2. Set KPIs as a team

In order to make things move faster, I ended up setting strict deadlines for the team which only led to ineffectiveness and burnouts instead. 

Try to understand the difficulties and make changes to the plans where necessary, allowing the team to suggest their own deliverables will make also help them feel more responsible for their work (Its good to read up on OKRs).

3. Less planning, more “Adapt. Improvise. Overcome”-ing

You’ve probably seen this in the context of a Bear Grylls meme but it’s true, the startup life is mostly about adapting, improvising and (hopefully) overcoming the obstacle as it comes.

There should be a limit on the “In the future/next time” talks and have often focus on the “now”. I’m really excited about what we can do in the future and often lost sight of what needs to be done now for us to get there.

It’s always good to give some future talk to boost the team morale, but make sure to stay in the present and don’t plan ahead if you are not done deciding on the next few actionable steps.

4. Don’t be afraid

Lastly, do NOT be afraid to reach out and ask for help.

When I was starting out, I was really reluctant to ask for help because I was afraid of them doubting my ability as a startup founder. Although it took me awhile to get out of my comfort zone, I’ve learnt so much from getting people’s input and sharing of experience.

You should still research and read up on whatever you can before you ask for help. It’s wasteful to take up people’s time to explain things you can read about online when you can learn much more from their practical experiences.

Whats Next

Although we have already launched our public beta, we are still very much at The Start of our journey. We recently onboarded new members and are currently preparing for our demo day in mid April!

We are currently getting more beta testers so that we can collect more feedback to improve on the product. There are also several pretty interesting functions coming down the pipeline that we are very excited to share! 

We can’t wait to see how you guys react to them. In the meantime, keep an eye OUT for us! 😉

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outside team 2017

Starting Up with Friends: Student Entrepreneurs in Singapore

A little background on us, I’m a tech startup founder based in Singapore, and I’ve been on this journey with my friends for a couple of years, starting with social entrepreneurship programs to designing and printing tees, couple of simple apps and then finally an idea that encompasses all of our beliefs — Outside.

Similar to most startups stories, we began as a group of friends hacking away in our “garage”, bonding and creating a product that we are passionate about. And similar to their stories, we also lived through the tough parts of pivoting our original idea into something more focused and even losing crucial team members due to incompatibility or their lack of ability to commit.

That brings me to my awesome team filled with my favourite people from different parts of my life — I knew Jin since we were 11, Dion and Tristan when we were 13 and LuXian when we were serving in the army (K9 unit) together.

Despite most of us being friends for more than a decade, we still had underlying interpersonal issues when it came down to working together. I believe that tension between members are inevitable and it ultimately comes down to the commitment and effort the members put in to compromise and collaborate.

Outside Team (From left: Jin, Nic, LuXian, Dion, Tristan)

Our team started out super laid back, meeting during our free time and spending late nights after school to draw out designs, functions and to test out concepts. But everyone’s priorities were all over the place when we were working that way, we did not have full attendance most of the time and there was a lack of communication between every member. That’s until we got into Found.’s Elevate program and we started working till the last available transport in their amazing Prinsep space. Although we were working hard, we quickly realised that the long working hours is not equivalent to productivity and most of us were burning out and it indirectly resulted in friction between the members.

In an attempt to ensure that the team is productive and aligned, we collectively agreed to put in systems to make it more professional. We started by agreeing on work hours and made use of free technological solutions to enable communication, collaboration and management. Using this solutions, we then started trying out OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and weekly reports.

We started by building an all encompassing communication channel using Slack and began sharing folders of documents and digital assets on Google Drive. We then set up our top 3 objectives for the week after Monday morning meetings and update our Trello board accordingly, this will then be compiled on Friday and updated on a dedicated “Weekly Report” channel on Slack.

Always keep the random chat so that you know whats for lunch. or dinner. or supper.

The combination of exceptional individuals will only result in extraordinary synergy if they are willing and able to work together, it will be optimal to allocate time for the team to speak up about what they feel about each other and work on it together as a team. It is also crucial that the team knows that every argument is “Us against the problem” and not “ You against Me”.

The Outside of today is shaped after the way the team works and behaves in general. “Bad” (public opinion) jokes and “awkward” (public opinion) humour which are reflected on our name, tagline, write-ups and marketing collateral and of course our mascot Outron — not to be mixed up with the evil super robot that fought against The Avengers.

Outron representing the team for our season greetings (don’t worry we wont add AI into him yet)

In summary, the best way to handle potential cronyism is to draw lines for professional decisions and duties. Know when to say “No” when it comes to work and make sure that the team is still able to have fun Outside work hours.

For the newer startups out there who are still trying to find the perfect team and/or have a dysfunctional team, I hope this article helps out a little! If possible, try to reach out to founders/mentors who are further down the road and seek for their input. I was very lucky to have be given the opportunity to meet up with many amazing founders and individuals (not going to start name-dropping) who are willing to share their experience with me and gave some advice on how things could be done better.

And for the experienced individuals who are willing to share their inputs on how the Outside team is managed and how we can improve, please do! I will be happy to learn more about managing the team better and how we can grow better as a team. Leave a comment below or drop me a private message and I will get back to you!

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