Last week, we heard from four prominent Singaporean entrepreneurs about why coding skills are so important in the startup world. We’re back this week with a Q&A about their experience in coding bootcamps – going from being complete beginners (coding noobs) to being able to build their own prototypes.
Why did you decide to enroll in a coding programme?
Back in 2017, Jacinta Lim decided to start Seek Sophie, an online travel platform where one can book experiences directly with trusted local travel operators. Neither she nor her co-founder had a technical background, but she wanted to learn so that she could build her platform from scratch.
“It just seemed obvious to me that founders of tech businesses should understand the foundation of their businesses. Not knowing how to code my own tech product is like going into the battlefield with one arm tied behind me and needing to ask others around to help me wage the battle. It’s certainly possible to win anyway, but that’s not how I would choose to enter the battlefield.”
“My classmates from INSEAD had a great experience working with ALPHA Camp student as part of an MBA entrepreneurship class. I did some research about their programme, liked what I saw, and decided to go for it.”
Technology Venturing Practicum: Digital Entrepreneurship – a collaboration between INSEAD and ALPHA Camp
What were your most memorable moments from the programme?
Anna Haotanto, founder of The New Savvy, enrolled in a bootcamp with the goal of building a personal finance tool for her company. She made this her final project idea, and worked alongside three fellow students, Raeger, Gloria and Joelle, who ended up joining her company after the program. Together, the team conceptualised ‘I Am Savvy,’ a financial planning tool that helps women set financial goals, understand their risk assessment and manage budget and expenses.
Instead of seeing the app as just a capstone project, the team became really fixated on creating something “fun, beautiful and accessible to women all over the world.” Raeger ended up joining The New Savvy as the Lead Developer, Gloria as the Designer, and Joelle as a Project Manager.
Anna, Joelle and Rager presenting their final project, I am Savvy, at Demo Day
“When you work alongside people in such an intensive setting, you really see what their strengths are and how they would be in your company. That’s much more valuable than an interview,” Anna said.
What skills did you learn that help you in your day-to-day business?
With technology being such an integral part of everyone’s life today, no company can deliver its product or service with an optimal user experience without technology. Therefore every company in today’s digital economy needs to be a technology company, no matter what industry it is in, and product or service it offers.
Take, for example, Poon Da Qian, Founder of Butler in Suits, Singapore’s first hospitality service for apartments. “Prior to joining ALPHA Camp’s web development bootcamp, Butler in Suits offered hospitality services. Post ALPHA Camp, we still offer hospitality services, but we’ll be adding tech-enabled hospitality services to our offerings. At least on the foundational level, there was some understanding of what is possible with technology. That is invaluable and contributed greatly to the direction that we took to developing our web application and an upcoming mobile application.”
What advice would you have for people who are considering enrolling in a coding programme?
Karl Mak, Co-founder of the Hepmil Media Group (creator of SGAG and SGEEK), first enrolled in a coding programme after he got the idea to build out a software to automate call center wait times. He pitched it to the CEO of Maybank who said, “if you build it, I’ll buy it.” He built it with an instructor he met through his coding programme, and the two won a startup competition with their prototype. Though the startup failed, it helped lay the groundwork for his current company.
“My advice is to first figure out your goal(s) for attending a coding programme. Are you going to be a developer? Are you going to lead developers? Are you going to hire developers? Although I realized I wasn’t going to be building my own apps, I needed to understand how an app is developed, how building a product works. This allowed me to pitch to my cofounder, to raise money, to build our own product. This allowed us to fail and reflect upon our journey to get where we are today.”
“If I never took the leap of faith to say what the heck let’s go for the bootcamp, it would have never allowed me to struggle. It’s something that changed my life.”
Inspired by these startup founders? Check out ALPHA Camp’s new Online Web Development Programme and join the thousands students who have trusted us across Asia! Missed part 1 of the series on why knowing how to code is important for tech entrepreneurs? Read it here.