The Singapore AdVentures Program: What it’s like and why you should do it

During the summer break, I had the opportunity to learn alongside a Singaporean startup called Antbuildz as part of the UQ Ventures Startup AdVenture program.

Written by Oscar Wilkins, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) student

Before the program, I had little to no experience or knowledge about the startup industry. However, after a month at my startup, attending startup events, and learning from my peers, my eyes have been opened to a fascinating new aspect of the business world.

Learning at a startup
Six student sitting on rooftop in with Singapore skyline in background
Singapore Startup AdVenturers enjoying the sights (Oscar pictured third from left)

My startup, Antbuildz, is an online business-to-business (B2B) platform for renting construction equipment in Singapore. Similar to an online hotel booking platform, suppliers will list their equipment on the website and users will rent the equipment, with an Antbuildz taking a 5-10% commission on each transaction. Within the company, I was tasked with ‘business development.’ Whilst I was involved with several tasks related to the company’s desired expansion to Malaysia and Vietnam, I also found myself learning across other areas such as UI/UX improvement and marketing. For me, this was one of the main differences between experience at a small startup in comparison to an established company. At most startups, there is a flat hierarchy and so employees can be expected to be across all aspects of the business. Depending on your preferred style, this can be either a positive or negative aspect of startups.

With this flat hierarchy, also comes the opportunity to make real and tangible change very quickly. At Antbuildz, the CEO sat in the room directly opposite me and the other UQ students and his door was always open. If I ever had a suggestion or idea for the company, I was able to share this directly with the CEO and receive feedback or directly implement the idea. As someone that likes to see results in what they do, seeing fast change was a big plus when in a startup environment.

This flows through to the final point about gaining experience at a startup, in that it is a very initiative-driven environment. For early-stage startups, the entire business usually comprises of less than 10 people and everyone is very busy. I found that I was responsible for learning new things myself, and for taking the initiative to find areas of improvement to make myself more productive. This work environment would suit someone who is proactive and passionate about what they do.

Singapore startup culture
Startup AdVentures in front of 'Plug and Play' big white letters
Startup AdVenturers at Plug and Play APAC Summit

Singapore has a large startup community. This is due in part to its stable and sheltered economy, government funding for startups, and central geographical location. With many startups in Singapore, there are multiple startup-related events each week across the island. They presented great opportunities for startups to network with potential business partners, and for students like myself to get a better scope of the startup community (and learn how to give a good pitch!).

An event that I particularly enjoyed was the Plug and Play APAC Summit. At the event, there were a variety of high-quality startups that presented from a range of ‘verticals’ (fancy word for sector), and it was fascinating to see their innovations. I particularly enjoyed the startups that were involved in the energy sector, as it was inspiring to see some of the concepts I’ve learnt in my engineering degree at university being applied to real-world problems.

From this event and others, I’ve learnt:

  • Successful startups aren’t just a good idea. They are a solution to a problem. Identifying the problem is the first step.
  • Marketing and networking are absolutely critical. You might have a great solution to an important problem, but without putting yourself out there (on social media, with investors etc.) you won’t be able to get your business off the ground.
  • Founding a startup isn’t something you need to do straight out of university. The most successful startups I saw have come from people who have solved a problem in an industry in which they have worked in.
The Startup AdVenture program as a whole

For those considering participating in the program, my advice is to do it. The program is a fantastic opportunity to learn about startups, learn about the Singaporean startup culture, and make international business connections. There is also a lot of free time and independence in the program, so it’s not a bad way to explore the country too!

And for those who are about to start the program, my advice would be to make the most of it. It is not often that you are given the chance to travel and learn overseas for free, so go to events, meet new people, be proactive and say yes to every opportunity.

Interested in joining a Startup AdVenture?

Learn more about Startup AdVentures


Last updated:
17 January 2023