Getting to know the #startupmentality

My first ten days in Singapore are done. After two days of ‘jet lag-recovery’, I’ve already had a full working week as Head of Content for Tribe Theory. This hostel chain aims at entrepreneurs and start-ups and is founded by Vikram Bharati with the idea to give entrepreneurs a place where they can meet like-minded people. The term #startupmentality has already been mentioned a few times, I’m going to figure out in the time to come what people exactly mean by it. Up to now Tribe Theory has five locations; in Singapore, Bali (2), Myanmar and Bangalore. The desire is to develop an online community on top of the physical community one. Which will be my main task.

In the Netherlands I noticed more and more media organizations looking for ways to reach their audience through offline events, such as organizing debates, meet-ups and festivals.  The starting point for the strategy in this project is going to be the other way around. The physical meeting place is already there, those are the hostels. The stories literally enter the door. How do you ensure that the guests follow you online after their stay, that is going to be the main challenge in this project. The content branch that I am going to establish, Tribe Theory Studios, should not just be about online marketing, the goal is to actually make good journalistic stories and eventually collaborate with media organizations to share them.

The first week I made the strategy, starting with the target group that Tribe Theory focuses on. What do we know about this target group and what information are we missing? Is it mainly the nerdy tech entrepreneur or do we want to reach out to the traveling yoga teachers as well? And who are the people in between? Why do they come to Tribe Theory and what is their media interest? We will do more research in the coming period. The second focus is creating our own contentplatform and choosing the social media channels we want to be active on. At this moment each location has its own Instagram and Facebook channel. If we want to grow the reach of the audience and considering the size of our team,  the range and the workflow, this is not convenient. Should the content in the core be the same at all locations or not, also important to ask ourselves. The third point of interest is the content itself. What are we going to tell and how do we involve our target group? ‘Entrepreneurs need inspiration, not advice’, I heard one of the guests say this week. And ‘start-up life is burn-out life’ was another quote that came by, referring to the fact that most of the start-ups do not survive the first year. Is there a taboo on discussing these vulnerable issues and is there an opportunity for us? Or should we just stay away and keep the approach positive. The one does not exclude the other, I am convinced of that.

What is left behind after a first week is the enormous energy that goes around here: the entrepreneurial spirit, thinking in possibilities, big thinking (across national boundaries) and the positive mindset. I met a group of people from Myanmar in Myanmar who were in Singapore to network. A friendly accelarator from Yangon had organized the trip. We took them to co-workpace Found. and AWS (Amazon Web Service). It was as if they were looking into the future. Their own start-ups are focused on construction, the housing market, the fashion and art industry and agriculture. Entrepreneurship is first and foremost a solution to a problem and those ‘problems’ are things that are very close to life’s needs. In Singapore the ‘start-up eco-system’ is already much more focused on tech, in Myanmar it is more about daily problemsolving.

The business climate in Myanmar is in full development; the government stimulates entrepreneurship and investors are prepared to take risks. It gave me a different perspective on the country that I mainly know by reporting on the Rohingya crisis. By talking to this young group of entrepreneurs, for example, I learned about the education system (‘poor quality’) and the male-female ratio (‘the number of female entrepreneurs is by no means equal to the number of male’). Of this group of start-ups was four of the six women, which is a good sign.

Like the entrepreneurs from Myanmar, I myself am also ‘green’ in this world. Meanwhile, I can talk about terms like accelerator, incubator, Fintech and SAS and I see that in my turn I can add from my journalistic background. I’m really looking forward to putting that into practice in the coming period!