There are many lessons that corporates are learning from startups on culture, environment, and most importantly, having a growth mindset. There have been many books and talks about these. “No Rules Rules” by Netflix’s Reed Hastings is our current favourite.
We had done a few corporate programmes in the past, including Transforming future leaders. Recently, we refreshed our corporate immersion programme for corporates to make this more engaging for our participants.
Ecommerce business boomed in 2020, and we wanted to bring refreshing insights to participants on how ecommerce business worked – including engaging the audience on product build, operations, people management and probably the most important element of startup – making sure you have enough cash.
We decided to structure the programme – not with talks, but with real practical experiences. After all, getting one’s hands dirty is the best way to remember and understand a particular topic.
So what did we do? In a nutshell, we simulated ecommerce scenarios – from our actual venture building days and guided the participants to find innovative ways to solve startup problems. Participants were pushed to explore culture, conflict resolution, creative negotiations and to see things from unique startup perspectives.
Some snippets from briefing material – real life examples
One interesting observation was culture – how did participants treat their staff (new and existing) in the face of a crisis? We saw that most of the participants were hesitant in firing their staff. Especially in Singapore, corporates have a social responsibility to keep their people safe. This gives most people a safety net that their jobs are secured, regardless of their performance. Unfortunately it also stifles competition and to a certain extent, the hunger to succeed. We removed the safety nets and gave the participants a moral dilemma – retrench people or risk losing your investors money, and potentially your own startup?
People become creative when they have limited resources and when they are forced to make decisions. And we were pretty impressed with the solutions that the participants came up with. Corporate people are pretty creative (and sometimes aggressive) when the boundaries are removed and they can see the big picture.
We also had a number of our Momentum Works community – from different walks of lives, that came by to share their experiences with the participants. We had Ivan Teng from 6Estates, one of the aspiring Singaporean AI companies who came by to show the participants how latest AI technologies help companies improve their operations and fend off bigger competitors.
Our partner, 6Estates introduction to the participants
We also had Cecile Correa, a lifestyle transformation strategist who came by to share her “Wheel of Life” approach to get the participants to think about their own vision board. This kind of mental grit and training that we’ve experienced first hand is super important for entrepreneurs to get through obstacles and challenges in the startup adventures! And to balance the simulation with structure, we invited Professor Chen from INSEAD to share with us his academic observation of startups and their strategies.
And most importantly, we had good banter with the participants. These participants – leaders in their own right – had a wealth of experience that we entrepreneurs learnt from as well. One profound feedback from one participant was “When corporates negotiate with vendors, it’s dollar and cents; but when a startup negotiates with vendors, it’s on the joint vision on how we can be better together.”
When we started the programme, one participant said “My aim here is that I want to be relevant” that resonated with everyone.
At the end of the programme, we all learnt that to remain relevant, we must all understand how change can impact our lives, get our hands dirty, and have a community that we can leverage on.
A big thanks as always to the Momentum Works team, our Millenia and Gen-Z, across 3 countries, who worked around the clock to make this programme a success!