Week 21 — Pratu Phase 0 Launch

As Phase 0 launch approaches, we find ourselves scrambling to get the simplest of processes out. Rewinding back 5 months ago to the start of the Venture Building programme in NTUitive, we weren’t even working on Pratu!

Our initial project that my then partner, Vikram and I were supposed to work on with our mentor was actually an insurance based project. Due to some circumstances, we were immediately transitioned over to working on Pratu which is a technology based project dealing with fractionalised properties.

The start was absolutely grueling, with week after week of presentations that were designed to get us up to speed on many topics such as, property, property laws, blockchain etc etc.

Each week we presented, came back with responses like “So how does this help the project? What kind of conclusions can you give me?”

We realised quickly that if we were to employ the typical Singaporean way of research and thinking, it was not going to fly in the real world of entrepreneurship.

Why? Because being a regurgitator does not help any business, if you aspire to be an entrepreneur or work in an entrepreneurial setting, you can’t just act as an aggregator for information, you need to hone acute decision making. Every single idea researched should not be for nothing, it has to simplify decision-making or to back up your ideas and solidify understanding when being tested.

Having a touch-and-go kind of approach will land you in hot water quickly, which was evident when we ended up presenting nothing of worth.

The most challenging part of coming to a completely new project wasn’t dealing with issues that stemmed the project itself, but it was actually how to work in a team. Since the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, I had gotten used to travelling alone because I felt that there weren’t many people I could approach that shared the same entrepreneurial vision as I did.

And so, being thrust into a environment where I needed to work with someone whose personality functioned completely different from mine was always going to be tough, but I found that keeping my head down and focusing on what I could control was more productive than focusing on the undesirable poor work ethic exhibited by certain individuals.

Things turned out even more hectic and after a couple of turnovers later, our team’s now pretty much stable with Sherman, Vanessa and I working together on 3 projects.

With our core team set in stone and our roles well-defined, our foundation has been laid out for us to move forward.

It’s easy to come up with ideas and conceptualise grand schemes, but what differentiates the dreamers and the doers is the ability to operationalise your dreams.

Whether you’re dreaming of opening an all-you-can-eat cheese buffet or creating an app called lepak.io, if you’re unable to operationalise your solution, you don’t have a business.

Let’s say you have the largest sales pipeline with customers raring to buy from you or you have the most viral tiktok campaign that’s drawing tons of people to your site to buy your plushie, but you don’t a have concrete plan to deal with logistics, returns and procurement of products, your launch falls flat on it’s face. The customer experience is so negative that no one wants to be a returning customer.

That’s one of the glaring issues we’re grappling with for our phase 0 launch of Pratu. Understanding the potential pitfalls that may arise internally when a sale comes through helps us plan for safeguards that we can implement to mitigate them or enable us to have a quick turnaround.

These issues can cascade if mishandled and results in a huge loss of future revenue and reputation with both being inextricably linked to each other.

On top of that, handling the technology aspect of the launch has been difficult, with the team needing to chase and pressure developers to come up with the most critical features to allow us to fulfill our buyers’ basal expectations.

We’ve always viewed this launch not as a major milestone to be celebrated, but as the beginning of possibilities. Whether or not the project succeeds or not, only time will tell. Like my teammate Vanessa says, it’s okay not to know, but what are you going to do to find out what you don’t know.

There are many unknowns that lie hidden in the pathway to success, if I were to offer a different perspective to Vanessa T’s philosophy, it would be to strike a balance between finding out what you don’t know and moving forward at the same time.

Sometimes, we find ourselves paralysed by the shear amount of readings or research that we need to do to answer all the unknowns while trying to meet deadlines in a time-sensitive environment. The key here is in attaining the wisdom to sort through and prioritise the essential “I don’t knows” to answer first so that we don’t go around wasting time chasing rabbits.

NTUitive’s Veni.VB18 programme has been a huge personal growth catalyst for me, pulling me in ways that I’ve never been stretched before and I’m extremely thankful for that.

But it has reaffirmed a belief held for many years that entrepreneurs have to be extremely self-motivated. We now enter a phase in the programme where proper lessons have stopped and the onus falls onto us to plan our time and progress for our projects.

Yes, our mentors are there to drive us and advice us, but ultimately if we don’t learn how to drive ourselves, eventually everyone falls into this cozy trap called the comfort zone where dreams die just as easily as they were conceived.

There are many things to learn, so much more that we don’t know, yet the journey always seems only just beginning.

That excites me and keeps me up at night sometimes.

Till next week!

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Adriel Fong

Entrepreneur In Training

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