Startup Singapore: A Complete Guide

Startup Singapore_ A Complete Guide

A lot of steps go into launching a start-up in Singapore. It may seem overwhelming to tackle everything at once, but with this simple guide and roadmap, you have everything you need to establish the groundwork for a healthy, profitable start-up.

Remember: you don’t need to sign up for any special training to launch a successful start-up in Singapore. What you need instead is a good start-up idea, a plan, the ability to act on your idea, and the desire to adapt and learn.

But first things first:

What’s a Start-up?

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A start-up is a young, fledgling business in its early stages of operation. Usually, they’re bankrolled by the entrepreneurial founders themselves or through bootstrapping.

But there’s more to a start-up than the products or services they intend to sell. The underlying entrepreneurs must visualise themselves changing the world through the product or service. Either by being unique or by changing lives.

There are two types of Start-ups: cold and experienced.

Cold Start-up: This start-up has no experience as it has never existed. They may have a nice idea, but this is the first time they’re implementing it.

Experienced Start-up: This start-up is developed and managed by a person(s) with prior experience in managing a similar product or service. Usually, they’re spearheaded by large companies that want to introduce something new.

The Start-up Scene in Singapore

Singapore is one of the most advanced tech hubs in the world. It’s home to a flurry of start-up incubators and accelerators. That explains why this Asian nation-state has been exploding with micro-businesses of late.

A few stats to watch:

Population: 5.4 million


  • Lots of support for start-ups
  • So many networking opportunities
  • An ever-improving start-up and investment scene


  • High cost of living.
  • Rent is expensive
  • Government break for start-ups

What to expect:

  • A pro-business or investment climate
  • Well-educated people
  • A fast-moving economy

Why Singapore?

Singapore enjoys a fired-up start-up scene. Setting up a company in the country is also straightforward – no unnecessary hoops associated with other countries.

Support: There’s immense support from both the government and the people.

Global Outlook: The country also enjoys a global outlook. Not to mention high standards of supporting infrastructure.

Great Talent: The country also produces great talent. Whether it’s financial, transport, IT, or telecommunication services, it’s relatively easier to get anything done in Singapore.

It’s fun to invest here: Culturally, Singapore is still young. There’s, therefore, this notion that nothing is impossible in the country. It’s easy for entrepreneurs to get excited about the business scene in the country, which generally makes it fun to invest here.

What’s the Cost of Doing Business in Singapore?

Perhaps the most expensive part of doing business in Singapore is keeping up with the high cost of living.

Rent is high, and it’s generally tough for start-ups to marshal up necessary resources for both the company and its employees.

Start-up Guide for First-time Entrepreneurs in Singapore

Here’s a valuable guide on how to set up a successful start-up in Singapore:

Choose Your Preferred Business Structure

You have to be extra cautious and analytical while choosing a business structure, as there’s a lot of ways the structure you choose could impact your business.

For example, your business structure may affect:

  • The control you have over the start-up
  • The amount of income tax to pay
  • Health, safety, and other legal requirements
  • Regulatory Obligations
  • The liability you’ll incur in case something happens, or you incur losses

Here are the four structures to choose from:

Sole Trader: This is where you register yourself as the sole proprietor or owner of the start-up business. Meaning, you’re responsible for all the legal aspects of operating the business.

Company: A company is a commercial business entity with a separate legal existence from its shareholders.

Partnership: It’s when you team up with one or more persons or entities to start a company.

Trust: A trust refers to a business entity holding property or any other legal asset that benefits a third party.

Choose your Business Type

After you choose a business structure, the next thing you want to do is understand what type of start-up business is better suited for you. Your options are rife.

  • An online business
  • An independent contractor
  • A Franchise

Remember: each of these options comes with its own set of regulatory requirements and legal obligations.

Choose a Suitable Name for Your Business

The name you choose for your business will eventually become your brand name. That means you have to give it thorough thought. Invite everyone involved and brainstorm on everything to come up with a name that best defines your business.

The name you choose has to be approved, as there are rules that guide the wording and everything else. Follow this link to be guided on how to choose a business name in Singapore.

Register Your Company

A majority of companies in Singapore operate as private limited companies. The companies will have the suffix “Ltd,” “Pte Ltd,” or Private Limited to their name.

Some other countries commonly refer to private limited companies as corporations, limited liability companies, incorporations, unlimited companies, and so on. Singapore is among the few countries that do not use the latter.

Company registration in Singapore is conducted by the ACRA (the Accounting and Corporate Registration Authority).

What Should you Expect after Successfully Registering your Company?

  • Unique Entity Number

A unique entity number operates a whole lot like your personal identification, but for your company.

The number is generated automatically, and it’s what you use to identify your company whenever you’re dealing with any government body.

ACRA will also send you a congratulatory letter a week after you’ve successfully registered your company.

  • Marketing Mailers

Corporate Service Providers will start sending you numerous marketing emails listing out a range of corporate services you may want to sign up for.

Be sure to perform validation checks on any mailer that purports to be from a government agency.

Open your Company Bank Account

The next thing you want to do is to open a corporate bank account with your company’s name and not yours. You have several bank options to go with.

This bank account is meant to facilitate all your company’s transactions. It’s also a good way to draw a distinction between your personal expenditure and company transactions.

Business Permits and Licenses

Be sure to check out if there are permits and licenses to be precured in your line of business. The licenses and permits tend to have qualifying conditions. It’s, therefore, important that you apply for them before setting up your business.

Setting up an Inventory Management and Record-Keeping System

A common mistake that entrepreneurs make almost all the time is beefing up their marketing while completely neglecting inventory management.

You need proper records for monitoring receivables, payables, business decisions, your company’s financial status, corporate tax filings, and so on. In fact, you’re legally required to maintain proper business records for at least five years.

Web Development

You need a professionally done website and email system to represent your business online and connect with your online clientele.

Here’s what you’ll need to set up a website in Singapore:

  • A domain name, which goes for about $20 per year for a .com TLD, and about $60 per year for TLD.
  • Webhosting: This is like your digital real estate. The annual cost of web hosting can range from $60 to thousands of dollars, depending on the option you choose.
  • A web designer and developer: This is the person or agency responsible for designing your website in Singapore. Typically, the cost of hiring one can range from $2 000 to $250 000, depending on the nature of your website.

Business Card Printing

Find a professional business card print and let them help you design your business cards. Don’t skimp. Instead, try to find a business card designer that offers letterpress printing.

Set up a Business Office

You have several options when it comes to setting up your business workspace. You can work from your bedroom or living room or cost-share an office space with one of your friends or colleague.

However, if you’re planning to lease a unit, you should at least be prepared to part away with 2 to 3 months’ worth of rent, with a one-month deposit.

CPF Commitment

If you’re planning to pay yourself a salary or get one or more employees on a payroll, it’s legally required that you apply for a Central Provident Fund (CPF) number and submission account.

IRAS GST Commitment

It’s a compulsory requirement to register with the GST the moment your annual taxable turnover crosses the $1 million mark. Failure to register with the GST may result in a fine of up to $10 000.


10 Easy Ways to Come Up with a Startup or Business Idea

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Here’s the ultimate guide to come up with a potentially successful business idea for your startup. Don’t overthink it. A suitable business idea for your startup might be closer to you than you think. 

Below are some of the frameworks, concepts, and methods that successful business figures have used to develop business ideas that ended up being successful: 

Copy What’s Already There

There’s nothing like a magically original idea. Everything you’re thinking of doing today has already been thought of and even implemented elsewhere. 

Instagram wasn’t an original idea. Facebook had an almost similar feature. The same applies to Snapchat and all the social media platforms that you know.

Very few businesses (if any) can confidently say they sprouted from an original idea. 

Before Google, there was Archie. And before Facebook, there was Myspace, and the list continues. The point is everything you interact with should inspire you. You’re to learn from what they’re not doing right and perfect it on your end.

Start Small

Retire your ego. 

You’re not in this for show off or anything, but to grow something and see if it will eventually make you money.

Most of the successful business moguls you know started small. Warren Buffet might be worth billions right now, but he was only a newspaper delivery guy at the beginning of his journey.

Before you invest $ million, test out the idea with $100 and see how things go. 

Catch a Wave

Jeff Bezos wasn’t born rich. In 1994, he was an employee at a hedge fund. But he would read an article on internet usage. 

In the article, internet usage had grown by 2300% that year. It’s then that he made up his mind and decided on his next mission. 

This incredible stat prompted him to quit his job and start Amazon, which made him one of the world’s richest men (the richest at the time of this publication). 

Forget About Startup Ideas and Focus on the problems

Don’t fall into the trap of building a product that nobody wants.

The only way you can be sure there’ll be a ready market for it is when it’s tailored around a pain-point. 

You’re not just finding a problem, but defining it and offering a solution. 

Find the Pain

The more painful a problem is, the more people will be willing to pay for a solution.

So how do you find people’s pain?

Via Painland, a site dedicated to identifying and listing the problems you should be aiming to solve. 

For example:

“I don’t have an all-rounded platform for managing all my social media account or email subscriptions.” 


Move where the money is or where the marketing is thriving.

You can piggyback on Amazon, Fiverr, or any other platform. 

Look around for businesses that are thriving. Is there a way to piggyback on their success?

Same but with a Different Spin

You can copy someone else’s idea and give it your spin.

You can take the same idea someone already has but target a different niche. Or even take an idea that’s been implemented elsewhere and create a local replica of it.

Here are famous examples of successful businesses whose idea was inspired by another business or company:

LinkedIn = > Facebook for professionals

VK => Facebook for Russian people

Grab => Slack for gamers

Gab => Twitter for alt-right people or those looking for a platform that supports free speech, without the fear of being censored

Glassdoor => TripAdvisor for jobs

Same but Better

You can create something similar to what already exists, but purpose to make it better.

Before Google, there was Archie. But Google proved to be better, and that’s how they usurped the market. 

If a particular product sucks, then come up with something better, and the market is all yours. 

Scratch Your Itch

What do you wish to see?

You’re your own market. What do you think would work for you?

That’s the product to develop and bring to the market. 

In fact, that’s how Twitter came to being. 

Same with CD Baby, which would eventually be sold for $22 million. 

Ask Your Audience 

There’s no harm in asking your target audience about an idea you have or some suggestions on what to do. 

Here are the questions you may ask:

  • What should be my next project? What product should I develop next?
  • What services would you like from me?
  • Any idea on the next product to develop?
  • What business would you start if you were in my position?


22 StartUp Ideas for Singapore

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Cryptocurrency Exchange 

Are you a cryptocurrency believer? Here’s your chance to make the best of the exchange clone scripts. 

Create a platform where people can exchange cryptocurrencies for cash and vice versa. You can even build a cryptocurrency wallet. Or better, start mining and smart contracting in this market. 

Of course, it’s not going to be a smooth ride. So, buckle up for the ups and downs you’ll encounter along the way. 

Online Second-hand Bookstore

Create an online store for listing second-hand books. If you love reading, then you can create an online platform for selling or exchanging second-hand books. 

The point is to create a platform that connects book vendors with avid bibliophiles. 

How to: 

You’re to create an online marketplace, where people can sign up and list second-hand books to sale or exchange with other avid readers. You can charge a small fee for the exchanges. 

Users can then log into the site; choose a book they want to buy and then proceed to make payments (plus the cost of shipping). The seller can either hand over the book to you for inspection and packaging or ship it directly to the buyer. You’re the person to decide which business model works best for you.  


  • Domain name
  • An online marketplace (if you can’t design one, hire an e-commerce developer)

Transportation Service for Seniors (or Assisted Shopping)

How much do you care about senior citizens — especially since not all of them are privileged to have a caring family?

A large majority of them don’t even own cars. Nor do they understand how to order a cab online. 

Plus, most of them don’t like to travel alone or with just anyone. 

When they want to go shopping or for a coffee date with a friend, you can offer them cab services, only that you’ll be with them all through and assist them with shopping and everything else. 

You can offer services such as:

  • Pick and drop: With this option, you can drop by their house and pick their shopping list to do it on their behalf.
  • Assisted Services: You offer to accompany them and help them to do the shopping and make sure that they return home safely.

How to:

You don’t have to start big. Instead, visit your local nursing home or retirement village and pitch your services to the elderly you meet. A better approach would be to contact the facility’s manager and pitch your idea. 

Print pamphlets and post them to the various retirement facilities and nursing homes for marketing.  

Retro Subscription Box

This is (by far) the coolest startup idea on the list. 

With it comes endless possibilities and niches. 

You can create subscription boxes for wedding, valentine’s day, sports fans, snacks, toys, books, fruits & vegetables, and so on.

How to:

The first step would be to select a niche market. You can select up to five subscription boxes, each with a different item tailored to your customer interests – vinyl, comics, cassettes, video games, and vintage. 

Next, create a subscription-based website, where your customers can subscribe to your retro box on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Requirements: Startup supplies (including the boxes to store your goodies, products for the boxes, and postage stationery), website, marketing materials

Reddit-like App for Mobile

If you’ve ever tried accessing Reddit on mobile, you’ll agree it sucks. Plus, they don’t have an official app for Reddit. 

Here’s your chance to start something similar, but make sure it operates smoothly on mobile. People want a mobile app that they can easily access for crowdsourced topics and news. 

Anonymous Social Interaction App

The rise of apps such as Chat Roulette, Omegle, and YikYak have shown us that there’s a rising demand for anonymous interactions. Not everyone wants to parade their information online. 

All you have to do is build an Omegle-like app that takes advantage of the location-based smartphone functionality. You could even design a blind-dating app, where people interact anonymously and only decide to share their pictures and personal details after they get to like each other. 

A Survey App That Reveals Something Interesting About People and Their Friends

People love taking surveys that reveal something interesting about them. You’ve probably come across such surveys on Facebook. 

Buzzfeed is an excellent example of how this works. You can come up with an app that’s strictly dedicated to such surveys. People can sign up and take these surveys on their mobile phones and even share them with their friends and families. 

Here’s How Marketing 4.0 Can Boost Your Omnichannel E-commerce

This can be a pleasant pass-time, and an excellent way to learn a thing or two about your friends and partners. 

A Decision-Making App

Create an app that’s strictly dedicated to helping others with decision making. Decisions are tough, like deciding what to eat, where to take someone for a date, or what movie to watch. 

But what if there existed an app where you could reach out to random people and ask them for some suggestions. Users get rewarded with points for the recommendations they make. You could ask them about a local event to attend, a watering hole to blow off steam, and so on. 

An Event App

It’s a trend that started on Facebook. Students found out about parties and local events through texting and Facebook events.

Nothing has changed: people still depend on social media for this. But what if you created an app that was dedicated to these events. People can sign up and upload videos and photos that self-destruct after the event ends. 

Snapchat is already doing this. They’re curating location-based events and stories, but it would be much better if there existed an app that was specifically created for these events. 

Renting Gadgets

Create a platform where people can rent gadgets instead of buying them. Or to test them out before investing their hard-earned cash. 

This idea might require you to invest in a long list of gadgets first.

But first, you have to do some serious market research and find out what gadgets people hire the most. 

Examples of gadget you can hire include:

  • Video production gear
  • Public Address 
  • VR sets
  • Gaming systems
  • Drones for aerial video shoots, and so on

Meal Planning App

Create a simple app that answers the question, “when, what, and how much should you eat?” Especially for those working out. 

You’re to create an app that takes care of all your dietary needs, from carb cycling, nutrient timing, and micro-planning. 

A Freelancing Platform for Singapore

I have yet to come across a freelancing platform that’s dedicated to the people of Singapore.

Although many people are working for startups, media companies, agencies, freelancing is becoming more and more common among developers. 

If anything, many companies that can’t afford or find permanent people to employ are now opting for freelancers. You could seize this opportunity and design a freelancing platform that’s specifically meant for the people of Singapore. 

Create a Smart Productivity App

One common theme that’s starting to pick up steam among many startup apps such as Trello, Evernote, Basecamp, and Slack is work productivity. 

How can a person stay more productive given the limited amount of time they have in a week?

You have to understand workplace productivity and some of the things affecting it – like the number of times people check their emails. Or you could get employees to batch their workflows, and so on. 

The point is to create a smart productivity app that can aggregate data and use AI to rearrange specific tasks and activities to improve workplace productivity. 

Smart Web Builder 

Do you know what’s even harder than building a fully-functional website from scratch? 

Managing one

Of course, there’s a countless number of website builders out there. But none of them goes beyond helping you set up a website using a canned theme. 

You could create a web builder that integrates everything you’ll need to run a successful website. You want to offer a web building platform that comes with a marketing expert, SEO consultant, web designer, and web developer all rolled in one. 

Asset-based Peer-to-peer Lending Platform

You can create an asset-based peer-to-peer lending platform or app where borrowers can sign up and receive fast and transparent transfers at the best rates possible. Lenders benefit from choosing the amount that they’re willing to lend and what to lend against. 

P2P lending differs from traditional financing in the sense that you’re not borrowing from any bank or financial institution. But from an individual or a group of them. Your P2P loan platform will be connecting businesses with lenders or investors, as they’re commonly referred. 

A few such platforms already exist – Peerform, Upstart, Prosper, and Funding circle.  

An App Connecting Manufacturers and Wholesalers with Entrepreneurs

Most of the products people sell in Singapore are hard goods. One would expect it’s easy for an entrepreneur to find a reliable manufacturer, supplier, or wholesaler with such in-demand attributes, but sadly it’s not. 

So, what if you created a website that’s dedicated to easing this pain-point?

You could make it easy for small business owners and entrepreneurs to find sources of their products.

When someone wants to find a supplier for a particular product, it’s your site they visit for price comparison and supplier information. 

You’re looking to create something like WorldWide Brands, but for Singapore. 

A Platform Dedicated to Helping Content Creators Find Out What Type of Videos do Well on YouTube

This is common in the film industry. A handful of investors and executives bet on the TV shows and movies they have an inkling will do well. Usually, these movies or TV shows follow an archetypical storyline. Some already have an established comic-book fan audience. 

With proper research and data analysis, you could bring this data to the YouTube platform. We’re talking conversions, likes, views, and shares, quite similar to what BuzzFeed is already doing for the entertainment industry. 

Your platform will analyse videos that do well, and develop a central hub for valuable data that YouTube content creators might be interested in. 

A Video/Audio Production Marketplace

You can create a platform that connects video producers and those looking to hire them. 

You want to make video production easy, accessible, and affordable to small businesses and budding musicians. 

You’re simply creating a video production community, a fragmented but mostly a freelance video production community.

Think Wooshii. 

Delivery Services

This startup idea has gained a lot of popularity lately, following the covid pandemic. 

And you know what?

People could still use such a convenience even after this pandemic ends. 

The idea of picking up the phone or visiting an online portal to say what you want and then waiting for it to be delivered could still sit well with most people. This is your chance to cash in on this trend and build a brand around it. 

3D Printing

3D printing is on the rise.

If you’re skilled in it, here’s your chance to make a killing with it by turning it into a profitable business venture. 

You can start by designing small parts. You could even design other products and sell them online. 

With 3D printing, it’s possible to set up a small, easy-to-scale manufacturing operation. 

Music Streaming Platform

You can create a local music streaming platform. People can sign up to stream music and even download it. 

It’s even better when this app doubles as a media player that people can use to play locally-stored music directly from their mobile devices. 

You’ll need a series of licenses for this, though. But the trick is to follow popular music streaming services and pick a thing or two about how they run their operations. 


Set up an online portal or platform with a vast collection of books that people can access, read, and rent. 

People want to access educational material on the net. So, rest assured you’ll be attracting massive traffic of avid book readers to your site.


Top 10 Business Ideas in Singapore in 2020

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You’re certainly not going to make it if your startup idea stinks. Luckily for you, I have the luxury of working with brilliant people at MediaOne. New ideas are like the air we breathe. 

It always feels like we’re swimming in new opportunities, from the new products we can launch to potential partnerships and freelancing opportunities. 

And we’re glad to let you know that we’ll be sharing some of these ideas with you today.

Here we go:


Freelancing Ideas


Do you have a skill or talent that you can offer as a service?

A simple business idea for you would be to establish yourself as a freelancer. Master your craft and use the various freelancing platforms to source clients.

After working for some time, you can recruit other freelancers to your camp, and that’s how you grow your empire. 

Keep in mind that freelancing is an overarching term covering a range of services you can offer. 

Here are the skills it covers: 




This can be a lucrative freelancing venture for those with a voice for radio.

get low cost monthly seo packages

Voice-over freelancers are in high demand. People are always hiring voice-over freelancers to help them voice commercials, audiobooks, and intros and outros for their video clips.


Graphic Design


If you have a keen eye for design, look no further than establishing yourself as a freelance graphic designer. There’s so much you can do with the skill you possess. You can design logos, edits web images, create marketing materials, design book covers, and so much more. 


Web Design/Development


If you have any programming skills, then perhaps you should consider kickstarting your freelance career as a web developer or designer. Better, this is a skill that can be learned and perfected with time. 

Speaking of which, a lot of people could benefit from your web design skills. Help them set up unique web experiences, fix bugs, and improve their websites. Whichever the case, this is a skill you can count on to make you big money eventually. 




It’s a global economy. 

That means borders no longer limit businesses. People can quickly sell and ship their products or services to neighbouring countries. And when they do, they might need someone to help them out with translating their language. It’s a lucrative business venture for those who speak multiple languages. 




We’re living in an information age. 

The internet is brimming with content, generated every second. Now, with billions of consumers ready for it, it helps to have this content packaged differently. 

While some people prefer to watch and listen, some prefer to read or have their videos or audios served with sub-titles. In comes a transcriber. If you can type, then perhaps you should consider making a career out of converting raw videos or audio into text. It’s really that simple. 




Your job as a writer isn’t just limited to writing blog posts and articles. 

There are so many mediums and types of content that you can write today and make an honest living out of it.

Businesses are looking for material they share and spread their brand message. If you have a way with words, enough to put their thoughts into words, then so many businesses out there could benefit from your services.

Resources for Freelancers: Upwork, Freelancer, Fiverr, Guru, Iwriter, Hirewriters, Thehoth, 99Designs, Problogger, Writersaccess, contently


Virtual Assistant


A virtual assistant is a broad term used to describe people who assist businesses in various tasks and jobs. 

A virtual assistant doesn’t necessarily have to be a freelancer, but the two overlap a lot. We’d say a Virtual Assistant specialises in administrative tasks, while a freelancer refers to anyone with a marketable skill that’s they’re offering as a service. 

Their duties include uploading video or audio content, managing social media, filtering emails, social media posting, bookkeeping, and customer service. 

Resources for Virtual Assistant

Upwork, LinkedIn, Fiverr, Freelancer, and Virtual Assistants. 


Lend Out Your Assets


If you have any asset that you’re not using, then perhaps you should consider renting it out for money. Any equipment or space that you do not need can have tremendous value to other people. 

You don’t have to sell it. Instead, rent it out for some little bit of cash on the side. This could be a car, furniture, RV, tools, and much more. Just make sure your products are insured from damages or in case they injure the person renting them.

Resources for Renting Out Your Properties or Items

Airbnb, Boatsetter, and Turo


Sell Your Assets


If you do not wish to dispose of or rent out the items you don’t use, you can always sell them. This is your chance to turn everything you consider trash into cash. 

You can unload all the items you do not need, but someone else has better use for them. You’ll be clearing space while filling your pockets with cash.

Useful Resources for Someone who Wants to Sell their Assets

LetGo, Offerup, Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace. 


Virtual Tutoring 


Learning has gone virtual. Distance no longer limits anyone. 

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You can study in another state or country. All you need is a good internet connection, and there are hundreds of online classes to enrol. 

The same applies to online trainers. You can teach students from other countries in the comfort of your home. Whether it’s writing, language skills, mentoring, or playing a musical instrument, the internet makes it possible to brand yourself as an online trainer.  

Useful Resources for Virtual Tutoring: Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Viber. 


Audio/Video Editor


The internet is brimming with so many content creators. We have so many of these creators producing content and very few people to edit them.

If you have any editing skills, then you could make some decent money on the side doing what you love or even convert it into a full-time career. 

Resources for Aspiring Video/Audio Editors: Fiverr, Upwork, Final Cut Pro, Camtasia, Reaper, Adobe Premium Pro, Audacity




Words do more than convey information.

They influence decisions. 

Copywriting refers to using words to change people’s minds and get them to take action. It differs from traditional writing because it takes a more direct approach and has a different mission. 

There’s a framework for your writing (in terms of space and length). And ultimately, you have to get readers to take specific actions. This could be purchasing a product, making a call, clicking a link, scheduling an appointment, and so on. 

Resources for Copywriting: The copywriter’s handbook, Upwork, Fiverr, Freelancer, Gary Bencivenga


Sell Your Own Handmade Goods – Artwork, tools, jewellery, and crafts


Is there any good you can make with your hands? If not, learn. 

Selling originally-made goods can be a great source of extra cash, if not your primary source of income. 

Whether it’s a hand-knitted sweater, one-of-a-kind jewellery, or crafted cutting boards, there’s always someone willing to spend on it.

Resources: Craigslist, Shopify, eBay, Esty


Affiliate Marketing 


Affiliate marketing is where you sell someone else’s products and services for a commission or share of their revenue. You’re a direct employee of the company, but you operate as an independent contractor.

Why Affiliate marketing:

  • You’re not producing any product
  • You’re not handling payments
  • You’re not fulfilling shipping
  • You’re not handling customer care 
  • You’re not maintaining the product

Instead, all you’ll be doing is referring customers, and when they make a purchase, you automatically earn your commission, and that’s it. 

Resources for this: Clickbank, Rakuten, Shareasale, and Amazon Associates


Facebook Groups


Is there a topic or niche that passionate about? 

If you’re active on Facebook, then you’re probably in a few Facebook groups with other Facebook users that share a common interest with you. 

There’s a way to monetise some of these groups (mind you, you don’t necessarily have to be the owner to monetise these groups). 

One is by inserting affiliate links into the posts you make and lead users off Facebook to a landing page or email list where you’ll be helping them convert. 

A better approach would be to create your own Facebook group. You can provide value and answer questions, and promote your product and services in between. Mind you, you don’t have to create this content from scratch. You can curate from other groups, forums, and online threads. 

Resources: Facebook


Must-join Start-up Communities, Programmes, and Events in Singapore

The start-up scene in Singapore is a close-knit network of entrepreneurs, marketers, investors, dreamers, incubators, and project accelerators.

Here’s a list of some of the start-up communities and programmes to join in the country:


Tech in Asia

Tech in Asia is where entrepreneurs go to learn about the latest tech news, discussions, and events in Singapore. It’s also a great platform for advertising jobs.

Singapore Infocom Technology Federation (SiTF)

SiTF is a membership directory for SMEs and MNCs. Their primary area of focus is Information, Communication, and Media (ICM). Their 123jumpstart initiative is free to join for qualifying start-ups. It’s a great platform for networking, as it provides access to investors, mentors, co-working facilities, workshops, and so on.

Mobile Apps

Here’s a list of start-ups related mobile apps to download and install on your mobile device:

BEAM app

BEAM is available as an Android and iOS app. Launched in 2016, the app list a range of players in Asia’s tech world, including investors, founders, journalists, developers, and legal advisors.

It’s an invite-only application. To receive an invitation, follow this link and submit your email address.

DBS Business class

This application seeks to connect SMEs with industry experts, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and SME specialists.

At the time of writing this, the application boasts more than 15, 000 professionals from all around the region.

Facebook Groups


Singapore Start-up Group

Entrepreneurs join this group to discuss company set-up, structure, marketing plans, investments, and so on. Other than that, it’s a great avenue for networking.

Singapore Start-up Club


Marketing in a Multicultural World: The Importance of Cross-Cultural Understanding

This is an open Facebook community, with more than 20 000 members. It’s another great Facebook group for networking and meeting like-minded individuals.


The List

The list updates you on the latest start-up, networking, techy, design, and entrepreneurial events around you.

Tech in Asia Calendar of Events

Tech in Asia Calendar is in every way similar to Tech in Asia – except that, instead of sending you weekly emails, it publicly prepares Google Calendar on the latest events in the country.

Start-up Teaming Singapore

Start-up teaming offers you a chance to meet up with like-minded individuals in Singapore and establish a success-team. It’s a start-up event that you wouldn’t want to miss if you’re interested in networking and teaming up with other start-up entrepreneurs.

Follow this link to find out more about this start-up event.

Meet up

Meetup is another great platform to meet like-minded individuals in the country. Here are a few active local meetup groups that you’re free to join:

  • Product hunt
  • Digital Web Analytics
  • Start-up Grind Singapore

2020 Vision: What Will 2020 Bring for Singaporean Start-ups?

The start-up scene in Singapore is about to take a new turn as the year rolls by.  Start-up experts and industry big-hitters have made their predictions, as highlighted in this section of the post.

The Year of Data Intelligence

2020 is the year when data will once again find its way to the fore. A new generation of start-ups will emerge, giving rise to proprietary data sets and data intelligence to a range of industries, including real estate, finance, health care, construction, and so forth.

Consequently, data intelligence will usher in an innovation wave, the same way the internet and app economy managed to do.

Travel Tech will Finally Manage to Beat Fintech

Fintech has been a hot topic, but travel tech is about to claim the spotlight. Several travel tech start-ups will emerge, hitting the $10 valuation within a period span of 5 to 10 years.

Travel tech innovation is fast coming to a hard boil. It’s opening up to start-ups and creating room for them to improve services, collect customer data, and rethink distribution.

Deep Tech Revolution

Deep tech is about to take off.

Almost all start-ups are technical, many of them are hi-tech, but some are more technical than others. 2020 will be the year when new start-ups err on the side of deep tech – especially in the food industry.

More Mergers, Acquisition, Consolidations, and Large-scale Shakeouts

The more the start-up ecosystem in Singapore matures, the higher the likelihood that some start-ups in the country will acquire or merge with other promising start-ups.

Start-ups with deep pockets will make strategic acquisitions to buy off competition and retain dominance.

Similarly, large start-ups that previously commanded huge investments will suddenly hit a rough patch or run into serious debt, similarly to what befell Honestee.

More Job Opportunities

There will be more Giant tech unicorns setting up camp in Singapore. To job seekers, that means more employment opportunities for them.

This is a trend that started to pick up form in 2019, with the likes of Shopee setting up a unit store in Singapore and employing more than 3, 000 people.  Razer has also made it clear that they’ll be opening their Southeast Asian regional offices by mid-2020.

How to Find Start-up Jobs in Singapore

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Fresh out of college, coding boot camp, or even autodidact, and you’re ready to take a plunge into the world of start-ups. Finding a start-up job in Singapore shouldn’t be that much of a hassle.

Here’s a list of online resources and job portals that you may use to find a start-up job in the country:

  • Tech in Asia jobs: Has jobs on start-up and tech, particularly for the Southeast Asian market. There are more than 4 000 jobs on this platform.


  • Glints: Glints seeks to connect students with internship programmes and fresh graduates with start-up companies.


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  • E27: Has hundreds of start-up jobs in Singapore, and the whole of Asia Pacific region.


  • LinkedIn: More than 4 000 start-up jobs have been posted on this social media platform at the time of this publication.


  • Startup Jobs Asia: A job portal dedicated to connecting start-ups with amazing talents in the country.


  • AngelList: A global start-up job portal serving the whole world, not just Singapore.


  • Glassdoor: Another global job portal with hundreds of start-up jobs from different parts of the world, including Singapore.


  • Adzuna: At the time of this publication, Adzuna has about 324 start-up jobs in Singapore.


  • Jobs DB: A database for job seekers and start-up companies


  • Indeed: They have more than 700 start-up jobs that you can apply today.


Top Government Grants for Start-ups in Singapore

Now that you’ve made up your mind and decided to be part of this city-state’s start-up ecosystem, you’re free to take advantage of the following list of government support.

Ace Start-ups

Spring Singapore is the government agency behind the ACE start-ups scheme. On top of providing start-up capital grant, the scheme runs a mentorship programmes for budding entrepreneurs and start-ups.

How the scheme works: For every $3 you raise, ACE will match it up with $7. You’re allowed to apply for a start-up funding of up to $50, 000 with ACE.

Eligibility: Singaporean entrepreneurs who are permanent residents. Selection is based on the feasibility of your business model, uniqueness of your business concept, and your potential market value.

Early-stage Venture Funding (EVF)

EVF is a government-initiated equity scheme that works together with Venture Capital firms to co-fund start-ups. Its beneficiaries are early-stage technology start-ups in Singapore.

Eligibility: Singapore start-ups dealing with technology.

How the Scheme Works: Start-ups can apply for up to $3 million in grants. But there’s an approval procedure that your start-up has to go through to qualify for the grant.

ComCare Entreprise Fund

ComCare is the latest government grant, introduced about a year ago. It aims to support social enterprise start-ups.

Eligibility: social enterprise start-ups that hire disadvantaged Singaporeans and take them through training.

How the scheme works: The scheme can fund up to 80% of your capital expenditure. The start-up grant is capped at $300, 000 the first two times you apply.

Technology Enterprise Commercialisation Scheme

TECS targets deep tech start-ups or entrepreneurs with technology-based ideas but have no means to bring them to life. It seeks to fund start-ups at their early stages of operation, or until they’re stable enough to stand on their own.

Eligibility: Singaporean companies that have been registered for less than five years. The scheme prioritises companies that offer commercially viable tech solutions.

How the scheme works: A two-tier start-up fund: $250, 000 for “proof of concept” and $500, 000 for “Proof of value.”

Productivity & Innovation Credit

PIC is instituted by the Inland Revenue Authority (IRAS). The funding provided covers research, business registration, development, in-licensing of your intellectual properties, and staff training.

Eligibility: Sole proprietors based in Singapore

How the Scheme works: Businesses get to enjoy 400% tax deductions (capped at $400, 000). Alternatively, they’re eligible for 40% cash pay-out (capped at $100, 000).

Top Singaporean Start-ups to Watch in 2020

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We scoured the internet and filtered out some of the most promising start-ups in the country. Here’s the list:


Grab needs no introduction. It’s an on-demand logistics start-up that offers transportation services to the people of Singapore. In 2019, the start-up managed to close five different funding deals.

Founders: Tan Hooi Ling, Antony Tan

Total Funding: $9.1 Billion

Founding Year: 2012

Category: Logistics Start-up, Transport


Address: 28 Sin Ming Lane, #01-143 Midview City, Singapore 573972


Impress is an AI-drive recruiting solution. Founded in 2017, the start-up seeks to automate the hiring process and connect businesses with the right candidate. The company managed to raise about $1.4 million in funding recently.

Founders: Dr. Vaisagh Viswanathan

Total Funding: $1.4 million

Founding Year: 2017

Category: Job, recruitment


Address: 80 Robinson Rd, #08-00, Singapore 068898


Talking about the ecommerce industry, Zilingo is one of the most popular and promising fashion platforms in the country. The start-up was established in 2015, the company offers a range of lifestyle and fashion products, and it’s essentially one of the fastest-growing start-ups in the country.

Founders: Dhruv Kapoor, Ankiti Bose

Total Funding: $308 million

Founding Year: 2015

Category: Fashion


Address: 3 Fraser Street, Duo Tower, #15-24/25, Singapore 189352

Trax Retail

Trax seeks to empower Singaporean retailers through IT. The company offers a range of IT products and services, including market research, in-store executive services, shelf storage, store management, and so forth.

Founders: Joel Bar-El

Total Funding: $387 million

Founding Year: 2010

Category: IT Solutions


Address: 65 Chulia St. #09-01 OCBC Centre, Singapore 049513


Near is a global data-driven SaaS product currently serving giant brands such as the We Company, News Corp, and Met Life. Their focus is on customers’ experiences, which they do by collecting all kinds of data on them.

Founders: Anil Mathews

Total Funding: $134 million

Founding Year: 2012

Category: Customer Data


Address: 3 Temasek Avenue, Centennial Tower, Level 18-01, Singapore 039190


Singlife is a digital insurance platform. But besides protecting your money, the platform also offers to help you grow and manage it. Imagine handling all your insurance operations online without unnecessary paperwork.

Founders: Walter De Oude

Total Funding: $173 million

Founding Year: 2014

Category: Insurance


Address: 18 Robinson Rd, #04-03, Singapore 048547


Deskera is a start-up that offers IT solutions. Its primary clientele are the SMEs in the country. The company offers a range of IT solutions, including ERP, CRM, HCM, and PM. They also provide mobile solutions that help with managing your business.

Founders: Paritish Mahana, Shashank Dixit, Somesh Misra, Brajesh Sachan

Total Funding: $308 million

Founding Year: 2008

Category: IT Solutions


Address: 39 Robinson Road, Robinson Point, Singapore 068911


Advance is a revolutionary start-up that offers Artificial Intelligence and Big Data services to the people of Singapore. It aims to protect businesses from cyberattacks and fraud. They offer a range of security-related services, including face recognition, KYC, identity check, and alternative data.

Founders: Jefferson Chen

Total Funding: $136 million

Founding Year: 2016

Category: AI and Big Data (Online security)


Address: 80 Robinson Road #09-01, Singapore 068898


RedDoorz is a marketplace for budget-friendly accommodation options. They have a range of budget hotels and other accommodation options for tourists traveling to Singapore, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

Founders: Kunwar Ashesh Saxena, Amit Saberwal

Total Funding: $135 million

Founding Year: 2015

Category: Accommodation


Address: 12 Kallang Avenue, Aperia #03-27/28, Singapore (339511)


Carousell is a popular ecommerce brand, operating as a P2P online selling platform. Besides selling products, its users are allowed to list their services and job offers on the platform.

Founders: Lucas Ngoo, Marcus Tan, Quek Siu Rui

Total Funding: $182 million

Founding Year: 2012

Category: E-commerce

Address: 240 Tanjong Pagar Road, Keppel Towers 2 #12-00, Singapore 088540


GoBear is an online financial management and planning portal. Users are allowed to compare credit cards, insurance, and loans from different banks and insurers and make sound financial decisions.

Founders: CCO Marnix Zwart, Ivonne Bojoh

Total Funding: $80 million

Founding Year: 2014

Category: Finance


Address: 4 Battery Road, Singapore (049908)


AirTrunk is one of the leading providers of big data and software solutions in Singapore. The company has received funding from the likes of TPG and Goldman Sachs. They have established offices in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Australia.

Founders: Robin Khuda

Total Funding: $307 million

Founding Year: N/A

Category: Software


Address: 18 Robinson Rd, #23-01, Singapore 048547


Formerly Garena and SEA, Seal is among the few start-ups that have successfully managed to transition – from a gaming platform to an ecommerce store. It’s one of the most promising start-ups in the country, and certainly, a force to reckon with.

Founders: N/A

Total Funding: $1.4 billion

Founding Year: 2017

Category: Ecommerce


Address: 470 North Bridge Road, Bugis Cube, Singapore 188735


KaHa is a smart IoT platform for wearables. They produce a range of smart products, including products for athletes, disabled people, and for monitoring bodily functions, such as temperature, blood sugar, and UV protection. They’re also the company behind Cove.

Founders: Pawan Gandhi

Total Funding: $10.7 million

Founding Year: 2015

Category: IoT smart wearables


Address: Aye Rajah Crescent 81, #02-42, Singapore 139967

Coda Payment

Coda payment offers payment and gateway solutions to people without credit cards. The platform has integrated more than 100 payment methods for collecting payments online. It’s an alternative payment option to credit cards, e-wallets, bank transfers.

Founders: Paul Leishman and Neil Davidson

Total Funding: $25.3 million

Founding Year: 2011

Category: Payment Solutions


Address: 53 Craig Road, Singapore 089691


TenX is a revolutionary digital and physical cryptocurrency wallet. It’s a start-up that’s making cryptocurrency spendable via a debit card. Ever thought of spending any cryptocurrency asset almost instantly? Well, TenX is perhaps the first start-up to ever make it happen.

Founders: Dr. Julian Hosp, Toby Hoenisch, Paul Warrunthorn, Michael Sperk

Total Funding: $81 million

Founding Year: 2015

Category: Cryptocurrency


Address: 11 Keppel Road, #07-00 ABI, Singapore 089057


HooQ is a Singapore-based video-streaming service founded by Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, and Singtel. Although the start-up has its roots in Singapore, the platform was also launched in India, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It’s monikered as the “Asian Netflix.”

Founders: Akio Morita, Masaru Ibuka

Total Funding: $95 Million

Founding Year: 2015

Category: Video Streaming


Address: 31 Exeter Road


Sunseap is the largest provider of renewable energy in Singapore. Having been in the business of developing clean energy solutions for more than three decades now, they’ve managed to expand their operations and cover the APAC region.

Founders: Frank Phuan

Total Funding: $79.8 million

Founding Year: 2011

Category: Renewable energy


Address: Harbourside 2 2, #04-03, #04-04, #03-04 Boon Leat Terrace, Singapore 119844

Kyber Network

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Kyber Network is a Singapore-based blockchain Start-up specialised with conversion and exchange of digital products. The platform has attracted more than 60, 000 community members, with 33, 000 coming from its sister platform, the Slack channel.

Founders: Loi Luu

Total Funding: $60 million

Founding Year: 2017

Category: Fintech


Address: 8, Eu Tong Sen Street, #15-90, The Central, Singapore 059818


MyRepublic is a multinational internet company that has its roots in Singapore. The company was started in 2011 and has since then expanded to Indonesia, New Zealand, and Australia.

Founders: Malcom Rodrigues, KC Lai, and Greg Mitman

Total Funding: $52 million

Founding Year: 2011

Category: Fibre Broadband (Internet)


Address: 1 Woodlands Square, Causeway Point, #03-K11, #03-26A. Singapore 738099

Top Start-up Accelerators in Singapore

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Passionate entrepreneurs that lack the resources to bring their ideas to life or scale up their already existing projects don’t need worry.

Here’s a list of a few start-up accelerators and incubators to take advantage of today:

Start-up Bootcamp: Start-up boot camp is a global accelerator programme for start-ups. The platform strives to connect start-ups with an international network of mentors, investors, and partners. Their goal is to help start-up entrepreneurs scale around the world.

Sph Plud and Play: This accelerator programmes offers help to media and tech start-ups looking for seed-stage funding. Qualified start-ups are awarded $30, 000 in seed funding, in addition to receiving a series of other perks and services amounting to $200, 000 in exchange for a stake in the start-up company.

Dbs Hotspot: This accelerator programme offers $25, 000 to qualifying start-ups at their early stages for zero stakes in the company. The platform offers you expert mentorship, in addition to helping you pitch to investors. They also try to refine your strategy and products by taking you through a series of skill enablement classes.

Inspir Asia: Inspir Asia is a start-up accelerating programmes targeting mature start-ups that lack the resources to scale. It’s an accelerator programmes meant to help businesses expand to other markets and organise international partnerships. They also support start-up by refining their strategy, visions, business modelling, and product standards.

Singapore Fintech Bay: As the name suggests, this is a dedicated fintech platform that offers co-working space to qualifying fintech start-ups in Singapore, laced with state-of-the-art innovation labs, meeting rooms, curated activities, and education opportunities to budding fintech start-ups. SFB offers two accelerator programmes: The Venture Accelerator programmes and the Fintech Talent Programmes.

Startups Stats You Should Know

  • 45% of startups fail because they lack capital or are not making any profit.
  • 42% of starts fail because there’s no ready market for their products or services
  • China holds the highest number of patents worldwide
  • 75% of startups enjoy the financial backing of venture capitalists.

How Many Startups Fail

  • 90% of startups fail. 
  • 21.5% of these startups fail in their first year of operation.
  • 30% fail in their second year. 
  • 50% fail in their third year.
  • While 70% never make it past their 10th year.

This is not to discourage you. But to warn you that your journey won’t be an easy one.


Final Thoughts

Singapore has all the hallmarks of a thriving start-up ecosystem. Can this city-state rise to be the next Silicone Valley?

Only time will tell.

In the meantime, you can contact us for professional start-up marketing and consulting services.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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