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Start-up Talent in Singapore - Gateway to SEA

My firsthand encounters in Singapore unveil a different reality, contrary to its renowned status as a thriving start-up hub in Southeast Asia. I've identified two distinct categories of start-ups that navigate this unique landscape.

The first category comprises the audacious ventures that endeavour to create something out of nothing—the hard-core start-ups characterized by high risk, uncertain chances of success, and an inherent willingness to embrace challenges. However, this breed of start-ups often encounters difficulties in establishing deep roots within Singapore due to the preferred career choices of local talent.

On the other hand, the second category encompasses start-ups armed with validated business models or market-tested products. Their objective revolves around achieving scalability and growth, capitalizing on the abundant opportunities offered by the countries in Southeast Asia. For such start-ups, Singapore emerges as an ideal location to assemble their teams, leveraging the city-state's strategic position to penetrate each country in the region.

Singaporean talent, much like their European counterparts, is significantly influenced by the education system. The fiercely competitive Singaporean grading system in this city-state has fostered a talent pool known for their relentless pursuit of career advancement and swift elevation within their chosen fields. Local talent often seek a minimum of one promotion per year, and any perceived lack of progression prompts them to explore greener pastures. Furthermore, their familiarity with the diverse cultures in Southeast Asia and their ability to master and streamline processes into replicable systems make them ideally suited for middle management roles, where they can effectively train distributors or local commercial teams across various economies in the region.

Therefore, Singapore becomes an ideal host for housing the second category of start-ups, which can benefit from the city-state's advantages.

However, for the first category of high-risk start-ups, where the potential rewards are uncertain, Singaporean talent may face certain disadvantages concerning Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions, salary increments, promotions, housing upgrades, and clear career progression paths. Consequently, based on my personal experience, I would recommend considering talent acquisition outside of Singapore for start-ups falling into the first category, while still leveraging the well-designed corporate framework and policies that Singapore has to offer.


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Ceresus BV Consultants are on the front lines, working in markets like India, Vietnam, Japan, Uzbekistan, Netherlands, Germany, USA, etc. Our consultants share their ground level observations to ensure the advancement of your business.

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