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News  28, Mar 2014

The Toad @ JFDI Day 6: Outsource if you can, otherwise hire

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Day 6 saw the JFDI startups attend a talk and panel discussion to debate business-critical topics such as outsourcing and Open Source

Did you know that six is the smallest positive integer which is neither a square number nor a prime number? Fascinating stuff.

The agenda of Day 6 was varied. In the morning, the startups went to Singapore Management University (SMU) to attend a talk on ‘Building a Business on Free and Open Source Software’ by Tony Wasserman. Shortly after that, the teams went to Chijmes, Funan and The Co. However, not all the teams attended these events, some of them opting to stay in the office working on their business ideas instead.

This is interesting because it shows that the teams have different ideas of time prioritisation and what’s important. Some decide to stick with the official programme, while others do their own thing instead. The objective of bringing the teams out was to show them around Singapore and make them aware of where they can get resources for their business.

Highlight of the day was the panel discussion at SCAPE – The Colony @ HubQuarter at the end of the day. ‘Why Hire When You Can Outsource?’ was the theme of the event. However, I felt that the theme may not be broad enough to encompass what the participants felt was important. In the end, the Q&A session brought out issues about co-founders and how to keep startups profitable, which shows that the participants wanted more out of the speakers.

The speakers were definitely qualified to speak on the topic and more. Speakers included, in no particular order, Brendan, who has graduated with honours in the field of Materials Science and Technology; Jeffrey Paine, who is the Founding Partner of Golden Gate Ventures, an early-stage technology seed fund based in Singapore; Michael Cheng, who has more than 10 years of experience using PHP to build dynamic websites; and Jaryl, who is the Founder of Tinkerbox Studios. The JFDI startups were seen interacting mostly with Paine and Jaryl.

I personally felt that some of the questions were not entirely relevant to the discussion. After the session, I went to ask one of the speakers what was the main point of the entire discussion and he needed to think about it for some time before replying that the session happened as a blur. However, it was agreed that it was about the pros and cons of outsourcing, rather than hiring.

In my opinion, I am concerned about how relevant this discussion was for some of the teams of JFDI. However, I am assured that the discussion would help the teams better manage their hiring process. The conversation was firmly centered around how small and medium enterprises or startups could reduce costs by outsourcing their non-core business, while reducing risks involved in doing it. Talking to the teams after the session ended revealed that some of them were skeptical about outsourcing, saying it was very risky. If it’s so difficult to communicate about code even if you’re face-to-face, it will be more so if it’s over video call to a stranger overseas.

Regardless, the teams said that they genuinely enjoyed visiting the city and getting familiar with the locality. They also were able to network with more Singaporean entrepreneurs and specialists after the panel discussion. Thus, Day 6 ended on high spirits.

Theon Leong

Theon Leong

Theon is a skeptic who believes in possibilities after learning that three thirds of a pie does not add up to one and that cats can be dead and alive at the same time. He writes about business and technology, and is particularly interested in deconstructing complex ideas into bite-sized chunks. His favorite novel is The Little Prince, and spends his free time on chess and video games.

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