Masters 13 June 2018

Learning about Singapore’s start-up scene through maths tuition

Students enrolled in the NUS Master in Management and CEMS Master’s in International Management (CEMS MIM)  programme enjoy two international exchange semesters at two leading CEMS partner universities. This semester we welcomed exchange students Marvin Kaes (University of Cologne – Germany), Carmen Friedinger (WU Vienna University of Economics & Business – Austria), Ilaria Migliorato (HEC Paris – France), Patrick Drejerczak (Korea University Business School – Korea) and Krzysztof Turczyn (Copenhagen Business School, Denmark) who also had the opportunity to apply their knowledge with a local start-up Mathemate.

The team shares how they learnt about Singapore’s start-up environment through this project.

The project team with Mathmate founders Mei Yuen and Henri (right)

What’s the best way to discover the vibrant start-up culture of Singapore? Our solution was to just work with one. Fittingly to Singapore’s strong educational focus and entrepreneurial culture, we worked with an early-phase start-up with the self-set goal to rethink the way math homework is done. The company, called Mathemate, aims to offer an easy-to-use platform for primary school students to ask questions and check existing content from the web. Mathemate organises students and their math syllabus, so that they can find, collect and share the information most valuable to them.

Our experience with Mathemate Business Project was incredibly enriching and engaging. Our most memorable experience emerged as both, our greatest strength and challenge: our team was incredibly diverse: five different nationalities and five different main interests and sets of skills. Some of us had more experience in marketing, others in finance, others again in consulting. This unique mix allowed us to challenge each other’s ideas and find comprehensive solutions for Mathemate’s challenges. Moreover, we received outstanding support from our supervisor, who showed not only professional but also personal interest in our team and the whole project.

What sounds easy in hindsight wasn’t at the beginning though. With five different nationalities consulting two entrepreneurs from a sixth nationality there are six different experiences with educational systems, six different working styles and six different cultural backgrounds. We found our secret to success twofold: Firstly, communication was key – both project related and just leisure experiences with each other. Getting to know your colleagues is important in overcoming cultural differences, helps in understanding their way of thinking and in our case even helped making new friends.

The team Marvin, Patrick, Krzysztof, Carmen, Ilaria presenting their findings in class with academic supervisor Prof Quek Ser Aik

Secondly, our work environment was close to perfect: Mathemate’s founders, Henri and Mei Yuen, were incredibly available and willing to collaborate by giving us guidance and information, but also with enthusiasm and interest accepting our suggestions. Furthermore, the great thing about working with a start-up is the fact that the effects of your work are actually visible and you have a real impact on the business.

We feel that the Singapore start-up environment is very vibrant and at the forefront of unique innovation that we were intrinsically motivated to gain a deeper understanding of how things work in this region when it comes to starting a new business. We hope we could contribute our part to Mathemate’s success and wish them all the best for the future.

For more information on the NUS MSc Mgt + CEMs MIM programme, please visit http://mim.nus.edu/cems-connection/cems-mim/.