Home > Uncategorized > A Very Fruitful CS3216

A Very Fruitful CS3216

I really think CS3216 is about teaching us life’s lessons. Via the projects, and through the lectures before, during and after them, Prof Ben has shown us which principles to adopt in order to succeed; on a smaller scale, succeeding in the projects, and, in the larger scheme of things, in life. I will not touch on the explicit points that Prof Ben has taught us through out CS3216, but will instead talk about what I’ve learnt and taken away from CS3216.

Learn quickly, and be willing to change your approach

Over the course of pitching our idea to numerous merchants, I had come to realise that certain kinds of people were more receptive to our idea than others. Typically, they were the younger marketing executives who would give us a chance, as compared to the more traditional and older types of business owners. As such, we started to look for businesses which seemed to have a more ‘modern’ kind of image, in hope that it would increase our chances of signing them up.

We also quickly learnt that the commission we were hoping to take was a huge turn-off for vendors who would otherwise be  willing to give us a shot. I learnt first-hand from a few of these kind business owners that as a new service, it would make more sense to perhaps charge a lower fee, or even give businesses a trial period and then deliver results, which would allow us to command the kinds of commission that we were looking at. As such, we revised our commission rates downwards and true enough, results were improving.

I had no prior knowledge in the best practices of signing a contract. I didn’t know how and where to begin, e.g. do I send the vendor a copy for them to read first? if i needed to amend a clause in the contract, how should I go about doing it? I then called up the lawyer which Prof Ben kindly referred us to and he very generously gave me a primer in contract signing 101. 😀 I must say I had learnt A TON from the kind lawyer. Things like initialing against every page, sending the vendor a pdf format in advance etc.

For different kinds of businesses, we realised that we had to change our approach when pitching to them. Through this process, we had to learn quickly about how their businesses worked and make good guesses about the kinds of problems they were facing, and then work towards providing them with a solution. The same pitch works differently to the different people we were pitching to. For example, for the beauty services like spas and nail salons, it was a pretty simple and straightforward pitch, as compared to the restaurants. We quickly realised that the restaurants’ margins were a major impediment towards them wanting to try us out.

When in need, ask for help. More often than not people will pleasantly surprise you

Very often we were rejected by businesses. But one thing I understood was that it was nothing personal; it was purely business. They had not rejected us because they did not like me. They had rejected us because they did not believe in our idea, and, at that moment, couldn’t see the value in our service. I then made it a point to follow up and ask these business owners why they were unwilling to work with us, and learnt a lot from there. I had come to understand and put myself in these business owners’ shoes. This turned out to be a major advantage, as these business owners started referring us to people they know, and people whom they thought would like to hear us out. For example, I spoke to an expat who was running her own home yoga studio, and was pleasantly surprised when she and her husband referred and linked us up with many influential people in the F&B industry. I also found out that her husband was a successful serial entrepreneur.

We were also pleasantly surprised when we got to work with a designer. Since she was a friend of ours, she had agreed to not charge us until we began turning a profit. We truly appreciated her kindness. To be honest, I was pretty taken aback at how nice some people could be. Same thing went for the lawyer whom Prof Ben introduced us to. He was willing to defer payment until we started making a profit. Mind you, an agency contract like the one he drafted for us would easily cost up to $3000.

Open and direct communication is very important

Disagreements and disputes must be solved there and then. They cannot be brought forward to the next day. It is much easier said than done, but I’ve come to realize that it really takes effort in upholding this. If we were to let these layers of unhappiness with each other build up day by day, some day we would simply implode under its weight, which would definitely kill the relationship. Our team definitely had many heated disagreements, but I would say that we dealt with them fairly well. However, one small gripe that I would have is that perhaps more time could have been taken to know each other first on a personal level.

There are many mundane, boring things that you don’t like to do, but will have to get done, well, anyway

I think it speaks for itself. Throughout this course, there were numerous reports, paperwork, proposals, overviews and guidelines that we had to create from scratch. Truthfully, prior to this I absolutely hated doing such stuff. But, I’ve come to realise that I there was a problem with my mindset. I used to think that these paperwork were a hindrance to me towards getting things done. Since then, I’ve understood that these mundane processes are essential and important parts of any project and business that perhaps, the founder should be the one drafting them. Firstly, this is to help him/her gain a better understanding of the whole project. Secondly, it really helped me in building up my discipline in getting these matters done. I’m proud to say that now, I’ve changed my mindset towards such processes.

Know when to move on

While working on Voucherous, we had to change designers very late into the project (both were 3rd party designers). Our first designer was superb, but we understood her work commitments and more often than not, we found ourselves behind schedule. Finally, i think 2 weeks before the deadline, we decided to change designers and move on, to surprisingly good results. Looking back, I think we could have made the decision in switching designers earlier. At the end of the day, it was our fault that we failed to make this decision earlier. However, I’m glad this happened, as it would allow us to better judge similar situations should they occur in future, and increase our chances of making the right decision.

From here on

Last, but definitely not least, I wanna thank Prof Ben for everything that he has taught us, and for being an exemplary role model. It’s heartening to see someone practicing what he preaches, and it adds weight to the stuff he teaches. Sad to say, this is the last module that I can take under Prof Ben 😦

Big thanks to the TAs too: Kok Wee, Yuen Hoe, Yanjie, Su Yuen and Jason. As Prof Ben mentioned in one of his earlier emails, “these are not your average joes”. Fully agreed.

With that, I wish everyone great health and happiness!

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. shannon
    April 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Couldn’t agree more, everything was very nicely said with examples we could relate to (: Great reflections, thanks for sharing!

    • Reuben
      April 17, 2010 at 2:27 pm

      Hey Shannon,

      Thanks for the kind words!

      It was great having you as a classmate. All the best!


  2. Joshua Ng
    April 17, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    all the best for voucherous!

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