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Max Ong Zong Bao
Max Ong Zong Bao

Posted on • Originally published at

Breaking into Startups as a Developer


Recently I was allowed to speak for the career segment to introduce the startup ecosystem of Singapore to the students. Who is studying for computer science degree programs under Singapore Institution of Technology (SIT)

I was shocked with the result when I asked for a straw pool on who had heard of Block71.

Which is a very well known place within the startup ecosystem in Singapore that includes tons of VC firms, startups, corporate incubators, innovation hubs in Singapore.

None of them raises up their hands despite. It is less than 1 km away from SIT's main campus where the local degree programmes conduct their classes in.

Sensing an uphill battle, I give them a rundown on the startup ecosystem in Singapore from my own perspective.

Why Join a Startup?

I started with three reasons, why they should consider joining a startup as a developer.

The first one was that something I had a personal experience with. When I was applying for jobs or well-funded startups who had reached out to me.

When they are moving their engineering departments to Singapore due to Singapore's advantage in engineering talents, ease of incorporation of a company and the gateway between Asia markets and the world.

The second was Singapore's focus in research & development funding to commercialise deep-tech startups. Think cutting edge technology at the forefront of the industry from indoor farming, self-driving cars to electrical vehicle supercars.

The third was there are tons of opportunities where positions are available for graduates. Who is seeking to be part of startups in Singapore due to our preference where 1 in 4 university students join startups.

What are the Challenges You Will Face?

For me, I believe there are actually 3 areas of challenges for fresh graduates who are thinking of joining a startup.

  • Welcome Ambiguity & Instability - A tough cookie to break especially among my peers and classmates that I had met to change your mindset.

  • Being Outside of One's Comfort Zone - This could be a daily basis that getting paid while learning to do things that are totally outside of your comfort zone. From picking up new technology to being thrown to the deep end to sink or swim to make things happen or work.

  • Skills Mismatch - This is one of the hard parts that were stumbling blocks for me in picking up a technology.

Which is relevant and useful to land a job in a Startup that I would want to work in. You need to have some basic knowledge and drive to learn plus accelerate your learning curve.


I hope this may be useful for anyone who plans to join a startup as a developer. You can take a look at my presentation slides which might be relevant for any local developer who plans to do an internship or work in a Startup.

Lastly, I had included a section called "Words of Wisdom from The Startup Community" of developers in Singapore who are currently or has been previously working for a Startup.

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The original post was on Breaking into Startups as a Developer - Reading Time: 4 Mins and cover image by Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash


Discussion (2)

dobrenteiistvan profile image
István Döbrentei

Thank you for your post. Singapore is the number one country in innovation in Asia region by Global Innovation Index 2019. You should get it from it as you can. It is a great opportunity to grow and your thinking is valuable and the key element for the future. I would read more about its economy, startups and your stories, experiences of course.

steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao Author • Edited on

Yes it is a great place which my hope is there will be more students.

Who knows about it to take a leap of faith to gain knowledge and insight.

Which they can better position themselves for them to lead digital transformation or as a tech entrepreneur to build product or services for the marketplace.