Everything You Need to Know Before Building a Start-up in Singapore

Many start-ups fail in the first year of business in a crowded market like Singapore. What to do to survive:


The exciting buzz of Singapore has appealed to many investors, entrepreneurs and business managers who have taken a leap of faith in the start-up scene.

There are also several company benefits you can enjoy when setting up in Singapore, with over 50 comprehensive double taxation avoidance agreements, lots of free trade agreements – it is a haven for new businesses.

The problem is, no matter how buoyant the Singapore market is or how much they encourage the “start-up” scene there are many considerations and factors that can contribute to your start-up success.

1. Register – So you have decided to launch a start up in Singapore, one of the first steps is to register yourself as an entrepreneur. The EntrePass Scheme is an application process designed for foreign entrepreneurs who wish to start a business and relocate to Singapore

Once you have that accepted you can then register your business. The easiest way to do so is with ACRAS (Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority) you will still need to do this – even if your business already exists and you want to register a representative office in Singapore.

2. IP Protection – When creating a business or anything of value it is absolutely vital that you are protected from copycats. Your IP or Intellectual property is one of the most valuable assets, it’s what sets you apart from the rest of the industry – luckily Singapore have a very strict enforcement of its strong intellectual property laws, it is one of the many business benefits that make entrepreneurs flock to the country. You should file for your ‘patent’ at the earliest opportunity so as to ensure you are covered from the outset, you can do this here –  however this will only cover you in Singapore. To cover your IP globally you will need to apply here.

3. Competition – Whether you are already working in Singapore or a newcomer you need to fully immerse yourself in the industry and know your competition. The digital and technology scene is growing vastly (especially startups), so do your homework before you even think about launching your start-up you should know who will be up against.

4. Investment/ Venture Capital – Even if you have an early injection of cash, as your start-up grows you will at some point be seeking investment. Depending on the type of business and scale, you may be able to get a bank loan, or a business partner to back you financially. If you require a larger investment you might need a venture capitalist, they can provide you with multi-million dollar investments – but will expect a good return. Be realistic and clear with your goals for the business and growth in order to know the amount of capital you will need.

5. Government Funding – Depending on the type of business you are starting, you might be eligible for government funding. Singapore really do support new businesses so there are many options and different grants available. The Capability Development Grant (CDG) – contributes up to 70% of qualifying project costs from consultancy, training, certification and equipment costs – it encourages SMEs to build business capabilities. There is also the Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme (PIC) which allows both business and financial support for businesses investing in productive or innovative business activities. There are also cash grants such as iSTART ACE Scheme which aims to encourage Singapore based start-ups to accelerate the technology market.

6. Employees – For any business to be successful it requires amazing employees, this is even more important for those starting out in the industry. You need the top digital to ensure your presence and USP is spot on. Use recruitment consultancies that know the market in Singapore, Cogs have been working with digital agencies and start-ups across Singapore for the past two years and will be happy to assist growing your team.

Many start-ups fail in the first year of business in a crowded market like Singapore. In business you can’t plan for everything, there will always be challenges and factors that unexpectedly occur – however to give yourself the very best chance at succeeding you need to ensure all the legality’s, registrations and requirements are met, then you need to ensure your market knowledge is extensive, ensure your vision is clear of where you want to be and what you want to achieve and finally – hire the very best people to help to fly to success.

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