By Ong Yun Qi, Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and
3 October 2018
"Greater than the sum of its parts" could not have been more accurate to describe this year's TEDx NTU. Independently
organised by Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), the
event saw speakers from various disciplines gathered at Nanyang Auditorium to
share their take on the complexities of society and the world.
Social entrepreneur Mr. Daniel Teh recalled how his
life as a reckless teenager landed him in trouble with the law. Yet it proved
to be a life-changing moment. An encounter with special needs inmates made him
realise that while he had the fortune of being physically and mentally able, he
lacked "the right heart and the right attitude".
Inspired, he started Pope Jai Thai, a Thai restaurant
which strived to give equal opportunities to everyone. Aiming to create an
inclusive environment, he began hiring people from different beneficiary
groups. To date, he announced that these employees make up nearly 90 per cent
of his staff, to great applause.
Out in the foyer,
individuals and startups alike had their own ideas on making a difference. For
two groups of Minor in Entrepreneurship (MiE) students, it was a chance for
them to showcase their handmade goods.
One such team, comprised of members
Elwin Chua Jun Jie, Lynn Chan Qing Lin and Sng Kai Zhou Derek, tackled
sustainability with their product Avenoir - sugar exfoliating soaps designed for
dry and inflamed skin.
"Most people tend to use liquid
soap. However, we realised a lot of plastic is used in its packaging, so we
wanted to reduce the usage by coming up with bar soaps," said Lynn.
Indeed, the soaps were contained in
boxes and glass jars, the former only including a single piece of plastic to
keep out humidity. To incentivise customers to reuse their glass jars, the team
also planned to give a discount to those who bring them back for repeat
Bringing their ideas to life was a long
process. The team had to cover several Minor of Entrepreneurship modules over
the course of a few weeks, followed by rounds of testing and user feedback to
create their final product. Furthermore, save for their supplier providing the
bases, each bar of soap was made entirely by hand to ensure they knew exactly
what ingredients went into each one.
This was the case for students Yap Chee
Sheng, Lim Wen Xuan Venus, Eugene Lim Kai Jie and Ang Xin Lei Marilyn as well,
who jumped at the opportunity to introduce their scented candles, The
Candelier, at TEDx NTU. Prior to this, they have set up booths at events held
at Marina Barrage and Singapore Arts Museum.
"Being in the handmade business in
Singapore is tough," said Eugene. "Before this, I didn't put a lot of
thought into whether an item is handmade or not. But now, I have greater
appreciation for it."
The team added that they still had a
long way to go, and participating in events has helped generate a lot of
experience and exposure for them.
"We did not expect the crowd to be responsive and more interactive (at
the event), as we assumed that they would be mainly interested in the TED Talk
and nothing else," said Chee Sheng.
"It was an incredibly
pleasant surprise for us."