SINGAPORE — Since he was just 10 years old, Lee Jin Rui wanted to be an entrepreneur running his own business. His classroom wheeling and dealing earned him hundreds of dollars but also got him into a spot of trouble.
Most of the classes she found cost a few hundred dollars which she said was too expensive for her as a student.
“I asked if I could join his company as an intern after the program because I liked how he gave a lot of real-world examples (in his course)… I wanted to gain more (hands-on) experience also,” she said.
Apart from learning practical digital marketing skills, she also learned interpersonal skills like how to handle clients’ requests.
“I could use the soft skills I learnt even in my studies now, and in the future this knowledge can help me as I am thinking of doing a masters (program) in marketing,” Ms Tran said.
As for 26-year-old William Tan, head of operations at software company MWI Technologies, his knowledge of digital marketing was all self-taught before he joined the programme.
“Hard skills like SEO and all the marketing jargon can be taught, but Jin (referring to Mr Lee) also taught us how to speak to bosses, solve business problems and assign value to the things that we were doing,” Mr Tan said, adding that such soft skills were seldom touched upon in theory.
He said that he has also already implemented the knowledge he gleaned from the two-week course into building the company’s website, utilising SEO to increase the firm’s visibility on the Google search homepage.
“Generous is definitely one way to (describe) this initiative,” he said.
SUPPORT FROM PARENTS, TEACHER AND NOW GIVING BACK
Inspired by a week-long digital marketing course he attended when he was just 14-years-old, Mr Lee wanted to start a programme where learners would be able to have hands-on experience after acquiring new skill sets.
“There was no follow-up after the course ended and I could not put the skills I had learnt to use,” he said, adding that the one-week class was too short to cover enough ground.
“And there were also over 30 people in the class, which was not ideal (for learning).”
Classes at his free training program are limited to six or seven students and span two weeks.
Students also get to partner up with external companies to help with their digital marketing and branding which in turn helps with their skills and resumes, he said.
These include fitness education centre FIT Asia and music school The Music Circle.
While many would be impressed with Mr Lee’s achievements at such a young age, he credits the support that he got from his parents and teachers as the main factor.
After he completed primary school in Singapore, Mr Lee’s family relocated to Cape Town, South Africa due to his mother’s interest in the city where she ran a massage therapist business remotely.
During his time there, Mr Lee started an AirBnB-like start-up with some of his friends there.
His teacher there allowed him to take time off school to work on his business, which encouraged him to go forth in growing his company and dabble in different fields.
Mr Lee said that his parents were also very supportive of pursuing his dreams and did not give him any pressure when it came to his studies.
They asked only that he pass his subjects in school.
“My parents were always supportive of all my business ventures.
“I did not receive any financial support from them for my businesses, but they provided me with contacts from their networks which (helped) my business to get that initial capital funding,” he said.
As to why he chose to conduct his lessons for free, Mr Lee said that he did so with the motivation of “giving back” to the community.
“I think it’s giving back. And the concept of giving free value that others would pay for, is something that has worked well for me. So this was my immediate mindset going into Adolet too.”
To aspiring young entrepreneurs, Mr Lee advises putting in the work to grow nascent business ventures, citing sports company Nike’s motto of “Just Do it” as his own mindset when starting out.
“You shouldn’t overthink it and just do it. Don’t expect anything in return when you do something for companies when (you’re starting out) because you can’t have confidence without evidence,” he said.