Budding firms emerge from the shadows to shine

They receive loans, grants, consultancy, training, IT services

Emerging enterprises got their moment in the sun yesterday.

Animation company Scrawl Studios, golf events organiser OAAG and semiconductor distributor McCoy Components came out tops in the inaugural Emerging Enterprise 2008 (EE 2008) awards organised by The Business Times and OCBC Bank. 

The results of EE 2008 were announced yesterday at an awards ceremony attended by Lee Yi Shyan, Minister of State for Trade and Industry. Olivia Lum, chief executive and founder of water treatment company Hyflux, was the guest speaker. 

Each of the three winners will receive $380,000 in interest-free loans, government grants and a comprehensive suite of consultancy, training and information technology services. The prizes were sponsored by OCBC as well as four supporting partners – Spring Singapore, RSM Chio Lim, Hewlett Packard and NUS Enterprise. 

“We’re thrilled to win the EE 2008 award,” said Scrawl Studio’s chief executive Seng Choon Meng, speaking from the Seoul International Cartoon and Animation Festival in Korea. 

“It’s very satisfying to have this affirmation from the judges and we’re looking forward to leverage on their validation of our business plan as we set out to secure further funding for the expansion of the company,” added Mr Seng. 

Receiving the award on Mr Seng’s behalf was Wong Chi Kong, chief operations officer of Scrawl and one of the firm’s co-founders. He expected the prize package to support Scrawl Studio’s efforts to secure more international distribution deals for its animation titles and expand its geographical footprint. 

“Producing animation is what we do best,” said Mr Wong. “But running a business is a totally different ball game. When we started out, we didn’t have much expertise in IT, accounting and the other systems we needed to run the business. The package that comes with the award will help us cement these things together.” 

Nicklaus D’Cruz, chief executive and founder of golf events organiser OAAG, hopes to use the prize money to revamp the company’s IT infrastructure and improve communication within the office environment. 

Mr D’Cruz, a journalist prior to starting OAAG, also planned to use the extra capital to publish a golfing lifestyle magazine. 

“We’ve got a very large base of over 10 million members, and some are the wealthiest in Asia. So we’re looking at a guaranteed circulation of about half a million for this luxury-style golf magazine which will be revenue-generating,” explained Mr D’Cruz. 

McCoy Components’ managing director Mike Tiong said that he is gearing up for an initial public offering (IPO) within the next five years. 

“It is a must for us to IPO. I believe that only with an IPO can we compete with the big guys and grow further. By 2010, we will have sound financials to begin preparation for the IPO. As we hope to deploy 50 per cent of our profits into expansion plans, the prize money will help in our operational funding,” said Mr Tiong. 

EE 2008 was mooted as a new entrepreneurship award that targets small emerging enterprises with a turnover of $10 million and below, compared to the Enterprise 50 awards which targets larger SMEs. The winners of EE 2008 were chosen out of nine finalists. All nine are locally registered companies between three and seven years old, with an annual turnover of less than $10 million.

“Small and start-up businesses comprise 90 per cent of the SME scene in Singapore. There is a limited recognition of role they play or attention to the help they need to build their business,” said David Conner, chief executive of OCBC Bank. 

“The Emerging Enterprise awards recognise local enterprises that have clearly demonstrated passion and vision, and provides the winners practical support and an extra boost to help take their businesses further,” said Mr Conner. 

Apart from providing a five-year interest-free loan of $150,000 to each winner, OCBC Bank has the option to take a 5 per cent stake in the winning companies if they are listed within the next five years.