Rewarding 3 firms at this year’s Emerging Enterprise Awards

Winners are Udders, MAJ Aviation and KAI Square

It may be one of the youngest finalists among the 15 at this year’s Emerging Enterprise awards, but that has not stopped homegrown ice-cream chain Udders from melting the hearts of judges to snag the top prize.

The three-year-old ice-cream venture is one of three small and medium-sized enterprises that were each awarded the top prize of $390,000 last Friday – in the form of a $150,000 interest-free loan, educational and development grants, business consulting services, and brand and product development research services – for being able to deliver stellar financial results amid the economic storm last year. The other two winners are multimedia surveillance and intelligence company KAI Square, and aviation firm MAJ Aviation.

Another award for innovation was given to Moveon Technologies, an optical components manufacturer behind BlackBerry’s new TrackPad – an optical finger navigation pad that replaced the Trackball. Moveon Technologies ended the night with a business infocomm technology solutions package worth $30,000 from SingTel, and a $150,000 interest-free loan.

The Emerging Enterprise awards is one of the key annual entrepreneurial awards that seeks out emerging enterprises with revenue of less than $10 million per year.

Now into its third year, the event is jointly presented by The Business Times and OCBC Bank. Supporting the awards this year are SPRING Singapore, NUS Extension, Acorn Marketing & Research, SingTel and RSM Chio Lim – which is also the official auditor of the awards. 

OCBC’s enterprise banking head of emerging business Tan Chor Sen, who was on the judging panel, said that on top of being able to deliver outstanding financial results amid poor lacklustre economic conditions, the three firms stood out for having the foresight to grow their business overseas, and expanding their innovation and productivity capabilities.

“While each finalist has a unique success story to share, what set KAI Square, MAJ Aviation and Udders apart is their ability to leverage on their size and innovation to conquer markets that are traditionally dominated by the larger players,” said Mr Tan.

“They like to say that they are small, so resources are tight. Attracting and retaining talent, and resources, are the main problems of growing big. But because they are like that, they are successful.”

Being smaller and lesser known as compared with their larger-sized competitors, they work harder and tend to be closer to their suppliers, which then makes them more nimble in responding to market changes, said Mr Tan.

He added that the firms’ innovation and internationalisation efforts have helped them to break new frontiers, capture market share and build scale to compete more effectively.

This ability to scale up and participate in growth markets are among factors that Minister of State for Trade & Industry and Manpower Lee Yi Shyan highlighted as essential for enterprises to be high growth, which in turn help spur job and wealth creation.

Speaking at the awards ceremony at the Mandarin Orchard hotel, Mr Lee, who is also the Minister-in-charge of Entrepreneurship, said that local enterprises need to attract and retain qualified talents, scale up, participate in growth markets and create a unique value proposition in order to become high growth firms that contribute greatly to job and wealth creation.  

And scaling up with its unique value proposition is exactly what Udders is seeking to do. Its chief executive – or chief milkman, as he likes to call himself – David Yim said that the prize will help it to create partnerships overseas. It is currently talking to a potential partner in Australia to make its first foray out of Singapore, where it has been serving up ice-cream such as Choya Lime Umeshu Sorbet and Java Whiskey Chocolate.

Said Mr Yim: “Our vision is to be the number one Asian inspired ice cream – in the milky way. It’s a joke but we are serious. And every cent would help to move us towards that goal.”

‘Our vision is to be the number one Asian inspired ice cream – in the milky way.’
– Udders chief executive David Yim