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Bob Salem

Bob Salem is not only an idea hamster (a very creative person; someone who is always able to come up with fresh ideas) but also someone how has many hidden talents.


Not only has he applied his talent in the corporate scene but also very much in how he plans his every foodie, and sightseeing trips with his friends. Bob attention to details warms people’s heart from small gestures like getting a birthday cake to celebrate a colleague’s birthday in the office to bringing special curated food made from love. He sets an extremely high bar with his personal touch.


I am extremely honoured to be able to get his exclusive interview in playing an advisor role to startup entrepreneurs.


Here’s the exclusivity you need to read.


What has inspired you to conduct talks and workshops delivering key pointers to people who would like to be entrepreneurs?


I have been fortunate to have been in 3 startups (2 were acquired, and 1 failed). From my experiences, I realize that startups have the potential to change the world and one of the best ways for me to impact change is to help guide entrepreneurs to be successful with their startups. Socrates was quoted as saying " You don't know what you don't know", and that is so appropriate for entrepreneurs.


What are the different types of consulting services you offer for startups?


At my alma mater (the University of California located at Irvine, California, USA) I volunteer as an Innovation Advisor to the Wayfinder Incubator at UCI Beall Applied Innovation ( Wayfinder is there to help pre-funded startups, and I help startups in the area of Product development/manufacturing, Brand positioning, Go-To-Market, and most importantly help the startups distill the mission into clear guiding principles. For funded startups, I act as their consultant or advisor as they need in the same area, but usually, it involves helping the company either get back in line with their original mission, or in some circumstances to pivot for success.   


Is it true that hiring a consultant or advisor lessens the founder’s job stress and makes their work a lot easier?


In general, the answer is yes. The word Consultant has been used interchangeably for consultant or advisor. But there is a slight difference. Consultants normally bring specific knowledge such as Tax, Financial, and legal so that startups understand what they need to do without the founder having to research and identify what they need to do. Advisors, on the other hand, are usually there to advise the founders guide the startups, and be able to call in a consultant for a specific role as needed  


Any specific areas where the startup entrepreneur needs to focus on?


Startup entrepreneurs usually have a good idea, but this is not enough to ensure the startup's success. A startup is very hard work and requires a nearly unwavering commitment by the entrepreneur. I always advise entrepreneurs to tap into the core of the vision (Fire in the belly). I always ask 1st-time potential entrepreneurs interested in developing a startup, "Why are you doing this?". If the answer is to get rich, I would advise that they work hard for an established company. Entrepreneurs with a vision of starting a startup to get rich quickly will quickly fail at the 1st challenge.


How long does it usually take for an entrepreneur to plan and prepare before a business can kick off?


At a minimum an entrepreneur needs at least 6 months to take an initial idea, map out a plan, get honest feedback, modify the plan, and get a potential team in place before a business can kick off. I would like to clarify that a business kick-off does not mean that the startup is ready to sell its product. 


How many such talks or workshops have you delivered, and will you ever consider doing this as your full-time profession?


This is difficult to answer, because I have done so many presentation that I have lost count. As a paid consultant/advisor I give regular workshops specific to the clients on an as-needed basis. As Innovation advisors, we usually give a different workshop during their onboarding.  


Startups normally goes through the following stages and each stage would need them to meet with the advisor(s):


  • Setup: Vision, product concept, recruitments, initial funding, corporate setup (governance, registration, etc)

  • Product: Product features, timeline, and roadmap

  • Development: Engineering works on products; Product Marketing on pricing, branding, channels and lead customers; Sales work on generating lead and finding customers; Finance work tracking finance and generating more funding; while the founders need to keep everyone on track, pitch to customer and potential investors and everything else

  • 1st Viable Product: Review the product and customer feedback

  • Go To Market: For launching the product

What kind of advice will you typically give to anyone who wishes to start their own business and requires business advice on where to start?


I always encourage anyone and everyone to pursue their dreams and aspirations. Today is the best time to start a startup with many countries actively creating an ecosystem for startups. Singapore is no exception and according to Asian Development Bank (ADB) June 2022 report ( ) It is ranked as the fourth-best startup ecosystem in Asia and 17th globally. Some of the resources available in the USA have their equivalence in Singapore. 


  • Government: Enterprise Singapore, 

  • Universities: NUS, SMU, and other

  • Startup Organization: Startup Grind, Startup SG 

  • Social Group: Meetup, Eventbrite, 

  • Pitch Competitions: Many in Singapore


Lastly, will you be considering publishing a book?


I should, but I enjoy being active in helping startups. Perhaps it is time to make a book for my little startup and take my advice and start now.

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