Fueling technopreneurial success as a startup founder with continuing education


David Zhang

Completed FlexiMasters in Technopreneurship and Innovation

Please share with us your professional life’s journey and at which point in your career did you aspire to pursue this FlexiMasters?

I graduated from Yale-NUS College in 2019, majoring in Global Affairs and minoring in Arts & Humanities. I became a recruiter and head-hunter for two years, working at a boutique start-up and an American multinational corporation where I successfully placed candidates in the digital and technology domains. During the pandemic, I remapped my career, read books on entrepreneurship, listened to podcasts, and hosted e-coffees with startups to learn more about the founders’ journey. I left my corporate job in 2021 to establish my own company, INTERLUNAR, a digital transformation consultancy and design house. That’s when I decided to pursue the FlexiMasters in Technopreneurship and Innovation offered by PaCE@NTU to equip myself with the necessary skills to grow my company.

What attracted you to your chosen FlexiMasters at PaCE@NTU?

The Intersections of Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Innovation have been on my mind since my early teens. Multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary learning is the future, particularly coursework that blends robust theoretical frameworks and real-life case studies. The remote learning model of this FlexiMasters perfectly fitted my schedule, as I could save valuable time by avoiding commutes. Additionally, the opportunity to learn and work concurrently was very compelling.

Could you share with us some interesting facets of the FlexiMasters you enrolled?

I enjoyed learning with diverse learners across a wide age range, disciplines, and seniority in the workforce. I appreciated how there were both individual and group assessments, allowing us to improve our personal contribution and collaboration skills. We also pitched to instructors as if they were angel investors or venture capitalists, while forming new businesses with minimum viable products in as little as one week. Each module was more hands-on practice and video-content driven than reading-intensive, as the instructors knew learners had full-time jobs and personal lives to attend to.

What were the challenges you faced when trying to complete this FlexiMasters?

Juggling a full-time job as an early-stage startup founder and dedicating entire Saturdays to my learning journey over eight months became challenging as my time and energy were spread across different priorities. Getting accustomed to remote learning took time, since classes were typically conducted from 9am to 6pm. With no formal education background in business, I had to grasp high-level concepts and jargon from the industries by doing more readings and exercises.

Has this FlexiMasters benefitted you in your career development?

Yes! Numerous doors have opened for me because of this FlexiMasters. I established collaborations with NTU graduates, learnt how to ask prospective partners challenging yet pertinent questions about startups to streamline my business’s introductory sessions, and built a network of aspiring/practicing entrepreneurs. Gaining knowledge from advisors, investors, and entrepreneurs who taught the certificate courses enabled me to undergo a mindset shift from operating in a well-resourced corporate environment to a lean, bootstrapped, fast-paced startup. This ‘mental reframing’ has allowed me to find success and overcome challenges as a startup founder.

How did you apply what you've learnt from this FlexiMasters?

This FlexiMasters had key focus areas, with weekly modules to help deconstruct new enterprises' founding, longevity, and failures. This knowledge base helped me build and scale my business from the ground up. Each lesson became a component for different verticals for my startup (i.e., the business model canvas, design thinking, marketing plans, growth strategies, and technology disruption). I’ve tapped into knowledge that I acquired about term sheets and pitch decks from this FlexiMasters to advise my clients on best practices and negotiation tactics.