YES! to Social Experiment

By Pong Yu Ming, who is inspired by the idea of beyond good intentions. He co-founded the GIVE website in hopes of inspiring more people to do good by designing a better giving experience.

We had a dream – Wouldn’t it be cool if we could all be part of a social movement for good? After all, everyone has something of excess that they can give.


If you have time, volunteer.
If you can spare the money, make a donation.
And if you just have a set of much-too-small T-shirts collecting dust in the closet, why not give it to the people who need it like the poor homeless guy who would love you for it.

Just like the geeks we are, starting the GIVE website to share our dream was the natural move to take. It wasn’t so easy to start. We were students right out of school and without a penny in our pockets. How will we fund this social experiment?

Eureka!

If we formed a start-up, we could compete in business plan competitions. If we win the competitions, the prize money will kick start our prototype. And if the prototype works like we imagine it would, and then maybe we could get some grants and investment to help us grow and help more people. That sounds plausible, right?

So off we go down the road less travelled just like Robert Frost forewarned. To survive we did odd jobs on the side – tuition, freelance, and pretty much anything under the sun to get a little money to keep us going while we did the research. Day turned into night and then night into day. Sleepless nights became our lives, pouring through mountains of research, crafting a business plan, and developing the coolest web application to make it happen.

Many moons later, we finally found the light at the end of the tunnel. I guess we had to thank foolish passion and beginner’s luck. We did well competing in Singapore, Hong Kong, and California and won ideas.inc Business Challenge in 2010. We donated part of the prize money of $20,000 and paid ourselves salaries.

It was then the neighborhood godfather aka Spring Singapore decided to adopt us, matching our leftover savings with more funds under the YES! scheme to kick start the development of the prototype. Yippee, now that we had the YES! funds, we can start creating some serious social impact for the world!

By far, the YES! Scheme is one of the most friendly grant application because of the nice understanding people who facilitate the process, Beatrice, Hui Wen, May, Patrick and more has always been there to support us and lend us their advice.

The best part about Spring Singapore is the amazing network of people we met that became our mentors.

Just like the biblical journey, we had our own three wise men, Suresh, Alex and Fred, who believe and continue to guide us on how to start a sustainable business that inspires people to do good.

This story is just starting. Someday, we hope to design the best giving experience from the giver to the beneficiaries. There is still so much more we can do. For now, the toughest challenge is to be financially sustainable and to do our best to reach out so we can touch more lives. At the least, we have to generate enough revenue to feed ourselves a cup of ramen a day. Be gone, hungry ghost!



If you share our dream or if you just love to have ramen everyday, join GIVE and be part of a social movement to inspire people to do good. The world needs more people like you.

What about ‘Run for Good’ this december during the Standard Chartered Marathon?



Ramen Profitability! One of the coolest lessons that our mentors imparted from the early days was the concept of “Ramen Profitability”. The basis of the principle was to focus on generating enough revenue to make sure you can buy yourself a cup of Ramen everyday so you can stay alive. If you die of hunger, the dream dies with you. Thanks to this lesson, we always kept a keen eye on spending as little as possible, like crashing at our friend’s house instead of paying for rent. Don’t ask if we have girlfriends because you don’t want to know. And to pay for the Ramen, GIVE stays sustainable through a small 5% service fee that pays for bank charges, rent, marketing efforts, event organisations, cups of Ramen and more.