Entrepreneur

Corporate Matchmaking: NUS Startup Helps Student Events Connect With Sponsors That Matter

Convincing people to put money where your dreams are is something that was thought to be near impossible in Singapore. But in comes Sponsorable, a digital platform that aims to match the needs of event organisers with the wants of sponsors.

You’d be wrong to confuse Sponsorable with miracle get-rich-schemes; rather, the guys behind it have a plan to matchmake sponsors with event organisers.

Other people have CCAs; we have Sponsorable

Sponsorable launched about a month ago, and is already a hit with both sponsors and event organisers. They have already garnered ten listed events (with more pending), and a database of eager sponsors.

Hailing from the National University of Singapore‘s Faculty of Dentistry, Founder Shaun Tan (23) and Co-founder George Guan (23) came up with the idea after their marketing experience in their respective student societies. Emboldened with success yet exhausted from conventional means of sourcing for sponsorships, they decided to dedicate their bright smiles and minds to help others in a similar plight.

Sponsorships go toward student events such as NUS Rag Day (Image Credit: NUS Faculty of Dentistry)
Sponsorships go toward student events such as NUS Rag Day (Image Credit: NUS Faculty of Dentistry)

And completing the trio is Ling Chi Tao (24), the technical co-founder studying Information Systems in NUS. The computer whiz works on 24-hour coding marathons and shares the same entrepreneurial spirit as the other two.

Having been through the ups and downs of sponsorship sourcing, Shaun compares the process to that of driving a car.

“The fun part is not about going to the petrol station for gas, but about going on the highway and having fun doing whatever you want to do. That’s a pain we want to solve: we want to make it very simple and intuitive for them to reach out to sponsors. And likewise for sponsors, we don’t want it to seem like a hassle to sponsor projects, but at the same time want to make sure they get something in return.”

Needless to say, Sponsorable hopes to be the springboard for many budding events in a climate where countless amazing ideas that have the potential to spice up our local community end up being pushed to the sidelines because of a lack of funding.

A champion for the underdogs

But why sponsorships instead of crowdfunding? Well, not all events are a good fit for crowdfunding sites; those events often operate over long periods of time, as funds from individual backers trickle in.

George added, “Our focus is on how our projects can reciprocate and benefit the sponsoring companies for their contributions, whereas Kickstarter or GoFundMe rewards individuals with more of their branded products like a signed pen.”

Image Credit: Sponsorable
Image Credit: Sponsorable

So while you shouldn’t expect the organisers of the Thye Hua Kwan Charity Show to set up a page on Sponsorable any time soon, they won’t exactly be having doors shut in their faces either. The organisers, for instance, could well approach Sponsorable to seek sponsors interested in upholding corporate social responsibility (CSR) in an upcoming fundraising carnival.

That said, Sponsorable will still be focusing primarily on helping event organisers and sponsors collaborate, rather than taking on CSR projects.

“It’s not that we don’t want to do it, but because we want to start with the schools first: it’s where we are,” said George.

Shaun added, “We really want to take advantage of being students: we understand how students think, how student clubs need, what student societies need, so once we get that settled, we’ll move on to bigger projects like the charities and non-profit organisations.”

When sponsors support an event, the angels sing from the heavens (Image Credit: Rooster Teeth)
When sponsors support an event, the angels sing from the heavens (Image Credit: Rooster Teeth)

These guys admitted that they spent countless hours brooding over the platform’s niche as a “nice and friendly middleman” that helps to tie people together in a business deal — a fact which George emphasised.

Many organisers of student events have little to no experience fishing for sponsors, and they end up sending cold emails to only renowned companies while local SMEs are left forgotten in the shadows.

“Many small-medium enterprises are willing to reach out to these projects and the community to create more brand awareness. We are not talking about the multinational companies but the local companies who make a couple million dollars in sales. And they do want to give back to the community and society,” said Shaun.

Sponsorable synergises the excess in society

The founders of Sponsorable put as much effort into their platform as they do into Dentistry — or what they call “carpentry on a much smaller scale”. They strive for simplicity and convenience, and aspire for Sponsorable to be to their clients what Airbnb is to theirs: middlemen that synergise the service industry.

Image Credit: Sponsorable
Image Credit: Sponsorable

“This world is moving more from pipeline businesses to platform businesses. We are moving from companies creating and marketing a product to a sharing economy whereby companies are becoming the middleman to match platforms and people together. We do have a lot of excess in this world and there are more efficient ways to improving this world than creating products all the time to sell to people,” said Shaun.

The fledgling brand is understated, but definitely not muted. Sponsorable carries the excitement of many young organisers fighting for their events to make a mark on the local scene, and who will root for them to blaze the trail to success.

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