IT USUALLY takes years before employees get so jaded with their job they finally take the gamble of chucking it in to become their own boss.
Miss Elfaine Tan did that in just a few months. The go-getter was only 20 then and was still getting to know the ropes at an engineering firm - her first job, by the way - when she decided to make the big jump in May last year.
"My parents were sceptical at the time and asked where I was going to get money if I quit my job, but I had a dream and I wanted to make it happen," said Miss Tan, now 21.
The biomedical engineering graduate from Temasek Polytechnic founded Fr3b, a marketing firm that distributes samples from retailers to potential customers looking to try new products.
Her grand adventure started with an online platform created on a computer in the corner of her bedroom. But the business has fast progressed to a store at Stamford House serving more than 100 international brands as clients, with a database of 40,000 members who get the free samples.
It is no wonder that the Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, singled out Miss Tan at yesterday's Shell LiveWIRE Awards presentation ceremony at the ITE Dover campus.
Mr Lee said he was inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit shown by Miss Tan and the other 15 participants in the awards.
"More than half of these budding entrepreneurs started their businesses in the past 11/2 years, right in the midst of the economic downturn," said Mr Lee, who is also the Minister-In-Charge of Entrepreneurship.
The biennial awards, jointly organised by energy giant Shell and ITE, in partnership with the ITE Alumni and Singapore Press Holding's Chinese Newspapers Division, recognises entrepreneurs under 30 who have developed creative and effective business models.
Miss Tan won the most promising business concept award, while Mr Leonard Tan, the founder of online marketing firm PurpleClick, was the overall winner.
PurpleClick has grown from a two-man show to a company employing a staff of 20 in just three years.
"We managed to break the $1 million mark within the first 12 months of our operations and achieved a compounded annual growth rate of 57 per cent year-on-year in the last three years," said Mr Tan, 30.
PurpleClick had a turnover of about $2.6 million last year.
Mr Lee also commended Mr Richardo Chua, founder of Adrenalin Events and Education, for helping at-risk youths by teaching them some of the skills of his business. Mr Chua, 27, received a special mention at the awards for championing a social cause through his fledgling firm.
"There are more Elfaines and Richardos among our youth now. We want to encourage more to come forward and make a difference," said Mr Lee.
"This is why Spring Singapore has developed a suite of comprehensive programmes to support entrepreneurship at every level."
Mr Lee also noted that entrepreneurship is not limited to those under 30. In fact, many mid-career professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs) have attended Spring?s entrepreneurship training programmes.
"I am pleased to learn that some 190 PMETs have already benefited from the programmes," he said, referring to the scheme which was designed to help PMETs start their own businesses.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.