Confessions of a Hydropreneur Wannabe

7 May 2014

(This blog post was kindly contributed by Sean Tan, a participant of the Hydropreneur Programme. Check out his personal blog here:


Seth, Gerald and me, with Jeffrey Paine (from Founder Institute)

My name is Sean Tan and I’m currently a PhD student in Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences (SCELSE) research centre. I first heard about the Hydropreneur Programme (HPP) when Jason from the Public Utilities Board (PUB) came down to our centre to invite us to the program, after which there was a talk by Teo Shen Wei from National University of Singapore (NUS) Lean Launchpad and Jeffrey Paine from Founder Institute.

My brother, Seth and I stringed up a few of our buddies to sign up for it, for several reasons:

1. I wanted to learn entrepreneurial skills to enhance my portfolio. In many ways, researchers can be a little short-sighted when it comes to bringing their research to the market. And I don’t want to be one of them who’s clueless about starting a company, etc.

2. The water industry is extremely hot as a growth sector. The Singapore government aims to be a global water hub by 2020 and has pumped in almost half a billion dollars in the industry. It’s a great area to be working in, especially after my PhD.

3. Did I mention it’s totally FREE? Actually that’s the main deciding factor!

4. I like challenges ! At the end of the program, the best teams would pitch their ideas to top Venture capitalists at the Singapore water week. Who knows? We may get funded for a new startup!

So we signed up for HPP, under the Founder Institute program (reason being we didn’t want to come under an NUS principal investigator, and we had our own ideas) and got in.

The lessons start with buffet dinner, then a couple of short talks by experienced mentors, mainly from the water industry. Jeffrey Paine then continues with a lesson on start-up know how. He’s a real stand up guy, and I like his direct way of telling you the facts.

The past couple of weeks we had opportunities to pitch our ideas, which was a real learning experience. The good, the bad and the ugly. As with all challenges, it’s unfortunate that some of the participants dropped out from the competition.

All in all, it’s a learning experience and for building up my network in the water industry. To read more about my journey in the program, head over to my blog. (

See you all at Hydro pitch day!




  1. Reblogged this on Clewor and commented:
    My guest post on the water chatter blog.


  2. I will be joining SCELSE by August . Would be great to meet your team .


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