NUS BBA alumnus Benedict Yeo (Class of 2014) currently runs his own digital agency Addpetizer. Celebrating the company’s third anniversary this year, Benedict looks back at his journey since graduating from NUS Business School, with Outside-in.
I discovered my passion for entrepreneurship and marketing during my NUS days. There were the late nights spent working and preparing for Marketing case competitions, and struggling to muster energy the following day for the presentations. Besides case competitions, I also served a one-year tenure as Director of Business Development with the student group – NUS Bizad Club and attended the Student Exchange Programme in Netherlands’ Maastricht University. All these combined experiences were not only the fun times that were part of University life, but I think it prepared me for the working world with critical and strategic thinking.
Working on the case competitions, it highlighted that there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer to a problem, learning to work with different personalities in a group, but all with the same goal – the impending deadline. I also had the chance to interact with people with diverse cultures and backgrounds. This breadth and depth of exposure allowed me to build global connections and relationships that I still hold dear today.
Upon graduation, I joined Singapore’s Economic Development Board and was fortunate to have led their global digital marketing efforts. During this stint, I had the most talented and nurturing mentors in my team. However, the interactions with external stakeholders like agencies and media partners were also very fruitful. I was able to able to see the possibilities and capabilities of digital marketing and automation technologies.
It was also at this time, I observed even though Singaporeans were mostly digitally savvy, many businesses were still very traditional with their marketing processes and strategies. Looking to fill this gap, this is when I endeavoured to start my own digital marketing agency.
However, to set the business apart, we started by focusing on exclusive partnerships with Novitee and WESS Connect, leaders of the Point-of-Sales (POS) providers within the Food and Beverage and Beauty and Wellness sectors respectively. Through our exclusive partnerships, we developed a proprietary solution which allowed us to directly attribute sales to marketing campaigns and definitely calculate a client’s return of marketing investment. Based on the first few successful case studies, we secured many referrals thereafter, which ironically led to us saving on investing on digital marketing to promote our business.
We didn’t get there immediately – for those that have done marketing internships, you’ll probably know agency life is tough. Being a start-up agency is far tougher: With no track records to start with or financial capital, we faced significant challenges just trying to pay the team. We got bullied just because we were a smaller outfit: Clients shouting at us on a Saturday night, contract breaches as we had neither time or resources to seek legal advice and even cases where clients ran out of funds to pay us for completed work. It was through these struggles that I realised what mattered the most – my team. While business ideas can be copied or business models become outdated, it is only with the right team that you weather through the hardships together that you pivot and emerge stronger and more resilient. Currently, we also have an NUS BBA Year 3 student Jadyn Teo interning with us!
Today, Addpetizer serves several top shopping malls in Singapore such as Parkway Parade, 313@somerset and Marina Bay Link Mall. In fact, the latest project we’re working on, is to create a digital marketplace for Sim Lim Square to better equip tenants with a wider source of touchpoints.
The future of marketing is omnichannel and we have a few collaborations in the works such as payment gateways, marketplaces and POS players, to push for greater digitalisation, accountability and marketing effectiveness in the lifetsyle sectors!
Personally, I have to thank Associate Prof Tambyah Siok Kuan, Associate Prof Ashok Charan and Adjunct Assistant Prof Tamaki Tanaka, who have truly inspired me in modules such as Branding Strategy, Consumer Culture Theory and Marketing Analytics. Till today, I’m still applying many of these frameworks in my daily work.
My advice to current undergraduates: Find time to pick up technical skills beyond your course like programming, take modules that broaden your “toolkit” and fight for internships that will give you the breadth and depth of exposure to different work scopes. Don’t let your university life be defined by your CAP!
For more information on the NUS BBA programme, please visit https://bba.nus.edu.sg/.