Carrots have a reputation. Word on the street says that they're good for your eyes, teeth, and for attracting storybook rabbits to your yard. And, in Singapore, if you play your cards right, they're an oasis for AI startups - and can get you access to US$6 million in support, in addition to resources including industry experts, intro and continuing education courses in the area, and collaboration with like minds.
Welcome to The Carrot Patch (or TCP, affectionately), Singapore's newest coworking space which officially launches today in the hopes of giving the country's AI startup scene a leg up in the world tech scene. Part of that leg up comes through access to US$6 million in funds accessible to member startups that show that they have the right idea to succeed - and a plan to get there.
"We just wanted to do our little bit of national service," chuckles Marcus Tan, CEO of image and video recognition company AIQ, which runs The Carrot Patch. The native Singaporean spent around a quarter of a decade in advertising and adtech, and now he's looking to contribute in a different way.
Located on Henderson Road, AIQ's "carrot vision technology" or "CVT," provides inspiration for the crunchy-sounding space, which has two floors combining hot desking space, private offices, and leisure areas including cafe-like nooks and video game rooms.
We just wanted to do our little bit of national service.
Led by a productive and bright-looking aesthetic with pops of color - orange, in particular, the company's corporate hue - The Carrot Patch seeks to combine work and play like many a coworking space. What gives it a leg up on the slew of similar spaces in the country are - of course - its AI-leaning focus as well as its homey touches, including a rooftop pool with nearby barbeque pit and gym. The facilities are available all day for members, as an extra method of relaxation to help fuel creativity.
"In AIQ, our technology is computer vision technology," explains Marcus. The name of the technology, as well as the corresponding coworking space, is inspired by the carrot, which traditionally has been associated with good vision. Computer vision, he explains, is about what you see. Besides, the carrot is a nutritious, hearty, and strong vegetable - what's not to love?
How to grow your garden
Like many big projects, The Carrot Patch has taken a little longer to sprout than originally planned. After several months of renovation, planning, and replanning, the space took shape. "When we decided to take such a big space, we were contemplating what we did with the rest of the space," says Marcus. "Now being in the AI business, computer vision business, we wanted to create a community." Marcus also envisioned having a side business venture that would give back to his home community.
Marcus hopes that The Carrot Patch can be the cultivating force that helps AI startups in Singapore put down roots. "When a carrot is growing, it's beneath the soil. It's hidden," Marcus tells me. The Carrot Patch would step in and be the soil that buries and provides nutrition to the startup. "It's discovered when it's ready to be harvested."
The AI and machine learning community in Singapore mirrors that of the rest of the world - it's small, and consequently opportunities are huge for those who have the right skillset - or can develop it in time.That's where The Carrot Patch plows in to help. Advantages of becoming a part of the space's community include access to partners who will conduct classes in subjects like AI, natural language processing, and machine learning. Interacting with the AI community can help AI enthusiasts find positions or internships among local companies. Working with initiatives like AI.SG gives members ties to Singapore's greater AI community.
Meanwhile, member companies get a boost as well - as long as they focus on their job - running their business - says Marcus, then the space can lend a hand with administrative tasks. The Carrot Patch will provide lawyers to help startups navigate legal issues like registration. Other matters, like a mailing address and opening a company bank account, will also fall under TCP's services.
TCP's advisory board will help out with marketing, technology, and financial investment. Individuals from a number of countries will be around to advise and possibly take a seat on the startups' boards.
How to work in The Carrot Patch
Terms like "AI" are hot in tech right now, right up there with other topics like machine learning, natural language processing, and blockchain. "I'm not a tech person. I'm not a programmer. I'm not a hardcore tech person," he admits, "but I have always been in the space building a hardcore tech business." He's worked with startups over the years, two of which got acquired. So what's his take on success?
"Any startup who wants to fill a business in the space [...] you must find a clear objective - what you want to do, a clear defined vision and direction. Focus on that, build on the business, and seek as much out as possible," he says.
And trust your team, he adds. The Carrot Patch is run by a team of just under ten individuals, and it hopes to grow that team, looking for tech talent that includes backend and iOS developers, and data scientists.
"If you hire someone to do a job, someone needs to do that job, you know?" he recounts, advice he says he learned early in his colorful career, which has spanned everything from advertising to logistics - delivering for UPS. "I don't micromanage. I leave the person to do the job. The only way the person will learn is to grow with the business and grow with the company and do the job. That's what we do."
The Carrot Patch officially launches today. Visit their site for membership plans, and follow them on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram for membership deals. And visit us over at 100offer to find tech positions at The Carrot Patch and like companies, all on one platform. Sign up in minutes - we'll help you do the rest.