Social enterprises are a great way to support a good cause. But do you know that there are many opportunities to do so beyond volunteering or donating? Today, we are here to touch on a unique start-up that aims to help the less privileged through a very quirky and distinctive medium – pixelated art! Introducing BitsGreat, a Singaporean social enterprise that sells customisable pixelated art kits.
Founded in August 2018 by student founders Louis Lee (NTU Material Science & Engineering) and Loh Ya Xin (NUS Law), these two young and passionate individuals were inspired to make a difference as they deeply empathised with the financially disadvantaged youths. Together, these two young and passionate individuals envisioned for BitsGreat to be a trailblazer in advocating for equal opportunities when it comes to education.
Actively supporting and advocating for equal opportunities to education is key to their mission . “I was inspired to start a social enterprise that will empower financially disadvantaged youths to pursue their education without worrying about what to eat the next day, because I grew up in similar circumstance and had risen above it”, said BitsGreat co-founder, Ya Xin.
So how exactly does art come into this? BitsGreat allows consumers to turn their favourite photos into a DIY pixelated art-kit made from building blocks. The process is pretty straightforward. After uploading their picture to their website, Bitsgreat will provide a customized DIY kit complete with display frame, frame bits and tools. One can choose from different styles and sizes, ranging from 40cm by 40cm mini portraits to 80cm by 80cm family portraits.
$10 per sale will be apportioned to a bursary fund to support schooling expenses of youths from disadvantaged backgrounds. Proceeds also go into the BitsGreat pocket money fund, providing well-paid and flexible working hours for youths in disadvantaged backgrounds to work part-time. This is succinctly summarised by BitsGreat’s social objectives -“Through BitsGreat, we aim to fulfil two primary social objectives: to provide well-paying and flexible part-time work opportunities to youths, and to sponsor their education-related expenses.”
When asked on the challenges faced in their entrepreneurial journey thus far, the founders faced one of the biggest misconceptions atypical of social enterprises. The view that a social enterprise cannot be for profit. “While our contribution of $10 per kit sold may seem small in comparison to its retail price, post-cost, we are actually looking at channeling 20-30% of our profits towards our beneficiaries”. They also expanded on what they think comprises a social enterprise. “Social enterprises are not limited to companies working with the homeless, or tackling inequality. They can come from any industry, as long as they champion any social cause they are deeply passionate about”.
On advice for fellow entrepreneurs or start-ups, Louis mused that one of the biggest learning points in his journey was finally understanding what people meant that it is a marathon. Just like a marathon, there are those who finish the race, and then those who fall along the way. One thus has to be fully equipped and prepared before setting out to the racing track. BitsGreat is one of the successful recipients of the Startup SG Founder Grant, administered by TRIVE as their Accredited Mentor Partner (AMP). With their network of NEXT50 mentors, myriad of business benefits and pro-bono advisory efforts, TRIVE ensured that BitsGreat is well set for their long, arduous entrepreneurial journey ahead.
“TRIVE has been of great help to ensure the successful application of the grant, they helped us to refine our pitch deck and understand our business. They understood that the business was not the next unicorn but was willing to spend the time to coach us and provide us with necessary guidance at each step of the way.”
From 24 April 2018, TRIVE has also announced that it will administer the grant free-of-charge, without any requirement of sweat equity or payment. Interested entrepreneurs are invited to apply for the grant at TRIVE’s website.