Spotlight on Alumni – Elizabeth Tan, akïn

Elizabeth is the Branding Strategist at social-centric branding firm akïn, which runs digital and content marketing services ranging from lead nurturing practices to ground up initiatives, offering clients a holistic branding experience. She oversees the visual branding team, working closely with designers, copywriters and strategy planners to improve clients’ visual brand identities and activation campaigns.

After graduating from NUS FASS CNM in 2012, Elizabeth worked for e27 and participated in the NUS Overseas College (NOC) programme, where she stood out as a CNM student amongst participants from the business/engineering faculties. It was there that she met two other participants, Arvin Tang (FASS Econs ’12) and Kenneth Sim (Electrical Engineering ’11), whom she started a web development company with. The trio subsequently went on to start akïn.

Today, the core team (also consisting of fellow NUS alumni Rachel Goh (Sociology ’13) and Harris Lim (CNM ’14)) works closely with brands like Gong Cha, Home-Fix and ASUS to offer a holistic branding experience through shaping their brand messages and communication platforms.

Elizabeth recognizes that the knowledge and practices adopted during her time in CNM has enabled her to merge a keen eye for business with a creative perspective, thus empowering her to translate business plans into exciting consumer-facing products.

Aside from being part of the best dressed department in the whole FASS faculty and having fond memories of her favourite CNM modules (like NM3202: Governance and New Media and NM3027: Philosophy in Communications and New Media), Elizabeth recalls working on final year papers centered on K-pop culture. This required her to conduct intensive research into numerous Big Bang and Super Junior music videos and backstage interviews.

Enus-portraits-368lizabeth shares, “to be honest, I never really intended to start my own business despite NOC being promoted as an entrepreneurship exchange program. I merely wanted to travel (esp to India) but it was there that I met one of my partners now, who then convinced me to help him out for one of his business ideas. While that did not take off, I quickly realized that I was always ideating and thinking of new business ideas! NOC was also a good place to get exposed to not just the people that went for the program, but also the affliated networks , one of it was PGP at NUS where we were incubated for the first 1.5 years.  

For me, starting out was fun, there were a lot of things to experiment and test, and a lot of it was new experiences, so it was extremely refreshing. The real challenge came when the team grew, and we needed to think not just for the business, but for the team and how they can grow. We treat everyone like a family here and the culture is very open and supportive.  

Those who are looking to start on an entrepreneurial journey should not look at it like an act of defiance. I notice this a lot in the younger generation whereby they go “oh! I want to be an entrepreneur because I dont want to work in a corporate job” or “I think i can grow my $$ exponentially by starting my own business” 

A lot of people are mesmerized by successful entrepreneurs making it big without even completing school – Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, etc but the truth is most entrepreneurs are actually slaves to their job and are struggling to make ends meet. What i’m trying to say is that, people who want to be entreprenuers need to be inspired by the right reasons – not for money, fame, but for making a real difference and solving a real problem, this will really ensure the longevity of the business. “

Curious about what akïn does? Take a look here 

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