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    Apr 23, 2015

    New website offers start-ups barter option

    FANCY getting paid in vegetables, buns or a suit? An online platform is tapping on old-fashioned bartering to help local start-ups get ahead.

    The Platform Collective (, created by four undergraduates, encourages start-ups - which often lack resources - to exchange their trades and expertise with other ventures, instead of paying for products or services.

    For instance, an online bakery hoping to gain more followers on Facebook and Instagram could register on the website, and pay with cakes for another company's social media marketing expertise.

    Since its launch in January, the website has been responsible for more than 20 successful tie-ups.

    "There are young Singaporeans who are breaking away from the norm and starting their own businesses," said final year Nanyang Technological University communications student Isaac Tan, 25, one of the individuals behind the website.

    "They have big dreams to get to places but they don't know where to find the support. Many start-ups end up working in silos, not realising there are others who could have helped to address their needs."

    His co-founders are coursemates Caster Teoh, 25, Olivia Ng, 23, and Wong Yan Ting, 23.

    The site lists the needs of the start-ups and allows them to touch base with each other. Over 60 local companies - including urban farmers, design agencies, boutique cafes and printing studios - have signed up.

    One of them, design studio Fawn and Moss, contributed ice cream paper props for fashion photographer Lenne Chai, in exchange for photography services.

    Said Fawn and Moss co-founder Amanda Poh, 28: "It is easy to start a business, but definitely not easy to sustain it. This initiative has a lot of potential for cash-strapped start-ups, helping to lower production costs."

    Mr Tan explained that the collective does not get involved in the trades.

    "The onus is on the start-ups to be upfront and willing to trade," he said.

    The website does not charge for sign-ups or successful collaborations, but may do so later this year as the students hope to commercialise their venture.

    Travelling tailor business Mr Gentleman is looking to exchange suits and shirts for photography services through the website.

    Noted co-founder Gary Ong, 23: "The bartering concept is apt for most start-ups.

    "It can be daunting when there is no support system for young start-up owners and many would crumble in times of need."