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News > Alumni Spotlight > SJI International's Values Inspired Future Entrepreneur

SJI International's Values Inspired Future Entrepreneur

Ezra James '18, co-founder of Hust, a platform that gives freelancers the opportunity to get hired for gigs, shared his thoughts about his life-changing experience with entrepreneurship.
SJI International's Values Inspired Future Entrepreneur
SJI International's Values Inspired Future Entrepreneur

When the Alumni Association approached me to write this article, I was quite surprised. Being a less-than-average student back in SJI International, how did I earn the privilege of writing for the school’s alumni magazine? I’m currently writing this article on my flight to London, which gives me a good long 14 hours to reflect on the circumstances that led me to be where I am today.


A little background as to who I am: my name is Ezra, graduated from the Class of 2018. Immediately after graduation, I took on a stint as an Administrative Assistant because I wanted to relinquish the dependence I had on my parents. Thereafter, like every other Singaporean boy’s rite of passage into adulthood, I completed my National Service in the Republic of Singapore Air Force. Here I am now, pursuing a degree in the Bachelor of Science in Marketing at the Singapore University of Social Sciences. Studies aside, I engage in powerlifting, I play golf, and, oh! I’m an entrepreneur as well; I am the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of my startup company, Hust. – something I never thought I would have done 4 years ago.


“Wait, Ezra. School and a start-up at the same time? How can you balance everything all at once?” This was something that I wish I’d learnt earlier, which was how to plan my time better. It might even make me appear like I have a severe case of OCD. From scheduling meetings with friends weeks prior to the date we’ve decided upon, to planning every single thing I had to do that day. But it worked.


So here’s my story. With a predicted IB Grade of 27 just 6 months to the final IB exam and having my priorities set completely wrong, at first glance you’d think I’d be having trouble securing a place in university and possibly leading a less-than-intriguing life. Grade 3s and 4s rained down on me for the entire IB Programme, as if everything was telling me that was all I deserved. I wanted to challenge that – with just weeks left to the final exam, I realised that mind maps work for me as a way of retaining information. Yeah, imagine the amount of preparation I needed to make leading up to the exams; I rewrote every single chapter in the form of a mind map. My final results came as a surprise to both me and my tutors. Although it was not as perfect as I wanted it to be, knowing that I have improved tremendously and it was the best I could’ve done was all that mattered.


This leads me to what this article is about - success from the perspective of an average joe. As you know, I wasn’t always the brightest student in the class. But I really had ambition. My final results, the could have beens and National Service changed me for the better and instilled a discipline in me that I would never have attained. I understood that I could either mope about not being able to do better, or make the best out of the situation I was in; I chose the latter. With this change in mentality, I achieved numerous awards while in the Air Force and I sought to exceed the expectations of both myself and the people around me. Which was why I founded Hust.!


My Co-Founder reached out to me with an opportunity during the first few weeks of university, which I took with a leap of faith. Little did I know by saying “Yes”, I’ve opened myself up to endless doors of opportunities. The idea came about because of my co-founder’s struggle with finding clients for his side gigs. I used to be an avid photographer, doing photography gigs on the side, and I, too, struggle with this problem. Hence we decided to bring our heads to come up with a solution together: Hust.! An all-in-one platform for an everything side hustle! We aim to encourage everyone to take up side hustles, and we provide them with the means to make side hustles easier for them. In essence, it’s a platform for the next generation of digital natives to earn an income socially!

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy – sure the title and statute that comes along with it might turn heads and impress people, but it takes a huge amount of effort to make the idea come to fruition. The values I’ve attained from my time in SJI International has definitely shaped me and largely contributed to the way in which I portray myself as a Co-Founder, and a leader. SJI International has taught me about taking initiative and responsibility in one’s own learning, and I finally learnt the significance of life-long, continuous learning. Even with my position in my start-up, comfort is viewed as one’s hamartia. I have to find ways to continuously improve myself, to keep myself up to date with current events to make the necessary business decisions. For those of you who are thinking of starting something of your own – go for it. You’ll never know what’s in store for you! And you miss 100% of shots you don’t take, so why not!


Off the top of my head, one particular struggle we faced whilst brainstorming on the whiteboard was “Where are we going with this?”. Dubbed a “tweener” by Maynard Webb, author of Dear Founder, I finally understood the struggles entrepreneurs and founders face during the early stages of a start-up. I would say that the mindset that I’ve seasoned in the past few years from my experiences kept me going; I hate quitting. Ultimately, an Eureka moment came into my mind in the middle of McDonald’s during a meeting. Right there and then, I developed a new, distinguishable peripheral business model that we will be adopting into our operations as soon as our app is released.


If I could turn back time and relive my time in SJI International, I’d definitely make the best out of my time there, way more than I did before. For the graduating students of 2022, a word of advice from your friendly entrepreneur: do not compare yourself with others. You’re on your own journey through life. Here’s a quote by Tim Bergling (Avicii) that I hold close to me “One day you’ll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember”


To SJI International, a very Happy 15th Anniversary! Thank you for shaping me to be the person I am today, with the very values that you have instilled in my very being in the 4 years that I’ve been there! I hope that the school will continue churning out the next generation of successful individuals; they have more potential than they will ever realise.


“I'm on a roller coaster that only goes up, my friend” – Augustus Waters


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