A NEW initiative launched yesterday will make it easier than ever for budding entrepreneurs to get answers and advice from mentors.

Ask Ace is a website from the Action Community for Entrepreneurship (Ace) that allows start-ups to ask and receive specific business advice from seasoned entrepreneurs.

Ace chairman Teo Ser Luck called the initiative timely, as more Singaporeans are now keen on starting their own businesses.

Ask Ace features 10 mentors, including Mr Derek Sivers, who started CD Baby to sell independent music online. He sold the company in 2008.

Mr Sivers said it is useful to get different perspectives and new insights from unrelated industries.

Another online mentor is Fly Entertainment founder Irene Ang, who lauded the importance of good mentors at a panel discussion during the launch event at Safra Mount Faber. She noted that a mentor had taught her to say no to investors who were not in line with her business' interests.

Mr Teo, who is also Minister of State for Trade and Industry, said interest in Ace's grants has multiplied "a few fold", with the the Start-ups Grant receiving 350 applications, out of which 20 were approved, since it was launched in January. Its mentoring programme, which began in May, now mentors more than 20 start-ups.

Mr Teo later told The Straits Times that Singapore needs more new businesses and entrepreneurship. He said that places such as South Korea and Taiwan were very vibrant because of their start-ups and that Singapore could be the same.

"I'd like Singapore to be known as that - such an exciting city to start up businesses in, with Singaporeans really adventurous and going out there to start up businesses," he added.

"We're more than just a bunch of good workers, good technocrats, good engineers. I think that is what is needed in the character of the country in the future."

Ask Ace's website is at http://ask.sgentrepreneurs.com