Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our Young CEOs - Dare to dream, and dream BIG

I attended a panel discussion this afternoon which was from 1pm to 4pm. There were 4 speakers, Douglas Gan, Wayne Eo, Eileen Feng and Amelia Kang. That wasn't the 1st Entrepreneurship event I went to. And again, that was a inspiring one. I am gonna record down what they said while the memory is till fresh this time.

Firstly, we have Douglas Gan, founder & CEO of ShowNearby. He started his first small business when he was in primary school by selling chewing gums. Since then, he has been learning on the way how to do business. He was born in a poor family. And he said it was the environment that drove him to be keen in earning money since he was a kid. When he grew up and became a teenager, he began to endeavor some big business. The reason that brought him such a great courage when he was about 15 years old was he thought it would be rather easier to gain money by earning himself than getting money from parents. In fact, his performance in study was bad. For example, he got a score of 39 for his O-level. This is perhaps the reason he answered 'You may quit school if you want to start-up a business' to the emcee when he was asked whether education was important. However, he emphasized that it was just a different way of learning. He said :" Education can come in different forms, it might be learning in school, might be learning in real life, might be self-learning by reading book, etc. You just choose the one you feel the most comfortable with." He actually possesses a diploma cert. However, he said it was his mother who wanted him to get a cert, or else he wouldn't have bothered himself to study since the cert has been worthless to him. Nonetheless, his answer for the last question thrown at him was an impressive one. The question was "what you would choose to do or not to do if the time went back to a few years ago". He said that he would have not invested in stock market in year 2006 and 2007. He lost everything, every single cent with a lot of debts. However, he recovered his losses after 2 months by starting up a new business. And he assured that he would never invest in stock market again.
Douglas' advice: you have advantages if you start a business when you are young. This is because most old successful entrepreneurs would treat you like their sons.

Secondly, we have Wayne Eo, the founder & managing director of OOm Pte Ltd. He and his 2 partners started up their business 5 years ago with $500. Now, their company worths more than 1 million dollars. He had begun to dream owning a company since he was 10 years old. And he found OOm when he was 19 years old. He said he just ignored his study and focused on doing his business. Similar to Douglas, he did very bad (worse than Douglas' indeed) in his study. Nonetheless, he does have a choice to go study business in some private college. But he decided to learn everything on the way he was starting up OOm. In fact, in the first year of OOm, he couldn't get any client and there was once he experienced walking back to home because of running out of cash. However, he was so determined with a belief which was "I suffer now but I will make sure it will never happen again in the future."
Mayne's advice: Must learn to be able to smile naturally while people 'hit' you very badly (customers say no with teasing words).

Thirdly, Amelia Kang, the managing director of Auxein Consultancy and Management Pte Ltd. She was one of the top 5 Junior College students in Singapore. She graduated from NUS with Philosophy Bachelor Degree. She basically invests in new businesses and sells them out for profits. Currently, she has 9 businesses operating on her hands. She was once a person who was like others thinking to work with a stable high income after graduation. She became a manager of Singapore Art Council after she graduated for NUS. Everything changed when she gained a great network for herself. She felt that she would have been able to earn more if she resigned her job and involved herself in doing business. After considering it seriously, she opened her first restaurant with another 2 partners. Within a year, they managed to recover their capital. Awhile later, one of her partners got pregnant and wanted to withdraw from the business, while the other one got hooked up by a customer and intended to leave for Australia. She could not run the restaurant without them so she sold her business out. She actually earned a greater profit from the deal. After that experience, she began to set up and sell businesses for profits. Substantially, she sells businesses to her partners when the businesses become profitable.
Amelia's advice: (i) Learn to make use of your skills and knowledge.
(ii) Make sure your potential partners have the goal of developing their businesses instead of having another plan for life, such as quitting the business for children.

Lastly, we have Eileen Feng, founder of Singapore Cen Speak. She graduated from a polytechnic in Singapore. I can't remember much about what she shared with the audience. However, she was a lucky one as it was her life and fate that brought her to be the founder of 3 businesses in 3 different industries. She was rather passive to start up each of her businesses. Simply speaking, it was the business that came to her instead of having great aspiration before starting up a business.


  1. Hi, good to know this event was inspiring to you. I am Denise, Director of BizAsia - we organised this event. =)