How 7 Startup Founders Create Impact At Technopreneur Circle After Leaving Corporate Jobs
With technology evolving at a blink-or-you’ll-miss-it rate and uptick in startups, co-working spaces are currently all the rage in Singapore. Entrepreneurs need no-fuss, affordable, and often temporary office accommodation to grow and get off the ground.
If you’re imagining throngs of Millennial hipster techies making co-working spaces their home, think again. These spaces attract a diverse cross-section of professionals looking to build high-growth startups. Great Owls takes you behind closed doors to meet the entrepreneurs who call Raffles City Tower’s Technopreneur Circle home. On the surface, these seven mission-driven founders could not be more different given their diverse nationalities, backgrounds and professional experiences. But one thing they do have in common is the desire to create an impact through starting their own ventures. In this article, they share what motivated them to leave corporate jobs to start their own companies, and what they have learnt along the way.
If you want to start your own company and need some inspiration and a co-working space, check out Technopreneur Circle. It’s located in the heart of the CBD and is backed by investment firm Vertex Ventures. You can apply for a free membership and a co-working space on the website.
Laura Ranin, co-founder and CEO of Missionready
Laura worked as a geotechnical consultant and project manager for high-profile construction projects in Finland. In 2014 she relocated to Singapore, where she switched paths to dabble in freelance consulting, writing and content marketing. In 2016, Laura and her husband created Missionready, an intelligent fitness coach app that personalises workouts to match user’s abilities with fitness goals and track progress.
Missionready evolved from an app that was conceptualised by Laura and her husband for their own personal use. Both fitness buffs (Laura is a former gymnast and an accredited gymnastics coach), the pair were dismayed by the fitness technology available.
“Fitness has always been a big part of my life. With small kids I have max 30 minutes (to exercise) and I have that maybe three or four times a week. I cannot spend an hour or two hours a day at the gym. No way,” says Lara. “We did a lot of R&D to find the most effective workouts based on science and that is what we incorporated in the app.”
Check it out: http://missionready.info/
Eugene Chen, founder of Cafébond
Eugene Chen had a wealth of work experience before jumping into the start-up world. He began working on computer development jobs at the age of 17, and by the time he graduated from NUS with a degree in computer science, he had a huge network of clients. Over the years, he developed a love for coffee, first as a way to stay up late at night working, and later as a coffee connoisseur on a trip to cafe-centric Melbourne to sample some of the city’s best beans.
In 2015, Eugene and a friend co-founded Cafebond, an online shop delivering specialty coffee beans from top cafes and roasters to customers in Singapore and Malaysia. Eugene says, “I saw how difficult it was in Asia to have specialty coffee delivered in a cost-efficient way, so I came up with a backend algorithm to reduce shipping costs. Now all merchants have to do is roast the beans, and we do everything from sending a courier to distributing. In the end, the customer gets quality beans for a similar price to what they would get if they walked into the cafe or roastery.”
When it comes to a working environment, Eugene believes that there are many benefits to a co-working space. He says, “In a co-working space, people come from different walks of life, have different business models and different angles on things, so talking to them actually expands our vision.”
Check it out: https://cafebond.com/
Yujun Chean, founder of Vouch
Another entrepreneur who has a great deal of experience working in the corporate world, but has now made the leap into the start-up world is Yujun Chean, co-founder and CEO of Vouch, a social car insurance platform where customers receive cash back for safer driving and enjoy a fairer and more transparent customer experience.
Yujun says, “I spent 15 years in the corporate world, and I always had this notion that the start-up world and co-working spaces were just for the young guys, mainly the techies. When I came into TechCircle, I was really surprised how diverse it is and how many people there are from completely different backgrounds, experiences and industries.”
The idea for Vouch came about when Yujun was working to come up with big-data solutions for insurance companies and began to realize the insurance industry was slightly backwards. He says, “Interacting with your insurer is probably one of the worst experiences you can have because when you do, it’s probably not for a good reason. Then you often feel as though you’re just a cog in machine. “When I came across a concept called peer-to-peer insurance, I was interested because it tries to bring in things that you don't usually associate with insurance like community, trust and fairness. This is the idea behind Vouch. It’s basically a system where you can form a community of friends who vouch for each other when it comes to safe driving. You put all your premiums on the table, and if one of you has an accident, the pool depletes, but if your community has no claims, the savings in the pool will be returned back to you.”
Check it out: https://www.vouchinsurance.sg/
Nino Mouton, founder of Skillagogo
Nino Mouton has years of international media experience as Editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Indonesia and Editor-at-large of Cosmopolitan France. When she moved to Singapore in 2012, the startup scene fascinated her and she decided to jump into it.
Often hearing a question: “Do you know where I can go to a good art/baking/public speaking/knitting – or name a skill here – class in this city?”, she decided to launch Skillagogo, a social education platform with a simple objective to bring together passionate teachers and passionate learners. “We wanted to make the whole learning process become more social and more interactive. Whether you want to learn a new skill or strengthen an existing one, to reinvent yourself or explore unknown territories, we want to have an answer to those knowledge needs with skillagogo”, says Nino.
Check it out: http://skillagogo.com
Sumedha Khoche, founder of Social Weaver
A mum, a travel buff and a blogger, Sumedha Khoche is a business leader with 14 years of marketing and sales experience at P&G and Pepsico across Asia Pacific. She left behind a successful corporate career to launch her own business venture Social Weaver.
“Social Weaver is a platform that connects parents and parents to be with the best services, experts and resources for parenting. Our aim is to simplify parenting decisions so parents can spend more time with their kids vs. being online to be in the know,” proudly shares Sumedha.
Check it out: https://www.socialweaver.co
Robin Teurlings, founder of Investeur
Robin Teurlings, a Dutch native, came to Singapore to start his entrepreneurial career. He left his long-held corporate job at ING bank knowing he can make a bigger impact starting something out in Asia.
After winning 3rd prize at Startup Weekend Singapore, he decided to launch Investeur, a virtual accelerator for entrepreneurs. During Investeurs’ entrepreneurial journey he discovered that progressing and funding are two large and interlinked challenges for many entrepreneurs that needed improving. Thus he set out to find a solution to make that easier for Startups. Investeur brings entrepreneurs their own personalized virtual accelerator. Based on the startup’s profile Investeur helps to determine the next steps and guides startups through their journeys.
Check it out: https://www.investeur.co
Kew Yoke Ling, founder of KewMann
Before starting KewMann, Yoke Ling worked for 14 years in different business roles with established software companies like Oracle, Quest Software and CallidusCloud. He was fascinated by the growth and potential of big data analytics. In 2014 he felt he had enough business experience, industry knowledge, network and funds to venture out on his own. He started a data analytics company KewMann. Yoke Ling explains: “Using cutting-edge technologies in big data analytics, artificial intelligence and behavioral science, KewMann helps organizations gain new insights to predict and influence human behaviors.
Check it out: https://www.kewmann.com