As Southeast Asia's foremost commercial hub, Singapore is a financial force to be reckoned with. Its unprecedented continuous economic growth every year, is an authentication to the superpower's commitment to extraordinary evolvement. The development of a nation, however, will not be possible without its army of entrepreneurs, the group of business people who run various enterprises profiting the nation and without whom the country's rapid development most certainly grind to a halt. In this issue, Top 10 of Asia identifies the island nation's young crop of entrepreneurs (presented in no particular order) raring to contribute to its economy and growth.
Founder of Singapore's leading memory training company, Sancy Suraj is currently the proud holder of Guinness Book of World Record's record for the 'Longest Colour Sequence Memorised' - he was able to memorise 160 randomly generated colours that was shown every two seconds. Tapping into his prowess, Sancy formed his facility in late 2011 and now functions as the Chief Memory Improvement Trainer with a group of skilfully motivated professionals that specialise in teaching effective memorisation and knowledge storing techniques. Besides having represented his country in the World Memory Championship in 2011, the intellect is also fully certified in Advance Training and Assessment by the Institute for Adult Learning.
Loyal Reliance Pte Ltd is now one of the most prominent business consultancy firms for SMEs in both Singapore and Malaysia thanks to its founder and Group Managing Director, Jeffrey Koh. A champion of the SME community, Jeffrey has spearheaded the development of various new services catering to local businesses, for which he was conferred the Honouree of the Spirit of Enterprise awards in 2013 while Loyal Reliance was presented with the Top 25 Prestige Brand Award in 2014. An avid philanthropist, the activist has even initiated a bursary fund worth S$250,000 at Nanyang Technological University to help less fortunate students with their education.
The risky path of entrepreneurship may not be everyone's preferred course, but for those who do to take up the challenge, the rewards are aplenty. One such risk-taker is Neeraj, who set up his own company Comwerks at the age of 21 using just S$5,000, with his partner Keith Tan. After re-aligning the company as a digital agency, Comwerks managed to lure in numerous high-profile clients, namely Microsoft, Starbucks, 3M, Procter and Gamble, and most importantly the Singaporean government. The winner of EYA for Social Contribution in the 25th Entrepreneur of the Year Award, Neeraj has also helped set up Zed Academy, a training facility which aims to prepare students for the digital and mobile industries.
Boasting extensive experience in sales and management, Nick Sim is a strong believer in life-long learning, as he continuously attends upgrading courses to improve himself further. For the past few years, however, Nick has been managing WhizHeartz Edu-Centre, a one-stop all-inclusive training company for parents, children, government agencies and corporate companies. Whilst running three different businesses simultaneously, Nick also sits on Singapore Polytechnic Alumni's board to help evaluate businesses proposals of aspiring entrepreneurs and is also the Head of Events for Singapore Polytechnic Entrepreneurs Club (SPEC). A relentless multi-tasker, the young occasional-radio broadcaster is a seminar translator as well and has translated for many world-renowned speakers.
Graduating at the top of her class from the School of Fashion Studies at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) should have been a presage of Grace's ability to achieve great things in life. The founder and creative director of Awesome Costumes, the revolutionary designer has crafted works that have been seen at various high-profile events such as the Chingay Parades, the Youth Olympic Games 2010 and President's Star Charity 2011. Specialising in creating costumes for theatre, dance and other entertainment events, Awesome Costumes has garnered Grace the third place at Yahoo Singapore’s prestigious 9 Awards under the business category held as part of National Day 2012.
As the co-founder and Managing Director of Timbre Group, Edward's main mission is to develop the Singapore music scene by cultivating the talent of local musicians and garnering them a loyal fanbase. Under his helm, the Group has developed to become a holistic music lifestyle company with a diverse portfolio of businesses ranging from food and beverage, concert and festivals promotion and music education. Besides focusing on his company, Edward serves on various committees as well, such as the Arts and Culture Strategic Review (ACSR), where he reviews strategies for attracting, developing and retaining creative talent in Singapore. Since 2013, this creative entrepreneur is also a board member of the National Arts Council and National Museum of Singapore.
Being a prolific drummer with a passion for teaching, starting his own drumming school was a natural progression for the astute musician. Graduating with a First Class Honours from Nanyang Technological University where he was on the Dean’s List for three consecutive years, James decided to put his entrepreneurial skills to good use by starting My Drum School, a specialised music school that prioritises a good curriculum and love for music. Recognising his management skills, the Business Times has featured him twice on its magazine as a ‘Successful Entrepreneur under 30', while Computer Times ran a piece on him for his innovation in using technology for his business.
As the Managing Director of Q'son Kitchen Equipment, Sally Chua is responsible for day-to-day management decisions, overall strategic preparation and expansion plans of the homegrown company. A well-known name in the kitchen equipment industry, Q'son has been in business for more than 15 years, all the while serving some of Singapore’s best known restaurants and 5-star hotels. Utilising her insightful entrepreneurial skills, Sally has transformed Q'son over the years from a budding three-person outfit to a company with staff strength of more than 150 today. Her recent achievements include being selected as one of the nine Established Entrepreneurs of 213 by the Association of SMEs (ASME).
Kimberly Asia, the unique diamond investment firm was founded in 2008 by young entrepreneur Justin Wu, with an office tucked away in a quiet corner in the island. Currently, six years later, the firm is of the leading go-to enterprise for customers seeking to make diamond investments and trade in the actual market. In this trading network, Kimberly Asia functions as the middleman, helping investors identify their preferred precious stone while still being budget-conscious and then sourcing for the diamond through their vast network of suppliers around the world. Under Justin’s visionary leadership, Kimberly Asia expertly distinguishes itself from many other diamond investment firms currently operating in the country.
Nicholas Chan is one of Singapore's successful entrepreneurs, having started/co-founded 8 companies and 1 non-profit organization over 2 decades. Through Azione Capital, an early stage venture capital firm he founded, he invested in 27 Southeast Asia companies and has achieved 6 successful exits to date. A graduate from Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Nicholas was blessed to have received life and business mentorship from Soon Choo Teck, Chief Executive Officer of Sim Lim Co. Pte Ltd and Lee Keh Sai, Managing Director of K.S. Lee & Associates Pte Ltd (acquired by Schneider Electric). Nicholas presently heads Fredrik Marine, a maritime info-communications technology firm and Maelstrom Asia, Singapore’s first military simulation scenario paintball operator. He regularly speaks on the topic of entrepreneurship across Southeast Asia.