Q – What is your favourite city?

I’ve lived in 9 cities across 6 countries (and travelled to many more) and it is actually quite difficult to pinpoint a ‘favorite’ among them. Personally the year I spent in Paris during my undergraduate days was probably the most transformative – the city was beautiful, rich in history, cosmopolitan and chaotic. It was safer than it is now.

Recently I’ve been going to Hangzhou a lot since one of our key investors is a co-founder of Alibaba, and we have a number of collaborations there. I like the city, with its famous West Lake but also the mountains dotted with temples and monasteries. In addition, the city is so fast moving (thanks largely to Alibaba) that each time you find new things – and nobody uses cash anymore (read: Alipay).

As a tourist, one of my favourite is Campeche in Mexico. The place and its people simply feel surreal, and magical.


Q – Can you share with us a bit more of your personal journey leading you to Singapore?

I first came to Singapore with a scholarship to study at Saint Andrew’s Junior College and subsequently Nanyang Technological University. Over the years I have moved away a few times, but somehow life always brought me back to Singapore.

I have to say the city has transformed tremendously – anyone remember the days where Mohammed Sultan Road was the only place to go for drinks after work, or the famous roadside barbecue (in the middle of nowhere) where Marina Bay Sands stand now?


Q – How do you keep yourself motivated and working towards your business and personal goals?

After heading two Rocket Internet companies between 2013 and 2015, I became very cynical about all types of chicken soup. The truth is – business motivation has to be intrinsic if you are running a business. You have to truly believe that what you do will lead you somewhere.

A burning desire to achieve something in life also helps. As Elon Musk said in an interview: “I am just trying to think about the future and not be sad.”


Q – As the entrepreneur-in-residence for INSEAD, what is the one bit of advice you can share with people who are looking to exchange corporate life to one of a startup founder

Choose your industry and business model very carefully. Because at the end of the day, passion and hard work are just two of the factors that lead you to success.

Timing is extremely important: if you are in an industry that is growing, you grow with it; if you are in a vertical where the only way to get market share is from competitors, then you will probably be stagnant. Those who come into the market too early die before they reap the rewards; those who are late miss the opportunity.

Well, a lot of what we call ‘timing’ is actually luck, because at that time you would not know how big the opportunity really is. When Jack Ma first started Alibaba, he thought the company will reach US$ 100 million eventually (its current market cap is US$475 billion). That said, you could avoid obvious timing mistakes: for example, do not open another travel agency (online or otherwise) in Singapore – the market is already saturated, and not really growing.

Read our blog: – we talk about timing a lot there.


Q – How do balance life and work?

Maybe a different way to frame this question is how do we blend life and work. If a passion for both motivates you, then it becomes quite easy.

Having some cats at home also helps 😉

So, this has never been a problem for me (although my wife might think differently!)


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