More millennials around the world are starting their own businesses, a trend that includes recent graduates of the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Jeremy Lim, Angeline Yeo, and Ethel Chua. They are part of an emerging group dubbed “millennipreneurs,” according to the BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneurs Report 2016.
These three graduates of WKWSCI have embarked on three distinctly different ventures, ranging from a yoga studio to a bar. With their own unique stories, these entrepreneurs share their struggles and successes with us.
Jeremy Lim (CS’16), Co-founder, Workwander: Hooked on Startups
At just 25, Jeremy Lim is already known as a “serial entrepreneur.” Lim, who majored in public relations at WKWSCI, started up four companies as a student. And he is not quite done yet.
His latest startup is Workwander, a mobile application platform for booking co-working spaces. Started in August 2016, the platform boasts 29 coworking spaces, cafes and meeting rooms on its platform currently. While he cofounded Workwander with a friend, Shawn Lau, the team has now expanded to Vietnam, where their application development team is based.
“What drives me to keep going is perhaps knowing that I can help solve a problem that will benefit a certain group of people.”
Lim caught the entrepreneurial bug when he was at Singapore Polytechnic. During his time there, the school was looking for students to kickstart its entrepreneurship initiative. “Since they were offering to sponsor students who were willing to try something new, I thought, why not?” said Lim.
It was that initiative that got Lim hooked on startups. “What drives me to keep going is perhaps knowing that I can help solve a problem that will benefit a certain group of people,” he said. He added that working in a startup enabled him to make decisions quicker and more decisively.
However, the road to starting his businesses has not been easy.
Lim shared that while his parents were open to the idea of him exploring entrepreneurship as he was studying, they wanted him to build a more stable career after graduation.
But at the end of the day, Lim believes that his hard work will pay off. “In the end, I think that they'll see the number of hours of work I put in and understand my passion,” he added.
Lim continues to remain undeterred in his pursuit for startup gold. “Believe that your solution will come to fruition and go all out with it.”
Angeline Yeo (CS’15), Co-founder at Yoga+: Stretching Her Horizons
While starting up a yoga studio has always been on Yeo’s bucket list, she had never planned on checking that off so soon. A dinner conversation with some friends while she was working as a yoga teacher spurred her on to take the leap.
“The three of us just decided to leave our respective teaching jobs at different studios and come together to emulate the best parts of our experiences to our own studio,” said Yeo, who started Yoga+ with three close friends in August 2016.
“The plus sign in Yoga+ is our way of highlighting the many different possibilities of how yoga goes beyond the physical workout.”
The 24-year-old said she picked up yoga during her freshman year at WKWSCI. As Yeo struggled to cope with the rigours of school, she found solace in yoga. “I was under a lot of emotional stress from my personal life and the hectic university schedule, yoga thus became a way for me to unwind and peel away these stresses,” she said.
As an exchange student at the University of Western Ontario in Canada, Yeo found her place amongst fellow yoga practitioners. There, Yeo was part of a close-knit yoga community, which helped her deal with the loneliness that came with being so far away from home. During this time, she decided to teach yoga and offer the same support to those who may find comfort in it. Upon returning home, Yeo promptly took up a yoga teaching course.
At Yoga+’s cozy studio in Chinatown, Yeo wears various hats. Aside from teaching eighteen to twenty classes a week, she is also in charge of the marketing aspects of the business.
Yeo believes that her experience in marketing and branding from her professional internship with Ogilvy & Mather has helped Yoga+ differentiate itself from the swathe of studios in Singapore.
“The plus sign in Yoga+ is our way of highlighting the many different possibilities of how yoga goes beyond the physical workout,” said Yeo. The studio embodies this motto by partnering with different organisations to promote a social cause through yoga. For example, Yeo partnered with the Cat Welfare Society and Breast Cancer Society to help spread awareness and drive donations for their causes.
Looking ahead, Yeo plans to open another studio in Singapore, and has hopes of even expanding overseas.
“In order to get that one big scoop, we need many many months of hard work. So I’m just taking small steps and hopefully in 10 years Yoga+ will expand the horizons of yoga further.”
Ethel Chua (CS’16), Manager, Hopheads: All Hands On Deck
True to its centrepiece neon-lit sign “Let The Good Times Roll,” patrons at Hopheads, a bar specialising in craft beer, are often found winding down and letting loose at the beer pong tables and dart machines.
Chua, the easygoing 24-year-old founder of Hopheads, chanced upon the opportunity to open a bar in 2014. “I love craft beer and often brew for fun with my friends, so when my mother found a space that was for rent relatively cheap, I just took the chance to open Hopheads,” said Chua.
She wanted to develop a space to spread the love for craft beer in Singapore. Thus, Hopheads bar stocked craft beers exclusively when it was first opened.
“Don’t just talk about it. Actually do it. If you start from zero, you have nothing to lose.”
One of her biggest hurdles was putting too much emotion in the process of developing the business. Initially, this hindered Chua from looking at different perspectives when running her business. “There was too much heart and soul put into it, but not enough business sense. It’s important to focus on getting the concept right first,” said Chua.
Despite her love for craft beer, Chua soon realised that the craft beer market was too small to sustain Hopheads. Thus, Chua revamped her concept, stocking mass-market alcohol and selling them at wallet-friendly prices in order to attract more patrons, instead of just craft beer aficionados.
Chua said that starting a business from scratch was not easy. “There were times when I really thought ‘just die die (all out) we must do whatever it takes to make the business work’, but I really learnt a lot from these experiences,” she said.
After its relocation from its previous space across the street in November last year, the new Hopheads bar is nearly eight times bigger. Hopheads is now located in the basement floor of Haw Par Glass Tower.
While she dreams of enjoying retirement and living out of a camper in the US in 10 years’ time, Chua is currently fully focused on striving to provide the best experience for Hopheads’ customers.
She added that entrepreneurship should be taken one step at a time. “If you don’t feel ready, just go out and learn something related to it first. Most importantly, don’t just talk about it. Actually do it. If you start from zero, you have nothing to lose,” she said.