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A decade old journey

By May 21, 2020July 6th, 2020No Comments

by Susan (Singapore)

The first real venture started nearly a decade ago, I was 24 then. So you can imagine how much ‘younger’ am I now. That was the era of the dot com, one with lots of excitements as well as challenges and importantly, experiences that I will always cherish.
When the Internet boom started, with a few friends, an idea, we started our company from a home-office (the ‘SOHO’ now). That started my path towards entrepreneurship.

Armed with a business plan, we knock on doors of a stable of VCs, to name a few, Fortune Venture, ST Vertex Fund, Vivendi, Hutchison, EDBi, NSTB and many others. (As the saying, practice makes perfect) We were fortunate that within a short span of time, we find ourselves funded by Vertex, a subsidiary of Singapore Technologies; a string of VCs started to knock on our door to inject new funds which all shareholders of the company gladly rejected. We had a vision of building a digital music empire, an entertainment music portal of Asia.

The company size started to grow rapidly with our own in-house lawyer, a British CTO, our own Marcom department and an employee size of near 50 within the first year of our incorporation. We had our very own Internet Jockey, interviewing artistes like Coco Lee, Aqua, A1, Christine Wunderlick, Emil Chau, Stephanie Sun.

Beyond the music portal, the company started our own video productions team producing entertainment content for the media, create our own music station and a physical retail store in Orchard Cineleisure with a ‘click and mortar’ concept which was officially opened by the CEO of IDA back then. The opening of our physical store signify our notion ‘Who says a dot com is only on the Internet?’.

We had the first music download kiosk which was recently been mentioned and compared in ST Digital Life, with the Sony Ericsson download kiosk. We were probably too ahead of our time then. The company was valued with a market capitalization of $80million with VC’s plan to list and exit when the market cap reaches $150 million. That failed to materialized before the dot com crash, all funding dries up from the market almost immediately. The journey to look into M&A with traditional money making companies started, with the company eventually went into merger with a music division of a local listed entity.

That started the chain of integration issues, culture issues and most importantly a vast distance in the company’s vision between the founders and the new corporate shareholder. In less than a year after the merger, we concluded the venture a failure.

Immediately, we embark to start another company, change the business model and the rest are history. We spin off one of our business division in 2003 with focus in new media industry; along the years, a few other new companies were incorporated, headed by passionate ‘new entrepreneurs’ that we are fortunate to have come across.

I’m blessed to be able to go through that exciting era and to share some of the experience gained. The lesson learned in the first venture has a long list which I will not be able to list in full context but I can share over coffee should anyone wish to hear more. {Pamela will have my contact *grin*}

A lot of management books have taught us how to start a business, how to manage a company, where to look for sources of funding, where is the blue ocean, own SWOT anaylsis etc. Those should not be ignored, but the real teacher is the market and the real VC for your business is the business itself.

All business can begin with little steps; what I feel important for every business owner to have are focus, passion and creativity. Don’t underestimate your own potential and remember in every industry, we will need to create our own ‘network effect’. {not trying to be academic here}

Should you have decided to embark in this journey, don’t look back, just have fun and enjoy the path that you have chosen. There is never a wrong choice, you will always gain in experience.

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