No one said life was easy, let alone starting up a business from scratch.
It’s easy to find someone with a good idea, but who also has no idea what to do with that idea. Unlike the instruction manuals that come in your IKEA boxes, there is no manual on how to start up. We can hack our way through with Google, but even that will not take you very far.
One crucial advice you might hear from any successful individual is that they had a mentor. Someone who guided them through the dark hours and who opened up new channels for them to grow as an individual.
So what about the mentors in the startup universe?
If anything, the success stories of young entrepreneurs have shown that it is not just the more age mature businessmen who have something to teach us. So here’s our pick on the names whom we have much to learn from, even if you aren’t an entrepreneur.
1. The Serial Entrepreneur Kenneth Lou Of Seedly
People deal with failure differently, with some choosing to give up, and others who choose to suck it up and try again.
Kenneth Lou falls under the latter group.
His early venture, Novelsys, was a successful Kickstarter project of wireless charging solutions that managed to rake up $87, 000 but unfortunately, the tech market was already too saturated to accept a new brand. Success was short-lived and so Novelsys came to an end.
And yet today, Kenneth Lou is once again on the startup train with Seedly, an app that manages personal finances all in one place.
Upon reflection of Novelsys, Lou remarked that at some point in time, everyone would make mistakes, but it was also important to not beat oneself up.
It’s simple advice, but it is also something that many tend to forget at the point of failure. Lashing out lets out the steam, but it is also important to accept that we are only human. And as humans, we can always able to try again.
Failing once does not mean the end, and Kenneth Lou shows that with much gusto.
2. The Ambitious Anthony Tan Of Grab
Anthony Tan may not be a familiar name, but the brand he leads is definitely something you would have heard of.
CEO and co-founder of Grab, Tan started off by knocking on the doors of taxi companies before he was finally able to negotiate a mere 30 cars for his new app.
Within a year, fundings had soared to US$90 million and now Grab has expanded its reach to 6 countries. In recent news pertaining to the merger between Uber and Didi Chuxing due to Uber’s financial losses, Anthony Tan summarised the company’s direction in a single line:
The ambition of Anthony Tan is truly something to be feared, or to be impressed by. That is the attitude of someone who is bound for even greater success. You can call it complacency, but Tan is proving that he is not just about talking the talk.
And it all starts with having a great attitude towards ambition.
So learn, people.
3. The Intern Valerie Pang Of SDI Academy
Valerie Pang is already the co-founder of SDI Academy, where she and her team work to provide migrant workers English classes and computer skills training in hopes of improving workplace productivity and foster better workplace relations.
But that’s not all all. To date, Pang has an extremely solid resume, having interned in at least 10 different startups around the world.
Job expectation discrepancies amongst Singaporeans are common, with people hoping to snag high pays right out of graduation.
But not all companies share those sentiments.
What Pang shows is that experience is a learning curve that grows infinitely up, and there is no such thing as having too much of it. We might already have a brand to our name, but that does not mean that we are now too prestigious to continue learning under others.
And that remarkable ethic to learning is something that all of us can benefit from.
4. The Sleepless Lai Chang Wen Of Ninja Van
Having a dream means having to sacrifice something. And in the case of Lai, that happens to be sleep.
While we are not advocating such a lifestyle, there is something else to take away from Lai’s take on getting shut-eye – a never-ending desire for success. The desire that keeps him perpetually dissatisfied with what he has accomplished.
It’s great to celebrate the small successes, but it is also important to run after the next one. Once we slow down, we run the risk of entering a state of inertia. And today, it is because of Lai’s insatiable hunger that has led Ninja Van onto a great start in international expansion.
5. The Young And Successful Robin Lim Of Made Real
Many a startup idea was born in university, where campus accelerators serve as great backdrops for young entrepreneurs.
But Robin Lim was only 19 when she co-founded Made Real.
Blossoming from a project championing positive body-image into an actual startup, she now has partnerships with 8 other local brands who supply the ingredients in Made Real’s healthy lunch boxes. And with the blooming success, Robin also made the decision to take a Leave of Absence from her SMU degree to actively nurture her company.
Younger than most startup entrepreneurs, Robin is a star example who proves that age will not stand in your way when you truly aspire to make a difference.
It is not your age that limits you, but your mind.
6. The Unwavering Determination Of Saravanan Sonia of YouthHack SG
Sonia Saravanan had no support from her family when she first started working on YouthHack SG, a startup meant to help Singaporean discover their future as young entrepreneurs.
Working clandestinely, she only broke the news to them that she was hosting her first YHSG Startup Challenge 2015 a week before it was held, and even then she was not met with whole-hearted support.
But that has now changed, and Sonia is fast on her way through her second startup, L.A.M.P, a social enterprise meant to bridge NGOs and lamp producers.
We tend to give up easily when we find ourselves without support, but Sonia shows us that even when you are fighting a lonely battle, it’s important to keep your goal in sight, because one day, you will be recognised.
What Other Entrepreneurs Would You Like As A Mentor?
These featured entrepreneurs have proven that age is simply a number, and have underwent trials and successes far surpassing that of many of their older peers.
Who would you like as a mentor, and did we miss out any? Let us know!
Featured Image Credit: LinkedIn, Crunchbase, Greenthegene, Startupbootcamp, Twitter.