Sometimes I wonder how so many women do it.
How do they juggle a hectic job and a busy social life, on top of raising or providing for a family?!
I can’t even cook some spaghetti without help from my mum.
And then there’s 33-year-old Teh Li Rong, who launched an app her company built the same month she gave birth to her second child, after an illustrious, decade-long career as a derivatives trader.
Dominating In Male-Dominated Industries
Li Rong had a different kind of family life growing up.
Her father had passed away after suffering a stroke when she was 11, so her mother had to support Li Rong and her older sister all by herself.
Despite getting support and care from her grandmother and auntie, Li Rong wanted to “achieve financial independence” and started working part-time from her secondary school days and worked as a tutor during university.
“I was actively looking for jobs and investments that could bring in income faster than a normal corporate job,” she said in an interview.
She graduated from Singapore Management University (SMU) in 2007 and worked as a derivatives trader which honed her skills in financial management.
It was a fast-paced, results-driven, and dynamic industry that saw more men than women in the job, but Li Rong was unfazed, determined to succeed.
She became a professional trader skilled in developing and executing strategies that consist of systematic trading, high frequency trading, arbitraging and directional trading.
In 2011, she founded Star Financials, a proprietary trading firm, with a six-figure sum. The firm trains and nurture young traders who have no trading experience, and to give them a chance to do that.
Trading takes long hours, so when Li Rong found out she was pregnant with her second child, she decided to stop trading.
But that didn’t stop her from becoming an entrepreneur again, this time, in the male-dominated tech industry.
Li Rong explored new business opportunities and invested a five-figure sum of her own savings in Jio Technologies where she serves as Chief Operating Officer (COO) and is the co-founder, alongside founder Lester Tan and co-founder Darren Neubronner.
She could’ve started up something similar to trading, yet she chose not to because she wanted to have a change of environment.
“Today, the technology industry is one of the most challenging, inspiring, and rewarding industries. I chose to be involved in tech because of the meaningful work itself,” she said.
The enterprising mother-of-two had always been interested in research, development, and innovation, and enjoys “breaking new grounds”.
“I love it as this field encourages creativity. Creativity breeds innovation, and innovation is ultimately rewarded.”
Technology is not only about coming up with new ideas, it also involves figuring out how to make those ideas work. I wanted to see how my product and innovation can change the world and improve everyone’s lifestyle and habits.
She understands that technology moves the world and it’s used to solve problems and offer new solutions to problems people never knew existed before.
“This industry is rarely boring and will bring the best out of me, because it is constantly evolving at a rapid pace, which is very similar to the fast-paced financial industry,” she quipped.
Jio Friends Out In A Few Taps
JiojioMe is the lifestyle app Jio Technologies developed.
According to Li Rong, both Lester and Darren have founded mobile apps related to the F&B industry, so they decided to leverage on that experience and create JiojioMe.
“The spirit of JiojioMe is embedded in the name itself as ‘Jio’ literally means ‘to ask or invite someone out’ in Hokkien dialect,” she explained.
“Providing a platform where people can connect for the first time and share some esoteric interests in common was our inspiration. It was created because we found difficulty in getting good companionship.”
She talked about how technology has caused us to lose track of “real relationships and connections” but has no doubt let us easily connect to friends and families far away from us.
“Even though our world is highly-connected, people are spending more time alone… We neglect to pay attention to what good proximity can offer us,” she mused.
Li Rong noted that it is increasingly easier to find friends online than in person, but they might not share the same interests.
“Say for instance you’ve got a sudden urge to play basketball, what do you do?”
“Chances are, you would be posting that on your usual social platforms or sending mass messages to your friends, in hope that someone might just respond,” she said.
JiojioMe fills that gap by helping the user find other users who share the same interests.
It matches people based on interests and hobbies using geo-location instead of users needing to search for people or events.
We saw the potential of bringing the online people, offline.
“With more offline interactions, this creates a win-win situation for users as well as the merchants and establishments.”
She explained further, saying that users get to meet their “social interactions offline” while enjoying discounts at the places they visit, and in turn, these merchants and establishments get an increase in sales and exposure.
So, in a nutshell, JiojioMe lets you socialise on the app, take that friendship offline, and lets you enjoy discounts from different shops.
It’s like a marketplace for people to look for friends who have the same interests and hobbies.
Jio Everyone From All Over The World
The two-time entrepreneur’s day-to-day activities consist of interacting with the local and overseas team, discussing strategies and penning down plans with the local team, and meeting people outside the office to increase visibility of the company.
“There are many social media platforms in the market and getting users to adopt a brand-new concept is always the challenge. We have to constantly innovate and adapt to market and users’ needs,” she said.
“We aim to be a platform that is a one-stop solution from moment the connection is made to point of meeting up to enjoy the common hobby together at a discounted rate from our partnered merchants.”
Since the app’s launch on 25 December 2017, it currently has 50,000 users.
“We have achieved our KPIs for number of users and merchants’ deals set for Dec 2017 and Jan 2018. At this stage, we are capitalizing on this to expand into new geographies with expanded offerings.”
These new geographies include Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, and Korea.
They have recently launched a new feature called Jio Market, and are planning for the next phase.
“We should see more users’ growth in the second quarter of 2018 as we expect to expand our merchant base to 12,000 from 5 cities in South East Asia,” she told me.
To anyone who aspires to become an entrepreneur, she had this to say, “Being an entrepreneur in the start-up world takes guts.”
When you run a startup, it requires utmost determination and ability to tackle problems. There is no playbook and you should learn to make the hard calls alongside members of your team. But the end, the lessons you learn as an entrepreneur are going to be invaluable.
She also added that as an entrepreneur, one would have to be patient because “results will take time to show” and there will be opportunity costs to bear.
“Overcome the obstacles, be brave, be loud and be noticed.”
Featured Image Credit: Jio Technologies