Meet the S’poreans who run businesses while working full-time

The media is teeming with stories of startups and business owners who quit their daily jobs to pursue their passions full time. Many Singaporeans, from hawkers to founders of tech startups, have chosen to quit their corporate jobs to embark on the difficult road to entrepreneurship.

However, a study by researchers Joseph Raffiee and Jie Feng interestingly found that entrepreneurs who kept their daily jobs were 33% less likely to fail than those who left.

This could be due to the benefits of having a balanced “risk portfolio” – having a sense of security in one area gives individuals greater freedom to be creative and original in other aspects of life, such as their own. companies.

Many entrepreneurs continue to build successful businesses even though they still have an interest in their full-time positions. Here are a few Singaporean founders who have done the same:

1. Ee Chien Chua by Jekyll & Hyde

Ee Chien Chua, Owner of Jekyll & Hyde / Image Credit: Jekyll & Hyde Jekyll & Hyde

Jekyll & Hyde is an award-winning bespoke cocktail bar that was founded in 2013.

In 2018, current owner Ee Chien Chua stumbled upon the opportunity to take over bar operations, and he “rose to the challenge almost on impulse.”

Ee Chien has helped high growth tech startups like Uber and Grab grow and launch different products and solutions.

The current director of business development and partnerships at digital heritage advisor Endowus believed that the bar had built a reputation as a unique business and that there was a lot of potential to develop it further.

Since taking over Jekyll & Hyde in 2018, Ee Chien has continued to maintain the bar’s standards and unique selling points of bespoke cocktails, and the bar manages to generate over $ 1 million in revenue.

Ee Chien told Vulcan Post in a separate interview that he wakes up at 7:30 a.m. everyday and makes sure he does his day job efficiently. After work, he helps bar operations.

Looking back on his own journey, Ee Chien said he wouldn’t advise anyone who dreams of starting their own business to quit their full-time job.

2. Miya Chong from Saltwater Altelier

miya chong saltwater workshop
Miya Chong, Founder of Saltwater Atelier / Image Credit: Miya Chong / Saltwater Atelier

Saltwater Atelier is an artisanal soap brand created by founder Miya Chong.

Miya runs Saltwater Atelier and makes the soaps herself in addition to her full-time job for an American cruise line where she is responsible for regional business development, marketing and public relations. She is also the mother of three young children.

Miya stumbled upon a soap making boutique while on a business trip in 2017 and started experimenting with making her own soap. She then opened an Instagram page (@saltwateratelier) to document her soap creations and share the soap making process.

Barely two months after launching her Instagram page, she received an order for her very first commissioned work – 200 soap bars for a wedding.

Made in small batches without two identical bars, each bar is infused with ingredients without SLS, parabens, phthalates and preservatives. The soaps are also 100% vegan, palm free and tested on friends, not animals.

Saltwater Atelier bar soaps are priced between S $ 12 and S $ 18.

Now, her goal is to share the beauty of quality handmade soaps and inject art into the everyday mundane task of the shower.

3. Maddy Barber from MADLY

Crazy Gems
Maddy Barber, Founder of MADLY / Image Credit: MADLY

MADLY is a bespoke jeweler who has received considerable attention since the brand’s inception in 2015.

The brand has been named one of Tatler’s Top 10 Singaporean Jewelers for four consecutive years, and has also won the Best Jeweler in Asia by the Luxury Travel Guide Lifestyle Awards, and was named to the Top 10 Handcrafted Jewelry list. by TallyPress.

MADLY is founded by radio personality Maddy Barber, who continues to co-host a breakfast show on local Kiss92 FM radio station.

Maddy tried to create custom jewelry at regular jewelers, but found that they rarely went through the effort of understanding their client’s style or personality – nor were they daring enough to try. anything new.

She then launched MADLY as a brand that offers its clients unique and tailor-made jewelry capable of telling their story down to the smallest detail.

The brand offers a full line of gemstones, from the most famous colored gemstones such as sapphires, emeralds and rubies, to gemstones like spinels and tsavorite garnets, and even color changing gemstones like Alexandrites. .

“MADLY is more than creating and selling beautiful jewelry – it’s about making the world a more joyful and sparkling place with what we do and how we interact with people and the world around us,” said Maddy said in a separate interview with Vulcan Post.

4. Mervin Tham, Johnson Ng and Sean Goh from EasyMeat

Easy Meat SG
EasyMeat co-founders / Image credit: Easy Meat

Singaporeans Mervin Tham, Johnson Ng, and Sean Goh once thirsted for decadent meat in the middle of the night, but found there was no way to buy it.

No restaurant was open at that time and any delivery would take at least a day to arrive. They then thought about how they could provide good quality cuts of beef anytime Singaporeans looking for a quick beef fix.

This led to the birth of EasyMeat SG – a local startup that operates vending machines that distribute Australian Wagyu beef.

There are already a variety of vending machines in Singapore that dispense products ranging from free samples to face masks.

However, Johnson told Vulcan Post in an interview that EasyMeat’s vending machines are the first in Singapore to distribute fresh meat. A 200g steak costs S $ 25, while 250g of sliced ​​meat for shabu shabu will cost you S $ 19.

The three EasyMeat co-founders run the startup in addition to their full-time jobs.

5. John Chen, Lee Yue Xia, Paladin Hsu and Selene Ong from Aloha Poke

Aloha Poke
Image Credit: Aloha Poke

Singaporeans are no strangers to poke bowls these days, thanks to the emergence of various restaurants serving them to health-conscious office workers.

However, Aloha Poké is the first of its kind in Singapore.

The chain’s four founders – John Chen, Lee Yue Xia, Paladin Hsu and Selene Ong – were on vacation in Hawaii in 2014 when they first tasted the quintessential Hawaiian dish.

Calling the experience “love at first sight,” they spent the rest of their vacations researching the best poke joints in and around Oahu. Upon their return to Singapore, they tried to find suitable alternatives – but to no avail.

That’s when they started experimenting with the flavors of poke in their own kitchen based on fond memories of their time in Hawaii. They also poke for each other, their family and friends, until they felt they had the right balance of flavors.

Not content with just sharing the wonders of poke with their loved ones, they decided to open a restaurant and opened their very first Aloha Poké outlet along Amoy Street in August 2015.

They now have three outlets in Singapore and have expanded to Perth, Australia as well.

In a previous interview with the founders in 2017, they shared that each outlet can expect to sell an average of up to 30kg of fish and an average of two bowls of poke per minute during the busy lunch window of two hours a day.

At the time of writing, the four founders were still working full-time in the banking industry while managing the chain.

There is no set formula for success

Starting a business is hard work, and these Singaporeans have managed to create a new brand for themselves while juggling their corporate jobs.

However, there is no set path to success.

While keeping their daily job may give them a greater sense of security when working on new business ideas, quitting their job could mean they can devote more time and effort to their new business.

Featured Image Credit: Jekyll & Hyde / Saltwater Atelier / MADLY / EasyMeat / Aloha Poké


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