Monday, October 23, 2017

‘To set up a business in Singapore you better have a clear roadmap,’ says industry leader Steve Leonard

Its location and business ecosystem make Singapore one of APAC’s top destinations for entrepreneurs. SGInnovate CEO Leonard talks to João Marques Lima on the current entrepreneurial spirit in the city.


What is the role of SGInnovate?

Steve Leonard, Founding CEO of SGInnovate

SL: We decided to do an even stronger push into building entrepreneurship and building companies and creating value by building economic engines [in Singapore].

At the same time, we want to use those same things; we want to build those same companies to tackle challenges.

SGInnovate  is an entity linked to government, but it is set up as a private limited company, it is not a government agency.

This is set up as a company so we can try and act in a more commercial way but it still is owned by the government, our shareholder.


How is the “company” funded?

SL: We have our own reserves. We also have money that has been allocated to us by government that we can invest and then through our board we have other investors that have their funds, that have been earmarked for what we are doing.

In addition, we have other parts of government like a research ecosystem program worth $19bn over the next five years.

All of those funds we seek to tap in some way. If we need a dollar, we will find a dollar. If we need a million, we will find a million.

However, we do not think of that as “that is my fund” because all of those sources of funding are available to us depending on the need.


What advice have you got for those seeking to start a business in Singapore?

SL: To set up a business in Singapore you better have a clear roadmap.

Singapore is really good at carrying out something and making sure that it is done. However, the period of exploration and experimentation [usually associated with new projects] is difficult.

I that sense, if someone sees a success or sees two successes that will give some confidence. But at the same time the challenge then is not to try and consider it a blueprint.

Just because a company became successful it does not mean the first thing to do is to do exactly the same thing as they did because it worked.


What other aspects count to make a new venture a success?

SL: Timing is amazing. You have to be good on timing and also lucky. You have to be smart, but you also have to be lucky.

Nobody sits down and says, “I have planned this thing to perfection and it worked amazingly well”. If it did, you were lucky. Sometimes you are just there at the right place, at the right time.

There are lots of guys with the right ideas but it was the wrong time for them.


Lastly, what is Singapore’s place in APAC today?

SL: Singapore is a great place from which to go and spend time in other places in APAC. We are six hours away from Beijing for example.

But most importantly, Singapore continues to be a place that wants to reinvent itself on an ongoing basis. As a whole, Asia just continues to become more and more important.

China is already the world’s second largest economy, India continues to grow.

[However,] Singapore continues to be a hub in the South Eastern Asian market.


This article originally appeared in the Data Economy magazine. To read more on data centres, cloud and data, visit here


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