What was intended to be a three-month stint in Singapore has turned into a six-year stay for Australian Julie Renyard. The vivacious businesswoman is behind the launch of charity fundraising and giving website SimplyGiving.com and the lifestyle app EatPlayLive. Here she tells Expat Living about her decision to stay, and the various projects she’s involved with.
Was there something about Singapore that inspired you to stay?
I stopped here on my way to Paris in 2011 and happened to visit Suntec’s Fountain of Wealth. I recall saying, “Wow it’s hot! Not sure I could live here but I have a feeling I might work here…” Three months later, I moved to Singapore for a short contract and that is now approaching six years! I love the lifestyle and have made lifelong friends. Living in Singapore as an expat has been the best experience of my life, both for the amazing travel opportunities (it’s the perfect hub) and because it’s a stunning place to live – so safe and clean.
What was the impetus for SimplyGiving.com?
From launching in 2011, it’s now Asia’s largest online giving platform, and I’m thrilled to have brought it to life. The concept of online giving was new to Asia and with my experience working with charities, my business partner’s local knowledge and the tunnel vision to make it work, I was able to connect and register 286 charities in 18 months.
What was your motivation to set up EatPlayLive?
I’ve got a long background in developing entertainment packages and loyalty programmes, and more recently I’ve focused on bespoke campaigns in the hospitality, food and beverage, spa, movie and transport sectors. Because I travel the region weekly, I’m always aware of what’s happening both online and offline. There are so many different offers and apps but I saw a gap in the market for a one-stop shop that’s upmarket, not mass market, and that’s what motivated me. I handpicked all the merchants in each category and launched EatPlayLive (eatplaylive.asia) in November 2016.
How does a typical day unfold for you?
It can range from attending meetings from 8am to 8pm to doing the opposite – and travelling to glamorous locations to view the best restaurants, spas, hotels and experiences that Asia has to offer! “Normal” has never been a part of my vocabulary; I started my own business at 22, am always up for a challenge and not too much scares me.
Favourite hotel? The Fullerton Bay Hotel; it was my first hotel experience after moving to Singapore, and I remain a regular – I celebrate my birthday there and the staff have become like family.
Favourite unique dining experience? Sunday Brunches at Singapore’s fabulous hotels – but I couldn’t pick a favourite!
Best luxury spa? I love the L’Occitane Spa at the Four Seasons – not only are they clients, but I love their products, and the spa is an urban oasis; and also Aramsa – The Garden Spa, which is a new lifestyle experience for seasoned spa-goers!
Favourite place to watch a sunset? You can’t beat Siloso Beach on Sentosa, and I love Bali, too.
Most incredible adventure experience? My business partner Dato’ James Greaves has a helicopter fleet and also owns KL Sky Tours. On a day-trip to KL recently, he picked me up in his private helicopter, flew me around, we had our meeting, and I was back in Singapore in time for dinner.
This is an article that first appeared in the May 2017 edition of Expat Living. Purchase a copy so you never miss an issue!