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For Guys

Entrepreneurs in Singapore: We meet Founder of The Podium Lounge, Robbie Hoyes-Cock

Forming your own company in Singapore requires real courage. Entrepreneurs reveal their personal journeys…

Name: Robbie Hoyes-Cock
Age: 32
Nationality: British
Position: CEO & Founder of The Podium Lounge

 

Working crazy hours for a bank was the eventual catalyst for me becoming an entrepreneur. But being raised here in Singapore with the notion of unlimited possibilities and opportunities was a huge factor.

My dad embraced entrepreneurism at 46 when he acquired the master franchise for O’Briens Irish sandwich bars in Asia. Up until that point he’d done exceptionally well as a finance director for several multi-nationals.

I was actually born in Athens, but moved to Singapore in 1982, aged 10 months. I was schooled at Tanglin and UWC, but then got a scholarship to Eton College in London. If anyone tells you that A-Levels are harder than the International Baccalaureate then they are fibbing.

I studied law at university but my internships at two very big organisations put me off becoming a lawyer. It just looked like a load of miserable people working obscene hours.

My first job was in the head office of O’Briens in Ireland. I was tasked with spending a month in every department of the company, which was an incredible learning experience. I spent eight months working and partying in Dublin and then joined my dad running operations and marketing for O’Briens in Singapore.

I moved into banking, but became disillusioned and started an events company on the side. The very first event we organised was a white party at a 200-capacity venue called MOX in Tanjong Pagar, and I made more money than I was being paid in a month at the bank. My company became viable the day I quit my bank job.

I’m a six-foot-four-inch perfectionist, so I stand out. Success for me has come from hard work and persistence, and I’m lucky in that I’ve only ever worked with people I like and who I enjoy spending time with. This makes such a difference.

I lost my mum when I was 21; it was horrific. Nothing prepares you for the loss of a parent and life has never been the same since.

Helping Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel open a 12-litre balthazar of Moët & Chandon at our Podium Lounge Abu Dhabi event has got to be one of the high points. It was also the very first international Podium Lounge event we put on, so a massive publicity stunt for us.

You’re only as good as your last party, so it’s a constant battle to make sure you have the right guest-list, perfect venue, exemplary service, eye-catching performances and music that people want to hear. We’ve had a couple of events that were weaker than others, either affected by rain or the public holiday exodus of expats, who are our core market. But bouncing back is half the fun.

As long as your work is fun to you and it’s something you enjoy, you will never tire of it. I love partying – go figure!

I think my work-life balance is pretty healthy. I help bring up my two baby daughters, I’m a regular attendee of the Freemasons, I play golf and squash and I get to enjoy chilling with friends. I still have friends from when I went to school here.

I’d love to have a floating office. A moving, floating office. Okay, I’d love to own a super-yacht and work from there.

Having organised events in Abu Dhabi, Monaco and Melbourne now, I have to say that doing business in Singapore is by far and away the easiest. There is a “work hard, play hard” ethic here, and everybody seems motivated to progress. In Australia, people start tidying up their desk at 4.45pm and are gone 15 minutes later.

Our plans are to expand Podium Lounge to include Austin, Texas and Shanghai. We have also started a weekly VIP night called The Monarchy on the rooftop penthouse of OUE Bayfront every Saturday night plus the eve of public holidays. It’s only for 300 guests per week and we’ve had house music legends like Danny Rampling and Seb Fontaine doing sets for us.

My favourite place for a holiday is on a ship. Our most memorable cruise was our honeymoon. We took the Queen Mary 2 from Singapore back to Southampton via the Suez Canal. We were onboard for three weeks; I think we were the youngest there.

Even when I’m on holiday I still keep my computer and phone switched on. The nature of business these days is that it really is 24/7 and if you snooze, you lose.

 

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