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Tips from entrepreneurs: GeckoLife’s founder on setting up a business in Singapore

rajeev

I was born in Wales, lived in England and India, but was raised largely in Australia. My working career has been in Singapore, Hong Kong, the US, India and Australia. Talk about mixed up!

When I was young I remember just wanting to be important. I wanted to work in a really tall building in the centre of the world. I’ve always been ambitious.

I started out as a trainee accountant. I loved wearing a suit and tie, but number-crunching with red, blue and green pens wasn’t really my thing.

I moved into banking as an analyst and adviser for Goldman Sachs and then began investing in internet technology companies at a hedge fund. I’ve been blessed to have always worked where people are professional and driven.

I wanted to build my own internet company for years, having been involved in the space since the mid 90s. The desire has long been in me; what was missing was an idea and a partner.

My partner Ashish and I conceived geckolife.com sitting at a dining table in Singapore in 2012. It’s an online business focused on being a safer and more meaningful way to engage socially.

I wanted to build a business that utilised my skills. Entrepreneurship allows me to cultivate and direct as I see fit.

I’m confident our business will be a game-changer, and we will change the way one uses social.

Building your own business allows you to adapt according to your instincts, as opposed to following processes and protocols. If it makes sense, do it. If it doesn’t make sense, don’t bother.

After two years, we have a team of 20 in four countries. Hiring was hard; with no brand, everyone is taking a risk. We had to sell ourselves and our vision hard.

For us as a team, the viability came when we had DBS-SRT, United World College and others join. What appealed to them was our safer social eco-system.

The social internet space is barely in the 4th grade, with the largest player still only 10 years old. As such, the industry is in its infancy and will evolve. GeckoLife intends to be part of that Social 2.0 evolution.

The best piece of advice I’ve been given was: “In your career, be sure to be a rising star, not a shooting star”.

I have four kids with my wonderful wife, Leena. My career has been intense and I have made a big effort to balance my personal and professional lives. Every day is a challenge to maintain equilibrium.

spacey

This is a tad embarrassing, but I love watching TV. Currently I am on House of Cards with Kevin Spacey and I am totally engrossed.

I want us to be a $10 billion valued company within the next three years. I also want to attend the World Economic Forum as a speaker some day, and meet, interact and learn from global leaders. I’d also love to climb Mount Everest.

Setting up a business in Singapore was easy. Finding office space was a breeze. Attracting talent is now easier. As long as one is organised and systematic, it’s possible to get anything done.

I tend to travel every few weeks. I am either in Singapore, India or Australia, but I’m sure I’ll spend an increasing amount of time in North Asia and the US soon.

Business Class flying is now wishful thinking. I used all my points early in the process to get free flights or upgrades. We now seek cost-effective flights.

You can’t beat Bali for a holiday because of its wind-down qualities. But I’m addicted to information. Since the mid-90s I’ve had a Blackberry, and I’m constantly on a device – even on holiday.

 

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