Chris Chong was just 21 years old when he sold his first startup Beeconomic to Groupon, achieving the entrepreneur’s goal of a million dollar exit.
Welcome back to part 2 of this 2 part series, if you haven’t checked out the first part, then I recommend listening to it first, where we explore the early days of Karl Mak’s journey building SGAG with his co-founder, Adrian. In this part, we discuss building relationships with clients, his future plans for SGAG and the Hepmil Group, and his experience raising SGD$1.3 million in pre-series A funding through angel investors.
Introducing Karl Mak, the very intelligent, measured, co-founder of Hepmil Group, best known as the holding company in Singapore of SGAG and other entities, whose content is now seen by over 10 million millennials across the region weekly.
Introducing Karl Mak, the very intelligent, measured, co-founder of Hepmil Group, best known as the holding company in Singapore of SGAG and other entities, whose content is now seen by over 10 million millennials across the region weekly.He talks about how important data and metrics are in order to discover strategies to create viral content, creating a proper content strategy for something as eclectic as comedy, and working with conservative clients to create buzz around issues that Singaporeans can relate to, even convincing their clients- big household brands- to make fun of themselves along the way in a pursuit to connect with millennials.He starts off by telling us about his startup, that essentially started off as a joke between two friends.After raising SGD$1.3 million in pre-series A funding through angel investors, I ask him whether he was literally scrolling through his phone to show investors his most popular recent memes.
At the end of the day, that’s the point about life. It’s whatever you want it to be. It’s whatever lens you choose to see it through. Being average is so contagious it should be labelled by the medical industry as a communicable disease. That means it’s as easy as catching a cold. When you see someone else frown, those muscles around your mouth, they just start to naturally drop into a frown.
Imagine you’re 18 years old, and in your spare time, you hang out with your friends at an internet cafe to play computer games religiously. That’s the childhood that most of the kids from my generation grew up in. We’d spend hours in an internet cafe. But I was never the best at computer games. In fact, I was crushed in nearly every game, even my favourite game, Starcraft. But imagine being the kid who was so good he’d go on to represent your country in computer games. That was Bryan Choo, the founder of TheSmartLocal, one of the biggest local digital media companies in Singapore.Listen to how a computer game geek used his skills and strategy as a national champion to then build a culture and lifestyle website that now gets 3-4 m page views per month, a Facebook page with 360k followers, and a Youtube page with 230k subscribers. It took him 7 years, but Bryan now develops viral content for millennials on a daily basis, and if you’re under 35 or Youtube is the first page you go to on the internet, it’s likely you’ve seen a video that one of his over a hundred staff have created. He also talks about taking on traditional media giants SPH and Mediacorp, and how he got his first big break.
My brother and I had a startup that had just been bought out by Groupon, the world’s biggest daily deal website, for an estimated $24 million according to the Straits Times. We made it on the front page of the national newspaper, I was busy representing Groupon on breakfast TV shows and on Channel NewsAsia, while my brother was busy moving our new offices to Harbourfront Centre. Enjoy part 2 of a 2 part series, don’t forget to listen to part 1 first.
At 20, I took a break from my law degree to co-found my first startup, Beeconomic, which was fully acquired after 6 months by Groupon.
As Groupon Singapore co-founder, we created over 200 jobs and made history by helping Groupon become “the fastest growing company ever” (-Forbes and CNBC). After Groupon, I worked on a startup that failed, which taught me important lessons along the way.
After finishing my law degree, I joined a “Top 5” law firm in Australia as a legal intern that led to an offer in their M&A advisory practice.
I then joined Hong Kong’s oldest English newspaper, the South China Morning Post, as social media editor focusing on content and marketing. After achieving strong digital growth, Jack Ma’s Alibaba acquired the newspaper. After the paper was successfully sold, I left to pursue my passion for cooking.
After culinary school, I moved to Singapore to advise a $100M Japanese VC as a full-time advisor. A highlight is our $1M investment into a fast-growing, millennial-focused news platform.
I have served as a consultant to 60+ startups and I also volunteer as a mentor at an incubator. My goal now is to pay-it-forward by sharing knowledge through my semi-autobiographical podcast.
Let’s both be real for a second, let’s talk about failure, small failure, big failure, surprising failure, embarrassing failure. It’s scary, just the sound of the word failure gives me goosebumps, I’ve been through it.
Whether you’re scared about the word itself, or you relish in talking about it as much as you can at parties and networking events until your friends say “enough, we get it, you failed”, then you’ll love today’s episode. Elisha Tan is like us, two people, a success and a failure. One Elisha is the founder of TechLadies, a volunteer platform that teaches ladies how to code, and Developer Programs Manager for Facebook APAC, the other is someone who spent four years on a startup before closing it down, repairing herself only to get fired from her new job for not being a culture fit after just 6 months.
She’s inspirational, in the way she describes her feelings of pain, sorrow and the realisation that it was going to be a bumpy road if she wanted to reach her lofty aspirations. It’s a feeling we all have when we know that our precious goals might be trampled by reality. I’ve failed and I ain’t afraid to say it, uhhuhh.
But you have to keep in mind, while you listen to this story, that it was her resilient mentality that has now landed her dream job at Facebook, where she essentially got to turn her side-hustle, into a full-time job at one of the best employers in the world. She took a break from her free catered meals at Facebook to chat with me about how she crawled out of the failure hole, and the character she gained from being lost in the wilderness for 5 years, which she lends to now landing her at her dream job. Take a listen as she first opens up about the challenges of being a founder with no technical experience.
Now, she’s a Developer Programs Manager for Facebook APAC – developer communities across Asia to reach 40,000 developers in the region, upskilling and helping developers with employment and startup opportunities.
So once upon a time I only worried about what my day’s schedule was, everyday, I thought about my career goals and how much I could save for that next trip to Bali, but one day, my mom got sick and I heard about it through a text, and because of that, I realized how much I love my mom and that I could lose the one person in the world who brought me into this very world. This very conversation I’m having with you is because of her. Because of that, I want the best medical attention for my parents and I want you to give the same to yours.