The world of technology entrepreneurship has brought a lot of intrigue to those who aspire to be the next trailblazer, clock in their million or billion dollar pay out but unknown to many, this is one cut-throat, highly competitive industry that is familiar only to those entrepreneurs and technopreneurs who has been there, done that.
We got up close and personal with season entrepreneur Prakash Somosundram the founder of Pealo, a Fintech company which aims to fuel Asia’s new generation of start-ups in Tech Storm’s Next Million Maker series as he tell us more about his experience helping and supporting other start-up companies.
TS: Tell us about the genesis of Pealo, what inspired you to get started and why did you want to create this new company?
PS: Pealo is a Fintech platform that connects small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups to capital. Pealo was conceptualized when I spent a year in sabbatical from April 2014, where I spent a lot of time with business owners and founders trying to understand the challenges that they faced. Many of the founders I met seem to invest their life savings on their business. Year on year, they reinvest returns back into their business. Strangely, they are reluctant to get external capital even though they are not eligible for traditional loan options.
I feel that SMEs and start-ups are the key to growing our economy as they disrupt industries with new ideas for old business models and create new jobs for Singaporeans. Our vision is that one day we will work hand in hand with other financial institutions like the banks to serve these segments collectively.
TS: What is the biggest challenge you face?
PS: While Fintech is one of the hottest areas in the tech start-up scene around the world, we face massive roadblocks with ideation and innovation due to regulatory issues. Some recent announcements like the government does sound promising but we still have a long way to go towards encouraging Fintech adoption through a controlled and regulated environment.
TS: What is the biggest satisfaction so far working on Pealo?
PS: The biggest satisfaction is and will always be watching a company succeed in their capital raising efforts. I had the pleasure of representing a seller while they were being acquired by a bigger company. Having been through a similar journey before, I was able to guide him through the process. It was nice to support the founder as he sold his life’s work away however the benefits from the whole process far outweighed the cost.
TS: Do you have a role model you look up to?
PS: My godpa has always been a guiding light for me. He is an entrepreneur who runs a trade publication so he has always understood and identified with my journey. He has stood by me and has always made himself accessible to me during my darkest hours. Connecting and engaging with people effectively is important for all entrepreneurs and as an former diplomat himself, he was able to coach me well on this aspect.
TS: What’s your take on being a two-timed entrepreneur?
PS: There is a misconception that once you’ve successfully exited a business, it’s easy to start another successful one. Starting out again is actually quite intimidating as you start to face the same challenges that arose when you first started out. It’s hard to go from running a huge team to bootstrapping again. At the start of Pealo, I had to tap into whatever I learnt at Yolk to build a teaser site for Pealo. While this was easier with the help of templates, I spent many sleepless nights 2 nd guessing myself on the journey I was embarking on. Thankfully, I’ve made lots of useful contacts along the way who have all chipped in to helped make the journey smoother. The biggest help is a peer support group of founders that I’m part of who meet once a month to share our challenges and draw strength from each other.
TS: What would be your advice for entrepreneur wannabes?
PS: Entrepreneurship is a journey of discovery and personal development. Nowhere along the way will you find it to be easy but always think about the end goal to inspire yourself. Entrepreneurship should never be about benefiting yourself instead, it should be about how you can bring value to the lives of your target audience. Build a business that complements an eco-system. More importantly, look for pain points that you are looking to solve. The bigger the pain point, the higher your chance of success. Set Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and milestones that you can track, monitor and measure regularly. When you hit them, aim higher. Never settle. My last piece of advice is rest well. Work hard but don’t burn yourself out.
TS: Complete this sentence: You’re Tech Storm TV’s next million maker because …
PS: I will make my millions by helping others to achieve their millions first!
If you’re a budding entrepreneur looking for tips and ideas check out Pealo here.
By Jason Tan / January 21, 2016 09:21AM GMT+8 Singapore
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