Meet the godfather of start-ups
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
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.
Complete this sentence: You’re Tech Storm TV’s next million maker because …
I will make my millions by helping others to achieve their millions first!
you’re a budding entrepreneur looking for tips and ideas check out Pealo
By Jason Tan / January 21, 2016 09:21AM GMT+8 Singapore
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