Get to know Kelvin Teo

Get to know Kelvin Teo, co-founder of Funding Societies as he shares on how his journey as an entrepreneur kickstarted!
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Meet and learn from Kelvin Teo and other dynamic entrepreneurs at ILLUMINATE 2019 this 28th September!

Tickets on sale now via http://illuminate.bizvoice.sg.

What inspired you to start the business?

It is really getting it a the right place and the right time. The truth is that when I went to Harvard for my Masters, there was no plans to start a company. There was no epiphany that says, “Hey I want to start a company” but rather we chanced upon the idea of peer-to-peer lending when we were in US and we find that this business model can really solve the whole SME financing gap that we, myself and my co-founder have experienced first hand and second hand.

How do you view competition?

There are two perspectives to it. Number 1, it is alot more important to focus on our customers and make sure we serve them better as opposed to being overly obsessed with our competition. We need to be wary and watchful of our competition but be obsessed with our customers. Number 2, competition helps to keep us on our toes and help us to educate the market, so that it allows the P2P lending market to mature relatively fast in Southeast Asia. 

What is your proudest moment as an entrepreneur?

Proudest moment is when we were selected in United Nations in the ITU Telecoms World Awards 2017 and awarded Global SME Excellence Award. Why that was momentous was because it is a pivotal moment when we realise that we are making a mark, an impact in not just our countries but also Southeast Asia and putting SEA on the map, on the global level because other candidates who were nominated were from Africa, Europe, etc. So to able to represent Southeast Asia is one of the most momentous moment in our career. 

How would you describe yourself as an entrepreneur?

As an entrepreneur and a founder, the truth is that we do whatever it takes, legally and ethically to make the business successful. That includes leading from the front, showing the direction as well as upholding the core values an organisation should have. Also at the same time leading in terms of the execution together with the team members, meeting customers so on and so forth.

What are the 3 traits that an entrepreneur should have?

Firstly, humility is extremely important, especially when you are in the position of authority. Research has shown that the higher the authority you have , the lower the humility and self awareness and I think that is something that we need to cautiously remind ourselves. The truth is that if you are the strongest person in the company then your company is in trouble because the whole company is limited by you as the founder. Secondly is in terms of faith and perseverance. The whole startup journey can get lonely and honestly, extremely challenging. As the company grows, I think founders can forget why they are doing what they are doing and start becoming a little self-serving and the truth is that we can only build an organisation that is impactful that can outlast our lifetime if we put the team first. Interestingly and ironically, when we put the team first, good things will happen.

What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Always stay balanced. I think that is what will help us to last the sprinting marathon.

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