“I’m a good boss, I really am,” John Fearon, founder and CEO of DropMySite, tells me, in full earshot of his employee at their office in Block 71, Ayer Rajar Crescent, considered the nexus of Singapore’s technology startup scene.
He was making a point about how he’d be a bad subordinate but a good leader who is comfortable with starting things.
“I’m one of those that can go into the room and self-combust.”
With all his self-confidence (whenever he speaks at conferences, he start with,”Hi, I’m amazing”), it’s easy to assume that John, who comes from South Africa, has a string of successful businesses to stand on. Not at all.
I prod him about the number of failed businesses he had.
(Photo: John being featured in an Amazon Web Services video)
John struggles to find his words, which is a rarity. He’d lost count, but finally arrived at an initial figure: Five. Read more
By now, Chumby’s demise is well known among fans and tech enthusiasts alike. The US company was most well known for its Chumby devices, which are intelligent, Internet-connected versions of otherwise dumb objects. However, it fell by the wayside soon after Apple changed the consumer electronics industry with the iPhone and the iPad.
In reaction, Chumby pivoted to producing a software platform for smart TVs, but that didn’t work out either. Their journey ended officially in late April. Andrew “bunnie” Huang, or just bunnie as he is often called, had front row seats to the San Diego company’s fall. He was serving as its co-founder and vice-president for hardware engineering.
Recently, we visited the Singapore-based entrepreneur for an interview, revealing some interesting insights about the inner workings of Chumby. Read more
This was jointly written by Terence Lee and Gwendolyn Regina Tan.
It was a simple party with a few invited guests, some pizza and drinks, a seemingly ordinary networking event at the Chalkboard office in Mount Sophia. No formal announcement was made, but some of the folks knew something was up.
There would be no happy ending for Chalkboard, a Singapore-based mobile advertising startup. The co-founders, Saumil Nanavati and Bernard Leong, decided months earlier to close shop. They were just quietly figuring out a way to do it.
Interestingly, they were very close to getting acquired. Chalkboard was, after all, a pretty attractive target: Sales were coming in, and they were close to breaking even. One interested party was a major firm from Silicon Valley, the other a prominent Singapore company. However, they felt neither acquisition was the right fit.
But despite the setback, neither entrepreneur took it as a personal failure. It had been a team effort all the way. The party was simply a celebration of the journey they’ve taken together with friends.
“We were disappointed it didn’t go the way we wanted, but we were not ashamed, we did the best we could with the smartest people, including the investors who gave their best. We tried,” says Saumil in an interview with SGE on Thursday afternoon.
He and Bernard even came up with an acronym to describe the totality of their experience: MIA (Market, Investors, and Ambition).
Their ambitions for Chalkboard were big enough to match the best entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. Their investor, Joi Ito from Singapore’s Neoteny Labs, bought into their vision.
What ultimately caused them to fold was a confluence of factors: The incompatibility between their business model and the Asian market, a weak US venture capital climate after the European Crisis, and the acquisition offers which they felt did their stakeholders (and themselves) injustice. Read more
This is the fourth article from the “Mistakes made, lessons learnt” series. Check out all the articles here.
Company & founder: Gina Romero
Biggest mistake made: Failing ask for help from others when confronted with an unexpected big offer
Most memorable setback: Missing out on a potentially big deal – to be the main wireless Internet infrastructure supplier for a housing estate. Read more
This is the third article from the “Mistakes made, lessons learnt” series. Check out all the articles here.
Biggest mistake made: Assuming that everyone will think highly of his idea and participate.
Most memorable setback: Having only two clients in the first year of business. Read more
This is the second article from the “Mistakes made, lessons learnt” series. Check out all the articles here.
Company & founder: Homespace.sg, Vinod Nair
Biggest mistake made: Not having a clear business model right from the start
Most memorable setback: Having to shut down the service totally after a year’s work.
Before PropertyGuru and iProperty dominated online property search in Singapore, there was Homespace.sg, a portal which connected property buyers with sellers (see articles on the website here and here). Although packed with an impressive suite of features, they eventually failed to live up to expectations. We met with co-founder Vinod to glean from his experiences. Read more
This is the first article from the “Mistakes made, lessons learnt” series. Check out all the articles here.
Over the past few years, Singapore enjoyed some small celebrations in its startup scene. There has been some prominent acquisitions, as well as the setting up of new VC funds and places of gathering for like-minded entrepreneurs.
However, the brutal truth is that behind every news of success is a story of failure. As such, we decided to roll out a series called: “Mistakes made, Lessons learnt”. At SGE, we hope to do our part by enabling start-up members to learn from each other and collectively help put Singapore on the world map. Read more