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TABLE FOR TWO?
ARRIF ZIAUDEEN, 34, CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, CHOPE
Few know that the online reservations system, named after local slang for “reserved”, was really started with $12 – what Arrif Ziaudeen paid to secure the site URL. Inspired by Opentable’s success in the US, he sat on the idea of starting such a system here for two years, before a friend spurred him into action by threatening to buy and sell him the URL for $1,000 if he didn’t act within 24 hours. Today, the company offers both software and marketing solutions for restaurants that include fine-dining establishments like Odette and Cornerhouse.
(RELATED: Julien Royer’s the Stories of Odette)
LIM QING RU, 31, CO-FOUNDER, ZOPIM
THE MARK ZUCKERBERG CONNECTION
She was in Harvard for an exchange when Facebook was invented. “I wondered why they were using this network, instead of another social media platform that was hugely popular at that time. Then Facebook became a phenomenon.
I learnt then to always challenge the obvious.”
Last year, Facebook announced a partnership to use the Zopim widget to allow users to chat with businesses on customer support matters.
Zopim also got a shoutout during Zuckerberg’s F8 keynote address in San Francisco last year.
Cash may be king, and plastic, pretty fantastic. But since the mobile phone has become ubiquitous, why not use it as a payment option? Neil Davidson’s bet on this untapped potential has paid off. His five-year-old financial technology start-up Codapay, which allows users to pay for online purchases through their mobile accounts, has attracted notable investors such as Golden Gate Ventures and Skype co-founder Toivo Annus.
Still, the California-born, Harvard alumnus says he and his co-founder are far from hitting the jackpot. “You’d be foolish to think entrepreneurship is the quick ticket to riches. All odds are stacked against you. Unless you’re truly passionate, don’t even think about it.”
QUEK SIU RUI, 28, CO-FOUNDER, CAROUSELL
When Quek Siu Rui set up mobile phone-based marketplace Carousell four years ago, his family and friends thought he was off his rocker. Not only did he drop out of his honours year at National University of Singapore (NUS), he forwent what would have been a cushy corporate life.
Today, the 28-year-old and his two co-founders run Singapore’s top shopping app. “Build something 100 people love, not something one million people kind of like,” he quotes renowned UK venture capitalist Paul Graham. The goal: to reach one billion people.