07 Aug 2017
Behind Shawn’s Business Success is His Wife
MR LEE CHENG HONG, SHAWN
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
California State University Long Beach, USA
Graduated in 2008
Shawn had no problem getting a place in Junior College or Polytechnic after his ‘O’ level. But he felt that it made practical sense to go straight into a degree programme as it would save him a few years of studies and be ahead of his peers.
His education at PSB Academy was not exactly stress-free, but he had no complaint as he enjoyed the campus life and made many good friends. He graduated in 2008 which was also the year when Beijing hosted the Olympics. But it was the year 2007 that he remembers best as he and 14 other student leaders of varying nationalities signed up to visit Qingdao, China, under the banner of PSB Academy. Qingdao was the site of the Olympic Sailing Regatta event. The trip was an invitation by the Chinese government as part of the ‘China Olympic Volunteer Programme’. Foreign students worldwide were invited to impart basic foreign languages and cultures to the locals in Qingdao in preparation for the influx of international visitors attending the Olympic Sailing Regatta.
“The Qingdao trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity that PSB Academy had offered me. Over there, we gave talks to students at a local college, interacted with a group of elderly at a community centre, and shared our languages and cultures with Qingdao Youth Federation, the local Olympic volunteers, and students of Qingdao University. Our participation was featured widely by the Qingdao press and television.”
It was one unforgettable trip for Shawn who remembers the strong camaraderie among group members, whom, until this day, he is still in contact with. After he graduated, Shawn immediately served two years of National Service (NS). He did not waste much time after that as he set up a business with a former classmate, who subsequently left to pursue other interest. Shawn then established his own company, Streamline Pte Ltd, in 2013 and it has since grown to 18 staff and with offices in 2 countries - Singapore and Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City).
“Streamline Pte Ltd aims to empower SMEs with impactful solutions that guarantee their success online. With our online marketing services and backend technological solutions we provide an integrated platform for SMEs to manage and market their business through online solutions.”
In fact, the idea of starting his business was not a sudden decision. It was already ‘brewing’ when he was still in NS.
“I started out doing freelance websites for micro-SMEs during my NS days. The opportunity presented itself when these micro-SMEs grew and requested for more services from us. This was when we took the opportunities to explore our online marketing services and finally our technological solutions.”
Building the core and related services of his company are his priorities at this moment, and he will consider diversification only if the opportunity arises. Challenges are aplenty and he is careful to tread along.
“The biggest challenge when I started my business was the lack of experience and age. Bigger companies tend to take you less seriously when the presenter, or worse, the director, is of such a young age. It is quite common for companies to relate your age to experience and reliability. The mistake of under quoting for a project is a big problem as well. This usually happens when you are desperate for the project.”
Shawn attributed his success to the strong support from his family, especially his dad, who also acted as a mentor to advise and guide him in the development of his ideas and strategies. The skills and knowledge gained from PSB Academy also played a part.
“The academic course at PSB Academy gave me opportunities for critical thinking which were very useful when starting my own business. However, a major contributing factor was the experience I gained from organising school camps. As the organiser, I found myself leading fellow camp attendees and making crucial decisions which, in hindsight, are basically part and parcel of what an entrepreneur would do.”
As far as Shawn is concerned, there is truth in the saying: ‘Behind every successful man is a woman’.
“My biggest achievement was when I met Germaine, now my wife! She was a former client of mine, and currently, a partner in Streamline Pte Ltd. Without my entrepreneur journey, I wouldn’t have met my wife and grow Streamline Pte Ltd to the 18-man team it is today.”
For anyone who is considering starting a business, he has this advice.
“Be brave and decisive. If you want to start your own business, the fastest way to gain experience is to jump straight into it. I have seen countless cases of wannabe entrepreneurs who give excuses of wanting to work for other companies to gain exposure and experience but end up too comfortable that they give up their dream of being an entrepreneur.”
Article by Jeffrey Yap (Student Affairs & Industry Engagement)