Up Close with the Founder of Seedly

Up Close with the Founder of Seedly

He was just 22 when he launched his first start-up and had not even graduated from university when he attracted investments for another of his start-ups. Now, at just 25, serial entrepreneur, Kenneth Lou (right), has three start-ups under his belt.

Up Close with the Founder of Seedly

His latest, Seedly, is a fin-tech start-up that has built a personal finance assistant to help users manage their bank accounts and credit cards in single place. Targeted at millennials who have just started work, the app lets users track their spending and savings across different bank accounts and credit cards. The information is then presented in easy-to-read infographics along with tips and insights on users’ spending.
 
Seedly has an undisclosed amount of investment from Singapore-based venture capitalist, East Ventures. In six months, the app drew 10,000 users and that number has been growing seven per cent week-on-week.
 
Why did you start your own business instead of getting a job after graduation?
 
Both Chew Tee Ming, my co-founder (left), and I feel that if we don't do what we are doing - given this market opportunity and real need that exists - someone else would most likely do it. So, why not us? From the ground up, leading a team to make things happen - that is really exciting to us.

Who or what inspires you?
 
My dad who is fighting brain cancer. He has shown me that life can really change quickly. He is also an entrepreneur who started his own paper trading business which is doing reasonably well, but health is wealth.
 
Tan Min Liang, the Razer CEO, who has shown that you can, indeed, build a global brand with a Singapore-born individual and team.
 
Elon Musk, SpaceX founder, because I feel that our generation of millennials, particularly if you are in the tech space, believe that the Mars project will become a reality in our lifetime and it would, most likely, be critical to our civilisation. That is a big problem that needs to be solved.

Your first start-up, Novelsys, failed. Yet, you weren’t afraid to try again. Why?
 
It was painful at first but then a sort of learning mindset set in. At the end of the day, nobody cares when you fail because millions, if not billions, of small businesses fail every day. So, you should not be so hard on yourself. You have 80-odd years to prove yourself. If you don't die, you have yet another chance of making it in whatever you want to do. This, I believe, is true for any problems or failures.

How do you come up with ideas for start-ups?
 
One way is to look for problems you face personally. The other way is to take these problems and break them down into the fundamentals and, thereafter, build it from the ground up and see if it can be solved in another way.

You did a lot of the work as a student. How did you manage school, work and play?
 
It's about prioritising. I put business first because I really have a genuine interest in how big companies were once small ideas but people actually made those ideas happen. So, every day, I wake up and try to work on ideas and execute things.

What do you do for fun?
 
I read audiobooks and podcasts of successful entrepreneurs and how they overcame their own hurdles. I also play tennis as I was the ex-captain of the National University of Singapore Inter-varsity team. Recently, our Seedly team picked up ping pong. It’s really good as a team-building activity.

Are there any plans to go beyond Seedly?
 
We'll see where this takes our team. People, Product, Profits, as many entrepreneurs say. So, my focus is now on the current project at hand and making sure that all stakeholders are well taken care of.

Would you advise people to take the plunge and start their own start-up?
 
Yes, definitely. Do your research but you will never know if this is for you until you actually do it for six to 12 months. You will most likely feel the pain, running out of cash, problems with products, investor management and many other problems. It’s only then that you can decide if this is really for you. As Elon Musk says: "It is like stepping on acid and eating glass".

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