WHEN it comes to pushing for entrepreneurship in Singapore, Inderjit Singh draws upon his experience to walk the talk.
After a long spell in Texas Instruments, Singh embarked upon building businesses at the age of 37. He’s started 10 companies of which six are successful and two are being nurtured. That’s a pretty good batting average in an environment where many start-ups fail within 18 months.
Singh’s stint as a People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament in the Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency (GRC) helmed by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, was unique in that he would voice his views on topics he felt strongly about; from soaring costs to foreign labour issues, and economic restructuring to small and medium enterprises (SMEs). His decision to step down just before the 2015 General Election was a surprise to many, but his involvement in party politics is still on going.
Singh’s latest role is that of Chairman of Page Advisor, a site that brings together service providers. It’s an app intended to help SMEs find more customers without having to invest heavily in marketing.
He talks to STORM about the role of a politician in today’s Singapore.
STORM: Is there life after politics?
INDERJIT SINGH: It gives me more time to focus on my businesses and on participate in start-ups like Page Advisor. When I was in politics I did not have much time for this.
STORM: Can you be an ex-politician?
SINGH: I will continue to play my part and give my views on policies, especially nowadays with social media platforms. I don’t think I’ll stop being a politician.
STORM: Has your stint in the public sector dulled or sharpened your entrepreneurial instincts?
SINGH: It’s a mindset thing. Whether I was in politics or in my companies, I operated with the same mindset. I spoke my mind, I was willing to take risks and I guess it probably sharpened me more.
STORM: What can SMEs do better now?
SINGH: I think we have to focus on getting beyond our shores. Singapore is a small market and SMEs that can focus on growing their businesses overseas. Especially with the ASEAN Economic region that is coming, companies need to go beyond the usual business model; to look beyond our shores to grow their businesses. Otherwise it’s going to be very difficult in Singapore.