WHILE the world marvels at the impact of artificial intelligence and all that technology has to offer, it’s the brains behind these innovations that must continue to come up with fresh ideas.
Stuart Tan builds new products and services that continuously push the boundaries of technology, while finding solutions to problems that need to be resolved.
Stuart is the founder of the year-old Zero1 service, a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that offers competitively priced data bundles to feed the masses and their devices.
In 2018 the amount of data consumed in Singapore grew 12% to 18.47 petabytes in 2Q 2018. And this is expected to rise.
Zero1 disrupts the current telco industry by working with major player Singtel. Its licence lets it operate using the smart pipe — bundling unlimited data with limited SMSes and voice call time depending on the plan — thereby avoiding all the heavy investment that the mobile network operators like SingTel, Starhub and M1 would have incurred.
“It’s a delicate relationship with our partners. We cannot be a direct threat to them,” Stuart points out.
While he is aiming to build up his customer base to around 100,000 by the end of this year, he is also planning on delivering other products and services.
He is working with EZLink to create a strap-on location device, which can also be used for fare deduction on public transport. It will be launched later this year.
Stuart is also working on a robot like Siri and Alexa, but with a video camera on board.
While it is still early days for the company, Stuart has plans to scale up the business by its third year.
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An engineer by training, Stuart worked with Goldtron, developing mobile phones in the mid 1990s.
Following stints at Starhub and Gemplus (now Gemalto), where he was based in Marseille, France, he decided to start his start up career.
That meant spending time away from his family.
“If you want the true innovation culture, you have to be in Silicon Valley,” Stuart explains.
He spent a decade there, building devices and platforms. The advantage of being there was the difference in attitude versus what he found in Singapore.
“We raised $60 million in Singapore, and $200 million in Silicon Valley for our projects.
“In Singapore, being an investor is like begging for money. In the US, they welcome a new idea to invest in.”
That said, Stuart believes Singapore is still a good market to prove concepts.
He has started 8 companies, using his own money to build proof of concept models before looking for investors. It hasn’t been an easy road in a space congested with other players, but the perseverance has allowed him to come up with several accomplishments.
He built the first smartphone device in Asia in 2002, and the first tablet in 2008 (before Apple launched its iPad).
In 2015, Stuart returned and started Nineteen69, a company that created Qongle. This device lets you use your local phone number overseas without incurring additional costs for voice calls.
This led on to creating Zero1, where he is looking to continue this streak of creating solutions.
Stuart is a panellist at Keep It Going: the Nth revolutioN — The Shape Of The Future? where the discussion looks at what the future is going to bring. Limited seats are available. Follow this link to register: http://bit.ly/2W8qhO0