25 oct today start-up was the way to goDocument Transcript
Client : PayPal Country : SingaporePublication : TODAYDate : 25 October 2012Topic : Start-up was the way to goURL : http://www.todayonline.com/Business/SME/EDC121025-0000048/Start-up-was- the-way-to-goVisitorship : 182,008 pageviews per dayStart-up was the way to goStream Media CEO Chua Zi Yong is on a quest to become the tech industrys next big thingby Hong XinyiUpdated 01:04 PM Oct 25, 2012SINGAPORE - Housed in a rather grim-looking industrial estate right across the street from thefuturistic Fusionopolis at One-North, tech start-up Stream Media is not exactly located in a cosyenvironment.But for a long time, this was pretty much home for CEO Chua Zi Yong (picture), 28. "See that?" Hesays cheerfully, pointing out a pile of primary-coloured beanbags in a corner of the office."That was where I slept. For the first two-and-a half years, I lived in my company. Id come in at 8amon Monday, and only go home at 9pm on Saturday night."This is the level of dedication needed to turn his company into "a success that is as big as PayPal orAmazon", he believes. "Thats the dream."Launched in 2009 at the dawn of the smartphone era, Stream Media was founded on the premisethat "mobile devices were definitely going to be the next frontier for user interaction", as Mr Chuaputs it."And for this industry to grow, there would be a need for a simple way to integrate paymentsystems. After all, companies that make digital content like games and apps will not be able to makemoney if it is too difficult or confusing for consumers to pay for the content."Armed with S$12,500 of his own savings and a S$50,000 government start-up grant, he introducedStream Medias flagship product MoVend, a global mobile in-app payments solution that aggregateswell-known payment providers such as PayPal and Amazon Payments into a single package. Theproduct, currently used by about 900 developers, enables them to easily integrate the differentpayment options used by consumers worldwide.Six months ago, Stream Media launched Applorer, an Android app that recommends Google Play
games, using user-playing data to refine its recommendations. It has about 75,000 users, a numberthat Mr Chua describes as "a good validation of what we are doing".Last year, Stream Media received S$1 million in investment funding from three sources: StreamGlobal, one of the incubators under the Singapore Governments Technology Incubation Scheme,SingTel Innov8, SingTels investment arm, and the National University of Singapore (NUS).The company currently has a staff of nine and the bulk of its clients are from Europe and NorthAmerica. Less than 5 per cent are from Singapore."Users in Europe and North America tend to be more willing to spend for digital content," he notes."So we need to spend time in these markets to grow our business."He travels to the United States every six months, staying up to two months each time to network.His advice to tech entrepreneurs? "There are only five million users here, so do plan ahead to go outof Singapore."Thinking ahead, after all, is second nature to this NUS bio-engineering graduate, who can still recallwith discernible glee how he not only squirrelled away most of his primary school pocket money, butalso drew up charts to predict his projected savings.He decided to go the start-up route after learning more about American start-up culture when hewas at the University of Pennsylvania as an exchange student. "Before that, I never realised thatstart-ups and SMEs could have such a big impact on peoples daily lives," he recalls.Despite concerns from his parents - his dad is from the manufacturing industry, his mum is a clerk -Mr Chua became the first entrepreneur in his family, fresh out of school, no less."There were a lot of uncertainties, but I also had nothing to lose. I wasnt married at the time; it waswhen I had the least number of responsibilities."He declined to reveal Stream Medias revenue figures, but says that the company will be focusingentirely on growing the market for MoVend and Applorer for now."Everybody dreams of the buyout, and I have asked myself if I am building towards an IPO or to bebought out."My answer is that I dont really care. I want to build the best product that I can. Whatever comes asa result of that is an afterthought."