Many Singaporean entrepreneurs have long been encouraged by family and friends to find “a real job”.
Despite the difficulties of starting a business, these Singaporeans still chose to move on and go into business for themselves.
While starting a business is risky, the phrase "high risk, high reward" is likely a mantra that many business people live by.
In fact, many companies that have succeeded in Singapore have spread their wings to brand their overseas brand and to fly the Singapore flag abroad.
From startups like Razer and Secretlab to traditional brands like Old Change Kee, there are 10 local brands that are making waves in more than three countries around the world.
Min-Liang Tan, CEO of Razer / Image Credit: Mashable
Razer is a Singaporean brand popular with gamers all over the world.
Founded by Singapore-based Min-Liang Tan, the company manufactures products that meet all gaming needs, from keyboards to software and systems.
The startup has become so popular that CEO and co-founder Min-Liang is referred to as an idol by his legion of enthusiastic fans.
From Razer shrines decorated solely with their products to tattoos on various body parts of fans, calling Razer a "cult" is no exaggeration.
It is evident that the company has managed to establish itself as the creator of one of the world's largest gaming-centric ecosystems. The local gaming company also has 16 offices around the world.
In addition to gaming, the company has also expanded to include financial technology (fintech).
In early September, Razer Fintech – Razer's financial technology arm – partnered with Visa to launch a brand new Razer Card, the first prepaid card under the brand.
Support efforts have also expanded during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. Twenty vending machines were set up in May, selling around 5 million free masks to Singapore residents.
The Hong Kong-listed gaming company posted record sales of $ 447.5 million in August for the first half of 2020, up 25.3 percent year over year.
Alaric Choo (left) and Ian Alexander Ang (right), co-founders of Secretlab / Image Credit: Secretlab
Another gaming company – the local Gaming Chair brand, Secretlab – has put Singapore on the world map.
Secretlab produces more than 500,000 chairs annually and has made a name for itself in over 60 countries. The most recent expansion into Japan took place in June.
The largest market is North America with over 50 percent of sales – this is not surprising given the size of the esports industry in the US.
In contrast, Singapore only accounts for about five percent of its total sales each year.
According to Ian Alexander Ang, co-founder of Secretlab, international tech reviewers almost unanimously rated Secretlab as the best gaming chair in a separate interview with Vulcan Post.
They have also won numerous Editor & # 39; s Choice awards and were named Hardware of the Year by PC Gamer.
Secretlab gaming chairs have also been used at some of the world's biggest tournaments, including Dota 2's The International and even the League of Legends World Championships.
In addition to esports, Secretlab has worked with some of the biggest game companies and brands for the past six years. Warner Bros, HBO and Blizzard have partnered with Secretlab to bring out chairs based on Batman, Game of Thrones and Overwatch.
According to Ian, the company's big vision is to put a Secretlab chair in front of every computer screen in the world.
3. Old Chang Kee
Photo credit: Daniel Food Diary
The traditional local brand Old Chang Kee has been filling the stomach of Singaporeans with curry puffs for over 60 years.
It all started with a humble little curry puff stand opened by Chang Chuan Boon, a Hainan immigrant.
In 1956 he set up his first stall on Koek Road before moving to Albert Street until the street vendors were relocated by the Department of the Environment between 1981.
The popular store successfully expanded to Malaysia, Indonesia, Australia and even London in 2018.
Old Chang Kee was also the only Singaporean company to be selected as one of the top 20 fast food chains in the world by US Travel & Leisure Magazine in 2017.
4. The golden duck
Photo credit: iVenture Card
The trend towards salted egg yolks in Singapore has been strong for years and doesn't seem to be easing off.
The Golden Duck co-founders Jonathan Shen and Christopher Hwang broke into the F&B scene at the height of the trend.
The duo had an initial capitalization of $ 35,000 and spent about $ 20,000 before they even launched their product. The majority of this was spent on research and development as well as on machines.
According to a previous interview with Vulcan Post, Jonathan shared that the Golden Duck team went through more than 30 rounds of research and development before settling on the delicious snack it makes today.
The main products are salted egg yolk potato chips and fish skin chips. The brand now offers five gourmet products.
It has since grown into a globally recognized brand. According to the brand, their products are now sold at over 5,000 contact points worldwide and consumed by "millions of people".
5. TWG tea
Photo credit: TWG Tee
TWG stands for The Wellbeing Group and its first Tea Salon & Boutique opened in August 2008 on Republic Plaza.
Despite having been around for more than a decade, not many Singaporeans know that the luxury tea company is a local brand.
In addition to its opulence and size, one of TWG's selling points is its stunning range of flavors – over 1,000 flavors, with 50 new ones being added every year.
Although it opened during the 2008 financial crisis, the company went all-in with three factories and a large central kitchen. Their risky venture paid off when TWG bought and sold 650 tons of tea in the first year alone.
The company now has 13 branches across Singapore and has expanded beyond Singapore to the rest of the world. It is represented in Tokyo, London, Dubai, Shanghai, Russia and other countries.
6. Love, bonito
Photo credit: SG Magazine
Over the years Love, Bonito has become a household name and is considered a successful local brand in the local womenswear and e-commerce scene.
The brand started out as a blog shop called Bonito Chico in 2005, but the business soon grew into a full-time business.
In 2010, the founders of Love, Bonito stopped bargain hunting in Asian markets and instead dared to design their own original pieces.
This step was in line with their decision to rename themselves Love, Bonito and to move away from this “blog shop stigma”.
Lots of love, Bonito opened their first 4,603 square foot store at 313 @ Somerset in 2017 to bring an alternative shopping experience to their online customers.
The local brand later opened other boutiques in the Funan DigitalLife Mall and in Jem.
Most recently, despite the pandemic, the company opened its fourth branch in Singapore at VivoCity. Unlike its other outlets, this new outlet adopts a family-friendly concept.
Outside of Singapore, Love, Bonito has retail stores in Malaysia, Indonesia and Cambodia.
In order to meet the requirements of its international customers, the online shop delivers to 18 markets. This includes the United States, Australia, the Middle East, and other Asian regions.
7. Charles & Keith
Photo credit: Retail Asia
Singaporean women who buy shoes usually know Charles & Keith.
Founded in 1996, the shop is for the fashion conscious looking for the hottest shoes, bags and accessories.
The brand is locally grown, owned by the real blue Singaporean brothers Charles and Keith Wong.
Since its inception, the brand has also caught the attention of French luxury giant Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), which now owns 20 percent of the company.
LVMH's involvement also helped Charles & Keith continue to expand into markets such as China, India, USA and Western Europe. It now has over 600 stores in Singapore and around the world.
The brand is currently represented in over 30 countries, from Mongolia to Egypt and Pakistan.
Image credit: OSIM
OSIM has been a household name in Asia for years, known for its luxury massage chairs.
The man behind OSIM is Singapore-born Ron Sim, who has an estimated net worth of $ 1.3 billion and is currently the 28th richest man in Singapore.
OSIM was founded in 1979 as a household goods company. In 1990 the company was renamed OSIM, a lifestyle and wellness brand known for its luxury Japanese Shiatsu-style massage chairs.
OSIM went public in 2000 and sold over 25 percent of its shares in a deal that valued the company at S $ 120 million.
In 2013, OSIM reportedly had annual sales of over S $ 648 million and reached a market capitalization of S $ 980 million in 2016.
According to UK-based research firm TechNavio, OSIM has been named one of the top 10 massage chair brands in the world, with over 413 stores in 88 cities.
9. Primary taste
Photo credit: Daniel Food Diary
Singaporeans are very fond of their food, so it's not surprising that another F&B company made it as a global brand.
Prima Taste offers Singaporean cuisine in a convenient all-in-one package. From laksa to beef rendang, Prima Taste found a way to recreate Singapore's popular dishes.
According to The Weekender, founder Primus Cheng feared that Singapore would lose its traditional dishes due to the disappearance of street vendors over the years.
In 1998, well before anyone else, Primus realized the need to preserve Singapore's cuisine and make it accessible and convenient for Singaporeans and people around the world.
Now sold in more than 40 countries, it is considered a must-have for anyone looking to try Singaporean cuisine abroad.
Photo credit: YP SG
Many claim that chilli crab is Singapore's national dish. So it seems fitting that Jumbo Seafood brought the dish abroad.
The brand had humble beginnings in 1987, operating from a single branch – now its flagship restaurant – in the East Coast Seafood Center.
The restaurant soon gained loyal following and was known for its fresh seafood and serving iconic dishes such as the Singapore Chilli Crab and the Black Pepper Crab.
As the reputation grew, so did the number of stores for the brand.
Jumbo took the opportunity to bring Singapore's local delicacy overseas and is currently represented in five countries with a total of 18 branches.
From local to global
Starting a business is not an easy task, but these indigenous brands have managed to go beyond that and expand into multiple countries around the world.
With many companies continuing to struggle due to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, it is important for companies to seek pivot and innovation.
These adversities are likely to spawn the next wave of successful local brands that may soon emerge.
At the same time, Singaporeans can make an effort to support the local people to ensure we can see more Singaporean brands overseas in the years to come.
Selected image source: Esports Insider / ONE Esports / Capital and Love, Bonito / Charles & Keith / Osim / Prima Taste / Jumbo