The tiny house concept has grown, which was one of the driving factors behind serial entrepreneur Seah Liang Chiang to build Singapore's first shipping container hotel.
People all over the world are choosing to downsize their living spaces. A Netflix reality TV show revolves around the topic and popularized the movement among millennials.
In an interview with DrWealth, Liang Chiang said he graduated from the National University of Singapore during a year of recession.
He eventually found a job in sales but was fired after six months. The same thing happened in his second and third jobs.
He decided to start his first company, and although he managed to become a millionaire “on paper” before he turned 30, he ran into problems with his partners and left the company.
By the age of 29, he was nearly S $ 100,000 in debt.
"I didn't have any money because all the money I had was with the company, I was pretty much alone and I couldn't even visit my parents in Malaysia," he said.
Instead of finding a full-time job, he decided to start another company.
Fortunately, he managed to find an investor who believed in him, and the company eventually managed to go public (IPO).
The Shipping Container Hotel is the newest of Liang Chiang & # 39; s many entrepreneurial endeavors, and he said he is "able to do things differently" and "make fewer mistakes" when he learns from his experience in the business Lessons learned from the past.
Think outside the box
It all started with a personal problem.
The 55-year-old had managed to buy a piece of land in Malaysia overlooking a lake but didn't have the money to build a house on it.
He justified this by saying that although he did not have the means to build a large house, he could build a small hut instead.
Inspired by Western culture of going on a "weekend getaway home" and movies like Avengers: Endgame, in which Tony Stark had a cabin in the woods, Liang Cheng set out to research how to make one yourself.
He found that shipping containers were cheap to buy and use for other purposes and were already being used as houses by people in other parts of the world.
A shipping container house in Greece / Photo credit: Design Milk
After realizing that it was possible to make a beautiful house out of a shipping container, he bought one for RM 5,000 (S $ 1,635). He also designed the interior himself using free online design software.
In total, he spent a total of RM 30,000 (S $ 10,000) on his personal shipping container home.
From personal project to business idea
Photo credit: Hotel shipping container
The serial entrepreneur decided to open a pop-up hotel for shipping containers that the Singaporeans could use as a weekend retreat and go to places outside the grid.
He wrote to the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and was able to benefit from the First Mover Framework.
The framework gives entrepreneurs with innovative business ideas a head start in allocating public assets to implement their ideas.
Seah Liang Chiang (left) with the high-ranking Minister of State for Trade and Industry (right) in the hotel / Photo credit: Shipping Container Hotel via Facebook
Although Liang Chiang faced many challenges in obtaining permits and approvals from various authorities, he eventually managed to get two lots on JTC Launchpad @ one-north.
The JTC Launchpad is known as a startup hub where budding entrepreneurs can test ideas. Before Liang Chiang & # 39; s hotel arrived, there was already a container gym there.
According to Liang Chiang, the hotel is like a "tiny house" or a small apartment and covers around 280 square meters.
Despite its size, it is fully equipped with a fully equipped kitchen, a dining area, two queen-size beds, a bathroom, WiFi and a TV.
Each shipping container can accommodate up to five people. A night in the hotel costs between S $ 150 and S $ 170.
A hit among the Singaporeans
Interior of the shipping container hotel / Photo credits: Versandcontainerhotel
The shipping container hotel opened its doors for the first time in January of this year, and Liang Chiang announced that the occupancy rate was around 90 percent prior to Covid-19 in February.
When Covid-19 hit and travel was limited, Liang Chiang was extremely concerned as he was building this hotel for tourists. However, he soon realized that most of his clients were Singaporeans who "loved this crazy idea".
Of course, the hotel couldn't accept customers and had "no business" during the breaker period.
"It was really difficult because we had to pay rent to JTC and we also had to cover the staff costs," said Liang Chiang.
Things improved when Singapore entered Phase 2 and stays were allowed. The Singaporeans began booking the hotel at full speed and the occupancy had risen to 100 percent for three weeks.
While the shipping containers are currently only on the JTC Launchpad, Liang Chiang plans to change its location every couple of years to function like a popup hotel.
"It's still in its infancy, but don't be surprised if one day you see our hotels in the parks or on the beach. It's the dream I have to take him to crazy places," he said.
Selected image source: Hotel shipping container via Facebook