This is the fifth in our series SINGAPORE START-UP STORIES. Stay tuned for more insightful interviews with successful female entrepreneurs!
If Race Wong’s face looks familiar, you might remember her as one-half of award-winning Cantopop duo 2R. She and her sister Roseanne were known in the Hong Kong entertainment scene both for singing and acting. She’s now teamed up with her sister Rhonda to launch real estate app OhMyHome, a free Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale and rental mobile app. It allows HDB sellers, buyers, tenants and landlords to transact directly with one another, taking agents and agent fees out of the equation.
The co-founder and executive director tells us what it’s like running a business with her sister and how her Cantopop career has helped her as an entrepreneur.
Image: Race Wong
Why did you decide to go into real estate as your business?
I have always been a real estate investor; it’s an interest I acquired from my parents. The first $500,000 that I saved up when I was 23, my parents helped me invest into a commercial space. Since then, almost all my savings went into real estate investments. In comparison to equities, property prices are not as volatile. As a seasoned buyer, I understood what people looked for when searching for the next property. My company Anthill Realtors has been consulting and marketing for property developers for the past three years. Ohmyhome is an extension of our services via technology to the HDB market.
What’s it like running a business with your sister? Do you think women generally work better together?
I like working with my sister as the most important trust issue is removed from the equation. We understand each other well enough to not doubt or debate about each other’s devotion towards doing the best for our business, we never had to fight over business decisions. Although I am an admirer of successful women, I believe in having different dynamics in my team hence I wouldn’t intentionally build an all-female team. It’s hard to say women generally work better together, personality and strengths are down to every individual.
Has anything about previously being part of a successful Cantopop duo helped you in running your own business?
Hard work and team work! In my previous career as a singer and actress, I worked very long hours especially during filming. Because of that training, working endlessly today in my start-up is something I’m used to. When it comes to teamwork, I’ve learned that no project can be successful or even completed without a team. Be it recording a song, releasing an album or making a movie, the artistes are merely the front of the project while dozens others are behind the scenes making things possible. I often tell my team: You are not here to work for me, we work together, as a team, towards a common goal.
What has been your biggest challenge, as an entrepreneur in Singapore?
As an entrepreneur in Singapore, one of the biggest challenges is managing our budget while readying for forecasted growth. The price of failure is extremely high in Singapore, which deters entrepreneurs from trying out more ideas. For instance, we could have used the same budget to build our team and market in a territory twice the population of Singapore with lower overheads but we chose to start here because this is our home.
What would you say are the qualities one needs to be a successful entrepreneur?
Grit and the mindset to keep improving. It is also important to manage your priorities well enough not to be overwhelmed by the workload.
Do you see yourself as a role model for young female entrepreneurs?
I have never thought of myself as a role model for I have too much to learn and to improve on.
What advice would you give to women in Singapore who are thinking of becoming entrepreneurs?
It might seem like old-school advice but I strongly encourage entrepreneurs to read more, both online and offline. I was inspired by what I read and it propelled my mindset about business and goals. Find a business partner with different skill sets but who shares the same goals and values to work on your idea together. Lastly, build an ethical business that can solve a problem and benefit others.
Stay tuned for more inspiring stories about female entrepreneurs based in Singapore. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out our stories about the HER WORLD WOMEN OF THE YEAR and YOUNG WOMEN ACHIEVERS, and discover this year’s winners: Meet your Her World Woman of the Year and Young Woman Achiever 2016!
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