Darren Toh, Co-Founder of start-ups Tivlon Technologies & Juggar

Darren is one of those people who not only enjoy the challenges of what life throws at him but thrives in challenging environments.  He made the switch from a successful corporate job to becoming an entrepreneur for two start-ups: Tivlon Technologies and Juggar.

His motto is: “Don’t get too comfortable.”

Darren ditched his cushy job and took the plunge without any handouts. What he did was surround himself with positive people, family and partners and the believe in himself.

Juggar which he has two other partners, is a peer-to-peer stocks collateral crowdlending platform. They aim to disrupt this 20 year old industry, valued at over $500 billion in Singapore alone by connecting the lenders and borrowers on their platform.  Focusing first on tier 1 SGX stocks as collateral to free up 60% to 70% cash for the owners, their algorithm provides different rates of financing. The current shares financing is usually through a bank and they provide a standard rate of financing. Juggar is offering different rates of financing.  For example, having Alibaba stock or IBM stock, while both are in the same industry, they are in different spaces and would have different pricing mechanisms. 

The company recently won two seed funding, one from Spring Singapore, which is now rebranded as Enterprise Singapore, and NUS (National University of Singapore). He credits the funding success to his co-founders, Edmond Tan and Danny Lee.  They were rejected in the first application with Enterprise Singapore, instead of giving up, his co-founder Edmond rang up and asked in detail why they were rejected and redid their presentation in 48 hours and reapplied.

Darren: “The greatest lesson for me in a start-up is you can’t take “No” for an answer. In start-ups, you have to keep removing obstacles.”

Like all start-ups, they go through “pivoting”, slight changes to his original plan. Tivlon Technologies went through that process. When he started it, it was a consulting firm, once entrenched in it, he realised there was a gap in the market that could not quantify certain data in commodities into tradeable ideas and he sought to bridge that gap. Technology has been underserved in the commodities market and there’s an opportunity to translate reports and data into analytics. At this point, Tivlon Technologies is self-funded.

Darren’s Action Plans

 Those with family seeking to ditch their jobs:

  • Talk to your partner/spouse. Deal with this first. Their commitment, understanding and support is important. He suggests a 3-year plan with sufficient financing that covers basic needs.
  • Having a family means some supplemental income is needed. Find ways to get some income and keep the lights on.
  • Don’t worry so much about not being able to get back into the market. The environment has changed and hiring managers seek out those who have tried out different things.
  • Keep your burn rate low.
  • Surround yourself with great people. Have partners who have different skills from you.
  • Be ready to work late nights and weekends.

Young entrepreneurs:

1) You have nothing to lose, don’t overthink.

2) Test your product in real life, see if anyone is willing to pay for it. He used the example of his college friends with the idea of cleaning laptops. They all laughed at that until they realised these guys were making good money every month.

3) Again, if you do need to seek a job after, hiring managers would be interested to have those who have tried out something and failed. They are more resourceful and have different skill sets.

The podcast with Darren can be found here. Enjoy!

Juggar: http://www.juggar.co/

Juggar FB: https://iie.smu.edu.sg/opportunities/jobs/juggar

Enterprise Singapore: https://www.enterprisesg.gov.sg/

NUS Singapore: http://www.nus.edu.sg/

 Darren Toh’s social media: https://www.facebook.com/darrentoh

Cassandra Lau, Crossfitter, Co-owner Actualize Crossfit, and Church Mentor for Teenagers

I started this podcast as a way of creating a platform to document amazing people and share their life tips with others. How much luckier can I get when one of my friends would say yes to me? Especially after I made the rookie mistake of not formatting the SD card in the previous interview.

Cass is one of these amazing individuals who’s not just constantly “taking action”, she has the mindset of committing to whatever she’s doing long term without ever thinking of quitting. At 25 years of age, she’s the youngest Crossfit box owner, kickass Crossfitter: within 2 years of doing CrossFit she’s won the scaled women’s division in Battle of Royale Asia in 2017 and her team was ranked No. 1 in Singapore for the mixed pairs division of the CrossFit team series.  She coaches early mornings and late evenings while maintaining a day job as an analyst in a bank.  On her days off, which many of us would wonder when that is…she mentors a group of teenagers at Church. While Crossfit and fitness is a big part of her life. She has many more facets to her.

Pursuing Success

Cass has often said that “nobody would listen to those who are unsuccessful”.  In the interview, she explains success not as monetary gains but by inspiring others and getting a sense of satisfaction from doing the best that she can.

Cass said: “It’s not about gaining perfection. When I pursue success, I want someone to say, hey, I can take something from that or achieve that.”

Time Management

Time management is one of the most important thing to master while juggling so many aspects of life. Cass looks at it from the perspective of what she can control and can’t. Knowing that working in a corporate environment could mean leaving work at uncertain hours, she starts her day off with exercise before work takes over, any other time after that means she could fit in other passions.

During her commute, she takes time to reflect on her projects and areas of improvement as well as consciously scheduling in time during the day for quiet reflection.

Crossfit

Owning a box and coaching means Cass gets to meet with people from all walks of life. When someone walks into the box, regardless of what they do and where they are from, they are treated the same as everyone else. Grinding out the workout, team and community spirit is the common ground and creates bonding.

Cass’ mum was reluctant to go to the box, to get around that, she scheduled one-on-one session before the box opening hours. Her mother saw the difference it made in her health which translated to her dad and sister joining as well. Taking the time to create comfortable environment for her mother resulted in getting her entirely family fit.

Trying Fitness for First-Timers

For those looking to start fitness and might not have the support group. These are baby steps to get started:

  • Take up the National Steps Challenge (in Singapore)
  • Get out of the house, walk around the mall, garden etc
  • Schedule one-on-one sessions with a trainer

Leadership

  • Commit to a cause long term without ever thinking about “quitting”.
  • Having passion for the cause.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Be empathetic.

Owning a Business

  • Finding a good partner with the same values.
  • Be open minded to each other’s ideas.
  • Communication-if you are unhappy with something, voice it out. In the Asian context and being female, we tend to skirt the issue or hint. It needs to be said directly cause guys just don’t get it. But say it with a positive intention.

Nutrition

I couldn’t leave the interview without touching on nutrition. Cass has experimented with various nutritional types and she’s a living testament to how food affects performance. Prior to her competition at the Battle of Royale Asia, she was paleo based with strict macros. She trained daily and did not feel the after effects of heavy training. Right after the competition, she treated herself to fried chicken and she ached from her training. However, staying on anything strict is difficult and now she’s evolved to a flexible dieting with macros counting. To keep on the course and also keeping it varied, she started meal prep swaps in the box with other members.

Enjoy!!