Feb 4, 2015

Up Close and Personal with Singapore's Top Entrepreneur - Kenny Yap of Qian Hu

Hwa Chong Alumni Entrepreneur Club "Kopi" session

Our Hwa Chong Alumni Entrepreneur Club Kopi session has grown from chilling out at a coffee shop at Jalan Kayu at the end of last year to a 30 men (& women) strong kopi session chilling out at Tuckshop. Thanks to the efforts of Joel Teo, who managed to gather (arrowed willingly) a bunch of ex Hwachongians to put this event together. In the last session, we had Mr Lim Der Shing ex CEO of JobCentral to grace our kopi session at Holland Village. This time round, we have Mr Kenny Yap  of Qian Hu Corporation to share with us his entrepreneur journey.

They are all HwaChongians who have found success in their life.

Arriving at Tuckshop 15mins after 7pm, I spotted a bunch of guys (Chinese High is a boy co-op school) and a few ladies (Hwa Chong Junior College is a mixed High School. That's where the Chinese High Boys get to know about girls in their teenage life) chilling out at the central table of Tuck Shop. Surprise of all surprise, I saw my Gymnastic junior, Seah Kai, at the table. We had a good catching up session after not seen him for many years. It seems like one of his fellow gym member, Zhang Bao, is currently residing in France and has married a blonde european lady.

I was absolutely impressed...

We used to nickname him as the "bull" during school days as he had little of the grace that a gymnast has. Looks like the "bull" is the strongest among us. Haha.
Hwachongians busy sharing their stories over beer and fish&chips
Seah Kai on the left. Damien Yee on the right
Kenny Yap strides in with a crackle of energy

Our gossip mongering was interrupted at 8pm as Kenny Yap strode in a bright blue polo Tee, bringing him along a crackle of energy that seems to permeate the whole pub. He started to mingle around immediately, asking people to call him "The Fish" and was generally fooling around, cracking fishy jokes (pun intended). After everybody had calm down, Kenny Yap started to answer questions about entrepreneurship, ranging from his early days when the company nearly went under to how he plan his succession from a family business point of view. Kenny Yap did not hold back and shared un-reservingly on his entrepreneur journey. He was also a very energetic speaker with lots of hand gesturing like a Taiji master. The pub staffs had to pull out all their secret kung fu techniques trying to maneuver past a very passionate Kenny Yap, while carrying plates, glasses and all sorts of breakable things. I will probably need to check with the boss of Tuckshop, Damien Yee (also a Hwachongian) how he train his staff to achieve such agility.

The biggest takeaway from this session was how Qian Hu managed to become the number one ornamental fish company in the world. In land scarce Singapore, it is almost impossible to create a huge enterprise that involves livestock as we do not have the land and population to create the kind of economies of scale that is needed. However, Qian Hu managed to do it and expanded their operations internationally. Kenny Yap illustrated how some fellow entrepreneurs got distracted by the latest fad and ended up losing tremendous amount of money while Qian Hu focused on being the best in their niche market. He also illustrated that breeding fish does not mean that they are not able to diversify into other sectors. Some of the technology developed by Qian Hu are now in used by other none related industry and Qian Hu actually benefited from these joint ventures.

Kenny Yap sharing
Taken from behind the bar
Other than meeting Mr Fish in person, I was excited to meet up with fellow financial literacy entrepreneur Lynn Koh from Innervative. I have no idea that both the founders are from Hwa Chong and I always wanted to meet up with the people behind economic education game Oikonopolis. We swore that we will meet up for kopi next week to share our entrepreneur adventures.

Time seems to fly when you are in good company and it is 10pm in a wink of the eye. The Q n A sessions started to wind down as the audience ran out of questions, or we were too eager to want to take pictures with this legendary entrepreneur. We all quickly got into positions and took selfies/pictures to immortalize this day on our facebook.

Pictures all round!
By the way, this post is by no means sponsored by Hwa Chong, Qian Hu and Tuck Shop and the fish & chips in wasabi sauce and English Breakfast Tea which I consumed within the premises were paid from my own pocket. (Seems like posting disclaimers is the latest blogging fad these days after the Xiaxue Vs Gushcloud saga)

In any case, I thought Tuck Shop is a very cool place to chill out in and you should absolutely drop the place a visit!

The Tuckshop
403 Guillemard Road
Monday - Friday
5 PM - 12 AM (last orders@11.45PM)

Saturday - Sunday
5 PM - 12 AM (last orders@11.45PM)

5 PM - 7 PM


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