Starting Up And Out

If you find yourself asking what the appeal of entrepreneurship really is, keep reading, because we're stepping through the thick of Singapore's bustling startup scene to unearth the ingredients needed to succeed.

Starting a business from the ground up can be an exhilarating experience. At the helm of major industrial and technological progress, we’re beginning to witness just how catching its appeal is, especially so at the rate in which it’s permeating the dreams of the younger generation[1]

But of course, taking the plunge to mould one’s own future and disrupt the status quo is no easy feat. Here, we bring you through the local startup landscape, highlight key learning points from the triumphs and tribulations of local startups, and take a look at some of the companies that are giving new businesses a vital boost.


The “Silicon Valley of Asia”

Singapore, known for its robust economy and high standards of living, has long been a hotspot for entrepreneurial activity for both local and international business owners. Amassing up to 65,000 new businesses each year and fostering over 4,000 startups in tech-centric sectors alone in 2023, the Lion City now sits for the first time among big fishes in the global startup ecosystem such as New York and Tel Aviv[2]. Our allure as a hub for innovation and business ventures is thanks in part to the stable political environment, well-developed infrastructure, favourable tax system, and a multicultural talent pool. With the increasing rate of success among new ventures, it’s no wonder that more and more people are considering entrepreneurship a viable option for them. 

That said, it can be easy to forget that behind every emerging startup is a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. Sure, the idea of becoming your own boss may bring a twinkle to the eye, but the harsh reality is that a large portion of startups, 30% to be exact, don’t make it past the first three years in this brutally competitive economy[3]. Be it the result of a lack of resources or simply bad timing, a failed business can lead to life-altering consequences, financially, socially, and psychologically. 


What we can learn from those who’ve been there, done that

If you’re a budding entrepreneur hoping for your next big break, gearing yourself with the right tools will certainly set you up for success, and there’s no better way to learn than from the experiences—mistakes and all—of those who have walked down the same path. We look to two ambitious entrepreneurs who have battled through the challenges of creating a business from scratch and take a peek into their unique journeys. 


The ultimate fusion | Maha Co Taco Bar

A cult favourite hangout spot at Nexus @one-north, Maha Co Taco Bar is an Indian-Mexican joint founded by Singaporean rapper Yung Raja—whose real name is Rajid Ahamed—and Quan Ong, also the owner of the beverage producer Gorilla Press. 

Yep, you heard that right, who would’ve thought Indian and Mexican food could be such a match made in heaven? Maha Co’s claim to fame is what they call the world’s first dosa-taco, inspired by a family recipe inherited by Yung Raja. Their menu ingeniously reimagines the classic dosa in a Westernised way to capture the essence of the two cuisines, stuffed with familiar fillings such as guacamole and lamb rendang. 

The duo made the bold move to open Maha Co in 2021 despite their full-time commitments. Of course, starting an eatery in a business district didn’t come easy amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. Still, approaching its two-year mark, Maha Co stands as a pulsating blend of music, flavour, culture, and friendship, and continues to capture our hearts and palates, showing us what true passion and teamwork can achieve.


Good vibes and good food only at Maha Co Taco Bar, the Indian-Mexican taco joint started and owned by Quan Ong and local rapper Yung Raja. Image courtesy of Maha Co Taco Bar.

Five time’s the charm | Sheldon Global

If you love shopping for bits and bobs for your home, you’re probably familiar with local homeware giants like Houze and Table Matters. But perhaps lesser known is their parent company, Sheldon Global, whose office is based at Plaza 8 @ Changi Business Park, which is home to six household and lifestyle brands and founded by seasoned entrepreneur Brien Chua. 

After grappling with the fallouts of four prior businesses which left him with $200k worth of debts, Brien's unwavering drive propelled him to take another plunge into entrepreneurship with Sheldon Global in 2014. This time, his astute marketing and business strategy of keeping customer experience at the forefront and prioritising quality products paid off, and Sheldon Global became a multi-million dollar business. 

Today, Brien leads a dynamic team of 45 key players, managing a vast inventory of over 100,000 products in their warehouse daily. His homeware empire is certainly a testament of what grit, strategy, and a customer-centric approach can accomplish in the world of business. 


From the very beginning, Brien's (third from left) success has been largely motivated by his love for his children and his wife (far left), who works with him as the general manager. Image courtesy of Brien Chua.

Every support counts when starting up

As we’ve mentioned, guidance and resources are important factors that can make or break a fledgling business. We list below some CapitaLand tenants and CapitaLand-owned spaces that are dedicated to the growth and success of small businesses in various fields, and the services they offer to uplift new entrepreneurs. 


Having a driven team is often what makes a difference in an organisation and good leadership is paramount to the success of any business. Effective leadership is essential not only during the early stages, which are often marked by uncertainty, but also throughout its journey in today’s volatile business landscape. Catapult by CapitaLand, a newly established shared executive learning center has just the solution for experienced and young leaders looking to make their mark in the business world.

Nestled in Rochester Commons, Catapult is the first of its kind in Singapore and Southeast Asia. As a state-of-the-art smart campus, Catapult recognises the pivotal role of leaders in providing direction and instilling purpose. Their immersive and experiential programmes curated with leading training providers and knowledge partners, are grounded in neuroscience principles of learning and motivation to groom next-gen entrepreneurs.  

Learning doesn't stop beyond the Catapult campus, which sits on a gold mine of creativity at Rochester Commons.

The Executive Centre

In a time of great change in the modern business landscape, entrepreneurs face the challenge of finding newer and better modes of operation for their establishments. In particular, having a dedicated space, whether physical or virtual, is crucial in a business’ infancy. That’s where co-working spaces come in, and at Six Battery Road, The Executive Centre (TEC) has been a brilliant ace, providing private workspace solutions for developing and veteran businesses alike.

While co-working offices have become a norm in the last few years, TEC takes their services a step further by being a hub for collective growth, connected by a global network of ambitious professionals and industry leaders that uplift and support one another. Additionally, TEC ensures that no companies get left behind by offering personalised enterprise plans led by an exceptional service team to scale young companies to greater heights.

At The Executive Centre, entrepreneurs have the liberty to operate wherever and whenever inspiration strikes in a world-class workspace. Image courtesy of The Executive Centre.
The versatile space at IncuBaker can host up to 60 people at a time, ideal for product demonstrations, team-bonding activities, and even private dining events. Image courtesy of IncuBaker.


You’ve heard of co-working offices, but have you ever heard of a co-working kitchen? Started in 2018 at Infinite Studios, IncuBaker is the first and only shared kitchen in the country to be endorsed by the Singapore Food Agency. 

What we love most about the company is the motivation behind its founding; that is to be a launchpad for newcomers in the food and beverage industry, an extremely competitive market to break into. With fully-equipped commercial workstations, professional mentorships, and networking opportunities, IncuBaker ticks all the boxes for culinary visionaries and foodpreneurs to bring their innovative food concepts to life.

The entrepreneurial journey is often tumultuous, but with the right approach, it can offer unparalleled opportunities to make an impact in this world. So, to all aspiring entrepreneurs, it’s time to step into an adventure of a lifetime!


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