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Lunch with PM Lee for founders of Carousell, Ninja Van and other startups

SINGAPORE — For two hours last Friday, 10 Singapore entrepreneurs had the opportunity to share their views about the startup scene here with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Lunch with PM Lee for founders of Carousell, Ninja Van and other startups

From left: Carousell CEO Quek Siu Rui, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Love, Bonito co-founder Rachel Lim and ShopBack CEO Henry Chan at the lunch.

SINGAPORE — For two hours last Friday, 10 Singapore entrepreneurs had the opportunity to share their views about the startup scene here with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

They were invited to the Istana to discuss the challenges of doing business in Singapore over a two-hour Chinese meal at the Istana.

The young entrepreneurs included familiar names such as Ms Rachel Lim, the co-founder of homegrown fashion label Love, Bonito, and Mr Quek Siu Rui, the co-founder and chief executive officer of mobile classifieds firm Carousell.

Several entrepreneurs who had attended the lunch told TODAY on Monday (Jan 13) that they were honoured to have had the opportunity to share their thoughts with Mr Lee.

Ms Tan Peck Ying, the co-founder and chief executive officer of Pslove, a company that develops products to relieve pain for women having their periods, said that she considers herself fortunate to be one of the 10 invited.

“In our minds, we always think that the prime minister meets only the big companies. So it’s an honour to be present to share our thoughts about the startup scene and industries in general,” Ms Tan said.

She added that the startups shared their thoughts about how some industries can be more efficient, and how certain sectors can grow.

She said that there were representatives from various industries present, adding to a “good variety” of conversation topics.

Ms Tan, along with others who were at the lunch, were unable to reveal more about their conversation with Mr Lee as the details are confidential.

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Mr Lee said that he had a candid discussion with the entrepreneurs about the challenges of doing business and attracting top talent in Singapore.

“The range of industries — from tech and fashion to transport and logistics — spoke well of the vibrancy of our startup scene. We are growing a strong startup ecosystem — with a strong intellectual property regime, access to talent, ease of doing business, and grants and funding for startups and small and medium enterprises.

“We will continue to find new and innovative ways to support local businesses. Hope to see more homegrown unicorns,” he said in his Facebook post.

Ms Lim of Love, Bonito said that the group discussed ideas on how to groom talent in Singapore and attract those from around the world.

“As Love, Bonito also aims to revolutionise and revitalise the retail industry, it’s important that locals look to retail as a long-term career path,” she added.

Mr Lai Chang Wen, the chief executive officer of logistics firm Ninja Van, said that the lunch provided an opportunity for him to share his views on the challenges, issues and trends impacting both the startup scene and the logistics sector in Singapore.

The entrepreneurs said that Mr Lee came across as “supportive and knowledgeable” during the lunch.

Mr Jarrold Ong, the chief executive officer of ride-sharing startup Swat, said he was touched that Mr Lee took the time to discuss the challenges faced by entrepreneurs here.

He was also inspired to hear during the lunch about how other founders started out and how they are innovating their businesses.

Related topics

startup business entrepreneurs Carousell Love Bonito Lee Hsien Loong

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