Interview with Gary Ong

I graduated with a diploma in electronics engineering but instead of sticking to my education discipline I wanted to join the media and advertising industry. After I graduated, I worked for a publishing firm handling advertising sales, it was here that I learn the ropes of publishing and have a taste of the advertising landscape.

I moved on to start Goda Media with another friend. Goda Media is an events and publishing company specializing in corporate events and custom publishing. In 2010, we registered a social enterprise called Cause Private Limited. Cause serves to provide an online platform to bring together people from different backgrounds with a common social change they wish to engage and rectify. The platform is still under development and should be launched by September 2010.

When did you decide that you wanted to become an entrepreneur?

I have always had a keen interest in business and entrepreneurship since young and thus I always read up on a lot of entrepreneur stories, innovative companies and well known business leaders. I guess it would be natural for me to try my hand in entrepreneurship eventually. The chance came when my friend invited me to start a new company, with each of us bringing together our own set of skills. I took the chance thinking I was young and had no major commitments, thus a lower risk involved.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

I would say my favorite aspect would be the ability to put action to our ideas. The chance to be creative, to try new plans and to innovate. I find it difficult to have this amount of space when you are employed as there are always a set of rules, or a system you have to follow.

What was the most difficult part in getting started?

The whole process of starting up is quite a challenge. The most difficult part I would feel is managing the financials and bringing in the business as a small company. Money is always the blood line of any company and we have to be very careful in how we spend and how we direct our resources for the optimum results. As a small company, you have to work doubly hard to bring in the contract instead of your competitors winning the business.

What is the top skill (or skills) needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Leadership, daring initiative, strong business acumen and good knowledge of financials.

What motivates you and/or keeps you motivated?

Sense of responsibility and ownership drives me forward. The new challenges we face every day and the need to prove ourselves ensures we are always striving to better ourselves.

What do you think is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?

Complacency. I guess when you are working as an employee you tend to get comfortable with the job, with the pay and lose the instinct of survival. As an entrepreneur, you are always out there working hard and thinking out of the box to ensure your company survives and grow.

What has been one of your failures, and what have you learned from it?

A failed venture with another partner. I learned to be more careful and likewise to always look forward, we learn from our mistakes but we must always ensure we do not make old mistakes but rather new mistakes so the learning process continues.

Jack Welsh once said that "An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage." What are your thoughts on that quote?

Jack Welsh is one of the business leader whom I always enjoy reading about. His turn around act of GE was phenomenal and inspirational. I agree with Jack Welsh that being adaptive is extremely important, as the business environment always changes and new competitors enter the industry, if you are slow to adapt and slow to notice where changes have to be made, prepare to lose your pie to companies that are able to maneuver faster and more effectively.

Greg Norman once said that “Our success is a direct result of knowing how to market a brand and having the right people representing the brand.” What are your thoughts on what quote?

Branding is important as once your brand is able to gain the mindshare of its consumers, you become recognizable and top of mind value. However, I feel branding is a factor of business and it is more important to first build a great product. An excellent example is Google, no branding campaigns, no marketing spent, no ambassadors.

Albert Einstein once said “I think that only daring speculation can lead us further and not accumulation of facts.” What are your thoughts on what quote?

If no one takes chances or risk, where would we be right now? I once read this quote which I would always remember “If you risk nothing, you risk everything.”

Excluding yours, what business or company do you admire?

Google. From a simple idea to a great product. They maintained 2 focuses when they started out, product and customer and they just depended on that. Google basically went against the odds and change the way people ever searched for things.

What was the most crucial thing you have done to grow your business?

Willingness to seek advice. As a young entrepreneur, there is only so much I know and there are many other businessmen out there who has a lot of experience. So why take the risk to make mistakes when you can learn from the mistakes of others

What advice would you give an entrepreneur who is just starting out?

Listen hard. Before you start your venture and during your venture, a lot of people would have a lot to say. Listen… they might know something you do not. Take it in and think carefully about what they say, process the information and decide if it is something you need or can work with. So listen and do not forget.

Along the way, you would also meet a lot of the naysayers, whose vision are not as far as yours and can only see their toes. Never ever let them put you down, listen, take it with a pinch of salt and remember you always knew what you wanted

Company Description:

Goda Media – Events and publishing company, specializing in corporate events and custom publishing. Cause Pte Ltd – Social enterprise serving to act as a centralized online platform to bring together different people with a common idea. Cause also provides an online store that sources products from different SEs all over the world.



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