By SGN | 14 Oct 2020
Meet Rudi Ramin – born in the Philippines, he first made the move to Singapore in 2009. 12 years on, he deems it as one of the best decisions he has ever made. Read on as he shares more about his life and starting a business in our sunny island.
How did your journey start and what motivated you to start your latest endeavour – venture builder company, IO Labs?
Back in 2009, I was working on a regional marketing role in Unilever when they asked me to move here. In fact, Singapore was the first country I traveled to outside of the Philippines when I was a student and I was amazed by how organized, clean and safe it is. When the opportunity to move here was offered to me, I did not think twice. For me, innovation has always been central to my career spanning Unilever, Mondelez, Google and my own tech startup, Grow. I love to explore new opportunities, look at new products and launch it in the market. It’s challenging but it’s energizing to build something from nothing. IO Labs, a tech venture builder, is exactly that, multiplied a few ways. We build tech-enabled ventures in high growth spaces like mental health, artificial intelligence and e-commerce. For example, Infinit Care, our mental health company was launched during the pandemic and we have since signed 20+ companies to provide mental health support for their employees.
How is Singapore’s start up scene for other businesses looking to venture here?
The tech startup scene is very vibrant here in Singapore. I believe that it is the best country to start a tech startup in Southeast Asia considering the ease of doing business, the easy-to-understand government policies and the availability of startup talent.
For my team development startup, Grow, I did raise funds but not only within Singapore. I tapped my INSEAD network across the world to support my venture. As for government subsidies, I recently participated in hiring 2 very talented trainees as part of the SGUnited Traineeship Programme to help new graduates land traineeships during this difficult time. I believe that the SG government is best-in-class in thinking and implementing policies that could make startups thrive and support its citizens in moving to high growth sectors like the technology industry.
Are there any unspoken nuances of navigating relationships with Singaporean business partners and friends?
I love working with people from different countries. We all have our nuances which makes a culturally diverse team very interesting. What I noticed when working with Singaporeans is that structure and clarity are critical elements for a good business relationship. Dealing with ambiguity is quite uncomfortable. I believe that it is borne by the education system where exams become the focal points of learning.
The other nuance I notice is that Singaporeans have an international view whether it is for business or just personal travel. I share this view so I enjoy working with locals as we are always driven to expand the business.
Any tips for someone planning to start a business in Singapore?
Just do it! It is very simple and inexpensive to start a business in Singapore. You can find all the information on government websites. Also, build your network! There are a lot of entrepreneurs here that are happy to help when you are working on your startup. Join startup communities and events that could help you accelerate your learning and generate traction for your business idea.
And for the most important question. What are your favourites in Singapore – your favourite dish, your favourite local spot?
This is a very difficult question. I really like Singapore food – I could name at least 5 now but if I am really forced to choose, I would say the Singaporean Chilli Crab There is nothing that beats the mix of spiciness, savouriness and the sourness of its gravy. I love getting my hands dirty as I navigate getting its crabmeat. And the experience of dipping your mantou on its gravy is unparalleled. This was introduced to me when I was in university and I participated in an international debate competition here in Singapore. We were housed in the homes of the organizers and I had an instant Singapore foster family. The family who accommodated me would bring me to the best chili crab restaurants that locals frequent (not the ones in tourist areas) and I instantly got hooked. So every time I had an opportunity to visit Singapore, I met them and they would bring me to a seafood restaurant and enjoyed my favorite dish of all time.
For my favourite spot – I love Singapore’s parks, whether it’s the small community parks or the big ones. I particularly like East Coast Park and West Coast Park. Now that I live closer to the West Coast Park, I do my running there and I enjoy the greeneries and the sea view. Most of all, I enjoy seeing people just enjoying their time in this beautiful country.