Failure is so important. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater successJ.K. Rowling
As entrepreneurs, failure is always a constant. It is with a proper mindset where you learn and remain positive that will drive you forward and bring you further on the journey.
In this mini interview series for Lighthouse, we explore the importance of having a good mindset when entering into the depths of the entrepreneurship scene. How to use the negative to turn it into the positive so that you are able to continue striving for your goals.
We have the privilege of having Yi Sheng, the Co-founder of Clearly Surely. A platform targeted at millennials to learn more about life insurance in a fun way. Clearly Surely aims to bring about a revolution in the financial literacy scene in Singapore by merging Insurtech and Edutech into one platform.
As a seasoned entrepreneur, Yi Sheng faced numerous challenges along the way, he gritted his teeth and kept pushing forward to bring Clearly Surely to where it is today.
Daryl (D): Can you share a bit on your entrepreneurship journey, how it all started?
Yi Sheng (YS): After I graduated from NTU with a Bachelor’s in Engineering, I went into a Management Associate (MA) programme with a bank where I was introduced into the world of insurance. From there, I went to take a Master’s in Financial Engineering to further explore the world of finance.
I went on to another MA programme after my Master’s. It was then I felt that there was something missing with Singapore’s financial advisory system. Many companies employ agents to promote and sell their insurance products. These agents, wanting to sell more (nothing wrong with that), will often give a one sided view on their company’s insurance products. This takes away the opportunity for consumers to be objective and forces them to only look at one insurance company.
Therefore, I set out to create Clearly Surely. A platform where users will be crystal clear and sure on their insurance needs, hence the name. The platform was one of its kind and it was the first automated insurance comparison site. Users were able to input their current financial situation and the platform will push our recommendations tailored to each individual.
D: How was the journey like for you? What were some of the worst road blocks/obstacles you faced?
YS: Oh, three words. Rough, tough, and fulfilling. It was trying to say the least, but there is something about being tested so severely that it makes a better person out of you.
I faced plenty of obstacles along the way, so much that I almost wanted to drop it all and return to corporate life. One such challenge was, a well known and established financial advisory firm copied our product lock, stock, and barrel. It was tough, as a new entrepreneur I didn’t know what I could do to have prevented that.
Another challenge was that I had to bootstrap all the way. I literally had no salary for 5 years! Luckily I was still doing tuition on the side to support my life expenses so I barely scrape by.
I think one other challenge that many, if not all entrepreneurs face is the initial resistance. Being such a new concept, many companies and even the regulators were skeptical about the automated comparison process. They all thought, “how in the hell can a robot beat a human in understanding a person’s needs?”. Indeed, our platform can’t fully understand the human and their emotional needs. However, to compare numbers and to be objective, that is the true aim of Clearly Surely. To give the consumer an objective and clear view of their finances and the best options for them.
D: How did you overcome all these challenges? What did you learn from them?
YS: Take on one problem at a time. It always seems insurmountable until you overcome it. Every hardship was just a test in grit, resourcefulness, creativity, and character. My advice for entrepreneurs out there is to always be willing. Willing to try alternative ways, willing to learn new things and willing to bite the bullet.
Another thing that is important is that you understand that things never go to plan. It will always work out differently from what you expected / want. But that doesn’t mean you should stop planning or trying, because the outcome will always be acceptable if you persevere.
Lastly, choose your friends/partners wisely. Lip service is very different from actual service. Don’t just be taken in by the flowery words and promises to you, words are cheap. Prove it with actions.
Interested in Clearly Surely and their new and improved platform? Check them out here.
Stay tuned for the second part of the interview series, as Yi Sheng shares more on the mindset he used to have and how it all changed along the way.This interview is part of the “Lighthouse” series, where we aim to shed light on the journey of an entrepreneur and how aspiring founders can navigate better in the unpredictable environment. In this series, there will be articles on how an individual can take an idea and grow it to become a company. There will be interviews, suggestions on programmes, and even insights to what investors look for in a business. Check it out here!
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