“He told me no. He said ‘Be a normal person and get your monthly paycheck. Only when you become a millionaire then should you do something for the world’,” she recalls.
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Determined to pursue her ambitions, Grace’s pioneering spirit eventually led her to establish The Hub, now known as Found, which is an ecosystem of entrepreneurs and creative thinkers working together to create a better world, from solving homelessness to food wastage.
But it wasn’t all smooth-sailing, and she had to resort to creativity in order to fund the start-up, by selling her mum’s famous fruitcakes at $100 a pop to her friends.
Here is how she continues to stay at the forefront:
Being tuned in to your work or industry’s ecosystem is vital, especially when factors can change in mere months. “While basic values like resilience, humility, hard work and diligence are evergreen, the landscape has changed in the sense that you have to be much more plugged into what’s going on in the world because of today’s increased rate of information exchange. A lot of corporates struggle because past innovation strategies like having perfect information before doing something are not relevant anymore.”
“Innovation doesn’t happen in silos; you need to be in the right community and the right environment.” – Grace Sai
Staying connected also involves working in harmony with your co-workers. “Innovation doesn’t happen in silos; you need to be in the right community and the right environment. I believe in entrenching yourself in a community that pushes each other to innovate, create and achieve – that’s what Found is, where we curate who you sit next to. Our members tend to achieve their goals faster with the right partners, as it’s more effective and efficient.”
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Reflect, reflect, reflect.
“The ability to reflect on successes or failures, mistakes and achievements is going to be the key in your success. It was a skill I had to learn because for A-type entrepreneurs, having to pause and ask the hard questions, and to have the humility to listen is not always easy.”
Her secret to bouncing back from mistakes and self-doubt?
“I just have to ask my customers one question: Why does Found need to exist? Because if they’re able to give me an answer then that’s exactly the reason for existence. I reflect quite constantly but when times are tough I do it even more, and on a higher level by going to industry experts and veterans, serial founders and my own mentors.”
Always be a student.
“I meet people and go for events where everyone is smarter than me. I make sure that I’m the dumbest person in the room. I’ve learnt from so many people, such as co-founder of PropertyGuru Steve Melhuish and Shao-Ning from Angel Central. I learn from Nobel Prize laureates when I meet them, and I actually read up a lot on quantum physicists and scientists from the past and present.”
Grace believes wisdom transcends time and industries. One of her greatest inspirations is Richard Feynman, the 1965 Nobel Prize winner for quantum physics.
“He has a lot of fun in his pursuit of knowledge, who learns a lot from nature and from not being bound by existing rules of mathematics and physics. I really like that because it summarises the entrepreneur’s journey: You don’t succumb to the current rules because you want to create a new set of rules.”
“You can quit things in order to explore something potentially better.” – Grace Sai
Her advice for women who feel stuck in a rut is…
“If you’re stuck, then really think about whether that task is for you. If it is, don’t give up; persevere and find ways to make it happen. If it’s not your path or the best place for your growth, don’t be scared of quitting. A lot of corporates are paralysed at the idea of quitting your job… but you can quit things in order to explore something potentially better.”
The best piece of career advice she’s received is…
“Don’t follow another company’s formula. Have confidence in your own. Sometimes we assume that a company that is bigger, more successful or more funded is the right and only way to succeed. But it’s not true. I don’t think fear of failure is bad at all. It only makes you better.”
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