This is the fifth in our series SINGAPORE START-UP STORIES. Stay tuned for more insightful interviews with successful female entrepreneurs!
Krystal Choo, founder and CEO of Wander, is a tech entrepreneur who is a two-time TEDx speaker and was named in the LinkedIn Power Profile 2015, in the CEO category. Wander brings people together, as it connects people who want to meet communities with the same interests as them. There's a whole new world waiting to open up for them, and all it takes is a few clicks on their mobile device. And it all ties in with her personal mission – to advance human connection in progressively virtual environments.
Here, she tells us what she loves about technology, the perceptions about female entrepreneurs that need to change, and what she personally looks for when connecting with others.
Image: Krystal Choo
What inspires you in your professional and personal life?
People constantly inspire me. The human spirit being abundant, being more than expected, pushing harder than is possible – all these inspire me in life, be it play or work.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are today?
I think the biggest battles are always with yourself. You and the voice in your head; the one that says you're too young, too tired, too ignorant, too undeserving, to be able to push through the hard times, and the lonely times. To build, instead of going to a birthday party. To turn down a six-figure job and keep your lifestyle frugal. To say no to anything that doesn't add to what you're building. All the micro-decisions add up. Oh, and the voice is wrong, by the way. You can *always* do it.
What is it about technology that fascinates you?
Technology has incredible power to impact people and improve their lives en masse. Nothing else is as democratising.
Do you see yourself as a role model for young female entrepreneurs?
Absolutely. I believe that when young women see other women striving, achieving and owning their success, it gives them the courage and inspiration to do the same, in their own unique way. I am incredibly lucky to have been able to build Wander and touch the lives of thousands of people who are seeking connection, and I've been able to do this because of the women who forged this path I now walk on.
What has been your biggest challenge, as a female entrepreneur in Singapore?
In more first meetings than I can count, men have abused their positions – knowing that I wanted to do business with their organisations – veering far off course and making the meeting personal, sometimes even attempting to get physical. It is disgusting and disrespectful, and a huge waste of my time. Unfortunately, I don't think this is unique to women who are entrepreneurs.
Wander is all about discovering communities and connecting with them…what do you personally look for when wanting to connect with people?
I like people who hold pluralities – they are strong, and soft. Cerebral, and still immensely curious. Who have a utopian dream, and are actively working toward making that a reality. I'm also very drawn to people whom I believe can teach me something new.
Image: Krystal Choo
What do you think are the qualities that every successful entrepreneur has?
I believe that they are persuasive. Success only comes about when you have a great team beside you, and you need to persuade these amazing people, whether with charisma or a purposeful vision or your personal work ethic, to walk with you on this crazy journey.
What is one perception about female entrepreneurs among Singaporeans that you’d like to change?
People think that it's easier as a woman, that we get things served to us on a platter, that we didn't have to work that hard to get where we are. I challenge anyone who thinks that to try walking in these shoes for a day.
To check out Wander, go to heywander.com. Stay tuned for more inspiring stories about female entrepreneurs based in Singapore. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out our stories about the HER WORLD WOMEN OF THE YEAR and YOUNG WOMEN ACHIEVERS, and discover this year’s winners: Meet your Her World Woman of the Year and Young Woman Achiever 2016!