INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY | Alpha Bierneza, Singapore

Former strategy advisor reveals aspirations with his newest mobile app startup

Rediscover and fall in love with your city all over again.

Benjamin Lee, 31, co-founder and chief executive officer of Sugar, has become a global nomad from a very young age. He has lived in Hong Kong, San Francisco, Melbourne, London, Beijing and Taipei, and returned to Singapore in 2009 after completing his law degree at University College London. For the past 12 years, Benjamin has founded 5 companies, while two of which were eventually acquired. Singapore Business Review recently caught up with Benjamin and talked about his success in the industry.

This former strategy advisor to the Royal Bank of Scotland Group is currently the co-founder and CEO of Sugar, a mobile app startup that seeks to encourage people to re-discover their cities by supporting local businesses that define their urban social fabric. Based on the principles of hyper-locality and gamification, Sugar aims to provide direct incentives to users to try out places located near them, as well as share interesting offerings with their friends on chat and social media. Since Sugar’s founding in January 2014, the company has established a footprint in Singapore, Hong Kong and Jakarta, and raised over US$1.3 million in funding from A-list investors including the prolific Koh Boon Hwee.

In addition, Ben is an investor/advisor in Supernova, GetKlarity, ZAOZAO and The Good Natured Compan. He is also actively involved as a mentor with Lean In (a professional women's network started by Sheryl Sandberg) and TechGrind (an Asian-focused startup incubator headquartered in Thailand). He is a Global Shaper in the World Economic Forum and he speaks frequently at startup events and seminars, where he shares his insights on entrepreneurship, disruption, and career development.

SBR: What are your key business philosophies?

With his new company Sugar which is a mobile city guide that seeks to encourage a culture of exploration in Singapore and Hong Kong, Benjamin believes that the platform will help local small businesses get discovered. “I believe that independent local businesses are the backbone of the economy, and that they add colour and diversity to the social fabric of our cities,” he said.

SBR: What three goals are you focused on for your company?

According to Benjamin, he is focused on:
1. Helping small local businesses gaining more exposure and businesses.
2. Be on the top of mind people's mind as a great app for spontaneous discovery and exploration.
3. Expand across Asia and beyond Asian countries.

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