Whether you’ve seen their cars on the road or tried one yourself, chances are you’ve seen one of GetGo’s carsharing fleet on the streets of Singapore.
Launched in February 2021 during the pandemic, GetGo has grown to become the largest Point A-to-A car sharing service in Singapore. From the original team of 10 to the current staff strength of 130, growing and scaling the business is not an easy task but one that the co-founder, Ting Feng, takes in his stride.
Towards Military Service Despite Entrepreneurial Family Background
Growing up, Ting Feng was surrounded by cars and businessmen. His father is a first-generation businessman – a secondary school graduate who started his second-hand car trading business.
“Growing up, I never dreamed of being in the used car business, but I always knew that at some point, I wanted to be an entrepreneur.”
It may be surprising to find that Ting Feng chose to join the military profession after Junior College, instead of going down the entrepreneurial path. He received a SAF scholarship and was sponsored to study in the US for four years and then served seven years in the military with MINDEF.
“I thought it was meaningful and interesting, and in the back of my mind, I knew that if I wanted to build a big and meaningful business, I needed to be a leader who understood strategy and operations.”
From Giant Organization to Large Organization: From Civil Service to Private Sector
After 7 years in the service, it is not easy to give up a stable and promising career. According to Ting Feng, “It’s tempting to stay put… but coming from an entrepreneurial family, I know that eventually I want to do my own thing.”
After making a tough decision to leave the SAF. he can help grow the family business or start his own business. Instead, Ting Feng chose to enter the private sector.
“I knew I wasn’t ready to jump straight into entrepreneurship. I had only been in the civil service for seven years. I didn’t have to be responsible for P&L. I wanted more exposure. So, I decided to take a more structured approach to entrepreneurship.
During his time in the private sector (CapitaLand and Grab), Ting Feng went from “National Defense to real estate development to the cutting edge of mobility technology”. This experience helped him build the company’s business repertoire.
It’s About The People You Meet Along Your Journey
While many people think of entrepreneurship as something you jump right into, there are benefits to a more circuitous route. Throughout the various changes in his career, Ting Feng has gained a lot of experience that helped him face the challenges of starting a business. Even more importantly, it has connected and allowed him to build relationships with many members of his core team.
“Entrepreneurship is never about one person or just about founders. It’s about the collective team you put together. Some of the relationships I built came back to pay off in terms of team building as well.
For example, both co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Johnson Lim, and Chief Technology Officer, Malik Badaruddin, the person Ting Feng has built a relationship while managing his family’s investment after his company stint. GetGo’s Chief Product Officer, Lionel Fong, is his university partner who has decided to move back to Singapore. By taking a longer route to start his business, Ting Feng was able to gather the A team to solve the problem together. And these problems and opportunities arise during the pandemic.
Timing Is Important When Starting a Business
“Not everyone is lucky enough to find meaningful problems that they are uniquely positioned to solve”
When COVID-19 was a difficult time for everyone, Ting Feng and his team found themselves in a position where things came together to start GetGo. With the right background, skill set and people, the right time came during the pandemic.
“Time is very important if you try to start this business. Maybe five years ago, we would have struggled. Without COVID as a catalyst, technology would not advance. There is a saying in technology: sometimes when you start, you are wrong. So, we also do this at the right time too”
Seizing the opportunity, Ting Feng and his founder launched GetGo in February 2021.
Scale From The GetGo
While most entrepreneurs struggle to scale their businesses, Ting Feng’s experience, through his SAF leadership days and private sector work, allowed him to set his company up for success while growing his team and operating in a structured manner. From the original team of 8 to a company strength of 130, GetGo has grown rapidly since its launch.
Even from the beginning, Ting Feng and the GetGo team dreamed big.
“You want to solve the problem in a meaningful way. That means you have to solve it in scale, so you want to start with the end in mind, or at least some milestones in mind. Then you have to plan and work on it. How do I hire and organize myself and team to solve this problem on a bigger and bigger scale?
From the first press release at launch when they set their goal of 1,000 cars by the end of 2021, Ting Feng and the GetGo team have been moving towards even bigger milestones.
This includes moving towards a vision for a sustainable mobility ecosystem. By 2030, they plan to add more electric vehicles to their fleet in Singapore while expanding their services overseas.
As we part ways, what amazes me about Ting Feng’s entrepreneurial journey is how his structured approach to entrepreneurship has led him to where he is today as the founder of GetGo. Instead of diving headfirst into starting a new business when he was young, he built up his knowledge, skills and experience so that when the right and meaningful opportunity came knocking, he could assemble an A-team to tackle the problem and scale up incrementally yet decisively.