Interview with Shaun Heng: Founder of mobile payment app Eatsy

Shaun is the Founder and CEO of Eatsy – an app that allow diners to order-ahead and pay at their favourite local eateries and coffee shops, such that their orders are ready to pick up when they arrive. The app allows diners to save time at hundreds of breakfast, lunch, coffee and dinner places in Singapore. Eatsy’s mission is to make mobile ordering and payment the new way of life when dining out.

Eatsy is a Singapore-based restaurant technology company and is backed by East Ventures, Quest Ventures, as well as angel investors including Wee Teng Wen, founder of The Lo & Behold Group, Roger Egan III, Vikram Rupani, and Rajesh Lingappa, co-founders of RedMart.

Before Shaun began his entrepreneurship journey at Eatsy, he held a corporate development role at RedMart, one of the fastest growing e-commerce and logistics companies in Asia. In that role, Shaun’s primary role was to focus on all capital raising events, strategic initiatives, and investor relations. RedMart was most recently acquired by Alibaba-backed Lazada in November 2016.

Prior to joining RedMart, Shaun started his career as an investment banking analyst at Standard Chartered Bank. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2013.

Left to right: Lim Gang Rui (Business development), Nicholas Lim (Business Development), Shaun Heng                                        (Founder|CEO), Novabelle Ng (Marketing), Lim Gang Yi (Partner|CTO)
                                                        Photo courtesy of Shaun Heng

Note: Lim Gang Rui and Lim Gang Yi are also NUS alumni. Both graduated from the NUS School of Engineering.

Digital Senior speaks to Shaun on how his journey has been ever since graduating from NUS in 2013.

1) Share with us the school activities you took part in while studying economics from 2010 to 2013?

For the first two years of my university life, I stayed in Eusoff Hall where I took part in various hall activities and sports. It was also here that I met Gang Yi, the eventual partner and CTO of Eatsy! At the end of year two, I was accepted to go on a semester-long exchange program in Lund University, Sweden, where I studied in the School of Economics and Management. In between studies and hall life, I participated in two case competitions where my team emerged first in the NUS-Shell Business Case Competition and second in the CFA investment research competition.

2) What is your greatest takeaway from university?

Be open-minded and take the courage to experiment with different things and different industries. Being an Economics major did not mean that I was constrained to a career path of a job revolving around Economics. Allocating some time to take on internships during semester breaks really opened my eyes and mind to things outside of school and in that process, allowed me to expand my networks and build the foundation for where I am today.

3) What are your hobbies and interests?

An avid reader, occasional poker player and an ardent supporter of Manchester United. When I’m having a tough day, I’ll always try to squeeze in a quick 30-minute run in the evening to unwind and regroup my thoughts. However, nothing beats spending time with my loved ones.

4) What is one quote you live by?

“What’s the worst that can happen?”

Our mind tends to over complicate issues at face value. By asking ourselves this question, we disengage from the situation and instead take the time to process the information and break down the issue into smaller parts – often at times, the decision is much more obvious than we initially thought it was.

5) Growing up, did you have a role model you looked up to?

My Dad.

He runs his own business, NeXT Career Consulting Group as an executive coach. No matter how busy he is at work, he always finds time to come home for dinner and spend time with his family. Having the thirst for knowledge also means that he is always learning something new every single day.

6) What was the inspiration behind Eatsy Technologies?

After leaving my investment banking career behind, a chance encounter resulted in me joining RedMart’s corporate development team. This opportunity provided the springboard for me to start my entrepreneurship journey. In September 2016, I left RedMart to pursue Eatsy full-time. With the right team and experienced F&B mentors, we finally launched the app in November 2017.

Over the past one to two years, we have seen the rise of food delivery platforms such as UberEats and Deliveroo. What this means for us is that diners are now more educated on the convenience of using their own phones to order and pay for food. At the same time, restaurant owners appreciate the benefit and convenience of a mobile ordering and payment platform. This has helped to ease the adoption of our Eatsy platform, which is similar to the concept of food delivery platforms, but for 80% of diners who prefer to dine out.

7) Where do you see yourself five to ten years down the road?

On Eatsy / career:  Building and expanding Eatsy into international markets and continuing to strive hard with a great team to make that happen. As an African proverb states, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

On personal life: I’ve just proposed to my girlfriend of five years, who has stood by me through crazy 90-100 hours work weeks and throughout this entrepreneurial journey. We are looking to tie the knot next year and hopefully in five to ten years’ time, we will have built a beautiful family together.

8) What can we expect from Eatsy Technologies in the future?

My focus at this stage is to ensure we lay the necessary groundwork for a solid foundation so that we have the necessary playbooks, systems and processes in place to scale fast and cost-effectively when the time comes for international expansion. In the future, you can look forward to seeing Eatsy out of Singapore waters, in addition to a more user friendly app with better customer engagement and features, as well as, more restaurants on board.

Our mission is to make mobile ordering and payment the new way of life when dining out.

9) What is one thing you will tell your future self and your past self?

I’ll tell both my future self and past self to embrace the present a little more! Throughout my life, I spent too much time dwelling on past mistakes and worrying about the future. As a result, I do not pause and take stock of the many awesome things that is happening in my life currently. As my good friend once said, “Affirm yourself on the progress every day!”

10) What advice do you have for young undergraduates who are still looking for their meaning and purpose in life?

“Focus on creating value, and wealth will follow”.

When we first venture into the workforce (be it an internship or a full time job after graduation), too many of us identify money itself as being of utmost important, and pursue it at all costs. Instead, I would recommend focusing your energies instead on creating value (i.e. what can you bring to the table), and always remember that money is just one of the many by-products of creating value.

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