Whether you’ve seen their cars on the road or tried one out yourself, chances are you’ve seen one of GetGo’s fleet of car-sharing cars on the roads 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 an original team of 10 to the current workforce of 130, growing and scaling a business is no easy task, but co-founder Ting Feng took it in stride.
Entering military service despite having an entrepreneurial family background
Growing up, Ting Feng was surrounded by both cars and businessmen. Her father was a first-generation entrepreneur: she dropped out of high school and started her own used car trading business.
“Growing up, I never had any aspirations to be in the used car business, but I always knew that at some point I wanted to be an entrepreneur.”
It may come as a surprise to find out that Ting Feng chose to join the military profession after Junior University, rather than follow the path of entrepreneurship. He accepted an SAF scholarship and was sponsored to study in the US for four years and then served seven years in the Army and MINDEF.
“I thought it was meaningful and exciting, and deep down I knew that if I wanted to build a big, meaningful business, I needed to be a leader who understood both strategy and operations.”
From a giant organization to large organizations: moving from the civil service to the 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 very tempting to continue to stay…but coming from an entrepreneurial family, I knew that eventually, I want to do my own thing.”
After making the hard decision to leave the SAF. You could help grow the family business or start your own. Instead, Ting Feng chose to enter the private sector.
“I knew I wasn’t ready to jump into entrepreneurship right away. I just spent seven years in the civil service. I have not had to be responsible for a P&L. I wanted to have 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 at the forefront of mobility technology.” These experiences helped him build a repertoire of corporate businesses.
It’s about the people you meet along the journey
While most people think of entrepreneurship as something you jump straight into, there are advantages to a more roundabout route. Throughout his many career changes, Ting Feng has gained many experiences that help him handle the challenges of starting a business. More importantly, he has connected him and allowed him to build relationships with many of his core team members.
“Entrepreneurship is never about one person or even the founders. It’s about the collective team you put together. Some of the relationships I built also paid off in terms of building the team.”
For example, both its co-founder and chief marketing officer, Johnson Lim, and chief technology officer, Malik Badaruddin, were people Ting Feng had built relationships with while managing his family’s investments after his tenure with the company. GetGo’s product manager, Lionel Fong, was his college classmate who had decided to move back to Singapore. By taking the longest route to start his business, Ting Feng was able to assemble an A-team to solve a problem together. And this problem and opportunity arose during the pandemic.
Timing is important when it comes to starting a business
“Not everyone is lucky enough to find a significant problem that they are best positioned to solve”
While 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 time was right during the pandemic.
“Time is very important if you are trying to start this business. Maybe five years ago, we would have been fighting. There would have been no COVID as a catalyst, the technology would not have advanced. There’s a tech saying: sometimes if you’re early, you’re wrong. So, we also did this at the right time.”
Seizing the opportunity, Ting Feng and his co-founder launched GetGo in February 2021.
Scale from the GetGo
While most entrepreneurs struggle to scale their businesses, Ting Feng’s experience, through his leadership days at SAF and his work in the private sector, has enabled him to set up the company for success when it comes to growing the team and operations in a structured manner. From the original team of 8 to a company 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 a problem in a meaningful way. That means you have to solve it at scale, so you want to start with the end in mind, or at least some milestones in mind. Then you need to plan and work to achieve it. How am I going to hire and organize myself and the team to solve this problem in a bigger and bigger way?”
Since their first press release during their launch when they set their goal of 1,000 cars by the end of 2021, Ting Feng and the GetGo team have been steadily pushing toward bigger milestones.
This includes moving towards its vision of a sustainable mobility ecosystem. By 2030, they aim to add more electric vehicles to their fleet in Singapore while expanding their service abroad.
When we parted ways, what struck me about Ting Feng’s entrepreneurial journey was how his structured approach to entrepreneurship has led him to his current place as co-founder of GetGo. Instead of jumping headlong into starting a new business when he was young, he built his knowledge, skills, and experiences so that when the right, significant opportunity presented itself, he could assemble an A-team to tackle the problem and scale incrementally but decisively. .