Press release

9 Nov 2020 Singapore, SG

Secretlab’s Co-founder and CEO Mr. Ian Ang named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2020 Singapore

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Sophia Mah

Media Relations Lead (Assurance, Tax, Strategy and Transactions, Growth Markets), Ernst & Young Solutions LLP

Passionate about the influence of media, both old and new. Avid reader. Closet cynic. Loves to travel.

Related topics Entrepreneurship

Mr. Ian Ang, Co-founder and CEO, Secretlab has been named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year (EOY) 2020 Singapore by professional services organization, EY. This was announced during the virtual EY EOY Awards celebration this evening, where Mr. K. Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, was the guest-of-honor.

Mr. Ian Ang, who was also named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Consumer Products, will be Singapore’s representative at the prestigious EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year (WEOY) to be held in June 2021. He will compete with contenders from over 60 other countries for the coveted world title. The EY WEOY competition is the hallmark of the awards program, offering a platform to profile local entrepreneurs among the world’s best business leaders.

(Please refer to fact sheet A for past WEOY winners)

On winning the top honor, Mr. Ang says:

“To win this award among so many other great, experienced entrepreneurs is an absolute honor. There is still much to learn, and it is still early days for Secretlab. There are far too many people that I'm indebted to, but I'd like to thank everyone who has contributed to our journey – staff, partners, investors and fans. Singapore will always be our home where we first started six years ago and we’re proud to be part of putting our little red dot on the world map in the esports industry and beyond.”

In addition to the top honor, EY presented three EOY category awards at the virtual awards celebration:

►    EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Financial Technology
Mr. Richard Koh Seoh Leng, Founder and CEO, M-DAQ Pte. Ltd.

►    EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Industrial Solutions
Mr. Leong Jia-Le, Eric, Managing Director and Co-founder, Mlion Corporation Pte. Ltd.

►    EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Consumer Products
Mr. Ian Ang, Co-founder and CEO, Secretlab

Please refer to fact sheet B for profiles of the winners and their companies.

An independent judging panel had selected the winners based on their merits in the six global judging criteria, namely entrepreneurial spirit, financial performance/value creation, strategic direction, national and global impact, innovation and personal integrity/purpose-driven leadership. The award recipients were selected from close to 50 nominations.

Please refer to fact sheet C for members of the judging panel and details of the judging criteria.

Chairperson of the judging panel, Mr. Png Cheong Boon, also CEO of Enterprise Singapore, comments on Mr. Ian Ang’s winning attributes:

“Despite his youth, Ian embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and displays the business acumen of a seasoned entrepreneur. He spotted a niche in the ergonomic gaming chair market and went on to build Secretlab into a commercial success globally. With the courage to drop out of university to pursue his dreams and perseverance to build a product from next to nothing, Ian demonstrates how there are multiple pathways to success, the power of ideas and the value of continual hard work. Beyond commercial success, Ian focuses on helping young employees build their careers and also contributes to the community, as seen in Secretlab’s donation of masks to hospitals, as well as partnering with charities to grant wishes to critically ill children.”

Celebrating this year’s theme: The Unstoppables

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted lives and livelihoods in an unprecedented way and changed the business landscape across all segments and sectors.

On this year’s winners, Mr. Max Loh, Singapore Managing Partner, Ernst & Young LLP says:

“The COVID-19 pandemic is creating pronounced and accelerated shifts in the business environment. Even as business activity starts to resume and recover, business must go beyond protecting what has worked well to creating what will keep them competitive and resilient in future. Our winning entrepreneurs today demonstrate what it takes to be unstoppable – strategic vision, grit and agility – even in the face of a global crisis. They believe in opportunities amid challenges and have pivoted themselves quickly for a new normal, rethinking their business models and processes, and revitalizing their products and services.”

Please refer to fact sheet B for the quotes on winning the category awards and their thoughts on disruption and innovation.

Special honor for Truong Hai Auto Corporation (THACO) and Hong Leong Group

At the virtual celebration, EY presented the EY Asean Entrepreneurial Excellence award to Mr. Duong Ba Tran, Chairman of THACO.

Mr. Loh says:

“From an automotive apprentice to now leading a conglomerate with a workforce of more than 20,000 as Chairman of THACO, Mr. Duong’s entrepreneurial journey and commercial success is inspiring. Beyond that, the socio-economic impact made in terms of job creation and community contribution is commendable. In addition to sponsoring community activities, providing scholarships to the needy, and supporting infrastructure development in the country, this year, the company has also donated money and provided medical equipment to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Mr. Duong shares his focus for this year:
“In 2020, we built new foundations for THACO's sustainable development, and making contributions to the national development.”

Please refer to fact sheet D for winner profile.

EY also presented the EY Family Business Award of Excellence to Hong Leong Group. The award recipient is jointly selected by knowledge partners, Business Families Institute @ Singapore Management University and the Wendel International Centre for Family Enterprise, INSEAD.

Mr. Loh says:

“Family enterprises are an important segment of our economy and many draw strength from their ability to preserve company culture, tradition and values while maintaining corporate governance and the entrepreneurial spirit. The success of Hong Leong Group built over the decades demonstrates that a combination of strong family bonds and a shared vision is key to harmonizing both commercial and family interests, which has enabled them to thrive and succeed over generations.”

On receiving the award, Mr. Kwek Leng Beng, Executive Chairman of Hong Leong Group says:

“I am honored that the company my father built has been accorded with the EY Family Business Award of Excellence 2020. At Hong Leong, family has always been the core of the business. Whether bonded by blood or a common vision, we will carry on a legacy that continues to inspire generations.”

Please refer to fact sheet E for winner profile, eligibility and selection criteria.

The official partners of the EOY awards are the Singapore Exchange (partner); Portfolio, The Business Times and The Edge Singapore (official media partners). The supporters are Action Community for Entrepreneurship; Enterprise Singapore; Singapore Business Federation; and SkillsFuture Singapore.

The EY EOY awards program was launched in Singapore in 2002 to honor entrepreneurs who have created and sustained successful business ventures, as well as to coincide with the government’s focus on fostering entrepreneurship and grooming local entrepreneurs. Now in its 19th year, the awards has evolved into a leading business award in Singapore with an international presence and footprint. For more information about the EY EOY program, please visit ey.com/sg/eoy.

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About EY

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EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.

This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young Solutions LLP, a member of the global EY organization.

About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs. The program makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global awards program of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 145 cities in more than 60 countries. ey.com/eoy

Fact sheet A: EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year past winners

Past WEOY winners

2001: Paolo della Porta, President, Chairman and Group CEO of Saes Getters S.p.A., Italy

2002: Stefan Vilsmeier, President and CEO of BrainLAB AG, Germany

2003: Narayana Murthy, Founder and Chairman of Infosys Technologies Limited, India

2004: Tony Tan Caktiong, Chairman and President of Jollibee Foods Corporation, Philippines

2005: Wayne Huizenga, President of Huizenga Holdings, Inc., US

2006: Bill Lynch, CEO of Imperial Holdings, South Africa

2007: Guy Laliberté, Founder and CEO of Cirque du Soleil, Canada

2008: Dr. Jean-Paul Clozel, Founder of Actelion Pharmaceuticals, Switzerland

2009: Cho Tak Wong, Chairman of Fuyao Glass Industry Group, Mainland China

2010: Michael Spencer, Group CEO of ICAP plc, UK

2011: Olivia Lum, Founder of Hyflux Ltd, Singapore

2012: James Mwangi, CEO and Managing Director of Equity Bank Limited, Kenya

2013: Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani, Inc., US

2014: Uday Kotak, President and CEO of Kotak Mahindra Bank, India

2015: Mohed Altrad, Chairman of Altrad, France

2016: Manny Stul, Chairman and Co-CEO of Moose Enterprise Holdings & Controlled Entities, Australia

2017: Murad Al-Katib, President and CEO of AGT Food and Ingredients Inc., Canada

2018: Rubens Menin, Chairman of MRV Engenharia e Participações S.A., Brazil

2019: Brad Keywell, CEO of Uptake Technologies Inc., US

2020: Dr. Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Executive Chairperson of Biocon Limited, India

Fact sheet B: EY Entrepreneur Of The Year winner and company profiles

(Information provided by winners’ companies)

a)     EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2020 Singapore

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Consumer Products

Mr. Ian Ang
Co-founder and CEO
Secretlab

Quote on receiving the category award:

“I have always believed that Singaporeans are in a great position to sell global consumer products because of our natural exposure to both eastern and western cultures. Today, our chairs are raved about globally but we’re not stopping here. We will continue to invest in R&D and improve on our products to perfect the user experience – that is the only way to thank our fans who have supported us on our journey.”

Quote on how entrepreneurs help to reframe a new future:

“We will be adapting to a new world, and with that naturally comes a whole suite of opportunities to improve peoples' lives, both internally within the company and externally to customers.” 

About Mr. Ian Ang

Mr. Ian Ang is the Co-founder and CEO of global gaming chair maker, Secretlab. In his role, he oversees product strategy, marketing, human resources, and just about everything else. Under Mr. Ang’s leadership, the company has partnered with some of the biggest names in esports and entertainment today, making Secretlab the seat of choice for the world’s premier brands and over 500,000 happy users globally.

Though not as much as he would like, Mr. Ang still strives to set aside time for what he loves most – gaming – which he leverages as the best time to test out Secretlab prototype chairs by putting himself in the shoes of a user.

Mr. Ang is 28 years old.

About Secretlab

Secretlab was established in 2014 to create the pinnacle of gaming seats – each extensively designed and engineered with only materials of the highest grade to ensure absolute comfort and unparalleled support. Today, Secretlab is the global choice of gaming seats for the world’s premier gaming tournaments, top esports professionals and over 500,000 satisfied users from more than 60 countries worldwide, alongside rave reviews from international media publications.

www.secretlab.sg

b)     EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Financial Technology

Mr. Richard Koh Seoh Leng
Founder and CEO
M-DAQ Pte. Ltd.

Quote on receiving the category award:

“It is an unexpected honor to represent both the fledging Singapore FinTech community as well as the past and present members of M-DAQ family.”

Quote on how entrepreneurs help to reframe a new future:

“Entrepreneurs as leaders can only succeed if they have strong base of followers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, staff anxiety and morale can make or break a company. We have always practiced ‘servant leadership’ – where the goal of the leader is to serve – in good times and bad.

“When the pandemic was hitting home, we brought forward our payroll cycle to beginning-of-month instead of end-of-month to put cash in the hands of the staff so that they can build up psychological defense, and to send the message of no retrenchments, furloughs or pay cuts as employees have already collected their full salary before starting work for the month.

“In fact, I gave up all salary increments and bonuses ever since I started the company, in order to have a stronger case when asking the independent Board for annual bonus pool and increments for my employees.”

About Mr. Richard Koh Seoh Leng

Mr. Richard Koh Seoh Leng has over three decades of industry experience in infocomm and technology, treasury and eCommerce.

He is the founder and CEO of M-DAQ, a Singapore homegrown capital markets financial technology startup founded in January 2010. Under Mr. Koh’s leadership, the company has been profitable since the beginning of 2018 with a gross transaction value of S$10b and revenue of S$46m. M-DAQ raised S$82m in equity and still has S$56m in reserves at the beginning of 2020. M-DAQ is supported by Economic Development Board, Enterprise Singapore and Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Mr. Koh has been a Fellow Chartered Accountant since 2010 and holds an Executive MBA in International Business (First in Class and Valedictorian) and a Bachelor of Accountancy (Honors) with a specialization in Banking and Finance. Mr. Koh also holds three design and technical patents on M-DAQ’s solutions.

He currently serves on the Nanyang Business School Advisory Board and the Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary and Secondary School Management Committees.

Mr. Koh is 48 years old.

About M-DAQ Pte. Ltd.

M-DAQ is a home-grown FinTech firm, founded on the mission to help create a “World without Currency Borders®”. It focuses on the fringe solutions for different use cases, such as multicurrency international securities trading, online and offline cross-border commerce with price certainty, a global clearing network for e-wallets, and Hedging-as-a-Service for micro, small and medium enterprises.

The company achieved a notable 1,000 times growth in revenue between 2015 and 2018 and has been profitable for 10 successive quarters since Q1 2018. In 2019, M-DAQ transacted S$10b in volume and achieved S$46m in revenue. M-DAQ regards its employees as family. Since its founding, M-DAQ has grown to a firm with a staff strength of about 60 people.

www.m-daq.com/

c)     EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Industrial Solutions
Mr. Leong Jia-Le, Eric
Managing Director and Co-founder
Mlion Corporation Pte. Ltd.

Quote on receiving the category award:

“Winning the EOY category award is a validation of the sacrifices made by my family and loved ones who had supported and journeyed alongside me over the years. It is also a reassurance of the hard work that I have put in personally. More importantly, it also serves as an encouragement and motivation for me to continue to strive harder and break new ground in an ever-changing and globalized market.”

Quote on how entrepreneurs help to reframe a new future:

“During unprecedented times, it is vital that entrepreneurs rethink the future of business. As market leaders, we need to encourage our team to look beyond the negativity and work within the constraints while finding opportunities – whether it is learning to telecommute, train virtually, or even expand across the region without physically being there. It is also a test of our organization’s resilience to external shocks and how we improve our processes and build effective communication. Through this, the organization will certainly emerge stronger while maintaining a global customer base by overcoming the barrier of a physical distance and staying connected with our partners through digitalization.

“Entrepreneurs must do their part to ensure the continuity of economic growth. They must also safeguard their team’s employment and employability in this difficult period. It is during such challenging times that we must rethink and leap into the next paradigm.”

About Mr. Leong Jia-Le, Eric

Mr. Leong Jia-Le, Eric is the Managing Director and Co-founder of Mlion Corporation Pte. Ltd. He holds a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Honors) degree from Nanyang Technological University. As Managing Director, he oversees the management, strategic direction and expansion of the group across the region.

His knowledge and understanding of the business, as well as diverse contacts in the Southeast Asian emerging markets, has helped to grow the company revenue from US$2m in its first year to US$64m in its seventh year of business. He works with project owners, consultants, engineering procurement and construction contractors to provide innovative steel solutions to projects in the region. He regularly speaks at events and conferences and works closely with government agencies to develop new strategies to improve flood control and port upgrading projects in an effort to improve lives and economies.

Mr. Leong is 34 years old.

About Mlion Corporation Pte. Ltd.

Mlion Corporation Pte. Ltd. is a foundation steel solutions company focusing on ports and waterfront development, civil excavations and power generation projects in the Asian region. Mlion Corporation designs, sources, value-adds, stores and delivers customized solutions that enable economies to grow and prosper. They listen, understand and work closely with customers to create solutions that provide the best value for projects.

Mlion Corporation’s local offices in the region provides better access to the markets; while downstream services such as warehousing, logistics, financing and quick response time provide seamless operation to projects. Being a market leader in the field, Mlion Corporation provides products such as steel sheet piles, steel pipes, steel tie rods, long and flat steel products, crane rails and wharf accessories. Their vision is to add value responsibly to an increasingly interconnected and prosperous world across the global supply chain.

www.mlioncorp.com

Fact sheet C: EY Entrepreneur Of The Year judging panel and criteria

Judging panel

Png Cheong Boon (Chairperson of judging panel)
CEO
Enterprise Singapore

Elaine Yew
Senior Partner and Asia Head of Board Practice and Global Head of Leadership Advisory
Egon Zehnder

Susan Chong
CEO
Greenpac (S) Pte Ltd
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year – Sustainable Solutions

Prof. Freddy Boey
Deputy President (Innovation & Enterprise)
National University of Singapore

Aw Kah Peng
Chairman
Shell Companies in Singapore

Ganen Sarvananthan
Co-Managing Partner
TPG Capital Asia

Ron Sim
Executive Chairman and CEO
V3 Group Limited
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2003 Singapore

Judging criteria

The following six judging criteria sets the global standard adhered to by each and every country participating in the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year awards.

  • Entrepreneurial spirit

The individual is a risk-taker who sets very high standards and demonstrates an unflinching desire and determination to succeed despite significant obstacles.

  • Financial performance/Value creation

The business has demonstrated strong financial performance and maintains a good track record in raising finance. Coupled with quality investments and its focus on the development of human capital, the business has the potential for long-term sustainability.

  • Strategic direction

The individual not only creates and turns business visions into realities, but also builds strategic alliances and empowers talents to achieve common goals.

  • National and global impact

The business has displayed a high degree of potential for growth and expansion into international markets that has made national and global impact in terms of job creation and improved living economics.

  • Innovation

The individual has pioneered a new approach or technology, embraces changes and continuously innovates.

  • Personal integrity/Purpose-driven leadership

The individual earns great respect and is able to communicate ideas and influence the wider community. The individual’s enforcement of socially responsible practices seeks to improve the quality of life. The individual demonstrates a commitment to the highest ethical and quality standards in business activities and operations.

Factsheet D: EY Asean Entrepreneurial Excellence Award winner profile

(Information provided by winners’ companies)

EY Asean Entrepreneurial Excellence Award

Mr. Duong Ba Tran
Chairman
Truong Hai Auto Corporation (THACO)

About Mr. Duong Ba Tran

In the 1980s, Mr. Duong Ba Tran started working at an auto-repair factory as an apprentice, and then proceeded to be the Head of the engineering department. He invented the mechanism to change the steering wheel from the right to the left side (of imported cars), and his patent was later approved and licensed by the Ministry of Transport.

During his work at the garage, he accumulated capital and knowledge and eventually started his own company, Truong Hai Automobile Co., Ltd. He founded Truong Hai in 1997, where it initially sold cars and later started assembling cars for foreign brands such as Kia, Mazda and Peugeot.

Since 2000, the corporation started assembling cars for foreign brands as well as producing its own buses and trucks. In 2007, Truong Hai Automobile Co., Ltd. was renamed to Truong Hai Auto Corporation (THACO) and later became a distributor of two luxury cars – BMW and MINI – in the Vietnam market. His company's turning point came in 2008, when Jardine Cycle and Carriage, a car distributor in Singapore, bought a stake in THACO.

Mr. Duong is 60 years old.

About THACO

THACO was founded on 29 April 1997 by Mr. Duong Ba Tran, who is currently the Chairman. The corporation’s main office is located in District 2, Ho Chi Minh City. THACO employs more than 20,000 staff. After 23 years of development, THACO has become a multi-industry group, with two main businesses - Mechanics and Automotive. The Group also operates other businesses, which support one another in creating synergy values and improve overall competitiveness. These businesses include agriculture and forestry, construction and investment, logistics, and commerce and services.

As of 2018, THACO has occupied more than one-third of the nation’s automobile market, being the largest automotive company in Vietnam. As of February 2020, THACO was ranked first in Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers' Association sales report.

Factsheet E: EY Family Business Award of Excellence

Winner profile, eligibility and selection criteria

(Information provided by winners’ companies)

EY Family Business Award of Excellence

Hong Leong Group

Quote by Mr. Kwek Leng Beng, Executive Chairman of Hong Leong Group:

“I am honored that the company my father built has been accorded with the EY Family Business Award of Excellence 2020. At Hong Leong, family has always been the core of the business. Whether bonded by blood or a common vision, we will carry on a legacy that continues to inspire generations.”

About Hong Leong Group

The Hong Leong Group was built on a foundation of hard work, determination and service to the community. Founded by Mr. Kwek Hong Png in 1941, Hong Leong Group focuses on four core areas – property development, hotels, financial services and trade and industry.

Now under the leadership of the founder’s eldest son, Mr. Kwek Leng Beng, and a second generation of Kweks, Hong Leong Group has grown into one of Asia’s largest and most successful conglomerates.

With foresight and astute acquisitions, Mr. Kwek Leng Beng was instrumental in leading the Group in its quantum leap into the manufacturing and distribution industries in China in the early 1990s, as well as transforming the Group into a global hospitality player. He also took over control of City Developments Limited, then a loss-making property firm and transformed it into a leading global real estate company with a network spanning 106 locations in 29 countries and regions.

Hong Leong Foundation was formed in 1980 to help the Group fulfill its philanthropic mission of giving back to society. Each year, the Foundation donates to various charitable causes in Singapore including education, the arts and the needy elderly.

Today, Hong Leong Group is a multi-billion-dollar empire worth over S$40b in diversified premium assets worldwide. As the Group looks ahead, the third generation of Kweks have emerged to carry on the family legacy.

About the award

The EY Family Business Award of Excellence was launched in 2013 to recognize family enterprises that have made significant socio-economic contributions and demonstrated the ability to harmonize between business and family matters. It is jointly selected by knowledge partners, Business Families Institute @ Singapore Management University and the Wendel International Centre for Family Enterprise, INSEAD.

Family enterprises that have been honored include Far East Organization, the Kewalram Chanrai Group, B.P. de Silva Holdings, Eu Yan Sang International Ltd, Jebsen & Jessen (SEA) Pte Ltd, Tolaram Group and Sing Lun Holdings Pte Ltd.

Eligibility:

  • Leadership of the company includes family member(s) from second or subsequent generations, or has multiple branches of a family involved in leadership. (i.e., one individual and first generation would not qualify for the award).
  • The family still has a significant ownership and voting stake and is primarily responsible for setting the strategic direction and values for the firm.
  • The legal form of the company or group of companies is not relevant.
  • Companies may be private or publicly traded.
  • If the shares and voting rights have been transferred to a trust, it will remain to be considered as family enterprises if the family has dominant influence on the trust in a way described above.
  • The business or headquarter of the business is located in Singapore.

Judging criteria:

  • Company shows evidence of a successful, sustainable and long term-oriented strategy.
  • Company has adopted an effective and transparent corporate governance approach, enabling the execution of the desired strategy and living out of family values.
  • Company governance enables unity among the ownership family (i.e., little evidence of significant family disputes impacting the business).
  • Demonstrated the ability of the family to preserve company culture, tradition and values and maintain the entrepreneurial spirit and continued innovation over generations.
  • Evidence shown of exceptional personnel management.
  • Commitment to philanthropic causes or corporate social responsibility.
  • Other exceptional achievements such as business awards, public service etc.