From Military Officer To Entrepreneur: How GetGo’s Founder, Toh Ting Feng, Took A Structured Approach To Entrepreneurship

Whether you have seen their cars on the road or tried one yourself, chances are that you would have seen one of GetGo’s carsharing fleet on the roads of Singapore.

Launched in February 2021 during the pandemic, GetGo has grown to become Singapore’s largest Point A-to-A carsharing service in Singapore. From an original team of 10 to the current staff strength of 130, growing and scaling a business is not an easy task but one that co-founder, Ting Feng, took within his stride.

Going Into Military Service Despite An Entrepreneurial Family Background

Growing up, Ting Feng was surrounded by both cars and entrepreneurs. His father was a first-generation entrepreneur – a secondary school dropout who started his own used car trading business.

“Growing up, I never had the aspiration to be in the used car business, but I always knew that at some point in time, I wanted to be an entrepreneur.”

It may be a surprise to find out that Ting Feng chose to join the military profession after Junior College, instead of going down the path of entrepreneurship. He accepted a SAF scholarship and was sponsored for studies in the US for four years and thereafter served seven years in the military and MINDEF.

“I thought it was meaningful and exciting, and at the back of my mind, I knew that if I wanted to build a large and meaningful business, I needed to be a leader who understood both strategy and operations.”

From A Giant Organization To Large Organizations: Going 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 very tempting to continue to stay… but coming from an entrepreneurial family, I knew that eventually, I do want to do my own thing.”

After making the tough decision to leave the SAF, he could either help grow the family business or start one of his own. Instead, Ting Feng thing to go into private sector.

“I knew that I wasn’t ready to jump into entrepreneurship straight away. I just spent seven years in the civil service. I haven’t had to be responsible for a P&L. I wanted to get more exposure. So, I decided to take a more structured approach towards entrepreneurship.”

During his time in private sector (CapitaLand and Grab), Ting Feng went from “National Defense to real estate development to the leading edge of mobility tech”. These experiences helped him build up repertoire of corporate business.

It Is 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 multiple career changes, Ting Feng has gained many experiences that help him handle the challenges of starting a business. Even more importantly, he has connected and allowed him to build relationships with many of his core team members.

“Entrepreneurship is never about one person or even just about the founders. It is about the collective team that you bring together. Some of the relationships that I built came back to pay back in terms of building the team as well.”

For example, both his co-founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Johnson Lim, and Chief Technology Officer, Malik Badaruddin, were people Ting Feng had built relationships while managing his family investments after his corporate stint. GetGo’s Chief Product Officer, Lionel Fong, was his university mate who had decided to relocate back to Singapore. By taking the longer route to starting 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 fortunate enough to find a meaningful problem that they are more uniquely positioned to solve”

While COVID-19 was a tough time for everyone, Ting Feng and his team found themselves in a position where things came together to start GetGo. With the right background, skillset sets and people, the right timing came along during the pandemic.

“Timing is so important if you try to start this business. Maybe five years ago, we would have been struggling. There wouldn’t have been COVID as the catalyst, technology won’t have been advanced. There’s a tech saying: sometimes if you are early, you are wrong. So, we also did this at the right time as well”

Seizing the opportunity, Ting Feng and his co-founder launched GetGo in February 2021.

Read Also: From Being $70k in Debt to Building Singapore’s No.1 Online Renovation Media Portal, The Story of James Soh, Founder Of Renopedia

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, enabled him to set the company up for success when it comes to growing the team and operations 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 a problem in a meaningful way. That means you need 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 towards that. How am I going to hire and organize myself and the team to solve this problem in a larger and larger manner?”

From their first press release during their launch when they set out their goal for 1,000 cars by the end of 2021, Ting Feng and the GetGo team have been steadily moving towards bigger milestones.

This includes moving towards their vision for a sustainable mobility ecosystem. By 2030, they aim to add more electric vehicles to their fleet in Singapore while expanding their service overseas.

As 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 the co-founder of GetGo. Instead of diving headfirst into starting a new business when young, he built up his knowledge, skills and experiences 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.

Read Also: The Koufu Story: Growing From Coffee Shop To Food Brand Conglomerate

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