Ng Rongxin started Explorer Junior to nurture a child’s own creativity and learning.
What’s your story?
I believe in education and technology as vehicles for development in the 21st century. Inspired by a speech by Sir Ken Robinson on TEDTalk, “Do Schools kill Creativity?” I started Explorer Junior with two friends, four years ago. We believe that every child is a curious explorer; yet the one-size-fits-all, outcome driven, education system does not optimize the individual’s potential. And that’s how our journey begins. We set out to research, design and develop a set of pedagogy to nurture the curiosity and creativity of every child that comes through our door, enabling them to build confidence and discover their unique interests!
What excites you most about your industry?
It’s so dynamic! The fact the world is changing at an unprecedented rate, means education has to keep up to speed in order to remain relevant. What’s most exciting for me is the challenge to combine good traditional educational practices with modern technology to bring across better learning experiences for the young minds and reach out to more children too.
It’s also invigorating because people in this industry are always so enthusiastic and passionate about what they are doing and they are very willing to share. Interacting and learning from the the industry experts and peers is always inspiring and humbling.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and breed Singaporean and grew up in a multi-racial and cultural city.
Since young, my travelling destinations with my family have been in Asia due to the proximity to home – Tokyo in Japan, Taipei in Taiwan, Beijing/Shanghai in China, Bangkok in Thailand.
Currently, I run Explorer Junior in Singapore and Jakarta (Indonesia) and I am looking to expand to other Asian cities.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Singapore because it’s very easy to start a business here. The government policies make barrier of entry to start a business very low and thus easy for one to start a business. And I love Jakarta for its diversity and creativity – the young population there also means a great pool of hardworking talents to work with.
I haven’t really explored other Asian cities long enough though!
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“In life, you have to prioritize.”
This came as an important piece of advice to me because as a young entrepreneur, I was too ambitious and had too much on my plate. Prioritizing forces me to think what was the ultimate goal for my business and decide on what stays on the plate and what goes. This helped to set a strong focus for the business.
Who inspires you?
This is hard, because many people inspire me. But one consistent beacon of light is my grandmother. She’s 84 this year but still wraps “popiah” (this is a Singapore street food) everyday for her hawker stall! What’s more, she spends time to help her immobile neighbour with their daily chores. She’s been a role model to me since a young age and taught me many values such as discipline, endurance and kindness just by being herself.
Another important person would be Sir Ken Robinson. He was the reason I started Explorer Junior, and is still a constant source of wisdom and inspiration to me today.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Devil resides in the details.
Often as the leader of the team, the priority revolves around looking at the big picture and strategic thinking. But recently, I realised that while that remains imperative, success is often determined by execution and that’s when details are crucial. While thinking big, entrepreneurs also need to think small and stay on top of the critical details.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Invest in an air purifier for our old office earlier! The team was taking turns to fall sick during that period of time because of the poor air quality! While it seemed trivial, it was a timely reminder back then to spend time and effort in building a conducive (not just physical but also cultural) working environment for our team.
How do you unwind?
Spending time with family, playing badminton, listening to music and reading.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan. I love the rich culture and there’re just so much to explore – nature, culture, history and food! It’s also a place with awesome bookstores (even 24 hours operating one) holding a huge range of Chinese books. I love Chinese literature and read them for leisure. The titles they have are 10 times more than what we have here in Singapore!
Everyone in business should read this book:
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries – Timeless classic.
Shameless plug for your business:
If there’s only one enrichment program you want to send your child to, it’s us.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.