Noel and I met at Innovfest 2017, he was showcasing AutoWealth (his company) at the exhibition booth. I’m always very interested about investing, when I saw AutoWealth I knew I must find out more. Noel was very sincere, in just a short span of time he shared with me a lot on investment, his company and personal stories too. I love chatting with people like Noel! Passionate, no hidden agenda, helpful. 😀 Through our conversation I got much more interested about his stories; Noel kindly agreed right on the spot to meetup again for his journey, that’s how generous he is!
Noel Lee, 30
| Star Profile
|| Life Motto
Hwa Chong Institution has nurtured a lot of social pillars over the years, I guess having the statue of Mr Tan Kah Kee in the school campus plays a big role. Noel is one of those greatly inspired by Mr Tan. When he was 13, school teachers brought his whole class to the front of Mr Tan’s statue. [Mr Tan is a Chinese businessman, community leader and philanthropist] They shared a lot about Mr Tan’s story, how he built his business and contributed back to the Malaysia and Singapore society. “That is something I really wanted to do!” At that moment, still a small young boy, he dedicated himself to business in future. For Noel, he sees that entrepreneurship will be able to help people at a larger scale in the most effective way, compared to other jobs that are always at the mercy of someone else (government, investors, employers etc).
Are entrepreneurs not at the mercy of someone else too? Noel quoted the example of Tim Cook (CEO of Apple) at their annual shareholders meeting; Tim Cook asked investors to pull out their money if they do not support company’s go-green strategy. (read the article here) Entrepreneurs are not necessarily at mercy of investors!
Multiple Failures Encountered on Journey to Entrepreneurship
First taste of being an entrepreneur happened very early. During secondary year 2, Noel had to run a research and innovation based project. This was a project about cardboard paper food container, lined with Tetra Pak material, to replace the highly toxic Styrofoam food container. It was a lot of learning and fun!
Noel knew that he would be running his own business one day, hence he decided to study in Business School, National University of Singapore. He attempted 3 times to start his own business while still studying, however all turned out to be failures. Noel wasn’t discouraged, there is something to learn in every failure. For Noel the biggest takeaway was, it is very important to have a proper team. After graduation, he worked for AON Hewitt as management consultant for 3 years.
Noel wanted to stay longer in the job but he got a business idea and really wanted to pursue it. He fell in love with his idea of location-based shopping platform for brick and mortar shops; thought it was brilliant and found a co-founder to do together. However, they got slammed big time when they started pitching to prospective investors. Noel wasn’t a shopper himself and didn’t have real passion in it anyway, they finally accepted this is not something for them and let go of it.
The Born of AutoWealth
At an event back at Noel’s alma mater, Hwa Chong, he met Dr Alex Lin who was there as well. Dr Lin introduced 2 books to him about entrepreneurship, “Business Model Generation” and “Lean Startup“. Reading these definitely helped Noel a lot in terms of running business in real world. Noel had another business idea thought to attempt business again. He decided to learn coding himself so that he could churn out minimum viable products faster to test the market. His friend, Tai Zhi, came to him and both discussed on an idea about automating wealth generation through investment.
Tai Zhi is a veteran fund manager himself and had been managing multi-million fund for over 10 years. Both of them are really passionate about building wealth for others, this idea is definitely worth to try! With basic programming skills that Noel picked up, he came out with the first version of their tool, AutoWealth. The tool helps people to build their investment portfolio with higher return than average funds, and with lower management fees. AutoWealth is well received and started to gain traction, it is still at early stage now but it already helped their clients to gain some solid returns!
- Noel subscribes to this philosophy: If we put money in customer first, it will naturally flow back to us
- Put values greater than the money that you are making to others
- 生意可以不做，教育不可以不办 (a Chinese saying, we can stop doing business, but we must not stop education)
- If it’s not written in black and white, if you are not speaking to the decision maker, don’t believe it
- Never fall in love with idea, it’s big taboo in entrepreneurship!
- Make sure to save up enough and manage expenses when you have no income (actually, even when you have income)
- AutoWealth helps any Singaporeans accumulate wealth effortlessly to meet their financial objectives through good investing
- It achieves 9.9% annualized net returns on a mid risk investment portfolio since inception in May 2016
Credit: All icons on this page are from Flat Icons