Mercatus Capital Pte Ltd – APEA – Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards

OUTSTANDING CATEGORY

Rina Neoh
Co-Founder


Mercatus Capital Pte Ltd
BLK 71 #03-05, AYER RAJAH CRESENT,
SINGAPORE 139951
Tel: +65 6776 7819
www.mercatus-capital.com


Rina Neoh is a seasoned executive with a proven track record in setting up and developing companies across Asia Pacific. She has received public recognition for her exceptional entrepreneurial leadership skills, including being selected as Top 10 Asia’s Most Inspiring Businesswomen in Singapore (2013), Peak Magazine’s 8 Trailblazing Under-40s (2016), and Lady Boss Asia’s 5 Lady Bosses to Watch (2017) among others.

In 2006, Rina co-founded Mercatus Capital Pte Ltd, a home-grown incubator and venture accelerator that seeded and incubated more than 60 start-ups in Asia. Rina currently holds strategic management directorships and equities in various entities which includes advisory firm focusing on M&A. Rina is also an angel investors and has funded more than 15 start-ups personally.

The Early Days
Rina’s early entrepreneurial journey started on the island of Penang. She credits some of the most important early lessons in entrepreneurship to watching her mother operate a little home salon in their one-bedroom apartment. Her mother’s grit, tenacity and determination (she was left to care for two young children at a young age) was an inspiration to the young Rina. Rina learnt one of her most important lessons during this period of time, the ability to engage and listen to your client. Her mother always had a knack of understanding what her clients wanted. Rina never forgot this important trait and anyone who has dealt with Rina will tell you that she has an incredible ability to connect with all types of people. The young Rina also learned the rudiments of small business enterprise and the importance of understanding human psychology from watching her mother in close proximity.

Rina started her entrepreneurship career young. While other children were enjoying their carefree childhood, Rina was selling banana fritters to the many residents at Rifle Range apartments, once recognised by Discovery Series as one of the worst neighbourhoods in Asia. Rina was once asked by a major magazine what her ambitions as a young person was and she answered that she did not have the luxury of dreaming as she had to make ends meet to help her family and to put herself through school. Rina was a conscientious student and finished university despite the challenges she faced. Rina graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science (Hons) and obtained an overseas MBA degree in International Business.

The Singapore Episode
The challenge to make something of her life and to take care of her family, Rina made the journey like so many other talented Malaysians to the island of Singapore. She started her career with an IT training company, where she learned to provide solutions to organisational needs. She learned from her bosses the need for focus and the dangers of prematurely growing a company to satisfy a need to public list. She left the company just before it went under.

Rina’s entrepreneurial journey started in 2006, when she co-founded Mercatus Capital Pte Ltd, a home-grown incubator and a venture accelerator based in Singapore. Through their own angel networks, Mercatus Capital provided seed capital to promising new small ventures, with more than 60 start-ups seeded and incubated in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, India, China and Hong Kong. Recently, as part of her mission to advance entrepreneurial education, Rina accepted the invitation to become Managing Partner of an educational institute that educates, incubates and curates new start-ups in Singapore and Asia.

Her experiences as an angel investor and start-up incubator helped develop her passion for strategic marketing, product branding, information systems, business development, venture capital financing, investor relations and high-level business negotiations — skills which she brings to every business she acquires or advises. Rina has been instrumental in two IPOs in the Australian Stock Exchange and have executed complex cross border mergers and acquisitions. Rina credits the wide array of businesses that Mercatus is involved in to her ability to understand the complexity of businesses operating in different industry verticals and jurisdictions. This experience has given her the depth of knowledge to ask the right questions.

The Global Citizen
Rina’s business interest today spans South East Asia, from technology and pharmaceuticals, to food distribution and early childhood education in the Philippines. Having an intuitive business sense, Rina’s love for Malaysian curry prompted her to start a food distribution company in the Philippines to promote Malaysian cuisine, among others. Her sweet tooth inspired her to invest in an artisan chocolate patisserie business that had its origins in Malaysia. Rina’s devotion to early education (a passion she inherited from her dad) and the opportunities it created to develop young minds led her to bring the MindChamp’s preschool franchise in Philippines which she operates with her husband, Roger.

Rina is also involved in social enterprises and is passionate about building sustainable businesses that do good in the societies that they operate in. Rina believes that it is feasible to have a sustainable life in which one’s family, community, and private self are nourished while building a successful enterprise that serves the public. These other aspects of life are the very sources of the courage, support, and willingness to persist in the face of failure and uncertainties that everyone needs for a truly successful business life. In this instance, Rina is Business Advisor to Sew Suite, a registered social enterprise that helps disadvantaged women here in Singapore to earn a decent wage through learning the skills of sewing.

Being a woman entrepreneur
“Being a woman entrepreneur has never been a problem for me. I believe that people appreciate your confidence, competence and creativity, regardless of your gender, age or status. As business leaders, women should not be afraid to express their ideas, take ownership of the situation and assume responsibility for results.”

The Next Lap and Coming Full Circle
Rina is by no means done. The next phase of her life is as a Co-Founder, Investments at Ficus Venture Capital, a Syariah compliant Venture Capital Management Corporation (VCMC) in Malaysia. The key difference for this fund will be her efforts to curate pathways for entrepreneurs. Rina is extremely pleased that this journey allows her to reconnect with her birth country Malaysia. This next lap is also aligned with her wish to develop and mentor more women entrepreneurs and help nurture more angel investors to support the ecosystem in ASEAN.

Rina is also committed to continue developing and investing in her work in education and this will be the focus of her next lap.

Summary
Rina’s entrepreneurial and life story is one that started early in life. She overcame challenges and showed several traits that have stood by her to this day and will continue to be the beacon in her life. What are these traits?
1. Humility and passion for learning
2. Sense of purpose
3. Risk taking
4. Hard work
5. Perseverance
6. Persistence

Rina Neoh commented:
“Starting a business is one thing, keeping it going is another matter entirely. To be a successful entrepreneur, you must be persistent and never give up. Granted, there will be days when you feel like sticking your head in the sand. Not everything I have invested in has been successful. But when you’re feeling down, remember why you went solo in the first place. Remind yourself of all the things you’ve achieved. Stick at it because the next best triumph could be just around the corner. And most importantly, learn the lesson of failure.”

OUTSTANDING CATEGORY

Rina Neoh is a seasoned executive with a proven track record in setting up and developing companies across Asia Pacific. She has received public recognition for her exceptional entrepreneurial leadership skills, including being selected as Top 10 Asia’s Most Inspiring Businesswomen in Singapore (2013), Peak Magazine’s 8 Trailblazing Under-40s (2016), and Lady Boss Asia’s 5 Lady Bosses to Watch (2017) among others.

In 2006, Rina co-founded Mercatus Capital Pte Ltd, a home-grown incubator and venture accelerator that seeded and incubated more than 60 start-ups in Asia. Rina currently holds strategic management directorships and equities in various entities which includes advisory firm focusing on M&A. Rina is also an angel investors and has funded more than 15 start-ups personally.

The Early Days
Rina’s early entrepreneurial journey started on the island of Penang. She credits some of the most important early lessons in entrepreneurship to watching her mother operate a little home salon in their one-bedroom apartment. Her mother’s grit, tenacity and determination (she was left to care for two young children at a young age) was an inspiration to the young Rina. Rina learnt one of her most important lessons during this period of time, the ability to engage and listen to your client. Her mother always had a knack of understanding what her clients wanted. Rina never forgot this important trait and anyone who has dealt with Rina will tell you that she has an incredible ability to connect with all types of people. The young Rina also learned the rudiments of small business enterprise and the importance of understanding human psychology from watching her mother in close proximity.

Rina started her entrepreneurship career young. While other children were enjoying their carefree childhood, Rina was selling banana fritters to the many residents at Rifle Range apartments, once recognised by Discovery Series as one of the worst neighbourhoods in Asia. Rina was once asked by a major magazine what her ambitions as a young person was and she answered that she did not have the luxury of dreaming as she had to make ends meet to help her family and to put herself through school. Rina was a conscientious student and finished university despite the challenges she faced. Rina graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science (Hons) and obtained an overseas MBA degree in International Business.

The Singapore Episode
The challenge to make something of her life and to take care of her family, Rina made the journey like so many other talented Malaysians to the island of Singapore. She started her career with an IT training company, where she learned to provide solutions to organisational needs. She learned from her bosses the need for focus and the dangers of prematurely growing a company to satisfy a need to public list. She left the company just before it went under.

Rina’s entrepreneurial journey started in 2006, when she co-founded Mercatus Capital Pte Ltd, a home-grown incubator and a venture accelerator based in Singapore. Through their own angel networks, Mercatus Capital provided seed capital to promising new small ventures, with more than 60 start-ups seeded and incubated in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, India, China and Hong Kong. Recently, as part of her mission to advance entrepreneurial education, Rina accepted the invitation to become Managing Partner of an educational institute that educates, incubates and curates new start-ups in Singapore and Asia.

Her experiences as an angel investor and start-up incubator helped develop her passion for strategic marketing, product branding, information systems, business development, venture capital financing, investor relations and high-level business negotiations — skills which she brings to every business she acquires or advises. Rina has been instrumental in two IPOs in the Australian Stock Exchange and have executed complex cross border mergers and acquisitions. Rina credits the wide array of businesses that Mercatus is involved in to her ability to understand the complexity of businesses operating in different industry verticals and jurisdictions. This experience has given her the depth of knowledge to ask the right questions.


Mercatus Capital Pte Ltd
BLK 71 #03-05, AYER RAJAH CRESENT,
SINGAPORE 139951
Tel: +65 6776 7819
www.mercatus-capital.com


The Global Citizen
Rina’s business interest today spans South East Asia, from technology and pharmaceuticals, to food distribution and early childhood education in the Philippines. Having an intuitive business sense, Rina’s love for Malaysian curry prompted her to start a food distribution company in the Philippines to promote Malaysian cuisine, among others. Her sweet tooth inspired her to invest in an artisan chocolate patisserie business that had its origins in Malaysia. Rina’s devotion to early education (a passion she inherited from her dad) and the opportunities it created to develop young minds led her to bring the MindChamp’s preschool franchise in Philippines which she operates with her husband, Roger.

Rina is also involved in social enterprises and is passionate about building sustainable businesses that do good in the societies that they operate in. Rina believes that it is feasible to have a sustainable life in which one’s family, community, and private self are nourished while building a successful enterprise that serves the public. These other aspects of life are the very sources of the courage, support, and willingness to persist in the face of failure and uncertainties that everyone needs for a truly successful business life. In this instance, Rina is Business Advisor to Sew Suite, a registered social enterprise that helps disadvantaged women here in Singapore to earn a decent wage through learning the skills of sewing.

Being a woman entrepreneur
“Being a woman entrepreneur has never been a problem for me. I believe that people appreciate your confidence, competence and creativity, regardless of your gender, age or status. As business leaders, women should not be afraid to express their ideas, take ownership of the situation and assume responsibility for results.”

The Next Lap and Coming Full Circle
Rina is by no means done. The next phase of her life is as a Co-Founder, Investments at Ficus Venture Capital, a Syariah compliant Venture Capital Management Corporation (VCMC) in Malaysia. The key difference for this fund will be her efforts to curate pathways for entrepreneurs. Rina is extremely pleased that this journey allows her to reconnect with her birth country Malaysia. This next lap is also aligned with her wish to develop and mentor more women entrepreneurs and help nurture more angel investors to support the ecosystem in ASEAN.

Rina is also committed to continue developing and investing in her work in education and this will be the focus of her next lap.

Summary
Rina’s entrepreneurial and life story is one that started early in life. She overcame challenges and showed several traits that have stood by her to this day and will continue to be the beacon in her life. What are these traits?
1. Humility and passion for learning
2. Sense of purpose
3. Risk taking
4. Hard work
5. Perseverance
6. Persistence

Rina Neoh commented:
“Starting a business is one thing, keeping it going is another matter entirely. To be a successful entrepreneur, you must be persistent and never give up. Granted, there will be days when you feel like sticking your head in the sand. Not everything I have invested in has been successful. But when you’re feeling down, remember why you went solo in the first place. Remind yourself of all the things you’ve achieved. Stick at it because the next best triumph could be just around the corner. And most importantly, learn the lesson of failure.”