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The Dot.Com Commando

Former commando Joel Leong co-founded the successful online enterprise ShopBack and fulfilled a long-held ambition to become a dot.com entrepreneur.

By Alywin Chew      7 September 2018

Will To Win

Looking back on his journey to success, Joel says it’s all down to a willingness to fail, chasing one’s passion and having an indomitable will to win. Indeed, he does love winning – even when playing computer games. “I’m very motivated in whatever I’m interested in. A few weeks back, we borrowed a few arcade machines with the Virtual Striker 2 game for a community event. I was literally glued to the seat throughout the event because, like I said, I like the game and I just want to win. That really affected my productivity!” he quips. National service, he adds, also helped to prepare him for the rigours of the start-up grind. His posting could be considered somewhat serendipitous as it was a perfect match to his personality.

He became a commando trained in the art of unconventional warfare. “Being in the commandos taught me three things that I’ve managed to put to use in my career: Pushing myself to the limit and doing things that I never thought I could do; scaling with structure and handling big groups of people; and ‘over-communicating’ to ensure everyone’s on the same page,” he says. It appears that he has also put his commando reconnaissance training to good use at ShopBack. He reveals that he is currently planning for ShopFest, the company’s inaugural year-end shopping extravaganza that also helps customers to scout the best buys available during the bustling year-end sales period.

When asked what advice he would give to aspiring entrepreneurs, Joel says to always choose passion. “I believe that you can only excel in something that you are passionate about. When you’re passionate about your job, there’ll be no ‘dragging your feet to work everyday’ type of situation,” he says. “Passion is a cycle. Being passionate about something will naturally enable you to perform at the highest levels, and this in turn translates to good results. And all this just makes you even more passionate about your work.”


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