When Alvin Poh made his fortune after the $30 million sale of his web hosting business Vodien Internet Solutions in 2017, he seized the opportunity to fulfil a dream high on the bucket lists of many millennials. He sold his possessions, packed the essentials in a backpack and took off on a trip around the world.
After 17 years of hustling for the tech business he co-founded as a polytechnic student, Poh was finally free to jet set. For him, that meant mostly travelling solo and bunking in hostels.
“The solo journey gave me a lot of insight into who I am as a person. I would wake up asking myself what I wanted to do each day and had to figure all that out myself,” says Poh, now 36.
By March last year, after snowboarding in Japan, he flew home to take a break from his life of leisure. “Travelling for two years made me feel like I did not have a purpose. Of course, I appreciated it, but to what end? That was my main question.”
Noting that the requests for mentorship and business advice from budding Singaporean entrepreneurs did not cease even during his travels, he decided to make use of his time in Singapore during last year’s pandemic to hold Zoom webinars on entrepreneurship.
Over 1,000 attendees signed up. Realising that was his next calling, he bit the bullet and launched Super Scaling to coach the next generation of executives and founders on business principles he’d gleaned from his years at Vodien.
One of his core tenets to building a successful business was to focus on creating value rather than fixating solely on profit. “When we started, we had to figure things out along the way. What we learnt was that when we focused on the customer and provided a product or service they really wanted and needed, then value was being created. When you do that, the business is on a more solid, secure footing,” he says.
This is why he has a stringent selection process when accepting clients. “I make sure they are customer-centric and have a drive to make a better product or service.”
His goal is to help build a more collaborative entrepreneurship community in Singapore. For example, he coaches in a group setting with individuals from diverse industries to create networking and knowledge sharing opportunities. “There is a lot of room in the market for entrepreneurs to help each other out. I believe that the strength of a community is definitely a lot larger than any one individual,” says Poh.
“Driving the Lamborghini was exhilarating, but incidents like that made me realise there is so much responsibility in ownership. Things do not get better after a fancy car. You realise that keeping a dream is different from reality.”
Alvin Poh keeps his feet on the ground even after his success
This is one of the reasons why he contributed $250,000 to his alma mater, Singapore Management University, to establish a scholarship that sends one scholar overseas per year. “I feel that the scholarship will have a cascading impact and also create an internal network with the same notion of community.”
Having this opportunity to play a positive role in the lives of others is what makes Poh tick. He espouses living a life of simplicity and chuckles when he thinks back to when he used to drive a Lamborghini, his dream car. That bubble burst when he blew a tire and ended up being stranded on the expressway, as passers-by slowed down to gawk at the spectacle.
Today, he no longer hankers after the trappings of supercar ownership. Instead, his motorcycle gives him the freedom to travel around the island at will. “Driving the Lamborghini was exhilarating, but incidents like that made me realise there is so much responsibility in ownership. Things do not get better after a fancy car. You realise that keeping a dream is different from reality.”