Ethan Lim shares how a casual dinner and natural conversation sparked how to use technology more broadly to help the education sector. He founded Teach-n-Learn soon after.
What’s your story?
Growing up, my parents would make me watch the evening news to improve my command of English. Strangely, the segment that caught my interest was the financial news. That led to my dream of working in the financial industry. When I was offered a job in a bank before my final exams at Nanyang Technological University, I seized it.
I spent four years in corporate banking and another twelve in wealth management. While I enjoyed my time in the financial world, I was on the lookout for opportunities to impact society.
About two years ago over a casual dinner, a family member, also a retired teacher, lamented on the inefficiencies in the education sector. A natural conversation sparked on how we can use technology more broadly to benefit the education sector. That was the start of Teach-n-Learn.
What excites you most about your industry?
Education is one of only a few ways of getting people out of poverty and improving lives. Using technology, the access to learning and education can reach the ‘ends of the earth’ at a speed much faster than building schools.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I am a proud Asian, who hopes to improve the standard of living of my fellow Asians (especially those who need a helping hand) through my business.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore. Firstly, this is the only city I truly understand. We are beneficiaries of an excellent education system and we have a strong network of international schools. Secondly, we are a metropolis and attract talents from all over the world.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
If you have decided on a different path, don’t waste another moment. Change your path.
Who inspires you?
Cristiano Ronaldo. Not just because I’m a football fan… CR is already world-class, yet he pushes so hard to make himself better.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Apple Inc just crossed USD 1 trillion dollars, in market capitalisation, more than the GDP of most countries. It took 38 years for Apple to achieve this. Alibaba, four years old, is valued at close to USD 500 billion.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would love to have studied or worked overseas.
How do you unwind?
An ice cold beer and long drives in the evenings. Though not in that sequence
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Chengdu, which is the capital of Liu Bei’s Shu Kingdom during the Three Kingdoms Era. The Three Kingdoms is a period of time in Chinese history that intrigues me. I love how this extraordinary city is so progressive, yet full of historical culture and relics.
Everyone in business should read this book:
There’s no one book that sums it all! My current read, ‘”The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.
Shameless plug for your business:
Teach-n-Learn has a singular vision to make learning accessible to children and educators using the advancements of technology. We aspire to build a global learning marketplace using a blended approach. Come join us if you are open to a new way of learning!
How can people connect with you?
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’.