Sia is the co-founder of Tranglo, a payment processing company that powers the last-mile cross-border payout for various banks and fintech globally. In 2021, Ripple purchased a 40% stake in Tranglo for an undisclosed amount. During his time there, Sia was responsible for growing Tranglo's cross-border payment volume to more than USD10 billion as well as Tranglo’s payment network globally by developing partnerships and connectivity with 800 financial institutions and MSMEs. Sia was also the Co-Founder of Xendity, an eKYC specialist in SE Asia.
In 2020, Xendity was acquired by Green Packet Berhad for $10M. Sia has a BS in Information Technology from Multimedia University (Cyberjaya, Malaysia) and alumnus of EY Tech Entrepreneur.
Get to know more about Sia in this article:
What was your first job?
I think I have been a 'businessman' since I was in secondary school and continued to be one during my college days - mainly trading computer parts, and assembling custom Personal Computers by leveraging price arbitrage between Singapore and Malaysia (I'm from Johor, Malaysia). I guess I honed my nascent skill for cross-border trading, sales and customer service from there.
During my university days, I started part-time software development for SMEs. Upon graduation, I went on to start my first company focusing on enterprise web applications development, and eventually mobile messaging / SMS-related solutions. I never looked back since then and went on to be a founder of various companies.
What's something about you or your past experience that would surprise people?
Many assume I have worked for telcos or banks, and they think having experience there lead me to start companies involving mobile and fintech - but I've never actually worked for anybody else. Most of them also assume that I am trained in finance, or have a business degree, but I actually graduated in computer science. And yes, I designed and wrote code in my early days for all of my startups.
What’s your motivation for working with founders?
I relish the prospect of taking on impossible tasks and creative problem-solving. It gives me a lot of inspiration and motivation to understand the founders' journey and their quest for their startups. I am blessed with reasonable success with my various startups, and this is not possible without the assistance of many kind souls in my journey.
Therefore, I am a firm believer in giving back to the founder community. It is my turn to try to help my fellow founders, and learn from them as well. As an angel investor, I am also motivated to stay updated on new startups by founders across the region.
What’s something you’re especially good at or like helping founders with?
My strength is the ability to evaluate and design the commercial, product and technical aspects of a new business. I like to incubate new ideas and products and come up with various orthodox (or unorthodox) methods to scale the business. This includes setting the right business priority, implementing creative hacks and linking my business network to the founders.
There are plenty of 'war experiences' in Asia and Europe, gained from my last 20 years of startup life (where there is very little funding, startup accelerators, etc). These experiences gave me a rather unique insight into the same problem, where there are likely different solutions in different countries.
If you could go back in time to the moment you decided to start your first company, what advice would you give yourself?
Find a co-founder who has complementary strength, and the willingness to be 'crazy' (as a founder) before starting a new startup. A successful startup is always a team effort. Having the right co-founder or pioneer key members as early as possible is paramount. It has a higher chance of ensuring startup success, within the reasonable duration and budget constraints.
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