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WHEN YOU DREAM BIG like Dinesh Balasingam, nothing is impossible. As a founding member and chief operating officer of The Chope Group, Mr Balasingam followed his heart and embarked on this startup in 2011. "My dream had always been a combination of theatre and music. I went as far as New York to audition for a spot at Tisch School of the Arts before Chope found me. But it all worked out for the best. Timing is everything," he reminisces. Mr Balasingam currently helps to run the operations side of Chope - an online restaurant booking platform - focusing on Singapore and Hong Kong.
"As it happened, I was on my way to college when a friend shared the idea of Chope with me. I am a very hands-on kind of guy, so I figured it would be good to get some real-life experience before school. I took a gap year (which ended up being seven!) and I've never looked back since."
After a year in business, Chope announced that it had seated one million diners through its platform. Today, Chope boasts 950,000 active users and is available in eight cities in South-east Asia, with Jakarta and Bali as its latest additions.
MY BIGGEST CAREER ACHIEVEMENT TO DATE IS… being able to build and nurture a team of talented, capable individuals.
I LOOK UP TO… Daniel Ek, the founder and CEO of Spotify. To have someone who was able to marry music and technology and make music more accessible to the masses, that's hero status in my books.
MY FIVE-YEAR PLAN IS… I'm incredibly proud of what we've built at Chope, but I feel that we've just scratched the surface. The goal is to keep challenging myself and putting myself in situations where I'm forced to grow.
MY PERSONAL STYLE IS… preppy and a little edgy. On weekdays, a comfortable pair of jeans and casual shirt are my go-tos. I dress up a little more on weekends - denim or bomber jackets and a comfortable pair of boots.
WHEN SHOPPING I ALWAYS LOOK OUT FOR… clothes. It's ok to wear the same pair of shoes all week long but not the same few shirts. My friends are pretty stylish so there's some pressure to keep up - which suits me fine. I'm a big fan of Coach's printed silk shirts and even buy a couple almost every season. I'll wear it to the office and if I have a meeting, I'll pair it with a blazer. And the great price point is definitely a bonus.