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EY ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR - FINANCIAL SERVICES TECHNOLOGY ENABLEMENT

Being unafraid to take risks counts at JK Tech

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"A country that promotes and encourages entrepreneurship will ultimately be rewarded with a more vibrant economy and continue to stay relevant and competitive in this new era of economic disruption," says Mr Tan.

THIS is an era of disruptions as traditional businesses are being challenged by new entrants who leverage on technologies that create efficiencies and cost savings that ultimately change the ways we do things.

"Entrepreneurs are the catalysts of disruptions. They create and use new ideas and/or technologies to solve everyday challenges," says Lennon Tan, chairman of JK Tech Group, winner of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year - Financial Services Technology Enablement award.

"A country that promotes and encourages entrepreneurship will ultimately be rewarded with a more vibrant economy and continue to stay relevant and competitive in this new era of economic disruption," he tells The Business Times.

For every successful entrepreneur, there will be nine failed ones, notes Mr Tan.

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"We need to be more tolerant of failure as it is part and parcel of entrepreneurship. Other than funding avenues that Singapore has in place for start-ups and new businesses, mentorship programmes are important as well.

"Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey. Having a mentor to learn and consult with is extremely useful, especially for young entrepreneurs. Start-up platforms where people in similar industries can come and exchange and share ideas and technologies can breed partnerships and encourage collaborations that can make a difference for start-ups."

On JK Tech Group being named the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year - Financial Services Technology Enablement, Mr Tan says: "It is indeed a great honour to be recognised in this category. Behind every successful business are three key elements: its people, product and profits. Without a great team working tirelessly behind the scenes the other two elements could not have been possible. I want to share this award and this moment with the team of JK Group here with me today. Let's scale for greater heights together!"

Everybody is an entrepreneur at JK Tech Group, while the company has grown in size. It promotes a culture that allows the managers to make decisions and take some risks.

"Only when one feels ownership of a business would he or she give their best and all. Everyone has a different style when performing a task and reaching a goal. As the old saying goes: 'All roads lead to Rome' - as long as it is a common goal and the means are ethical and within the company's regulations, we should allow them the flexibility. This helps JK Tech Group to maintain agility even as the company grows in size," points out Mr Tan.

JK Tech Group has transformed its business from a pure manufacturing base six years ago to a technology base which provides automation and software solutions to its customers.

"Our short- to mid-term goal is to convert our manufacturing-based customers to automation- and solution-based businesses. For mid to long term, JK is expanding quickly in the region and transforming towards Big Data analytics and fintech solutions moving higher up the value chain," explains Mr Tan.

Also on the cards is expansion into regional markets through joint ventures with local partners, and mergers and acquisitions (M&A). Two ongoing M&A projects will enable JK Group to be the largest financial business process outsourcing (BPO) provider in Asia.

Today, JK Tech is a Singapore company involved in fintech, smart cards, BPO and automated solution service provider in the Asia-Pacific region with a vision "to improve people's quality of life through technology".

With more than 2,000 employees, JK Tech invests heavily in R&D (research and development), with over 300 research staff working in the space of biometric technology for identification and payment authentication, cloud computing, Big Data processing and analytics, encryption, and smart payment applications.

It actively collaborates with leading educational institutions including Beijing University, Zhongshan University, Chinese Academy of Sciences and China Southern Technological University and also leading local research institutions in Singapore.

The firm is focused on delivering innovative trusted solutions and services to its clients from all business sectors through technology and product innovation.