What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
For Adrian, his setbacks did not bring him down, but instead pushed him to greater heights. With his asthma preventing him from achieving his dream of becoming a pilot, he fought back to develop a product (BioAsthma) that will help others with asthma better deal with it. Now, as the co-founder and CEO of AEvice Health, as well as a Forbes 30 under 30 Asia 2018: Healthcare & Science honouree, Adrian is a living proof that if you embrace and learn from challenges, you will achieve success.
“I have never thought about being an entrepreneur. It was a series of disappointments and a change in my perspective of the world that changed the way I think and what I want to do with my life.”
As a child, Adrian dreamt big – of soaring the skies as a commercial pilot. Unfortunately, a methacholine test he took to determine whether he was still asthmatic, turned out positive despite his last asthma attack being a decade ago. This prevented him from fulfilling his aviation dreams.
When he entered NTU, he initially wanted to climb the corporate ladder. However, a study exchange in Sweden changed his perspective. He was impressed by the Swedish thought process in their schools, where they do not fear speaking up and challenging each other. He was also fascinated by their innovative thinking and start-up culture. “Sweden has global brands like H&M and IKEA” he explained. “If a country with a population size similar to that of Singapore could develop international corporations like these, why can’t we?”
Adrian’s experience in Sweden developed in him an interest in entrepreneurship. This led to him taking up a Minor in Entrepreneurship and eventually, enrolling in MSc TIP. “In MSc TIP, I had the opportunity to learn from instructors and business mentors, and more importantly, I learnt a lot from my peers in class who are from diverse industries and have years of experience in their respective sectors. The advice and wisdom from them have helped me in my business.”
In 2016, while he was still in MSc TIP and helping in his family business, he got an opportunity to develop a new technology in healthcare that can potentially help people with asthma. He founded AEvice Health with Associate Professor Ser Wee and later, brought in two of his friends – Edmund Shao and Rex Tan – whom he knew while taking the Minor in Entrepreneurship programme. “You never know what is going to happen when you first meet your classmates. Who would have known that my two classmates are now my business partners!”
However, his experience as an entrepreneur was not smooth-sailing and he faced many challenges. He had difficultly recruiting talents to join AEvice Health when it was just starting out. They have not achieved enough to attract people to join the team which limited their ability to make the intended progress. He explained, “Everything will then come down to your personal charm – to convince people in your network to join you for a good cause.”
AEvice Health was developing an entirely new product as compared to simply improvising an existing one. This led to another challenge as Adrian and his team had to work with minimal precedence and historical data, making this endeavour a risky and challenging one. However, he was willing to face these challenges and he found joy when he managed to overcome them.
“I like the adrenaline of challenging the unknown, resolving problems I didn’t expect. I want to develop something from scratch, as I enjoy the process of fighting for opportunities rather than having it drop on my lap. I believe that you must not fear the unknown or challenges, otherwise it will hinder you from becoming a great entrepreneur,” Adrian added.
Challenges aside, Adrian has found his entrepreneurship journey to be a rewarding one. “Seeing people grow not just from the point of view of a CEO but also as a colleague is very fulfilling,” he elaborated. “When everybody comes together and develop something that prospective customers like, and that they want to adopt it, the gratification is immense.”
To prospective entrepreneurs, he believes that you need to open your eyes and have an open mind. He advises, “you need to be ready to learn things that you already know, and don’t know. It’s about being humble and never to stop learning. Be receptive to feedback and find people who are willing to guide you, even if they are your employees!”
Adrian graduated with a Master of Science in Technopreneurship and Innovation in Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Adrian is the Co-Founder and CEO of AEvice Health, a Singaporean company set up in 2016 to develop the world’s first respiratory wellness device for asthmatics. Adrian is also a Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2018 – Healthcare & Science honouree.