17 Companies That Were Founded in S’pore That People Might Not Know Of

Besides Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd, there are tons of other brands and companies that will make you proud to be a Singaporean. Here are 17 companies that will make you sing “We Are Singapore” with pride and gusto.

1. Razer

Razer Company

This is not an angmoh company. It is also not a Hong Kong company, even though they recently raised an Initial Public Offering in Hong Kong, with share prices debuting at USD 3.88 per share, making its founder, Tan Min-Liang, a billionaire. Famously known for its top-notch gaming services and merchandise, this brand is well-known amongst the gaming community. On top of having headquarters in San Francisco and Singapore, Razer also has 9 other offices worldwide, making it a truly international company.

Founder: Tan Min-Liang

2. TWG

TWG Tea Company
(The Ate Group)

You’ve probably seen this tea at atas tea places and five-star hotels. But did you know that this is a Singaporean brand? You’re probably shaking your head and pointing out the year, 1837, that’s part of the brand’s logo. Because, how can this brand be founded in Singapore before even our independence, right? Well, fun fact! The year “1837” that is printed on the brand’s packagings simply marks the year the island became a trading post for teas, spices and fine epicurean products. The actual TWG brand was founded in 2008 as a luxury tea brand. Since then, the brand has over 1,000 exclusive blends as well as tea patisseries and delicacies that are well-loved by many all over the world.

Founder: Taha Bouqdib, Maranda Barnes and Rith Aum-Stievenard

3. Shopee

You might think Shopee is from China or Taiwan, given the wide array of products available, but did you know that this company is homegrown with headquarters in Singapore? It is the brainchild of ex-regional managing director at Zalora and chief purchasing officer at Lazada, Chris Feng, and the m-commerce site started off in 2015, under the wings of the gaming company, Garena. Other than Singapore, Shopee is also present in 6 other markets too.

Founder: Chris Feng

4. Banyan Tree

Banyan Tree Resorts
(Singapore Tatler)

Everyone knows Banyan Tree for its worldwide chain of luxury hotels, spas and resorts that is present in more than 28 countries. But did you know that this brand has its humble beginnings in our small nation? In fact, the brand’s founder, Ho Kwon Ping, started off as a journalist that even ended up in jail for his controversial articles in the Far East Economic Review. After his father suffered a stroke, Mr Ho Kwon Ping formally entered the business world, where his creativity and ingenuity helped build the foundations of what sets the Banyan Tree brand apart. WIth new hotels and spas opening almost every year, this is one company to take note of in the coming years!

Founder:Ho Kwon Ping

5. Osim

Osim Singapore

Nope, Osim is not from Korea, neither is it from Hong Kong despite famous Lee Minho and Andy Lau fronting its advertisements. The company was founded in 1986 by Singaporean, Roy Sim. Over the years, it has built a presence that synonymous with high-quality home and healthcare products, with more than 414 outlets across 21 countries and 98 cities. Simply ask anybody for their preferred massage chair in Singapore, and you will find that most will recommend Osim.

Founder: Roy Sim

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6. Thai Express

Thai Express Singapore
(Thai Express)

We’re all familiar with this famous Thai food chain, but did you know that it was founded by two Singaporeans from the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 2002? Even though the founders sold the chain in 2008 to Minor Food Group Plc, it is still a respectable local brand that currently has restaurants in Australia, China, Indonesia, New Zealand, Malaysia, the United States, and even Mongolia!

Founder: Ivan Lee and Dellen Soh

7. Axe Oil

Axe Oil

FYI, this brand is not from Malaysia. In fact, Axe Oil was founded on our own shores way back in 1928 when founder Leung Yun Chee emigrated from China to Singapore, where he met a German physician, Dr Schmeidler, who gave him the recipe to a medicated oil. The rest, is history, as the Axe Oil brand has become a trusted symbol of good health and strength not only in Singapore but also all over the world.

Founder: Leung Yun Chee

8. Tiger Balm

Tiger Balm
(Tiger Balm)

You’ve probably been using this balm since you were a kid. But, did you know that the Tiger Balm brand was founded by a Singaporean? This brand that is trusted by many generations to provide care, healing and comfort have been around for more than 100 years and it all started when the founder, Aw Chu Kin, a Chinese herbalist working for the emperor’s court left China for Singapore. The brand had humble beginnings with just a small shop at Rangoon Road in the late 1870s. Right now, the company has a presence in nearly 100 countries and has immortalised as the cult balm that can relieve all aches and sores.

Founder: Aw Chu Kin

9. Pirate3D

We’ve all heard of 3D printers. But, the idea of making affordable easy-to-use 3D printers for the home actually came from a group of young, fresh-out-of-University Singaporeans. Back in 2013, Brendan Goh and Roger Chan decided to bring 3D printing technology into everyone’s home and thus, started their Kickstarter project. To date, over US$1 million has been raised for the project and this invention has appeared in various media publication companies like Reuters, Yahoo and The International Business Times.

Founder: Brendan Goh and Roger Chang

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10. XMI

Are you familiar with the highly-raved about X-mini Speakers? These speakers are not churned out by some China company. In fact, these colourful speakers were created by XMI – a Singapore company that was founded in 2006, by brothers Reuben and Ryan Lee. Their very first X-mini speaker was sold in Britain for US$48 and in 2008, they even won the much-coveted Red Dot Design Award in Germany! The brand then expanded into other markets, including Australia and finally Singapore, fetching a combined sale of US$800,000, within its first year.

Founder: Reuben and Ryan Lee

11. Spa Esprit Group

Browhaus and Strip

You’ve probably heard of Browhaus and Strip, and you probably thought these were franchise brands from overseas. But, these brands are in fact under Spa Esprit Group, a homegrown brand with 17 distinct lifestyle brands that are both present locally and internationally in 9 cities around the world. To date, the group has not only beauty brands but also F&B brands like Tiong Bahru Bakery and Bonchinche under its umbrella.

Founder: Cynthia Chua

12. Akira

Akira Brand
(Deals Singapore)

Nope. Akira is NOT from Japan, despite the very Japanese sounding name. It is actually a Singaporean electronics brand under SGX-listed electronics and furniture retailer TT International (TTI). Founded in 1990, Akira has since provided the mass public with affordable and high-quality home appliances, audio and audio-visual products.

Founder: Sng Sze Hiang and Julia Tong

13. Prints

Prints Singapore

Admit it, we’ve all entered a Prints shop once in our lives to admire the bright colours and neatly arranged paper and stationery ware. You also probably thought that this brand is from some Scandinavian country or Australia. But, did you know that Prints is actually a homegrown Singaporean brand that managed to break-even in just 5 months? Founded back in 2003, the company has since ventured out into markets like Hong Kong and even Japan!

Founder: Neny Suparman and Lars Vikman

14. Creative

Before Apple came along with their iPods, everyone used to own a Creative Technology music device.  And back then, a significant portion of your savings went into splurging on one of Creative’s highly-coveted music devices. Even though its heyday is probably over, did you know that besides music products, Creative was actually one of the first few companies to revolutionise computer sound cards, making it possible for us to listen to music on our computers?

Founder: Wong Hoo Sim

15. Breadtalk

Breadtalk Singapore

One look at Breadtalk and you’ll not doubt that it is born and bred in Singapore. Established back in 2000, Breadtalk was founded by George Quek, who also founded popular food court chain, Food Junction, too. Other than having a presence in Singapore, Breadtalk also has 630 outlets across 15 countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia and even China!

Founder: George Quek

16. Charles & Keith

Charles & Keith Singapore
(FOMO Pay)

Charles & Keith is not from the US. Neither is it from Europe nor Australia. This brand is in fact, a Singaporean brand that was founded in 1996 by brothers Charles and Keith Wong! They first started the business in a small store at Amara Shopping Centre and since then, the brand has gain global recognition, even attracting the attention of fashion conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), who actually owns 20% of the company now!

Founder: Charles and Keith Wong

17. Pedro

Pedro Singapore
(Singapore Business Directory)

Besides Charles & Keith, the two brothers also founded the upmarket men footwear label – Pedro – just a year later, in 1997. Despite its very Italian sounding name, this brand is a 101% Singaporean. Presently, the brand holds both men and women footwear with more than 100 stores in the Asia Pacific, PRC region and even the Middle East.

Founder: Charles and Keith Wong

This article originally appeared on Shopee Singapore.

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