An Interview with Randy Tan (CEO & Founder, Red Dot Paymemt)
Friday Nov 15,2019 | IIE News
Randy Tan of Red Dot Payment is a self-made man. A graduate of Singapore Management University, he spent the majority of his corporate career in the financial sector, calling financial giants such as Citibank and Visa his previous learning grounds. By the end of his corporate career, he was the youngest director at VISA as the Director of Consulting for Indochina and Philippines.
“I fell in love with credit cards as a small boy- I was always fascinated by it and how it works”, said Randy. “My first job after graduating from Singapore Management University was at Citibank, I wanted to learn all I could about cards, deposits and banking. Citibank was a great place to train in the financial landscape. "I was very fortunate to have great mentors who helped me progress very quickly”, he said.
Not content with staying in the corporate sector, Randy struck out on his own in 2011 to fulfil the life-long ambition of starting his own business.
“Since I graduated, I had been in the cards business for most of my life, and I wanted something more”, he said. “People always tell you to do what you know so when a friend introduced me to the concept of Alipay in 2011, I said, let’s be the first to bring this into SEA.” “That’s how Red Dot Payment was born. It wasn’t very popular in the first few years, but since 2014, the company went from transacting $18 million to now handling over a billion dollars every year”, Randy finished with smile.
Red Dot Payment is an online payment service providing online payment gateway systems, payment consulting and merchant acquisition services for businesses that require the processing of online credit card transactions. Their set of hotel solutions specialises in handling hotel bookings as an internet booking engine. They have incorporated that technology into their payments system, so that the frontend for clients works like a reservation engine, creating a seamless experience for both client and customer.
Red Dot Payment has been a huge advocate of going cashless and creating a seamless payment ecosystem to help bring down transaction costs. Since 2014, they have become the largest payment gateway in Singapore with plans to achieve the same in the rest of South East Asia. Red Dot Payment was officially acquired 1st of July 2019 by PayU for $65 million.
Involvement with SMU IIE
Currently a mentor for a company with SMU IIE, the gist of Randy’s advice relates to the 4 major elements of a startup:
- You need a good product.
- It is important to do research. Is there a market? What are the price points? Get different perspectives so you can have the best knowledge as to where your product stands.
- Sales and Marketing: How do you sell it
- Management. You can have everything above, but if your people can’t work well, it means nothing.
Despite being a mentor at SMU IIE for two years now, Randy feels he wants to do more.
“Some of my other friends and I have come together as we want to give back”, he said.
“We have a small fund to help startups at the seed level. If I trust a company, I can introduce my network to people.”
“Fundraising would be a great way of getting more involved!”, said Randy.
Pains of the pathway to success
As any founder would know in their journey, it is inevitable to run into a couple of stumbling blocks along the way that would prove to be very valuable lessons.
“In 2011, I almost went bankrupt due to a bad joint venture with an overseas partner that resulted in the loss of my entire investment”, said Randy.
“Another incident I remember is an investor promising us about 200k, and despite his multiple promises, he sat me down face to face and said, ‘I played you.’”
“This not only taught me to be less naïve, but I also learnt that it is lonely at the top. You can’t share financial woes with your colleagues. The only thing you can do is suck it in”, Randy said.
Advice to budding entrepreneurs
“It is important to be careful, but do not lose the sincerity. The sincerity is what helped us succeed,” he returned quickly.
“For example, I have a colleague who has a meeting soon and even though my gut feeling was that we would not close this deal, my advice was for the colleague to go to the meeting anyway and make a friend.”
He finished with the following, “Life is about balance, persevere, be careful and be sincere.”
CEO & Founder, Red Dot Payment
SMU IIE believes that several promising start ups fail because their founders were starting a company for the first time and did not have advisors with substantial industry experience (“Mentors”) to advise and assist. To improve the chances of a start up’s success, we require every Incubatee to be guided by a Mentor from SMU BIG’s list of mentors. Click here to be considered for the position of BIG mentor.