Getting a good night's sleep was not high on the agenda when entrepreneur Patrick Goh was struggling to set up his bedding firm Intero Enterprise in 2006.

Money was tight, so any trips to China to see suppliers were on a shoestring budget.

That meant dirt-cheap hotels and public buses from Huizhou to Guangzhou for Mr Goh, who is Intero's chief operating officer, and co-founder and chief executive Sam Koh.

"Every day we travelled a total of four hours to and from Guangzhou to visit our suppliers, as we had no money to stay in Guangzhou," he says.

"The budget hotel was less than 110 yuan (S$23) a night, while a hotel in Guangzhou cost 700 to 1,000 yuan. It had very bare facilities, nothing but a bed to sleep on."

He adds: "This was quite fun, now that we recall. How did we make it happen, when the two of us were already not so young?"

Mr Goh was named by the Association of Small and Medium Enterprises and the Rotary Club of Singapore last year as Young Entrepreneur of the year.

It is a new category that showcases young firms with at least two years of audited financial statements and revenue below $20 million.

Mr Goh, 52, puts the success of his firm down to the sheer passion he and his four partners had for the business.

They met working in the bed-linen business and decided to chase a common dream - "to chart our own destiny," says Mr Goh.

They raised start-up funds of $150,000 in 2006 and started Intero, a wholesaling and distribution bedding business.

Even with 100 years' worth of industry experience between them, it was tough getting support. Finding a bank to provide financing was a major challenge, as was convincing suppliers and retailers to have faith in their brand.

Mr Koh, 53, says in Mandarin: "In our toughest period, which was during the initial stage, the Chinese suppliers were supportive. They were willing to work with us on an open credit basis, instead of payment by letters of credit, such that we could make payment later after receiving the goods."

Being familiar faces in the industry also helped.

Mr Goh says: "The barrier of entry into the retail wholesale distribution industry is normally very high. We were fortunate that most retailers and customers gave us support even when we started out without strong branding.

"It was through our relationship with them over the years, and their confidence and belief, that we could deliver."

Intero has since built a house brand attached to an arsenal of products. It also brings in licensed brands, including French designer label Balmain, British luxury towel Christy and United States animated cartoon series Tom & Jerry. The firm will also introduce Tweety Pie, the yellow canary cartoon character, this year.

It distributes bedding accessories such as bedsheets, pillow and bolster cases, and towel sets to department stores and retail chains in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Brunei.

Mr Goh says Intero is looking at new product offerings in the bath category and interior products, but it will remain "strictly a stockist" for now and not venture into manufacturing.

The firm now has 117 employees and revenue has shot up from about $1 million in its first year to more than $10 million.

"We've seen our hard work pay off. Our company has managed to secure a certain market share and we're satisfied that we've received a lot of support," Mr Goh says.

"The results that we have achieved are in accordance with our plan, and what excites us is the business growing."

Mr Goh, who is married with two children, says the chemistry between the five founders has been crucial to the firm's success: "We understand each other's strengths and weaknesses, and are able to accommodate each other.

"For example, Sam has 37 years of experience in the industry, from manufacturing to distribution, one (colleague) is handling logistics support, and another colleague is very familiar with sales.

"We all have a clear and common objective in running the business, so we have not had any heated arguments over the last seven years. We treat each argument separately and our roles are clearly defined."

Mr Koh says Mr Goh's strengths lie in seizing business opportunities.

"My English is a lot less fluent, so Patrick always helps me with it," adds Mr Koh, who is married with three children.

The team is pretty tight-knit, something they are proud of.

Mr Goh says: "You could fight over gains or problems, and two people working together can already have problems, (not to mention) five. It's a miracle to have kept this company going."