LUCK seems to have followed businessman Jack Goh through life as he made his way from student to chief executive.
It started with his choice to study programming in university, which led Mr Goh, now 60, to set up regional software company Zapper Services. He ended up selling the company - twice.
He now runs a second company, Payroll2U, a software and payroll outsourcing business he started last year.
Mr Goh, the youngest of six children, says his life has not panned out through any careful planning on his part.
He left school at 16 and worked for six years - first representing a Dutch company that exported flowers from Singapore to Holland, and then at an air freight company - before deciding on a whim to study in Britain.
"The funny thing was, a private university came here to recruit students for the computer courses. I didn't even know what a computer was at that time, in 1976," he says, laughing.
He returned from London in 1980, worked as a programmer at a local firm for five years and quit without a back-up plan in 1985.
"I didn't know in 1986 that there was a recession. Can you believe how ignorant I was? I didn't even know what was a recession. For months I couldn't find a job and thought, 'Maybe I'll start a company.'
"My second brother, whom I'm very close to, gave me $50,000 to start and said to stay out of trouble. I don't think he ever thought he'd see his money again."
Failure was not an option, says Mr Goh, and he would have been happy earning $2,000 to $3,000 a month working for himself. The turning point came in 1989 when his company, Zapper, launched an integrated payroll-personnel package for American Express.
Mr Goh soon learnt that developing software for companies was the way to grow revenue.
Zapper was acquired by a regional human resources outsourcing company in early 2001 for more than $10 million.
"My timing was good; I sold the company before the dot.com crash, so that's luck. Not because I saw it coming. Sometimes you need to be lucky, and when the opportunity comes, grab it."
But the merger did not work out and he bought it back. He took the chance to reboot Zapper in 2002, deciding to Web-enable programmes - which allows them to be accessed via the Internet - before cloud services became popular. Mr Goh also opened offices in the region, including in China. This was partly to satisfy his desire for travel, he says in half-jest.
A deal to merge with a multinational company then came along, this time for an eight-figure sum in 2010, and he thought he would retire after that. "A lot of things I do instinctively. There's no magic formula. I'm a good salesman. I can sell my company twice," he says with a laugh.
But the itch to do business again was too great to ignore.
Former customers and business partners persuaded him to form Payroll2U. The goal this time was "not just to earn money", Mr Goh says. "It's to work with people you enjoy working with. They're so used to working with me, and not used to working with a big corporation."
He faces more hurdles now, as a new entrant in a market that has higher barriers of entry given advances in technology.
Mr Goh notes that payroll outsourcing is still fairly new in Asia and the market is growing quite rapidly. "I learnt one term, the pre-profit period. We're confident we'll make a profit. By next year, we should be okay," he says.
Payroll2U, which employs 30 people, has five offices in the region and plans to open three more in Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand.
Mr Goh's new software platform revolves around mobile applications. The company has invested about $1.5 million developing a payroll software platform and applications.
One of its products is an app released this year that allows an employee to see his payslip, leave application and what his shift hours are. Payroll2U is also working on allowing employees to use their smartphones to clock in for work, doing away with a time clock.
Mr Goh says: "I learn from the young ones (about new tech ideas)... they know how to do all this. We call our software Smartpay because everything is on the smartphone."
Mr Goh also looks to entrepreneurs like tech billionaire Elon Musk, as well as the founders of Apple and Google. "You pick up ideas here and there, but we are basically in the service industry and try to create better software."
Although he is looked up to as a role model by his family, Mr Goh attributes much of his success to luck.
"My family will tell my nephews to 'follow this uncle'. Don't follow me, I got lucky... starting a company with no business plan, lurching from one disaster to another, not many people can do that," he says.
"What people see is the end result. You drive a nice car, stay in a nice place, but nobody sees the hard work that went into it."

LUCK seems to have followed businessman Jack Goh through life as he made his way from student to chief executive.

It started with his choice to study programming in university, which led Mr Goh, now 60, to set up regional software company Zapper Services. He ended up selling the company - twice.

He now runs a second company, Payroll2U, a software and payroll outsourcing business he started last year.

Mr Goh, the youngest of six children, says his life has not panned out through any careful planning on his part.

He left school at 16 and worked for six years - first representing a Dutch company that exported flowers from Singapore to Holland, and then at an air freight company - before deciding on a whim to study in Britain.

"The funny thing was, a private university came here to recruit students for the computer courses. I didn't even know what a computer was at that time, in 1976," he says, laughing.

He returned from London in 1980, worked as a programmer at a local firm for five years and quit without a back-up plan in 1985.

"I didn't know in 1986 that there was a recession. Can you believe how ignorant I was? I didn't even know what was a recession. For months I couldn't find a job and thought, 'Maybe I'll start a company.'

"My second brother, whom I'm very close to, gave me $50,000 to start and said to stay out of trouble. I don't think he ever thought he'd see his money again."

Failure was not an option, says Mr Goh, and he would have been happy earning $2,000 to $3,000 a month working for himself. The turning point came in 1989 when his company, Zapper, launched an integrated payroll-personnel package for American Express.

Mr Goh soon learnt that developing software for companies was the way to grow revenue.

Zapper was acquired by a regional human resources outsourcing company in early 2001 for more than $10 million.

"My timing was good; I sold the company before the dot.com crash, so that's luck. Not because I saw it coming. Sometimes you need to be lucky, and when the opportunity comes, grab it."

But the merger did not work out and he bought it back. He took the chance to reboot Zapper in 2002, deciding to Web-enable programmes - which allows them to be accessed via the Internet - before cloud services became popular. Mr Goh also opened offices in the region, including in China. This was partly to satisfy his desire for travel, he says in half-jest.

A deal to merge with a multinational company then came along, this time for an eight-figure sum in 2010, and he thought he would retire after that. "A lot of things I do instinctively. There's no magic formula. I'm a good salesman. I can sell my company twice," he says with a laugh.

But the itch to do business again was too great to ignore.

Former customers and business partners persuaded him to form Payroll2U. The goal this time was "not just to earn money", Mr Goh says. "It's to work with people you enjoy working with. They're so used to working with me, and not used to working with a big corporation."

He faces more hurdles now, as a new entrant in a market that has higher barriers of entry given advances in technology.

Mr Goh notes that payroll outsourcing is still fairly new in Asia and the market is growing quite rapidly. "I learnt one term, the pre-profit period. We're confident we'll make a profit. By next year, we should be okay," he says.

Payroll2U, which employs 30 people, has five offices in the region and plans to open three more in Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand.

Mr Goh's new software platform revolves around mobile applications. The company has invested about $1.5 million developing a payroll software platform and applications.

One of its products is an app released this year that allows an employee to see his payslip, leave application and what his shift hours are. Payroll2U is also working on allowing employees to use their smartphones to clock in for work, doing away with a time clock.

Mr Goh says: "I learn from the young ones (about new tech ideas)... they know how to do all this. We call our software Smartpay because everything is on the smartphone."

Mr Goh also looks to entrepreneurs like tech billionaire Elon Musk, as well as the founders of Apple and Google. "You pick up ideas here and there, but we are basically in the service industry and try to create better software."

Although he is looked up to as a role model by his family, Mr Goh attributes much of his success to luck.

"My family will tell my nephews to 'follow this uncle'. Don't follow me, I got lucky... starting a company with no business plan, lurching from one disaster to another, not many people can do that," he says.

"What people see is the end result. You drive a nice car, stay in a nice place, but nobody sees the hard work that went into it."