Self-confessed geek Marcus Ho had the worst possible start to his first business venture after a so-called friend cheated him of $7,000. It left him with just $1,000 in his bank account.
But he forged on anyway, starting Techzone.SG, an e-commerce store for Apple accessories, in 2008.
"I printed flyers from home and went to IT shows to distribute them," said Mr Ho, 26.
Sales were dismal at the time.
Mr Ho remembers his father asking him at the dinner table: "Marcus, you have no sales, how do you want to survive? You might as well go back to school."
"I knew I had to make Techzone.SG work," said Mr Ho, who has a diploma in information technology.
In early 2009, he started creating Facebook groups for Apple enthusiasts.
"I'm very 'geeky' myself. I started giving tips, advice and, once in a while, sold products through the groups."
By mid-2009, Techzone.SG was raking in more than $50,000 a month in revenue.
It was subsequently sold to a private equity firm in 2010.
Mr Ho's next venture soon took shape - SocialMetric, a social media agency that he started with a friend and with just $500. It was possible as "people knew me. I had grown Techzone.SG through social media".
Today, SocialMetric has grown into a $1 million operation with 25 employees, says Mr Ho.
It has more than 200 clients, including 3M, Pernod Ricard, CapitaMalls Asia, Qatar Airways and Wacoal.
It helps companies expand their customer base through social media platforms.
This is done by managing their social media accounts and using them to drive traffic to retail outlets while measuring how effective the approaches are.
Q: Are you a spender or a saver?
Saver. I believe in delayed gratification. For every dollar I earn, I'd rather spend it on financial assets than on a meal or a taxi ride.
While I don't spend a lot on myself, I am a spender when it comes to the business.
For example, I recently launched my book, Social Payoff, which shares strategies on boosting sales from social media. I invested more than $30,000 to make sure it was positioned well.
Q: How much do you charge to your credit cards every month?
About $1,000 to $2,000 a month. I have only one credit card as I feel my cash flow should be controlled.
Q: What financial planning have you done for yourself? What do you invest in?
Other than investing in stocks and properties, I also believe that a brand can be a huge asset that can grow much faster than any other vehicle.
I'm a big believer in building our SocialMetric brand with the right social media strategies.
I've about $100,000 in the stocks of about 10 firms, many of them property-related.
I find property stable and a lot of the information is accessible, unlike sectors like engineering and shipping, where I would need more specialised knowledge.
I meet a group of four friends every month to present on different companies and their stocks, and we debate.
Q: Moneywise, what were your growing-up years like?
I grew up in a relatively humble family. My father was the sole breadwinner and my mother a housewife. I have two older sisters.
Everything went smoothly until July 1, 1997, the day Hong Kong's sovereignty was transferred to China.
The shipping company my father worked for closed down and he lost his job.
It took one to two years for him to get another job.
I was 10 years old. But the difficult period made me realise I couldn't just rely on a job if I want stability in my life. That's partly why I decided to start my entrepreneurial journey at a young age.
Q: How did you get interested in investing?
When I was in the army, I started reading a lot of books and attending seminars about personal development and financial success. People like Robert Kiyosaki and Adam Khoo inspired me to start investing and be an entrepreneur.
Q: What property do you own?
I rent a condominium unit in Paya Lebar with my girlfriend. She's 27 years old, from France and works in an advertising agency.
I also own a Soho (small office, home office) unit at M Suites in Jalan Ampang (in Kuala Lumpur) with my friends.
Q: What's the most extravagant thing you have bought?
Last year, I paid for a nine-day trip to Europe for my parents. They've worked hard all their lives and it was just a small thing I could do to make them happy.
Q: What's your retirement plan?
I don't see myself retiring any time soon. I'm still young and I've got a big vision ahead of me to create 10,000 successful business case studies through social media.
That said, I would like to own a beach home at some point.
Q: Home is now...
The condominium in Paya Lebar.
Q:I drive...
A Honda Phantom 200c. I bought it second-hand for about $3,000 or $4,000. It's my first motorcycle and I got it in July last year.

Self-confessed geek Marcus Ho had the worst possible start to his first business venture after a so-called friend cheated him of $7,000. It left him with just $1,000 in his bank account.

But he forged on anyway, starting Techzone.SG, an e-commerce store for Apple accessories, in 2008.

"I printed flyers from home and went to IT shows to distribute them," said Mr Ho, 26.

Sales were dismal at the time.

Mr Ho remembers his father asking him at the dinner table: "Marcus, you have no sales, how do you want to survive? You might as well go back to school."

"I knew I had to make Techzone.SG work," said Mr Ho, who has a diploma in information technology.

In early 2009, he started creating Facebook groups for Apple enthusiasts.

"I'm very 'geeky' myself. I started giving tips, advice and, once in a while, sold products through the groups."

By mid-2009, Techzone.SG was raking in more than $50,000 a month in revenue.

It was subsequently sold to a private equity firm in 2010.

Mr Ho's next venture soon took shape - SocialMetric, a social media agency that he started with a friend and with just $500. It was possible as "people knew me. I had grown Techzone.SG through social media".

Today, SocialMetric has grown into a $1 million operation with 25 employees, says Mr Ho.

It has more than 200 clients, including 3M, Pernod Ricard, CapitaMalls Asia, Qatar Airways and Wacoal.

It helps companies expand their customer base through social media platforms.

This is done by managing their social media accounts and using them to drive traffic to retail outlets while measuring how effective the approaches are.