“I learnt that a strong team is vital for any successful business. I started the business alone and had to do most of the work myself in the earliest days. As I started recruiting new members, it was apparent that I could have done a lot more with the time I spent if I had focused on building a strong team instead of going at it alone.”
Hiro Tien began his first career when he co-founded an online blog shop with a classmate at the University of Brunei Darussalam. Hiro later realised that something needed to be done to assist Brunei in diversifying away from the oil and gas industry.
Inspired by Groupon, he creates Social Deal, a daily deal site for the country. With over 60% Facebook penetration and 80% internet penetration, Social Deal started the business with no active e-commerce sites. Hiro then saw an opportunity to bridge the gap between local businesses and Brunei’s affluent online audience, capitalising on Facebook’s growth.
To date, Social Deal has collaborated with 450 local merchants, resulting in a total of 50-100 deals available on the site at any given time, including product deals.
Taking a Giant Leap
Hiro Tien and his team at Social Deal have had their fair share of difficulties scaling up in a market as small as Brunei as the country’s sole player. However, believing more in their upside potential, the company has grown to a total of over 20,000 members today.
The main challenge has always been figuring out how to advance professionally, especially in a new market like e-commerce—however, the graduate with a B.A. Accounting & Finance has never shied away from a challenge. Hiro and his team are now planning a potential expansion to the ASEAN region if such an opportunity arises, having realised he has what it takes as an entrepreneur.
There’s No Shortcut to Success
Hiro had the opportunity to play many roles as a child growing up in a typical family, which shaped him into the man he is today. He used to be a supermarket attendant, a cinema usher, a milkshake maker, a junior auditor, an office clerk, a tuition teacher, a book writer, and a fishmonger.
Without a doubt, Hiro was raised to be able to trade and make a profit, which later contributed to his desire to become an entrepreneur.
When asked about the lessons he learned while running a business, Hiro stated that a strong team is essential for any successful business and that you can go so much further together than you can alone.
Hiro Tien’s most recent venture is Escape Square, a detective-themed escape game company that plans to go global through franchising.