Rent isn’t the problem, says WalkaboutSG co-organizer Kristine Lauria

This year’s 70-stop tour of local businesses will also feature events by heavy-hitters Facebook and Twitter, big-name agencies and the essential afterparty with all participants and lots of booze. But Singapore still has ways to go before it becomes an established Asian Silicon (V)alley, according to co-organizer Kristine Lauria. Read on.

What are some highlights at this year’s WalkaboutSG?

This event is f****** massive. This year Twitter, PayPal, Microsoft and possibly Facebook are throwing events during the open house. Agencies are joining the fun so participants can drop in on Grey, We Are Social and dozens more. There are even bus tours that you join if you’re not a fan of walking in the heat. And as always there are over 70 offices with their doors wide open, so you can just swing by for a beer and a chat. It’s great having an event this big, but seriously, there is a lot of work to do!

Is it difficult to get companies to come on board and open their offices to the public?  

The startup scene is very open. Founders depend on each other to share experiences, contacts, advice and take each other out for a drink when shit hits the fan. Most of the founders in Singapore were excited about creating a community event that showed off their digs.

How do you possibly fit 70-something offices into one tour?

You can’t. Don’t try. Choose the most interesting offices, chat up the founder and enjoy a cold beverage with their team. Meet all the other companies at the afterparty!

What lessons have you learned from the tech start-up companies involved?

Coming from the US where the tech media is mainstream, everyone is an angel investor and exits are just around the corner, I’ve learned that it’s not as easy in places where this industry is just getting its legs. I have a huge amount of respect for people like Darius Cheung (, Dennis Goh (Hungrygowhere), Roger Egan (Redmart) and Royston Tay (Zopim) for building strong companies and making Singapore a place where founders can grow a $100+ Million company. We’re getting there!

Rents aside, what would you say is the biggest problem these startups have?

Rent? Please! You can get seriously subsidized digs at BLK71, join an incubator or work from your mother’s spare room. The biggest problem is hiring. We need smart people who work damn hard for equity. 

Any advice for someone looking to start a business in Singapore?

Start talking with other founders, investors, tech folks about their lessons learned. Attend events and share what you’re working on. This is an open, supportive community—there is no need for you to reinvent the wheel. Learn from people’s mistakes and pay it back when someone approaches you for help down the road.

WalkaboutSG takes place on June 13 this year. Register here.