MiE Featured Alumni - Kenneth Lee

Spirit of an entrepreneur

BY Tan Tam Mei

Since primary school, Mr Kenneth Li has displayed spirit and attitude of an entrepreneur. 

While classmates spent their afternoons at home playing video games and watching television, Mr Li would venture into forested areas to catch spiders, which he would sell to his friends at school.

“I sold the spiders for $2 to $10, depending on their ability to fight. I even sold one that was really good at fighting for $50.

“Even during primary school I started to earn my own pocket money. I didn’t want to rely on my mum cause she still had to raise my other siblings,” said Mr Li.

The 29-year-old, who comes from a single-parent household that isn’t well to do, would also take on various part-time jobs as a cashier, a waiter, and as a door-to-door salesman, just so he could relieve his mother of the burden of putting his through school and providing for his expenses. He said: “I have no complaints about the hardships that I had because it has helped me to become more compassionate now that I am my own boss and I have people working under me.”

The CEO of ‘S-cube’, a company that manufactures corporate gifts and has recently come up with the word’s first porcelain tumbler, said that his background has also helped him to nurture a can-do attitude that has brought him through various setbacks and road-blocks in his career as an entrepreneur.

The 2010 MiE student, who majored in Accountancy and graduated from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) about two years ago said: “ I always tell myself that I’ve been through harder times and since I’ve survived them, these obstacles can’t bring me down.”

S-cube was founded by Mr Li and three team members during their time at the MiE programme. Their first venture to manufacture PU leather resume folders for graduating NTU students wasn’t well received because of manufacturing and distribution issues. But the setback provided valuable experience for Mr Li.

He said: “Looking back I can see that we made a lot of silly mistakes, but making those mistakes has helped me in my business today.” In 2013, Mr Li worked up the courage to begin innovating a new porcelain tumbler that he claims to be the first of its kind in the world. He experimented for six months, and finally came up with a new product that touts itself as a safer and healthier alternative to stainless steel tumblers. Mr Li has filed the patent for the porcelain tumblers.

“Porcelain is a healthier alternative, its corrosion free and does not cause any chemical reaction with beverages,” he said.

He credits his mother as the inspiration behind the porcelain tumbler saying: “My mother likes to drink beverages with honey, but she cannot use a steel tumbler because of the chemical reaction of metal and honey. So I thought I could do something about it.”

The porcelain tumblers are currently being sold at major departmental stores in Singapore and Malaysia.