It’s not every day that an entrepreneur comes along, starts a company in school and gets to say that they sold it for millions later on in life, so it’s certainly a big deal that Alvin Poh, the founder of web hosting service company Vodien Internet Solutions and CLDY.com can make this claim to fame.
Poh started Vodien while he was still in polytechnic, and managed to sell it 17 years later for SG$30 million dollars despite not being academically gifted or particularly well to do.
“Many people often think that I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but that’s not true. My family could only afford my tuition till secondary school because that was subsidised by the government. After that, I had to find ways to pay for anything else from a meal with my friends, to my polytechnic and university education fees,” Poh shared.
Though Poh was struggling to make ends meet, he was able to get into a polytechnic. However, he was far from being academically inclined and found himself struggling. Rather, his strengths lay primarily in the digital space.
“One day, a relative approached me to do up a website for him. It was for a token amount but it showed me that people were willing to pay me for my skills so I started doing freelance web design by myself,” he said.
Wanting to go further, Poh decided to see if he could use his skills to create something more profitable.
“When I met my co-founder in school, I realised that we could start this business together, and so we did,” Poh said. And this was how Vodien was born.
Vodien is a company that provides web design services and Poh was very quickly able to adapt to his customer’s needs in order to gain their trust and business.
“One of my first jobs was selling knick-knacks from door-to-door, such as toy pianos that sold for around SG$10. I realised a very important concept while doing this which was client qualification. It was a lot easier selling to a housewife with young children in the house than to sell to any other person who opened the door. This became a core concept of any sale that I do, even till today,” Poh said.
Poh’s work ethic and keen business sense quickly helped the company grow. What started out as a broke student’s attempts to earn pocket money steadily grew to become one of Singapore’s top hosting providers with 35,000 clients and a team of 150.