Startup Feature: Clinton Li, President of EDGE

When we speak of entrepreneurship, the idea of starting a business comes to mind. However, for Clinton, the president of EDGE, entrepreneurship is about problem solving; it is about innovating solutions and bringing value to the community or industry that you are serving. Entrepreneurship is also the key catalyst to our learning journey in life; it is about constantly learning and growing as a person, having the courage to overcome challenges, setbacks, rejections and learning to fail forward.

Starting from as early as primary school, Clinton’s first “venture” was in selling a variety of items ranging from stationery and toys to spiders – when fighting spiders were all the rage amongst the boys in his class. His passion for entrepreneurship grew over the years and he is now the founder of Orama, a startup which innovated solutions for digitalising documentation, compliance checking and automating customer procurement in the shipping industry.

The idea of starting Orama sparked off from a casual coffee chat with a few of his friends who happened to be working in the field. With little knowledge about the industry, it struck his curiosity to the technologies that were being used in this industry. This led him to conduct market research and see opportunities to use modern technology, such as AI and Blockchain, to solve their daily pain points.

Orama stands for “Vision” in Greek. It was founded with the core aim of improving transparency within the maritime bunker industry. He has also gone on to set up the Orama Bunker Technology Research Centre (OBTRC) with the core mission of empowering traditional bunker companies through technological advancement. Through the OBTRC, he hopes to build an ecosystem with industry partners and bridge the gap between bunker experts and tech savvy youths.

In his entrepreneurial journey, it was however not without any challenges.

“A few significant ones include fundraising, overcoming the stigma of being “too young and inexperienced” because I was starting up my own company while schooling, having to bootstrap my business with no initial capital. Also, managing my time as a youth entrepreneur, balancing both entrepreneurship and academic, has been challenging.”

When it comes to challenges, Clinton chose to overcome it with tenacity.

“I believe in leading a purpose-driven life and setting clear goals for myself. It is important to identify your “why”; Why are you doing what you are doing. There will be numerous tough challenges and setbacks along the way, it is crucial to cultivate the mindset of failing forward. Being purpose-driven, having a strong compelling vision, together with a burning passion will allow you to embrace setbacks and overcome any challenges that comes in your way. Always remember to take every step, be it good or bad, as a learning progress. Finally, priortise your time wisely and be in taking up new commitments that are aligned with your passion to ensure a fine balance instead of burning out.”

Today, Clinton has gone beyond making an impact to the startup community through his startup. He has also taken on the role as the President of EDGE, the youth wing of ACE and led the Quest Ventures – EDGE National Youth Entrepreneurship Award (NYEA) 2018 to celebrate youth entrepreneurship and recognise the successes and contribution of other youth entrepreneurs.

“My vision for NYEA is to position it as the national pinnacle awards to recognise youths who excel in entrepreneurship and more importantly, have the spirit of contributing back to the Singapore startup ecosystem. As the award winner of last year’s award and key lead for this year’s award, I strongly believe that the NYEA will serve as a fantastic way to encourage more youths to find their passion to pursue entrepreneurship and support them together with our partnering organization.