Chasing innovation


Millennials are putting their stamp across the world, making real their aspirations in ways that previous generations might never have thought of. Our series, Big Plans Take Time, delves into how young people take bold steps to achieve their dreams. Meredith Woo speaks to savvy marketing manager Darren Lim, our 11th profile, who pursues ideas across continents.

Chicago calling

Nothing gets in Mr Darren Lim’s way in his pursuit of innovation — he goes the distance. When he chanced upon a new technology online, he was so fired up that he got on a flight to Chicago to find out more from the product’s founder.

The revolutionary window shade product was affordable, eco-friendly and could be customised with little hassle. It would also eliminate the need for window blinds.  Mr Lim, 24, enthuses: “I saw great potential in this product for the Singapore market.”

Although the product has yet to be fully developed, Mr Lim has learnt much about business dealings across cultures.


Linking arms with tech

In January, Mr Lim officially joined his parents’ business, Estil Furnishing, as a marketing manager — a venture that he regards as a “sibling” he feels compelled to nurture.

Estil was launched 28 years ago — with a single sewing machine in an HDB flat. Now, the company has a factory in Chai Chee with 20 employees, where curtains and other soft furnishings are manufactured and supplied to hotels, commercial properties and businesses, and, more recently, to home owners.

“I wanted to help a traditional manufacturing company like ours take its first step into the digital world and digital economy,” says Mr Lim.

Harnessing his digital expertise, he set up Facebook and Carousell pages to attract sales leads, as well as a website with search engine optimisation (SEO) capabilities.

“This helped us to get some deals, as people search for everything on the Internet now. We’re currently undergoing a website revamp, with more intensive SEO and search engine marketing management to improve our rankings in Google,” he says.

The resourceful marketeer also closed the geographical gap by using WeChat to speak to Chinese suppliers. The result? More global connections, as well as a wider repertoire of material and colour choices for Estil.

Brave new world

Mr Lim hopes to expand Estil into Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam. He is also eyeing Sri Lanka, as he saw many upcoming condominiums and hotels while on a recent holiday there.

“I’m currently doing my research. Things are going well and I’m making some good links with the people I met there,” he says.

He will be heading to Penang later this month to meet a furniture supplier, then back to Sri Lanka in February for an architectural trade show. In March, he will be off to an annual home furnishing expo in Hong Kong/Shenzhen with his boss-parents.

On the side, he is also running a start-up called Hausmonkey, an upcoming platform where other furniture retailers can list their products, providing customers with a one-stop shop.

C’mon, $15 for eggs and toast?

The jetsetting millenial remains grounded when it comes to money. He opts for hawker centres over a brunch place that charges a hefty price for a simple breakfast, and even whips up a meal at home.

He is safeguarding his future by putting his money in endowment and savings plans. He says: “My goal is to earn a million dollars by the time I’m 30, and to be financially free at 33.  A guy can dream, right?”