Singapore's digital economy is booming due to the nation's strong tech infrastructure and knowledge economy. At the start of last year, the Government pledged to invest $400 million in the digital economy under the Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2020 plan. Lester Hio speaks to young tech whizzes who made their mark in the early days of the digital economy and finds out what they are up to now.

(From left) Mr Leong (left) and Mr Wong; Mr Lim Ding Wen and Mr Zen Ho.
(From left) Mr Leong (left) and Mr Wong; Mr Lim Ding Wen and Mr Zen Ho.ST PHOTOS: GIN TAY, DIOS VINCOY JR, ALPHONSUS CHERN

Boy Wonder grows up

Lim Ding Wen, who wants to become a professional game developer, with a game he is now designing. PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Lim Ding Wen was just nine when he single-handedly placed Singapore on the map of cool.

It happened eight years ago when he was named the world's youngest developer of an iPhone app. He had created Doodle Kids, which lets a user draw shapes on his smartphone and clear them by shaking it.

Now 17, the tall, gangly youth, who is in his first year of an infocomm technology course at Singapore Polytechnic, is still fixated on a career in programming and, in particular, game development.


Upping the Tempo on a hobby

The popularity of Tempo, which Mr Ho developed as a side project in 2009, led him to quit his day job. The app's success has enabled him to live off its royalties and save enough money to buy a condo unit. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

When one of the world's best drummers uses an app you developed to keep the tempo of his drum beat, it is no wonder that it continues to bring in the dough years after it was first released.

For Mr Zen Ho, 34, a metronome app which he developed as a side project in 2009 while holding a full-time job at the DSO National Laboratories ended up being an unexpected cash cow.

"It was just a hobby. I didn't know it would be something I would end up doing for a living," said Mr Ho, who has spent the past six years developing apps full time.


Unfazed by early failure

Mr Leong (left) and Mr Wong saw their company Rainmaker Labs make more than $2.5 million in revenue last year. PHOTO: GIN TAY FOR THE SUNDAY TIMES

Former bank executives Alex Leong, 33, and Andrew Wong, 35, did not have clear ideas about what they wanted to do when they started their first company - but went charging ahead any way.

Their five-year journey with their start-up, Rainmaker Labs, saw not only the crash of their first app within a year, but also a change in focus to take advantage of the digital economy by targeting businesses instead of consumers.

The duo met six years ago when they were both working in the finance industry.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 08, 2017, with the headline 'TECH TURKS TAKE FLIGHT'. Print Edition | Subscribe