LOCAL NUS PHILOSOPHY GRADUATE BECAME MILLIONAIRE AT AGE 28

On the middle finger of her left hand, Lim Qing Ru sports a ring with “April 10 2014” engraved on it.

That was the day news broke that Zopim, the tech company she joined as a co-founder in 2008, had been acquired by an American software company for a reported US$29.8 million (roughly S$37 million).

The payout was split between herself and four other co-founders, making her a multimillionaire overnight. She was then two weeks shy of her 29th birthday.

“We went from being nameless entrepreneurs to instant role models for the tech industry,” says Qing Ru, who turns 30 this April. “All of a sudden, everyone was paying attention to us.”

Journalists spun a blithe tale about how a group of scrappy entrepreneurs finally made good after years of surviving on meagre salaries: They created a winning product – a chat widget that allows business owners to send instant messages to customers and provide real-time customer service – after which the company was wooed by US-based customer support firm Zendesk. The co-founders then signed an acquisition deal that gave each of them multimillion-dollar payouts. It was the perfect rags-to-riches tale. Or so it seemed.

Like giving up a child
The truth was, it wasn’t quite the happily-ever-after that most people imagined it to be.

“[The acquisition] wasn’t an easy decision,” admits Qing Ru. “I spent seven years building the company with my blood, sweat and tears. Then, I had to let it go.” After signing the agreement, she sobbed uncontrollably. Till this day, she hasn’t spent a cent of her millions – she can’t bear to. All of it is sitting in a bank.

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