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How this entrepreneur accumulated S$100,000 by the time he turned 24

Money Choice: Serial entrepreneur Edmund Chong shared how he made $100,000 from multiple side hustles while studying.

Edmund Chong, entrepreneur and founder of HustleVenture, posing with arms crossed.
Edmund Chong, entrepreneur and founder of HustleVenture, on how he made S$100,000 by the time he turned 24. (PHOTO: HustleVenture) (HustleVenture)

SINGAPORE — While many people in their early 20s are finding their career footing, serial entrepreneur Edmund Chong was already establishing multiple income streams and setting up his own businesses.

At 24 years old, Chong said he had accumulated a net worth of about S$100,000, comprising cash and investments in stocks. He had built up this sum over the course of five years through various odd jobs and side hustles since he was 19. This ranged from working part-time at banquets and trading items on Carousell to being a pet sitter and real estate analyst while he was still studying. Chong had also dabbled in options trading and ventured into the vending machine business.

Chong then used his savings to start businesses – now 26, Chong is the founder of three companies. In 2021, he founded HustleVenture – a newsletter and website that promotes financial literacy and content on starting side businesses – after leaving his full-time job as a real estate analyst. In 2023, Chong launched two other companies: facilities management firm Oscar Facilities Service and Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven property search engine AskProp.

Value of money

Chong told Yahoo Finance Singapore that his constant strive for financial independence is a result of growing up in a household impacted by the 2008 financial crisis.

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At the time, Chong witnessed his father, who was a business owner in the shipping industry, struggle to keep the business afloat. He had to dip into Chong's savings and that of Chong's two siblings. The experience profoundly impacted Chong, who was 13 years old at the time and had just begun secondary school.

"I could see that my friends were buying more things than me in the canteen. It was like, 'How are you able to get so much?'" Chong recalled.

"My dad felt guilty because he couldn't explain why we were not doing as well as others. I could feel my dad's struggle... I realised the importance of money," said Chong.

By the time Chong reached post-secondary education, he started thinking about how to make money more effectively.

"Over time, my thinking changed into how I can make money better because a lot of people were just thinking of how money isn't easy to earn, and money is hard to save as well. But many people don't really consider the fact that money can be easily made if you can identify issues and solve them," said Chong.

That mindset made Chong determined to look for his own income and help his family financially. He started to work odd jobs while studying – his first working experience was as a waiter when he was 19 years old.

He soon got into various side hustles. A pivotal moment came when Chong took up a six-month internship at an engineering firm as part of his polytechnic course. This put him in contact with his mentor, a business owner based in Jakarta in Indonesia. His mentor told him that while his determination to hustle was good, it was not in the "right direction".

I became more value-driven than money-driven.Edmund Chong

"At my internship, when I was supposed to learn engineering, my boss brought me around to his businesses. I went to his F&B (food and beverage) business which sold beef noodles. I ate the noodles, and I told him it was really good. Then I looked around and wondered why no customers were coming in.

"My boss said that though the food was good, the location planning was bad. He taught me about running businesses," said Chong.

University hustler

At university, Chong continued to hustle.

He saw an opportunity in pet sitting during the COVID-19 lockdowns – it became a lucrative side income for him.

He also tried his hand at operating vending machines, investing S$20,000 to purchase three units set up at sports facilities. This however turned out to be his first major loss, as no one was allowed to be out during the pandemic. He acknowledged that it was a "stupid" move, in hindsight.

At the same time, Chong picked up a new skill as a real estate analyst. However, his multiple side hustles eventually impacted his studies, leading him to quit his business management course after a year.

Nevertheless, Chong landed a full-time role at a company that saw potential in his ability as a real estate analyst despite not graduating. There, he expanded his knowledge by exploring real estate markets in the UK, Thailand, Indonesia, and Dubai. His success in this field led to other real estate companies scouting him, and he soon landed a role as a property manager, earning a monthly salary of about S$3,000.

The job, which Chong said was very "carefree" and did not demand too much of his time, allowed him to focus on setting up his own business, HustleVenture. He then left full-time employment after about a year to pursue the entrepreneurship.

When asked why he did not choose the path of a stable, full-time job, Chong, who had accumulated S$100,000 in savings by that point, said that building up more income "just seemed very boring".

"I started to pivot. I became more value-driven than money-driven," said Chong. He shared that his current earnings, from the three businesses, "fluctuate a lot" and it's "between S$5,000 and S$20,000 per month".

A life of side enterprises

As a young business owner, Chong shared that he sometimes has to deal with people having doubts about his abilities.

"They are wary (and question) whether a 26-year-old guy can run a company. They believe in education first; only then can you do the job. You need to get your degree to prove yourself," said Chong.

Considering his diverse experience when it comes to making money, Chong said that one of the most important lessons he has learned is that when it comes to business, time does not always equal money.

"No matter how much you track your time, there's a limit to the amount of money you can make. The easiest way to make money – it still requires a lot of hard work – is to identify and resolve issues in the best possible way.

"Go back to the drawing board and keep fixing the issue; that's what I've been doing over the last two years," Chong said.

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