Royston Tay

Royston Tay

Technopreneur, 31

In 2007, Royston Tay and a few friends started Zopim, a cloud-based customer service chat platform, out of a small office space provided by NUS, their alma mater. This April, the once-low-profile firm made headlines after being acquired by San Francisco-based customer service company Zendesk for US$30 million — a move that will reportedly grant each of its co-founders up to $7.7 million in cash and stock options after a three-year period. The road to success for Tay and company was not an easy one — for two years, all co-founders received monthly salaries of $500. Even then, they voluntarily took pay cuts before the company found its footing in late 2008 when after introducing a paid subscription plan for their service, adoption rate picked up, putting the tech firm on an upward growth trajectory. “Naturally, it was a tough decision to let go of Zopim,” says the CEO of Zompin. “But in a way, we don’t feel like we’re selling our baby. It feels more like finding godparents who are willing to shower as much love and attention as we did.” Zendesk has since filed an IPO on the New York Stock Exchange to raise $150 million for Zopim.