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[Tuning In] Fall & Rise: Tom Lokenvitz on learning from a startup failure

Written by Taro Ishida Published on 

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‘I’m 100% sure I will start a business again,’ Lokenvitz says.

Tom Lokenvitz is the founder and former CEO of Singapore-based car-sharing service Smove. The firm was founded in 2011, driven by a desire to develop an efficient and sustainable transport option for Singaporeans. Tom played a pivotal role in the expansion of Smove from a fleet size of 15 cars to 450 vehicles in just two years. Due to the impact of COVID-19, Smove had, however, to close down in mid-2020.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

KrAsia (Kr): How was your journey with Smove? And what have you been up to lately?

Tom Lokenvitz (TL): My company, Smove, was launched in 2011 but we then closed down in mid-2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. So definitely, it has been a long ride.

I think some of my biggest takeaways were working with the likes of Grab and Uber, understanding the dynamics in the transportation sector as well as the startup ecosystem, which has evolved over the years. It was painful to shut down after nine and a half years, but I also received comments and emails from customers saying they were sad to see us go. In that sense, Smove has done something right after all. For now, I’ve been taking time to recharge and reflect.

I think it is important to think about what happened and where I have made mistakes. What were my strengths and weaknesses? How did I grow personally? And how should I proceed from here on? Every business could end up with success or failure. But failure is not the end. I believe you can always do other things as a founder, as long as you face up to challenges and problems in this world, and you’re never short of inspiration. I’m 100% sure I will start a business again, further down the line.

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