Lost and Founded Series – Dennis Tay

Dennis Tay, Founder of Naiise, is intent on putting Singapore on the map of creativity.


Dennis Tay, Founder of Naiise, is the living personification of creativity. He likes doing extremely different and unconventional things (hence Naiise), and doesn't believe in using money as a solution to problems. The best moment in his startup life? Having Naiise put Singapore on the map of creativity.

People say you are "Dennis Tay, Founder of Naiise". Who do you say you are?

I'm just a regular guy who really loves design and helping people pursue the things they love and want to do. I love growing the creative culture in Singapore as best as I can.

Best moment in your startup life. It was so good you wanted to fly BusinessClass somewhere with someone, and pop open the most expensive bottle of champagne there.

When a customer walked in and told me that without Naiise, they wouldn't have known how creative Singaporeans can be. And also when tourists visit our store and tell me they wished they had something like that in their countries.

What secret did you hide from your co-founder or partner or parent for the longest time? Why?

I actually don't have secrets. I've built Naiise to be an open and transparent company, so everyone, including my employees, know everything about me. They know exactly what we are going to do and why we are doing it.

What's the most eccentric thing about you? If VCs found out, they wouldn't have signed the term sheet then. But hell with that now.

I really like doing things that are extremely different and unconventional, and I also don't believe in using money as a solution to problems. I've always believed that if you don't try, you wouldn't ever know.

Have you ever cried? Or what was the lowest, crappiest moment in your start-up life. You wanted to give up everything. You wanted to kill someone. (During your startup career of course) Tell us more!

Strangely, I've never experienced that. It wasn't easy in the beginning and it still isn't, being a bootstrapped startup. I love the challenges and each problem also presents a new opportunity to improve and make Naiise better for our suppliers, customers and partners.

What are you up to today? What gets you up in the morning?

Looking through reports, analytics and emails and planning for the team for the upcoming months and years ahead. What really gets me up everyday is knowing that I'm doing something I love doing.

How do you keep yourself physically and mentally fit for start-up life?

I try my best to get as much sleep as possible, which can be challenging because there's a never-ending number of topics to think about and plan for. I also try to spend time with my loved ones and dogs.

Offer a life hack (or two) to a young founder.

Work really really hard and never give up.

Movie or song that best describes you.

"Don't you worry child" - Swedish House Mafia

Favourite quote.

"Stop chasing the money and start chasing the passion." - Tony Hsieh

Who and what inspires you?

Knowing that every day, we're helping designers to grow by communicating what they do to regular consumers. It is also inspiring to meet customers who really love what we do. Lastly, my team - they're a great team who have poured their hearts and souls into the business, and they matter a lot to me and keep me going because they are like family.

Tell me about Dennis Tay in 2030.

Having kids and more dogs that I hope I can spend a lot of time with! I also hope that Naiise will continue to be at the forefront of bringing design to everyone, as well as mentor young entrepreneurs starting their first businesses.

Name 2-3 startup founders in Singapore you'll like to hear answer these questions.

I would love to hear from our friends Jacky Yap from Vulcan Post and Bjorn Low from Edible Gardens.

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