Lost and Founded Series - Grace Clapham

Grace Clapham, Co-Founder of The Change School might not have coined the term “Changepreneur,” but she certainly epitomizes it.


Author: DBS BusinessClass, Administrator of DBS

If Grace Clapham were the average of the 5 people she spends most of her time with, she must have one heck of a social circle. Serial entrepreneur, global citizen and Changepreneur – Grace Clapham is never just one thing.  The enigmatic co-founder of The Change School runs multiple communities - with a unique focus on women - such as Secret [W] Business and SheSays Singapore, and seeks to empower others to do the same. A self- professed connector of dots and unabashed ‘Post-It' note addict, the passionate, purpose-driven change entrepreneur ardently believes that one's true potential can be achieved if you strive to unfold your own destiny.

People say you are "Grace Clapham, Co-founder of The Change School". Who do you say you are?

I like to say I'm a multi-hypenate, a global citizen, half Indonesian & half Australian and a Changepreneur (a Change Entrepreneur) in life and work.  Others know me as Grace who runs multiple communities such as Secret [W] Business (a community and network for women entrepreneurs in 5 cities) co-founded by myself and a friend Camille, CreativeMornings Singapore, SheSays Singapore. I'm a driver of purpose, traveller, Indonesian food lover and a Libran. 

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.  

I don't think I've reached it yet. I've had lots of great moments but I think the best moments are yet to come. However I would say being awarded the Inspirational Leadership Awards by Talent Unleashed - judged by Sir Richard Branson & Steve Wozniak last year definitely was a great moment for me - being recognised by such big game changers definitely was an honour and being shortlisted against 600 other candidates across APAC.

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

Well my co-founder Solonia and I have been friends since we were 12 so we know pretty much everything about each other now working together, and can pretty much read each other’s minds - therefore it's hard to keep a secret.  As for my parents, I didn't tell them I wasn't going to university for a few months because I was in Thailand doing some modelling a long long time ago.

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

Probably not super eccentric, but I love POST IT notes - you should see my study, however one thing I'm pretty good at is inadvertently coming up with new words that seem to stick with other people - so usually putting together two words to become a newer word.  On the work front I'm quite stubborn and very set in where I want to go and stand very firm for what I believe is right. 

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!

I am a sook when I'm sick and can be quite emotional, so yes I have cried ALOT.  In my startup life I think there was the moment in 2013 when I was starting with our signature programme Change Ventures and I had to run the then one-month programme on my own with 17 applicants and my then co-founder and I separated ways.  I didn't know how I was going to handle it all on my own and it was only 5 days before the actual event, but it worked out for the better and no hard feelings.  

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

Well my main focus is The Change School now and other than our Residency Programmes we've launched our Change Gym which will be set up in Singapore shortly partnering with different space partners. We've also started running corporate training programmes focused on competency development, leadership and entrepreneurial grit so that's another interesting area for us. In addition I continue to run Secret [W] Business which is our community for Women Entrepreneurs & Changemakers that is now going to be slightly revamped to be a curated list of events for women entrepreneurs and change makers across the region - showcasing not only our events but other women's network/communities events and resource. What gets me up in the morning is my passion to help individuals realise their potential and take action in any shape or form. 

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

Well let's be honest I've not been my best in the past few years since coming back to Singapore, however, last year my business partner Solonia made me get back into Yoga which has been great so now I do a lot of Yoga and I have a set morning routine where I wake up, have a glass of warm lemon water then meditate for usually 10 mins, do a few affirmations and then either walk to yoga (about 20 mins) or start my day.  I'm working on yoga 3 - 4 times a week at the moment.  I have got structure back in my life after not having much structure the past few years, so it's really great to have that. With travelling it can be difficult to set up a routine. In addition I use an app called Mindful for check-ins with myself during the day, ensuring I have regular pauses.

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

Really understand the WHY behind what you're doing (personally and professionally) and be sure to schedule time for you. Learn to say NO and when scheduling, use things such as Calend.ly or ScheduleOnce to get your calendars and appointments in track. Only set specific dates or times for meetings/Skype calls so that you aren't booking yourself out too much. That's definitely been the best thing for me.  Also remember you are the average of the 5 people you spend most of your time with.

Movie or song that best describes you.

Song is Journey - Don't Stop Believin 

Favourite quote - It's too hard to find a favourite but here's my quote for the month. "Don't be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth" – Rumi

Who and what inspires you?

I'm such a connector of dots and ideas and get my inspiration from discussions that inspire ideas, strategies etc, so usually new people I meet, friends, cultures, the things I see on my daily walks, my environment, or things I read - there's not one thing in particular.

Tell me about Grace Clapham in 2030. 

I envision Grace 2030 as living across hopefully two countries - having a city life mixed with a beach life would be awesome! Some kids, and the Change School having presence in key cities across APAC, be it through our residency programmes or our more permanent spaces such as the Change Gym.

Subscribe to DBS BusinessClass

Stay updated with the latest market trends and industry insights, connect with a network of entrepreneurs, and gain access to exclusive event invitations. Join Asia's fastest growing business community – get your complimentary membership here.


dbs businessclass