Lost and Founded Series - Turochas Fuad

Turochas Fuad, CEO of travelmob, doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up – and plans to keep it that way.


Author: DBS BusinessClass, Administrator of DBS

Turochas Fuad doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up – and he intends to keep it that way. The serial entrepreneur, dedicated family man and CEO of travelmob - an online accommodation marketplace that connects people who are looking for a place to stay with those who have places to rent – says he’s inspired by the opportunity to create something that will disrupt an industry. Believing that treading a fine balance between alcohol, yoga and a great sense of humour keeps him fit for start-up life, the former MD of Skype Asia admits that a potential investor once bet $50 that TravelMob wouldn’t survive past two months – evidently losing big-time – and Fuad is still waiting to collect his money. We’re praying we spelled his last name correctly.

People say you are “Turochas Fuad, Founder of travelmob”. Who do you say you are?

First and foremost, I am a husband, a father, a brother and a son. Family to me is super important and continues to be my main priority in life.

As a CEO of travelmob, we are still working hard to achieve our company’s mission where we want global travelers to experience their destinations like a local. We continue to seek out great local accommodations around the world (from apartments, villas, rooms to private islands), develop a kick-ass product and ensure our users have the best experience on our site.

As an entrepreneur however, I remain a businessman. I am anything I need to be at any time.

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.

There are too many good and equally horrible moments in my start-up life. All of which are equally meaningful as the good ones are great milestones in the lifespan of one’s company while the not-so-good ones are reminders that there’s still a lot to learn, tweak and improve on. I’ve been very fortunate to have successful exits for both of my start-ups, including travelmob (acquired by HomeAway, Inc, in 2013). Acquisitions are always great moments to cherish – each one is quite unique but both are special nonetheless.

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

There was nothing to hide. First rule in starting a business with co-founders is to ensure that all matters are discussed prior to jumping into a business together. It is highly advisable to be upfront, honest and do what is best for the company, investors and the employees.

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.

Nothing sensational to share unfortunately. I do take things very seriously when taking money from investors to build a company. They are betting on you to build a great company and one day, make exceptional returns for them. You better make darn sure you do just that. This is after all a business.

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!

There were many crappy moments and great ones too. I had my equal share of investors saying “no” to us and probably as many partners who didn’t give us time of day. But one has to ensure not to take things personally and focus on the objective. There was a potential investor, who is notorious in Singapore for being uncouth, made a bet with us that travelmob won’t survive more than 2 months. The bet was S$50, he still hasn’t paid up and I’m guessing he probably won’t.

Having said that, I am still in very good relations with most folks who said “no” to us in the early days. It is a business and at times, not everyone sees eye to eye on things. If not this time, perhaps there will be opportunities to work together in the future.

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

I am working harder than ever before. I am still terribly passionate about travelmob and what we are trying to achieve as a company. Despite the acquisition, we still have much work to do. The concept of local accommodation or vacation rentals is still new in Asia – we’re trying to champion this concept across Asia Pacific.

From time to time, I do mentor and invest in great ideas. I am a big believer in Singapore and Asia – hoping to do my part to build a respectful start-up ecosystem in this region. Besides that, my 2 year old daughter ensures that I get up in the early morning.

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

Yoga, alcohol and maintain a great sense of humour.

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

There’s no template to success – discover your own path by actually immersing yourself into your business and figure things out. Dive in and dive deep.

Mistakes are there to guide you – either it’s your own or lessons from others. Don’t be afraid of making them. Learn from them so that you don’t make the same ones again.

Be humble – when you have achieved success, please remain humble and hungry. And if you can, help out future entrepreneurs.

Favourite quote

Don't focus on the competition; they will never give you money - Jeff Bezos

Who and what inspires you?

The opportunity to create something that potentially disrupt an industry inspires me. travelmob as a company disrupted the accommodation space and truly provide those with an alternative place to stay. It is also a great platform to allow property owners or investors to generate better yield from their assets by renting them out short term.

Tell me about yourself in 2030.

15 years older and still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. And hopefully there will be less misspellings of my last name.

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