Entrepreneur of the Year, 2016
Royston Tay is the Vice President, General Manager of Messaging in Zendesk, a leading cloud-based customer service platform that helps bring organisations and their customers closer together. At Zendesk, Royston focuses on growing Zendesk's thriving live chat business and also integrating live chat seamlessly within the company's suite of customer service software. Royston was responsible for Zendesk's development in Singapore, where he grew the local office to make it the Asia Pacific commercial headquarters.
Royston's technopreneurship journey began in 2006, when he embarked upon the NUS Overseas Colleges Programme (NOC programme), and spent a year interning at a start-up in Silicon Valley, while simultaneously taking entrepreneurship courses at Stanford University. In 2007, during his NOC programme, he co-founded Zopim, a Live Chat software company based in Singapore. Royston and his co-founders Kwok Yang Bin, Julian Low, Wu Wenxiang and Lim Qing Ru, spent their last year at NUS studying while simultaneously running the company. He led the development of the business-facing dashboard in its early years and took the reins as CEO and raised seed investment in 2010,to accelerate growth. Incubated by the National University of Singapore (NUS), Zopim received a $55,000 grant from the Media Development Authority's i.JAM scheme, and was located at NUS' on-campus co-working space. Royston and his co-founders bootstrapped the company to grow Zopim into a team of 40, serving some 18,000 paying customers in more than 150 countries. By emphasizing the importance of product and customer-centricity he steered the company to profitability within a year. In 2012, Zopim recorded more than US$1 million in sales revenue.
Over the past decade, Royston has established close ties with budding and experienced entrepreneurs within the regional start-up ecosystem, acting as a mentor, angel investor and friend to many. Royston has invested in start-ups including 99.co (an online real estate company), MoneySmart (a fintech company) and Koobits (an edutech company). Royston is also the recipient of the NUS Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2015 and the SaaS Business Asia's "Most Ambitious SaaS" in 2015.
Looking ahead, Royston is committed to helping grow the regional tech ecosystem to new heights in the region