SINGAPORE (July 4): Twenty-seven year-old Daniel Wong is building a business to make it easier for people to recycle, while providing jobs for ex-convicts and the elderly and potentially making a lot of money.

Long before he became the founder of online rag-and-bone service Karang-guni.com, Wong had an early head start in “entrepreneurship”.

A bookie at the age of 13, he had taken bets from his classmates and made handsome profit in the process. He soon became so popular that his clientele expanded to include students from neighbouring schools. Soon, the police found out and he was expelled from school.

However, it was an experience with an arthritis-stricken lady who left a lasting impression on him and gave him the motivation to get an education.

After his education at the Singapore Management University and a stint in Barclays Investment Bank, Wong invested the money he made from selling his condominium into his business. He learnt how to code, set up a minimalist website and bought a van. Wong became a one-man business.

Commenting on his competition, Wong thinks an on-demand approach to the karang guni business may work better.  “A lot of people won’t be bothered to bring their wires and small items to these collection points,” Wong says. “It isn’t convenient.”

It is a tough industry and the entrepreneurs who have gone before him attest to that.

But Wong is undaunted.

As the business grows, he wants to bring in former prisoners and the elderly to work in the warehouse and collect unwanted goods. He does not want to rely on grants and he wants to give his employees the opportunity to grow and develop their career paths. 

It may also be his best way of giving back to the elderly lady who arguably changed his life.

* You are reading an abridged version of “Ex-Barclays trader wants to digitise ‘karang guni’ business” by Trinity Chua. For the full story on Daniel Wong, pick up the latest copy of The Edge Singapore (week of 4 July, p EN6) at newsstands today!