Growing up, engineer by training Raymond Bo dared to dream big, aspiring to reach the stars and break new ground. “In my early years, I harboured not one but three ambitions - to be an astronaut, an inventor and an entrepreneur,” recalls the CEO of Singapore Exchange (SGX) listed iWOW Technology, a tech provider specialising in Internet of Things (IoT) solutions.
“I was described as a dreamer, a tinkerer and a risk-taker. So in founding iWOW, I am fulfilling at least two of my three ambitions,” he adds. Bo graduated from the National University of Singapore with a Bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1993. He began his career as a product engineer in Motorola Electronics Singapore, eventually becoming the research and development manager responsible for overseeing Motorola’s Asia Pacific R&D team.
He left Motorola in 1998 and, a year later, founded iWOW to provide in-house product design and manufacturing services for mobile and wireless telecommunication devices, servicing leading mobile brands and large electronics companies.
“Having read engineering in university and worked several years in R&D in a multinational company famous for its wireless competency, starting iWOW — a wireless technology company — to wow the world seemed like a natural progression,” Bo says.
“But what not many people know is that the “i” in “iWOW” was added as a collective afterthought. And it set us off on a journey to inspire the world of wireless.”
Even after nearly three decades in the industry, Bo remains passionate about wireless telecommunications. “What continues to motivate me is the prospect of creating new products and solutions that have positive societal impact,” he adds. “I am also excited to see how concepts in our heads can be converted into actual products that we can hold in our hands.”
Looking back, Bo sees the mistakes and intelligent decisions made in the 20 years that iWow has been in operations. “I always remind myself that this is a journey that my team and I have embarked on together, and as a result, our decisions were made collectively. And whatever the consequences — good or bad — we will make the best of them as long as we work together.”
A collective effort
Not surprisingly, teamwork is one of his core management values at iWOW. “In any venture of significance, it’s teamwork that is the key to success,” Bo says. “Team building is crucial at the start, and probably hardest as a start-up, as we’re not just looking for anyone to do a piece of work. Rather, we are looking for the right people who share our vision and will be part of our “family”,” he adds.
“And like a family, we must understand and accept one another’s strengths and weaknesses, and trust that we have each other’s backs as we face challenges together.”
Another core value born over the last two decades has been humility. “This is linked to teamwork but goes much deeper,” Bo adds. “In my experience in technology and innovation, I’ve seen repeatedly how the best solutions are created through the contest of competing ideas and the final form is often a collective effort, rather than the product of a single individual.”
“However, it’s easy to be blinded to new possibilities when we believe that our ideas are better than others or that we are “more” just because of our titles. As such, humility is important in finding the balance crucial for innovation and collaboration.”
Listed on SGX Catalist in April, iWOW is a Singapore-based technology provider specialising in integrated wireless IoT solutions for an increasingly urbanised, ageing and resource-constrained world. Its extensive portfolio of products equips businesses and ordinary citizens with technologies to lead more innovative, efficient and meaningful lives.
Their products include the TraceTogether Token, an app vital to Singapore’s contact tracing efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic. It has also developed the Alarm Alert System that connects elderly residents who live alone to a 24 hours a day, seven days a week hotline service and emergency assistance. The company also developed the Electronic Monitoring System, which supports the reintegration of former offenders into society, and the Smart Metering Solution, which enables environmentally conscious companies to detect unconscious waste in their utility consumption.
Looking ahead, Bo is focused on creating IoT solutions “offered as a service” that ride on megatrends, the first of which is rapid urbanisation. According to data from the World Bank, 68% of the global population is projected to live in urban areas by 2045. As a result, governments are introducing initiatives to improve infrastructure and tackle challenges created by rapid urbanisation rates.
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“With the recent announcement that Singapore plans to spend $3.8 billion in ICT (information and communications technology) this year, homegrown technology companies like us are well-positioned to seize the opportunities that may arise,” he adds. The second megatrend is Ageing Populations, where the number of persons aged 65 years and above is projected to more than double to 1.5 billion by 2050, as reported by the United Nations.
“IoT devices have the potential to enhance elder medical care while reducing costs and improving quality of life,” Bo says. “In Singapore, for example, the government recently announced that $18 million will be pumped into Singapore Community Care Digital Transformation Plan four, which is a clear signal of the demand for technological solutions for our ageing population.”
The third megatrend is Sustainability, where the focus falls on resolving challenges businesses and families face in an increasingly resource-constrained world. iWOW’s Smart Metering solutions addressed some of these challenges, Bo notes.
According to market research company Allied Market Research, the global smart meter market is forecast to reach US$54.3 billion ($75.9 billion) by 2030, expanding at an impressive CAGR of 10.1% between 2021 and 2030. Growth drivers include the development of communication network infrastructure, government initiatives and digital electricity infrastructure investments.
“We’re gearing up for our next growth phase, which includes plans to expand the geographical reach and enhance our product portfolio,” Bo says. “We’re also working to shift our revenue mix towards a higher-margin subscription model — a change we believe will enhance our ability to deliver sustainable growth for all stakeholders.”
Despite the robust industry outlook, Bo remains concerned about building a broad talent pipeline to sustain the Group’s longer term growth prospects. “The biggest challenges in my view are our ability to hire good talent and building succession plans to ensure the continued growth and competitiveness of the company,” he says.
“Our strategy is to make iWOW a choice employer in the areas of personal growth for employees, and we’ve been dedicating much of our resources from the IPO to this.”
There is much to keep this 53-year-old busy. But when Bo is out of the office, he can be found with his family, which includes a daughter who just turned 18.
“I’m very proud of my daughter, and I don’t think she needs much advice from me. But if I must give advice, it would be that there is a greater purpose in our lives, more than all the toil of our hands — although toil is important and should be meaningful too,” he says. “I hope that she finds her greater purpose someday.”
iWOW is a Singapore-based technology provider specialising in integrated wireless IoT solutions for an increasingly urbanised, ageing and resource-constrained world. Its extensive portfolio equips businesses and ordinary citizens with technologies to lead smarter, more efficient, meaningful lives. Their products include the TraceTogether Token that was important to Singapore’s contact tracing efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic. The company also innovative IoT solutions like the Alarm Alert System that connects elderly residents who live alone to a 24/7 hotline service and emergency assistance, an Electronic Monitoring System that supports the reintegration of former offenders back into society and the Smart Metering Solution that enables environmentally conscious companies detect unconscious waste in their utility consumption. The company website is: www.iwow.com.sg
About kopi-C: The Company Brew
kopi-C is a regular column on the SGX Research website that features C-level executives of leading companies listed on Singapore Exchange. These interviews are profiles of senior management aimed at helping investors better understand the individuals who run these corporations