SINGAPORE (CNN) -- Ron Sim is an entrepreneur at heart. As a child, he sold noodles on the streets of Singapore for pocket money. In the early 1980s he set up a trading company selling household goods and appliances. Over time, that evolved into Osim, which today generates most of its 380 million dollar annual revenues from high-end massage chairs, as well as a host of other healthy-lifestyle products. The Boardroom's Andrew Stevens caught up with Ron Sim at his Singapore headquarters.
Ron Sim, founder and CEO of Osim
Stevens: You've been quoted as saying that entrepreneurs do it for hunger or despair or desire. Which one were you?
Sim: When I first started the business at 20, it was all pure hunger. You know, and then I hit some bad crisis in the '80s and, you know, you go into some bad despair and that taught me a lesson too. You know you've got to find you're own niches and when you go through that hunger and despair process... Right now it's all about desire.
Stevens: In the 1980s, Singapore went through quite a significant recession. It was tough for you, and you took a decision to branch out into selling high-end, luxury products, i.e. these chairs, these massage chairs in the middle of a recession. What was the logic behind that?
Sim: The recession in Singapore was really bad, it taught me two things. You know, first you know you cannot be a trader. You have to shift from a trader model to a builder, you know, and I also realized that Singapore was too small, you need to build an external economy.
Osim first headed to Hong Kong... and today has more than 1100 shops in 31 countries.
Stevens: What would your advice be to someone starting out now?
Sim: I always tell the young entrepreneurs that are coming up, if you want to win, be prepared to lose. And every loss is an opportunity, you learn something from your loss. We lose many times.
With that said, these days Sim and his team are constantly reinventing their signature product.
Stevens: So, who did you learn from, how did you learn to get the models right?
Sim: The market of society is a teacher because you're trying to survive, you're learning everything all by yourself all the time, as trial and error.
As for this father of three, and his product...
Stevens: How may hours a day are you literally sitting on your product?
Sim: I'm always on a chair, always on a chair. (Gives a big smile) E-mail to a friend