3 most profitable businesses to start in Singapore

18 May 2017

Singapore might be touted an up-and-coming hub for budding entrepreneurs, but that does not mean that starting a local business is a guaranteed success. In oversaturated markets like the Food & Beverage industry: 


Nearly half of the 369 cafes that opened shop in 2011 have since pulled down the shutters. Of the 391 which registered last year, almost 100 have exited the market i

Before taking the plunge, assess the local market to see if there is a demand for your product or service. Here are 3 options you can explore when looking to start your own business:

Travel and tourism

In Singapore, around 50% of those aged 15 and above travel at least once a year, making travel a lucrative market. ii

Experts advise against setting up travel agencies, as online hotel and transport booking has made them near obsolete. However, travel activity organisations like the local BeMyGuest thrive by giving users experiences like activities and tours instead. With exclusive deals and customised travel options, the SME has consistently won accolades in the tourism industry since its inception.


e27’s Marketing Research Analyst Sapan Bhardwaj recommends that startups look to the big players for lessons on how to flourish in the tourism industry. For example, Decolar, a travel booking platform that is used in 21 countries, extends its booking options beyond just flight and accommodation, making them an all-in-one stop for customers. As Bhardwaj explains, “Localised service and expanding business to car rentals are the prime takeaways from Decolar.”iii



Compared to the skyrocketing costs of rental in Singapore, starting an online shop costs relatively little capital, and is a good platform to kickstart a business. Take your cue from Naiise founder Dennis Tay, who started his business in 2013 with a small investment of $3000. Today, Naiise has six brick and mortar stores in Singapore, even expanding into Malaysia and the UK.


Mr Tay highlights his strategy, explaining “We decided to start with an online store to serve as a test. It will be a place where we can understand our consumer’s wants and demands. It has a way to see the logistics of things. Being online will help you lower the costs. I believe that for this to be successful, it has to be forward thinking and long term thinking. We can spend 3,000 instead of 10,000 dollars.”iv

Video and editing


Given video marketing’s ability to boost email click through rates by 200-300% and increasing landing page conversion by up to 80%, video content is now an essential part of branding.  Given its importance, the demand for video and editing professionals is on the rise.


Video production startup 90 seconds rose to meet this demand, raising US$7.5 million from top venture capital establishment Sequoia India in the process.

By merging an online marketplace for video production with workflow management, the startup is now touted the world’s leading cloud video creation platform, its market reach extending to over 100 countries.


When planning out your new startup, ensure that you are in the right market, at the right time. Be aware of the mistakes commonly made by startups that your business can avoid.


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