• Jodi Tan

​​Shaking up the Built Environment sector with Ocelot

Eldon Zhu may be a young entrepreneur, but do not doubt his knowledge and experience. He is the Co-Founder and current Creative Director of Ocelot. In this article, he shares his perspectives on entrepreneurship, Ocelot and advice for aspiring business owners.

First off, what is Ocelot and how was it created?

Ocelot is a forward-looking firm formed by a group of individuals from diverse backgrounds like philosophy, journalism, and accounting amongst others. This young start-up plans to shake up the built environment industry by adopting the latest technologies and efficient business practices to provide a wide range of services for their clients including marketing, publicity management, and business operations. They seek to change the traditional ways of business in this industry to make it more environmentally friendly and sustainable in the long run.

Ocelot came to be during the COVID-19 pandemic when Singapore was stuck in multiple circuit breakers. During this time, Singaporeans were confined in their homes and were forced to interact with their surroundings a lot more. Naturally, more attention was then paid to this industry.

Why is there a need for Ocelot and how does it stand out from its competitors?

Eldon mentions that not many young people venture into the built environment sector and feels that this industry needs urgent disruption due to the pollutive and environmentally damaging practices. After all, since buildings will always need to be torn down and replaced with better infrastructure, this aligns with his goal of making positive and lasting change for the environment. Hence, Ocelot was created to offer their clients alternative methods of conducting business in this industry by providing consultations for improving business operations and making this their niche. This helps their clients to reduce unnecessary costs, administrative tasks and increase their profits. With that, Ocelot has positioned itself such that they lead the market.

Additionally, Ocelot plans to expand outwards to Southeast Asia in the near future due to the untapped potential for this sector in the region. They also intend to work with established European companies in the future to import their cutting-edge technology and practices for this industry.

The struggles they faced and what being an entrepreneur means...

However, as with all start-ups, Ocelot has had its fair share of struggles. In the beginning, they had difficulty attracting clients due to their inexperience. Thus, they priced their services below the market rate to attract their first few clients and built their base from there. After all, they needed the smaller clients to build their portfolio before they could attract the bigger clients. Throughout this phase, Eldon mentioned how mental resilience was critical as they took on many clients but did not earn much revenue from their work and had to rely on the faith that it would all work out in the end. However, what drove this entrepreneurial spirit is the great value that he believes Ocelot provides.

To Eldon, an entrepreneur is a problem-solver, providing specific and effective solutions that sometimes involve the exchange of money. On the other hand, he sees a businessman/ businesswoman as someone who is focused on profits regardless of what product or service that they sell, even if it has no inherent value. This distinction is important to Eldon as he feels that people have a tendency to confuse entrepreneurship with purely business when in reality, the terms aren’t interchangeable.

Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:

  1. “Network properly and network hard and it will pay off”. Be genuine and truthful when making connections. Before any collaboration can occur, ensure that your product or service can be of value to potential partners.

  2. Read up on entrepreneurship, find out what many entrepreneurs globally are trying to do as “these people are actually making a big difference because it’s entrepreneurs that created some of the world-changing products in the last 10 years”.

  3. “If you go into entrepreneurship wanting to make money, then you may not be able to offer a product that has genuine value to the world” and that makes you just another business person that is “likely going to be chasing short term capital gains”.

  4. Do it as a side hustle first until it can generate substantial profits for one to “justify the risk” before making the start-up or business one’s full-time job.

Lastly, when asked about what advice he would give to NES members, he mentioned that members can consider the NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) as it helps one to dive deeper into the entrepreneurship space!


Article by Nicholas Wong, Researcher/Writer under Content Creation Division in NES.

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