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Customer's Lament Sparks Tracking Idea

The Straits Times

14 September 2014 – The idea to create a system that allows ships to monitor their fuel usage came to Mr Chia Yoong Hui while he was trying to sell someone something else entirely.

“I met a ship owner back in 2008 – when fuel prices were the highest in history – who was telling me that there was no way to monitor fuel consumption.”

Mr Chia was trying to sell the owner accounting software, but the lament caught this attention.

That led him to team up with a “former navy buddy”, Mr Sia Teck Chong, to create a system to solve the problem. They put in $100,000 and sought external funds from venture capitalists.

“From my past experience in the navy, I felt that there should be an automated way of managing all this,” recounted the 46-year-old, who is now chief executive of Ascenz.

Mr Chia spent 7 years in the navy after graduating from school and has a background in business software.

“With the world still very much reliant on sea freight to ship our products and with the backdrop of ever-rising fuel costs, we felt that it was a good segment to be in,” he said.

Getting funding was easier after Ascenz won business awards such as the National Infocomm Award and Emerging Enterprise Award.

He said: “With the publicity from those awards, we have investors approaching us to provide funding. Of course, we have to prove to them that our business is viable and scalable.”