Beyond The 9-6 Job. Lau Jun Wen Shares His Experience In Building His Own Army-Themed Card Game To Diversify His Income Sources

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One piece of advice that we may have come across is the importance of building multiple income sources to grow our wealth. While many people may focus on a single career or business, relying only on one income source is risky.

This vulnerability becomes clearer during economic downturns, where the job market might be unstable. Moreover, having a single income stream may also prove challenging to achieve our financial goals, especially amidst the rising cost of living.

Someone who firmly believes in the importance of diversifying his income sources, is Lau Jun Wen. While working as a project delivery manager for a cryptocurrency exchange company, he started his own army-inspired card game, Keluar Baris, that he sells on his e-commerce website, GreebleGames.

His entrepreneurial spirit dates back to his primary school days. He designed game books filled with hand-drawn mazes and puzzles and charged his classmates ten cents to play them. This early venture, driven by the limited pocket money that he received, helped nurture an entrepreneurial mindset from a young age.

Beyond his creative endeavours, Jun Wen, who developed an interest in stock investments during his university studies, is also looking to actively grow his dividend income stream to supplement his living expenses.

In this edition of #theeverydayinvestor, where we feature everyday investors around us, we chat with Jun Wen about his experience in starting his side hustle as well as how he invests for his future.

Shashi Kumar (Shashi): You created an army-inspired card-game, named Keluar Baris that you can play with up to five people. Tell us about your inspiration, what got you started on this?

Lau Jun Wen (Jun Wen): It was during covid and I was renting a small apartment with my wife while waiting for our delayed BTO to be ready. My main source of entertainment was my computer and I was drawing some army related pictures and sharing them on social media. I was reminiscing about the enduring days in army where I was basically in survival mode and my goal was just to make it through the day.

The drawing of army related designs and the idea of surviving and meeting objectives in army got me thinking and I started to conceptualise a card game based on my army experience. That was how the “Keluar Baris” card game came about.

Keluar Baris contains 128 beautifully crafted playing cards – Source: Lau Jun Wen

Shashi: Moving from ideation to implementation can be challenging for many aspiring entrepreneurs, as they often desire to perfect their product or service before launching it. Can you share your experience with overcoming those hurdles when building your business?

Jun Wen: Every side hustle would have different hurdles. For me, it was about finding out the companies that would print my cards and assessing them based on their price, and the quality of the samples that they’ve sent me. Having worked in a quasi-government organisation before, my experience in evaluating vendors based on price and quality ratio came in handy for this task.

After I had the designs printed by a card-making factory and turned them into an actual product, I realised that I needed a brand to sell the product under. That’s where I set up the GreebleGames e-commerce website. While I didn’t have to code my e-commerce website from scratch, my background in developing an e-commerce website for one of my polytechnic diploma projects sped up the setting-up process.

My primary objective with this endeavour was to experience making a product from conceptualisation all the way to production and sales, which I have succeeded in doing. National Service (NS) is a common experience that many Singaporeans share, whether directly or indirectly. Ever since the launch of the Keluar Baris card game, I have produced other army inspired merchandise, such as T-shirts with parade commands stylised to look like familiar brands and metal signage that looks like those you see outside of camps.

I hope to continue expanding the product catalogue and I am continuously looking out for the next inspiration to make that happen. My biggest challenge is not knowing what will sell. My strategy is to keep trying and reiterating while being cognizant of the potential risks and impacts. I tell myself that it is okay to fail (i.e. product is not popular) as long as I get something out of it, such as having fun while doing it and learning along the way.

Lau Jun Wen playing the prototype with his friends to fine tune the mechanics – Source: Lau Jun Wen

Shashi: What was the biggest challenge that you faced in growing your online business?

Jun Wen: One of the challenges that I faced when selling physical products is that most factories have a minimum order quantity (“MOQ”), and I would also need to have the space to store them.

To address this, where possible, I try to look for factories that would take my design and produce my product with no MOQ and can ship directly to the customers. I’d also design products that take up little physical space, such as the metal signs that can be stacked and take up very little space.

Sometimes products may end up damaged when received by the customer, so I also learned about service recovery and how to package my products better.

Read Also: Why Jeraldine Phneah Believes That Every Millennial Needs To Care About Their Investment Journey

Shashi: Starting a business requires some upfront capital and takes time to see some traction before the sales trickle in. Can you share how much time and money you invested in building your business alongside your full-time job?

Jun Wen: I spent about half a year designing and making prototypes and getting my friends to fine-tune the game mechanics with me. The upfront cost for manufacturing the card game was less than $3,000.

There was basically no income from this side hustle until the product was ready for sale. I thought to myself that if this card game idea failed, that’d be my maximum loss, and I’d be okay with it since I’d be doing something that I enjoy, which is illustration and making stuff, and I’d also be learning and gaining new experiences in the process.

Shashi: Beyond your business, what else are you investing in?

Jun Wen: I also dabble in the stock market by looking for short-term trading opportunities. However, now that I have a mortgage to service and a home renovation cost to recover from, I am taking a more prudent approach when investing.

The bulk of my portfolio is still Tesla (“TSLA”) stock but I don’t intend to increase or decrease my holding. I sell covered calls on them to earn some extra income.

My biggest focus now is to fortify my safety net as well as cautiously but consistently invest in Covered Call Exchange-Traded Funds (“ETFs”) with monthly dividend payments that will hopefully build me another source of consistent income.

Read Also: Meet Gavin Tan, A 21-Year-Old NSF Who Has Invested In More Than 20 Stocks Since Starting His Investment Journey

Shashi: How were you introduced to investing in stocks and what are some initial mistakes that you made? 

Jun Wen: I studied Economics and Finance for my bachelor’s degree. My graduation project was to perform a fundamental analysis of Fraser & Neave (F&N), a public listed company. It was where I learned about the concepts of stocks and other financial products.

There weren’t many stock-investment platforms back then. The friction of signing up, coupled with my low-risk appetite, meant that I didn’t buy my first stock until a much later age. But the introduction of newer low-cost investment platforms with attractive sign-up bonuses, along with a nudge from my colleague, eventually gave me the final push I needed to begin my investment journey.

One of my initial mistakes was buying a stock based on news reports that were hyping it up as its price was skyrocketing. I learned that when that happens, the stock has pretty much already peaked, and it was too late to buy it.

Shashi: Growing up, was the term “investing” a concept or idea that you were familiar with?

Jun Wen: The concept of investment wasn’t something I was exposed to while growing up. I remember when I was little, I was walking in a mall full of moneychangers with my parents.

I observed that different shops were offering different exchange rates for the same currency pairs, and I asked my parents if it was possible to take advantage of that to make money. My parents said yes but didn’t offer any further information as they were not well versed in investment.

It was only until I was in tertiary education that I began to learn about investment through peers and formal education.

Shashi: What is an advice that you will have for anyone who wants to start a side hustle while working full-time?

Jun Wen: For anyone looking to start a side hustle, be creative, look at the things that you enjoy doing, and think of how others can benefit from them.

For example, if you like to sleep, you can be a mattress tester. My point is that whatever you like to do, there can be money to be made from it if you look hard enough. As cliché as it is, if you’re doing something that you like, especially as a side hustle, it’ll be a lot more enjoyable, and it’ll negate the risk of the side hustle failing.

When it comes to investing in the financial markets, I think time is an important factor. My advice would be to start as early as possible. It also helps to find someone who can guide you through the hoops of whatever you choose to invest in. You should have the discipline to do what is right, like pulling out in time from a bad investment that you may have emotional attachment to or making a consistent contribution to a dollar-cost averaging (“DCA”) investment strategy.

Look To Have More Than One Income Stream To Grow Your Wealth

It’s common for many to rely on one income stream, whether that’s our job or business – which is not wrong. But if we want to grow our wealth faster and enjoy financial security, we should look to diversify our income streams beyond our primary jobs.

Like Jun Wen, who tapped into his creative talent to build his card-game side hustle, we too may have latent skills and knowledge beyond our job roles. We could leverage it to not only create an additional income source but also broaden our skillsets in other areas along the way.

Along with our active income, we could also build passive income streams, like investing for dividend income. As Jun Wen shared, when it comes to investing, starting early gives us the advantage of compounding our wealth over a long period of time. While we can start small, we could use a DCA approach to consistently invest regardless of the market condition to reap the rewards over the long term.

Read the other articles in our #everydayinvestor series.

Why Jeraldine Phneah Believes That Every Millennial Needs To Care About Their Investment Journey

From GP Essays To Stock Investing Articles: A 20-Year-Old Shows Why Age Is Just A Number When It Comes To Investing

How This Full-Time University Student Finds Time To Study, Work, Invest & Go To The Gym Regularly

Meet Vincent Ha, A FinTech Entrepreneur Who Not Only Spends His Time (And Money) Building Companies, But Also To Invest In The Financial Markets

The Mom Who Is Learning How To Invest, Vanny (@vannytelly) Shares Her Worries As She Starts Her Investment Journey

Meet Gavin Tan, A 21-Year-Old NSF Who Has Invested In More Than 20 Stocks Since Starting His Investment Journey

From Overseas Travel To Overseas Stocks: Yasmine Khater Shares How She Went From Living A YOLO Lifestyle To Becoming A Confident Investor

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