Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in education but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Clarice Chan, Founder and CEO of Gateway+ Learning and ICON+, located in Singapore, Singapore.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

We started ICON+ about 20 years ago as a ‘traditional’ brick-and-mortar coaching and education preparation centre. We are known for our stellar test preparation, and scholarship and university admissions coaching services.

Earlier this year, we established GATEWAY+, our online learning platform, to reach out to more students that do not mind learning from a distance through our platform. We are also sandboxing an EdTech platform that leverages Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to bridge some gaps in the teaching and learning space.

For ICON+, our clients are students and their parents from Singapore and some of the more affluent families from other ASEAN countries. But with the establishment of GATEWAY+, we aim to provide a platform that allows us to democratise learning and reach out to more students in the region and beyond.

Tell us about yourself

I stumbled into entrepreneurship when my ex-boss decided to exit the Singapore market. At 25, I made the bold decision to buy over his business, rebrand, and grew it into the education group today. It is really hard to say what motivates me without sounding disingenuous, but I like the feeling of doing something well and seeing the labour of my efforts coming to fruition. Of course, there are days that I also ask myself why did I even get myself into this! But as long as the good days outnumber the bad ones, I will keep doing what I do.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Hitting the 20-year milestone. It is only upon looking back that I suddenly realise how far I have come. But it never stops here, there is always another hill to climb and another mountain to scale.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

I do not believe that it is any challenge that is unique only to being a business owner or an employee. You can plan for any task and prepare for it as best as you can, but there will always be bumps and roadblocks when the tire hits the road. To me, the hardest thing is to get your idea across and get buy-in from people. Be it your investor, your client, or your peers.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Work with competent people - colleagues and advisors.
  2. Learn and adapt quickly to find product-market fit.
  3. Be resilient in the face of challenges and crises.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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