5 Questions With… Khairul Rusydi, Co-Founder & CEO, Reactor

5 Questions With… is an initiative to feature local entrepreneurs and give you a glimpse into their daily lives – how they live, work, and play. This week, we speak to Khairul Rusydi, co-founder and CEO of Reactor.

An NTU graduate, Rusydi started Reactor in his final year of university after emerging the champion team at the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum. Reactor designs entrepreneurship programmes for high schools and universities, for students aged 14 to 24. It helps students turn their ideas into projects, with some projects also transforming into actual businesses.

5 Things That Are Always In Your Daily Routine 

  1. Coffee while reading The Business Times and DBS House Reports in the morning, and lining up my trades before the market opens at 9am. I’ve recently gotten more active in trading and investing, so am making it a habit to read about the local and regional markets. 
  2. Mornings are typically spent replying to urgent emails and Slack messages, and doing follow-ups from the previous day. 
  3. Afternoons are typically back-to-back Google Hangouts and Zoom calls. I’m usually most lethargic in the afternoons. But being an extrovert, scheduling meetings right after lunch keeps me energised and productive throughout the day. 
  4. Pre-COVID: Go to the gym at 4pm, when the gym is empty and I don’t have to queue for the bench. Now: Go for a run around my neighbourhood in the early evening, taking a slightly different route each time.  
  5. Reading just before bed. It helps me wind down after staring at the screen the entire day, and is also a good time to reflect and get new ideas.

4 Apps That You Cannot Live Without

DBS iWealth – I like how DBS iWealth gives me a dashboard and overview of my entire portfolio. It’s also really convenient to queue my trades while counting towards my Multiplier Account. 

Spotify – Not just to listen to music, but also to listen to podcasts. One of my favorites is the one hosted by Reid Hoffman, called ‘Masters of Scale’. The first episode with Airbnb’s Bryan Chesky is a masterclass, and can be found here.

Xero – Xero has a great dashboard to help me track of all the funds that are going in and out of the company. (I just realise that I have a thing for dashboards haha.)

Google Drive – Ever since one of my hard disk drives got corrupted years ago, I’ve shifted all my work to the cloud. I’m glad that I can bring the office anywhere I go, as I’m usually overseas at least a third of the time. 

3 Books That Had The Biggest Impact On You

Paul Graham Essays – This isn’t a book per se, but Paul Graham from Y Combinator has a series of essays written over the years with timeless advice for startup co-founders, and is applicable for those at both the novice and expert levels. My favourite one is entitled ‘Being Relentlessly Resourceful’.

Deep Work by Cal Newport – One of the challenges of transiting from Phase 1 CEO to Phase 2 CEO is that you work less in the company, and more on the company. This involves more coaching and management, as well as using a red pen to edit and vet (as opposed to a black one to write and create). It’s easy to get sucked up in endless meetings and discussions. I like Deep Work because it outlines how I can set aside dedicated focus time to build things and get productive work done.               

In the Black by Allen Bostrom – A recent recommendation by one of my investors. It’s a simple-to-read book that can be finished over the weekend, but it covers useful advice on how to move towards profitability by aligning marketing, production and accounting. I usually read paperback books, but this one is on my Kindle Reader on iPad.

2 Entrepreneurs You Look Up To 

Ho Kwon Ping – I admire Mr Ho for his ability build a successful business whilst being active in civil society and philanthropy. Mr Ho leads initiatives in various domains, including education and sustainability. I’m glad I got the chance to watch him moderate high-level panels with other business leaders and politicians during the Singapore Summit organised by Temasek. 

Elon Musk – I don’t agree with everything that Elon has said, but I do admire his ability to execute on his ideas and vision extremely well. He has picked some of the most complex and difficult problems that humanity is facing, and I admire how singularly focused he is in aligning his entire team. As he himself puts it, it is rocket science. 

1 Piece Of Advice For Budding Entrepreneurs 

Pick up an ASEAN language. It’s going to be really useful as we see the rise of Southeast Asia over the next few years.

Khairul Rusydi

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