Gerald Ong is no longer just a badminton star.
Today, he is a full-time entrepreneur and content creator. On his YouTube channel, he talks about topics like personal finance, entrepreneurship, and building wealth by living minimally.
Former badminton star
Before he started dishing out finance tips, Gerald was a top athlete in Singapore.
In 2011, he won bronze at the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games. He was also ranked among the top 15 in the Badminton World Junior Ranking that year.
Image: Provided by Gerald, from winning the bronze medal for a badminton team event at the SEA Games in 2011.
Even after he stopped playing competitively, Gerald continued to pursue his passion for the sport. In 2015, he opened BG Badminton Academy, a badminton school in Singapore.
He also runs the BG Badminton Academy YouTube channel, which provides free badminton tips and tutorials online. It has 133,000 subscribers and over 11,000,000 video views today.
Watch his interview here to find out how he switched from sports to entrepreneurship.
Gerald joined the Singapore national badminton team when he was 16. It was his first full-time job.
It was then he started paying for his own living expenses and realised he did not have much left after that.
Without enough savings, he knew he would not be able to retire comfortably. This got him worried about his future.
He also learnt his income alone would not provide enough for his retirement, and felt he needed to learn how to invest as well.
Relying on passive income
Gerald’s entrepreneurship dreams started young. But it was not always smooth sailing.
In 2012, he launched a badminton website and got about 1,000 website visitors after 6 months, earning him S$1 every month from advertising revenue. But he was spending S$30 a month just to maintain the website. Losing S$29 every month, he decided to shut the website after half a year.
A few years later, he started a badminton coaching business while doing his National Service (NS). This time, he made sure there were proper marketing, operations, accounting structures in place.
The business generated an annual revenue of S$200,000 and around S$18,000 in annual profit. This business went on to become BG Badminton Academy.
Eventually, Gerald set his sights on becoming a YouTube content creator too. He first saw the enormous potential of content creation after seeing his badminton tutorial video on the BG Badminton Academy YouTube channel gain over 10,000 views.
So he started another YouTube channel focused on personal finance. Currently, it has more than 7,000 subscribers and around 500,000 views. This brings in around S$450 every month.
Besides his businesses. Gerald also invests in exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
He said he earned between S$1,450 and S$2,050 every month in passive income in 2020.
But is this sum really enough to live on? Gerald said yes, because of his frugal lifestyle. His monthly expenses, which include rent, food, transport, and insurance, only come up to between S$1,065 and S$1,205.
Lessons from his investments
Image: Gerald sharing crypto tips in a YouTube video on his channel.
Gerald saw an opportunity in cryptocurrency in 2021. He went into crypto mining and made almost S$30,000, which went partly towards his new home.
But though Gerald’s crypto investments generated a tidy sum of money, he has his fair share of failed investments too.
When Gerald started his undergraduate studies in 2016, he thought he had spotted a golden opportunity after oil prices plunged by 70% from around US$80 to US$30 a barrel between 2014 and 2016.
So he made his first oil investment by buying US oil barrels options.
But the price of oil continued to fall, and Gerald lost money instead. Eventually, he decided to cut his losses and withdraw his money.
Proper insurance coverage should not be overlooked
Gerald also believes having adequate insurance coverage is key to being financially independent. This stems from his own personal experience.
In 2020, Gerald went through surgery for a chronic shoulder injury. It was mostly covered by MediShield Life, the only insurance he had at that time.
But then he realised that physiotherapy is not covered under Medishield Life, and he had to pay out of his own pocket for the post-recovery treatment.
He learned he needed proper insurance coverage that covers rehabilitation, not just hospitalisation.
Working hard from young pays off in the future
Gerald’s discipline and determination helped him to build his YouTube channel and business from scratch. He continues to reap the results from his hard work.
Like our SgFinancePros series? Check out the other videos from this series you may have missed on our Youtube channel.
And you’ll probably like our Money Journals too, where everyday Singaporeans and Malaysians give us a glimpse into their inner financial lives – how much they’re making, spending, saving, and investing.