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ClimbPass: Scaling the walls and the entrepreneurship space

The Refuel Team had a chat with ClimbPass' founder, Ernest, where we learnt more about climbing, and what prompted Ernest to start a company revolving around the sport.



From New York to Singapore


Ernest only started climbing a year ago, but his love for the sport really shines through as he excitedly explains the terminologies, procedures, and the feelings it evokes, to us, climbing noobs.


Throwback to 2018 when Ernest was in New York, and tried climbing for the first time. He was in a phase of transition in his life at that time, and climbing helped him release his frustrations and gain a greater sense of purpose. It was then he developed a keen interest and appreciation for the sport. When he returned to Singapore, he wanted to keep climbing, but found that it was way too expensive.


Instead of seeing this as a setback in his climbing journey, he decided to take the opportunity to start ClimbPass, which he envisioned as a platform where all the climbers in Singapore can get connected to share multi-passes (a set of 10 entry passes to climbing gyms which members have to buy in bulk at the start) with each other. Since a multi-pass usually expires in six months to a year, recreational climbers might not be able to use up all their passes. Sharing passes is thus a more viable, cost-saving option.


Together with his co-founders Nigel, Yan Shiang and Jia Chen, Ernest launched the ClimbPass minimum viable product (MVP) - a Telegram chat called ClimbJios. In just four months, the number of members grew to 1,200, and is now a bustling community of climbers. It is mostly a Consumer-to-Consumer (C2C) and community based platform at the moment, but a web-application is in the works, with plans to partner with climbing gyms and aggregate the selling of passes.


Ernest met his three co-founders at a module by the NUS Entrepreneurship Society, where he first pitched the idea of ClimbPass. The first thing he did to convince his co-founders of the ClimbPass idea was to invite them to go climbing with him. The team also saw climbing as a relatively new and untapped market that would soon be booming, as it is recognised as an official sport for the first time, in the 2020 Olympics. There was also a huge surge in the popularity of climbing after a documentary was made about Alex Hannold free climbing Yosemite's El Capitan.


How it all Started


Why entrepreneurship? Ernest started getting interested in entrepreneurship when he joined the NUS Enterprise Summer Programme as a student ambassador. Prior to joining, he knew absolutely nothing about entrepreneurship. What he didn't expect was to learn so much about entrepreneurship from the two-week programme, that it changed the course of his studies. During the programme, he witnessed many young participants who had their own startups, and he was extremely inspired. This pushed him to embark on the NUS Overseas College Programme to New York where he interned with a startup there, and subsequently became a startup founder himself back in Singapore.


There were all these students from all over the world, and so many of them had their own startups. I was really really inspired.

To Ernest, climbing and entrepreneurship are quite similar in some ways. For climbing, there are many different ways to complete the same route, and you have to be creative and resourceful to get to your end goal - just like entrepreneurship.


If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, you need a community and a team. This is the same for climbing and entrepreneurship.

Ernest hopes to be able to connect climbers to other climbers, and to provide a community for them to meet friends and build relationships. Are you a solo climber looking for more people to climb with, and aspiring climber, or just looking for a tribe? Check out the ClimbJios telegram chat, and stay updated for when ClimbPass launches their website!


Learning more about entrepreneurship, innovation or just curious about how startups make money? Find out more about ClimbPass's business model, and check out a SWOT Analysis on the company here!




Refuel was founded to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs through the stories of startup founders. We aim to build a global community of entrepreneurs and innovators, and hustle on together.


We hope you liked the story! If you have any requests for startups to feature, questions on entrepreneurship, or just simply want to chat, feel free to drop us a line at hellorefuel@gmail.com, on Facebook or Instagram!

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