Chio S'pore woman creates successful travel app for singles -- but life wasn't without hardship

Krystal Choo taught herself how to code HTML and Javascript when she was 12, started making money as a website designer by 15, and is currently one of the most successful female entrepreneurs at 28.

However, life has not been a bed of roses for Choo, whose first business failed. She also opens up about how she has struggled with depression all her life, in an interview with Nextshark.

Choo was born in Singapore to an air traffic controller and homemaker, which she describes as a 'humble family'.

"As a kid, I always loved to find out how things work. We didn’t have anything, so I was always making my own games, writing my own stories," she said, adding that she has always been fascinated by technology too.

Choo launched her first company right after college. By the time she was 27, she had four companies under her belt and was a two-time TEDx speaker.

Her first business failed, but she found success with her second startup, Insurgence, an events company that currently operates in three countries.

However, she sold her shares just after four years because of her interest in the tech industry, going on to set up ZipTrip, which aims to help people find the best travel deals through a predictive algorithm.

Despite raising $55,000 in funds in 2013, things did not go well as planned because she 'burned through the money and wasn't able to get traction'.

That was when Choo launched Wander, a budding startup that aims to bring single world travellers together.

She said, "I’m not going to say I have 100K daily views. I want to say today I created 178,000 moments where people didn’t feel lonely. I find it really meaningful.

"It’s very humbling when someone calls me and says, ‘I would never have met this girl if not for Wander.’"

Choo's inspiration for Wander actually comes from the loneliness and depression that she has struggled with all her life.

Ever since the tender age of eight, Choo has felt a deep sense of loneliness and that feeling only escalated into 'brokenness' when she was 14.

She said, "I went to the doctor, and in 15 minutes a psychiatrist managed to diagnose me with severe clinical depression. I was given Prozac, Xanax and therapy as well.

"I did that for eight years. I wanted desperately to get off the drugs, and they wouldn’t get me off them. I felt very lobotomized. My memory was completely shot."

Therapy and acknowledging her illness helped her to fight depression, which has also in turn helped her deal with the challenges of building a startup.

"When you’re on a ledge facing your death and having mental illness, losing your CTO or your top guy or your company failing gives you perspective: it becomes a little bit smaller."

Launched in mid-November, Wander targets only single people, where you scroll through to see who’s interested in the same places, interests and activities.

However, Choo stresses that it is not a dating application but one for singles to connect and share meaningful moments.

She said, "I’ve met people who I’ve had amazing conversations with and that was it. I’ve met people in cities once for an hour and we’re friends 12 years later."