Dinesh Balasingam is a hard act to follow. The Chope COO arrives at the studio in a knit sweater and embellished designer boots (one of his colleagues lets on that Balasingam is often the best-dressed at the office) but he’s hardly afraid of rolling up these immaculate sleeves and getting his hands dirty. It’s something he often does, given that Chope now operates out of eight cities across Asia and has a stable of over 3,000 restaurants.
This one-time theatre hopeful had ambitions of pursuing a career onstage, but a chance encounter led Balasingam to become, in his own words, an “accidental entrepreneur”. What began as a year-long opportunity with Chope quickly turned into a seven-year stint from which Balasingam never looked back. In late 2017, Chope raised fresh funding worth US$13million led by Square Peg Capital.
Never mind he doesn’t work under the spotlights — Balasingam still manages to bring some measure of showmanship into his life. In December 2017, he got together with friends for local quartet Squarto to perform Broadway hits at the Esplanade.
Otherwise, Balasingam derives joy from managing the colourful cast of characters that make up Chope. “People are what make an organisation great,” he says. “I feel blessed to work with an amazing group of individuals who inspire me and with whom I am excited to collaborate every day.”