#Girlboss: Tiziana Tan


Meet Tiziana Tan, 24, a mission-driven entrepreneur who wears many hats. She’s the Enterprise Director of Air Amber, which co-develops communities and co-creates social impact through the transformation of youths. She’s also the CEO of Brain Juice Collective, a youth-run marketing agency that offers high-quality yet affordable services to companies; and Director of Rebelhouse Asia, a creative agency and film production house. Impressed by her diverse portfolio, Gabrielle See speaks to Tiziana to learn more about her individual enterprises and their common goal to achieve positive social outcomes.

Tell us more about yourself. What were you doing prior to being involved in Air Amber, Brain Juice Collective and Rebelhouse Asia? 

I was an undergraduate when I started my first enterprise, Brain Juice Collective. Before that, I was working and volunteering for a non-profit youth leadership development organisation, AIESEC. Following that, I joined a marketing agency and then consulted for a rocket-internet backed hospitality start-up as their Global Marketing Consultant. I've also previously worked as a marketing executive for a clinic and done odd jobs like selling ice cream door-to-door, gift-wrapping during Christmas and so on!  

Take us back in time: what were you like as a child, and how have your formative years shaped who you are today?

I was an only child. My parents both worked full time, so I was independent and self-reliant from a young age, keeping myself entertained and taking charge of my own schoolwork. But I was always looking for something to do, which is why I took up jobs early on. That definitely shaped my entrepreneurial journey. Growing up, I didn’t have many good friends whom I felt I could trust, so I developed a strong will to start something of my own—to build something with my own hands, if you will. I believe this early drive to create and succeed definitely shaped the way I now handle challenges or issues.  

When did you know social entrepreneurship was something you were interested in? 

I don't think there was a specific point when I decided I wanted to pursue social entrepreneurship. It was very natural for me. I never saw my business separate from society. In fact, my business was born from my observations of society and a strong desire to impact my community (youths). If one’s business is strongly linked to the community and holds value for society, there is longevity and purpose in the work and business model.  

You wear many hats as Enterprise Director of Air Amber, CEO of Brain Juice Collective and Director of Rebelhouse Asia. At a glance, these appear to do very different things.

Are they similar ventures at the core? All three have strong developmental and community-building qualities—Brain Juice Collective’s mission is to develop and empower a new generation of youths and organisations to create positive value in the world; Air Amber’s in developing community and social consciousness; and Rebelhouse Asia’s in awakening the mind and heart, while transforming media consumption to effect positive change in society. Different as they seem, these organisations work closely and are complementary.

Tiziana delivering a workshop for the SMU Leadership Symposium 2017

What are the differences between running a social enterprise and a business venture, if any?

I don't think they should be different. As long as an enterprise exists in a community, i.e., employs people and/or serves a customer, it is a social enterprise. I believe the term “social enterprise” can be quite misunderstood and people may hold certain stereotypes when it comes to the term "social".  

Your co-founders Suraj and Shahril have interesting backstories prior to starting Air Amber. Can you share any past incidents that triggered a business idea?

Most of that is discussed in this article that illustrates my entrepreneurial journey. But to highlight one instance, I observed how companies were willing to pay top dollar for the services of marketing agencies, whereas young interns got very little compensation for a very high volume of work. I thought this was a very inefficient model, and thus came up with the idea of building a platform that would connect young talent with companies. Not only would this platform allow organisations to access high-quality services at a fraction of what they would otherwise pay to marketing agencies, it also offered the young people a headstart in developing their professional portfolios.  

Which of your many initiatives are you are you most proud of and why?

If I had to pick one, it would be Our Loving Population. I think that the concept of bringing generations together to innovate is something that is incredibly uplifting and relevant for the world. We’ve seen the magic of placing two unlikely groups together not just to bond, but also to learn and create!

Inter-generational projects are part of Air Amber’s "Our Loving Population" initiative

It seems like the Air Amber team is into documentaries! Suraj wanted to learn more about the lives of children whose mothers are sex workers after watching Born into Brothels and the team linked up with Pushpa Basnet after seeing Waiting for Mamu. Air Amber also hosts SIMA Classroom, a portal to award-winning short-documentaries about social issues, innovations and entrepreneurship. Additionally, Brain Juice Collective teamed up with Rebelhouse to offer documentary filmmaking services. What is it about documentaries and changemaking?

I think consuming good content in general is extremely important in developing new ideas and perspectives. One of my favourite documentaries that we brought to Singapore is  Life, Animated  which breathes new life and a fresh perspective around autism. I’m also a fan of Soufra , which explores how social entrepreneurship and the human spirit can triumph over difficult circumstances.  

How do you sustain your business financially?

Brain Juice Collective has been sustainable since its inception. Clients from our marketing agency and education arm definitely contribute to a big part of our business. This year, we are growing our Juicer Programme and Ventures to contribute more revenue to the group. As for Air Amber, the initiatives we run for schools and agencies, as well as enterprise projects like GiGi Bloks , are all revenue-generating. For Rebelhouse Asia, our earnings come from holding screenings, programming film events for partners like schools, and selling the educational licences of our films.  

Has your family been supportive of your work?

There was some apprehension at first but they were supportive after they saw how I could be financially independent. Some of my family members even became clients and supporters when they saw the work we were doing.  

What are some common misconceptions about starting one’s own social enterprise or business? 

These are some that I've heard way too many times:

  • “You need a lot of money to start your own business.”
  • “You need a co-founder.”
  • “Social enterprises can’t make money.”
  • “Only tech start-ups are disruptive/will make money.”

What do you know now that you wish you could tell yourself 10 years ago?

You will meet amazing people when you’re older.  

As a #girlboss who has so many ventures under her belt, what advice would you give to potential young changemakers out there?

Cultivate a healthy dissatisfaction with the default and a contagious fearlessness to change it. Laugh at the odds, love life and remember to have fun!  

As a professional in marketing and (I think I can safely assume) someone rather well-acquainted with social media, how do you think social media platforms harnessed for positive change?

Social media has given people an avenue to connect and communicate quickly, but it is only a channel. To truly effect change, action and transformation must be translated offline. However, I think social media platforms are good avenues to share and give access to information, opinions and resources, as well as allow people to collaborate across time zones and geographical boundaries. For example, Brain Juice Collective is collaborating with Canada-based content platform That’s Real Talk to launch a project called “One Call Away”This initiative will connect youths from Singapore and Canada to collaborate and create content that will be showcased both digitally and offline, making a powerful statement about how young people can come together and use their creative agency for good, regardless of where they are. In this case, social media plays a huge role in enabling the cross-boundary connection and collaboration.  

Tiziana conducts "social media for good" workshops that empower youth to create positive social change through their personal social media channels

What's your take on social media influencers? Do you consider them to be changemakers?

I think that social media influencers have the potential to become changemakers if they wanted to. It is a conscious choice you make whether or not you have a large following. I believe that as long as you have some form of a community around you—family, friends, co-workers, etc.—you can have an influence.  

What are some upcoming projects we can look forward to? 

I am definitely very excited for the Juicer Programme that my team and I have worked very hard on and I hope that more youths will join us in empowering a new generation of young people and organisations through Brain Juice Collective. More about the philosophy and exciting stuff in store for Juicers can be found here. Upcoming projects people can look forward to include Brain Juice Collective Originals - video series building on the existing Juicy Reads series and adding two new ones, Highway Hacks and Walnut Wednesday. This is our bid to create more impact through our content platform and leverage new content mediums like Instagram TV. We are also collaborating with international partners to globalise our services and grow our ecosystem. Next stop, Indonesia!  

How do you like to unwind in your free time? I enjoy reading, cooking, practising yoga and trying out different activities where I can get my hands dirty like painting, making candles, gardening and what not. I personally get a lot of inspiration and ideas from reading. One of my favourite books is  A World of Three Zeros  by Muhammad Yunus. I also enjoyed  Humanity  by Ai Wei Wei and  Originals  by Adam Grant.  

Speaking of unwinding, what kinds of songs should be on a changemaker’s playlist?

Definitely I Was Here by Beyoncé, Can't Hold Us by Macklemore and Light It Up by Major Lazer!  


Gabrielle See was a 2018 Summer Associate (Editorial) at the Lien Centre for Social Innovation. She is a third-year undergraduate at the Singapore Management University, studying Politics, Law and Economics, with a second major in Economics. She loves making connections between seemingly incongruent things, analysing pop culture and is fluent in late-night talk shows. Gabby sees all knowledge as universal, transcendent and inextricably interconnected—a sentiment that has been espoused by Plato, Aristotle and Kant among other prolific thinkers through time. While she appears to be an amateur philosopher, she believes the accumulation of knowledge counts for nought if it does not spur action. An overseas community service project which brought her to Meru, Kenya in her first year left a lasting impression on her. She visited the office of Well Told Story, a media company creating social and economic value in Africa and it opened her eyes to how a well-researched and crafted publication can effect positive change in the community. She too aspires to be a contributor of such well told stories that change lives in the future! She can be reached at hello@socialspacemag.org