Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Robert Tan, Co-Founder at Cosmart

Robert Tan is the Co-Founder at Cosmart, a technology startup with a mission to help users save time, money and mental burden in making recurring expenditures.

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

During my university years, I pursued a degree in Mechanical Engineering. However, after participating in several internships, including some in Thailand and Japan, I came to the realisation that the field was not aligned with my interest and overarching mission in life.

I was fortunate to pivot my career towards product and technology, beginning with my role at Traveloka where I was responsible for leading various product development initiatives. I later took a leap of faith by joining Pluang, an early-stage fintech startup, as the first product hire – growing the company from Seed to Series B. 

Right now I am building Cosmart, a membership-driven commerce platform that aims to provide consumers with high-quality products at the most competitive prices. We want to help people plan their household needs better – helping them save time, money, and mental space.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

As a morning person, I always get excited when I am able to kick off my day earlier. I love getting ahead by planning my day, indulging in some reading, or exercising a bit. For some days, I try to catch a glimpse of sunrise as an extra boost of energy to start the day right. 

When it comes to breakfast, I usually don’t hold back – like to start the day with a big one to fuel me up for a day filled with back-to-back meetings and intense personal deep work. At night, I will either connect with friends / family over dinner or continue working especially on reflecting on the day or maybe finishing up some left-over task. I will make sure to curl up with a good book or try to meditate before bed. 

On the weekends, I let loose a bit and have some fun! I dedicate most of my weekend training for badminton with my coach, doing some other sports, or doing some self-learning and retrospective. To keep things fresh and exciting, lately I am trying to connect with someone new each week. Always find it fun extending the network while gaining new perspectives. 

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

When it comes to work-life balance, I have a unique perspective. Instead of seeing work as a chore or energy-sucking activity, I believe it can be just as fun and fulfilling as all the other things we enjoy in life. Of course, there are tough moments, but there are also plenty of exciting and energising ones too that most of the time we take for granted!

For me, the key to maintaining balance is finding a way to integrate work into life, rather than seeing them as separate entities that detract from each other. To do this, I focus on two things: (1) understanding my motivations for doing what I do, how that aligns with my overarching mission and (2) making sure I have the energy and drive to perform at my best. 

I also make a point to set priorities, especially when it comes to spending time with my loved ones. For example, when my mom is in town, I put her first and make sure to carve out some quality time with her. I also still find time to play badminton, which is a great way to unwind, reset and recharge myself. 

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

Over the past year, I have made a conscious effort to understand myself deeper to improve my work-life balance. Whether it’s through meaningful connections with friends, family, learning something new, or sweating it out on the badminton court. The goal is to continue doubling down on things that allow us to reset and recharge well. 

One of my key changes has been waking up earlier and minimising my phone usage in the morning to allow for more focused reading, exercise, or personal reflection. I have also reduced my social media consumption and made an effort to connect with old friends / other professionals for meaningful conversations.

Additionally, I have become more mindful of the impact of sleep and nutrition on my overall mood and well-being. I have noticed that both the quality and quantity of my sleep, as well as the regularity of my meals, play a significant role in how I feel and perform each day.

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

Through his book The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down, Haemin Sunim taught me a lot in my personal reflection journey.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Be super aware of yourself – what matters to you and what gives you energy. Also take full responsibility for your life.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.