Michael Tien, Atlas Sound & Vision

His story, though not quite a rags-to-riches one, comes close. When Mr Tien's parents' 20-year-old sound systems business failed in the 1980s recession, the family was left with nothing save 'the clothes off our backs'. It was thus a 'no-brainer' for the young Mr Tien, fresh out of national service, to abandon plans for university and go into business.

With affirmation from Bose Corp's founder Dr Bose, the Tien family decided to start over. The new Atlas Hi-fi was profitable within a year, and hit its predecessor's peak turnover of $3.5 million within three years.

Mr Tien took over from his late father in 2003 as the company's CEO, and decided to move Atlas from being a family business to an enterprise.

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Photo: myp, Ong Wee Jin