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Subrata Ghosh, Founder of Redstone Learning.

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Subrata Ghosh started Redstone Learning in US with an Indian offshore center in early 2014. Prior to Redstone, Subrata founded and ran an Ed-tech startup in India from 2007-2013, and it was recognised as the youngest company among the top 5 in ‘Project Management’ training in India in the year 2012. Before embarking on the entrepreneurial journey, Subrata spent over a decade in strategic technology roles at US companies like First Consulting Group, Itron Inc, and Nationwide Insurance.

He shares his story with The Asian Entrepreneur today.

In your own words what is Redstone Learning?

Redstone Learning Inc is a global Ed-tech company that is headquartered in New York with an offshore center in Bangalore. It provides an Online and On-demand Learning Platform for Organizations and Individuals – focused on business functions like Regulatory Compliance, Strategy and Operations, HR, Project and IT/Quality Management.

Redstone currently has over 300 empanelled experts across the globe. Professionals from companies including some of the world’s largest research organizations, the world’s largest payments platforms and the world’s largest pharma companies, among others, leverage Redstone Learning to keep themselves ahead of the curve.

Redstone has over 200+ business skilling courses and 30 professional certifications. It trains around over 10,000 people a year.

How did you come up with the idea of Redstone Learning?

We are living in an age of unprecedented change. Digitization, AI and globalization are disrupting the status quo at a rapid pace in every industry. If one looks at what is happening with Transportation (on-demand, electric, driver-less), Commerce (online, on-demand, personalized), Healthcare (AI assisted diagnosis), etc – the future is very uncertain, and yet full of opportunities for those who can adapt.

During my business exploration phase, I realized that there was a huge crisis building up for businesses and knowledge workers. Most professionals that I met across industry were concerned about the drastic changes in industry around them. They were worried that they would wake up one day and find themselves irrelevant. And most businesses, large and small, were worried about not having access to the right expertise to help them stay agile and ahead of the curve.

I felt what was needed was a platform for real-time, relevant expertise – through a combination of top-notch experts, high quality and constantly evolving learning content, and delivery formats that follow the learner. That is the only way that business and individuals can cope.  That is the problem that Redstone Learning is solving.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up Redstone Learning?

Redstone Learning was incorporated in the US in late 2013 and started business operations in Jan 2014. The Indian offshore center was set up by taking over an existing domestic-focused professional learning company.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?

Being a first-generation entrepreneur, there are many mistakes made – however, we managed to stay focused and continued to learn from them.

How have you been developing Redstone Learning since startup?

Redstone started with online and on-demand courses for professional certifications, targeted at mid-career professionals in the US. After consolidating its position in this area and adding the top 10 most popular global certifications to its portfolio, Redstone Learning launched another vertical in the area of GRC courses (Governance, Risk Management and Compliance). In the latter, Redstone Learning has quickly scaled up to become one of the top 5 global players in this niche. Within a year, it has reached a size that has taken its competitors 10+ years to achieve.

What kind of feedback did you get for Redstone Learning so far?

Redstone has been able to achieve high customer ratings for its quality and price points. In parallel, it has been able to sign up over 300 US trainers in the areas of certifications and compliance, who serve as Redstone’s speaker panel. These trainers are experts with decades of experience, and they are at par with what established older US players have to offer.

Do you face a lot of competition in this industry?

Any business worth doing will have competition. However, Redstone has been able to leverage a globalized and digital model from the get go with the right experts sourced in US for our clients, while the marketing engine is run cost-effectively from India, and the courses are delivered online.  Most US competitors are struggling to move from brick-n-mortar to a digital and global model and we have a significant lead in this model.

Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?

Globally, reskilling has become a more rapidly iterating process and online and on-demand delivery formats are catching on. However, the online experience will have to be richer since classroom is still a high value-addition play.  Technology will play a key role and things like VR and Analytics will change how people learn in future.

In Asia, professional learning is beginning to see more investment and businesses and individuals are looking at it as key to their growth and success. The days of getting through one’s entire career with one set of skills is gone. Individuals will have to constantly stay ahead of the curve, and on-demand skilling will be key to this.

What is the future of the industry and how do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?

Real-time, relevant expertise through a combination of top-notch experts, high quality and constantly evolving content, with relevant delivery formats is the only way that business and individuals will cope.  This is what Redstone Learning is focused on.

Our larger and long-term agenda is to be the one-stop platform for growth expertise – and we’re currently focusing on a few critical pieces of it.

We are already bringing expertise to professionals at cos like the world’s largest space research org, the world’s largest payments platform, the world’s largest pharma company among others. And the journey has just begun!

Were there anything that disappointed you initially?

We did would wish that developing markets adapted faster to changes that seemed obvious. However, we realised that the markets were not wrong, we had to be nimble and navigate smartly under tough circumstances.

What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?

Within Asia, one has different countries that are at different stages of development. A place like Singapore is ranked as among the easiest places to do business, while India is far below in the list. We had the advantage of serving a mature market like the US, while leveraging the low cost offshore center in India.

Culture, society and economies have a significant impact on entrepreneurship in different geographies. Asian entrepreneurs rely much more on their families and personal networks for support and resources, than in the West. In India for example, small businesses have to struggle within a very tough regulatory and financial environment – and the long term vision gets sacrificed very early in order to survive.

What is your definition of success?

Success is, when you become the person you believe you were meant to be!

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

During my working career across the globe, I met a lot of brilliant people with dreams and ideas but who were inhibited within the wrong environment. I realized that the only way to realize your vision is to go out there and create it yourself, and also create an environment to bring in others who share the same vision. This was only possible as an entrepreneur.

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

  • The ability to separate noise from data
  • The ability to inspire others and take them along
  • The ability to persist despite challenges

Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?

Make your work relevant to the world, and good things will start happening.

Connect

http://www.redstonelearning.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RedstoneLearning/

https://www.linkedin.com/company/redstone-learning

Callum Connects

Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/agnesyee/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Callum Connects

Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

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Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/ceedeees

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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