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Alverna Cher, Funeral Director of City Funeral Singapore

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Alverna Cher has worked in several fields, but to her own surprise, she ended up as a funeral director. Now, through her business, City Funeral Singapore she is helping clients and their families prepare themselves for their ‘last journey.’

What’s your story?
I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2007, when I was 25 years old as an employment agent. After 4 years, the business was suspended for a period of 5 years. After suffering a hit in my recruitment business, I switched industries to education, telling myself to ‘never stop learning and to invest in yourself.’ I furthered my knowledge in 2012 in the education industry and was accredited with a facilitator role for ‘Focus on Family’ at the same time as I was working with MindChamps as an education coach, before I fully committed to staying at home in 2013 to work with my daughter.

However, I never would have expected I would become a funeral director, overnight!

I had to learn from scratch how to operate a funeral business. From learning to comforting grieving families, to how to wrap the deceased’s body for transportation and the correct position to carry the deceased’s body, I do it all.

After 10 months of the business operating, I launched “Last Journey” in January 2016. “Last Journey” is about educating the community on how to be prepared for the death of a loved one. I also provide funeral assistance to those with less fortunate or needy families. I have since helped 3 needy elderly people and their families with their last journey.

My focus now is to bring City Funeral Singapore Pte Ltd to a higher level. I believe in providing a holistic service to my clients and their families. These holistic services include, providing will writing, estate planning and implementing the plan for their ‘Last Journey.’

What excites you most about your industry?
We are not only serving the dead, we are also serving the living and educating the community the importances of pre-planning their “Last Journey.” Although our business is a traditional business, we are constantly catching up with market trends. City Funeral came up with “Last Journey” apps to help our clients get things done using technology.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Our next venture is to bring the “Last Journey” apps across Asia, starting with Malaysia and China.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore and China. For a home-grown Singaporean, I’m always proud to do business here. It’s a place where many expertise are shared and learned selflessly. We can improvise and expand it other country from Singapore.
As for China, it’s a huge market for business expansion and with my connections in China, it makes the business expanding easier.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
‘Gear up on emotional intelligence.’ This helps me to function better in terms of self-awareness, self-motivation and social skills.

Who inspires you?
My trade mentor who is 83 years old inspired me to be resilient. She told me of her hardships during her younger days and encouraged me to pursue my dreams.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
We recently started giving seminars on pre-planning your last journey and will planning. We have been overwhelmed with the signup rates. People are keen to understand how to plan their wealth and how to plan their last journey. We set up a free planner care system quiz for people to help them understand their planning style and planning needs. https://cityfuneral.typeform.com/to/oEZQXf

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I could turn back time, I will ensure SOP was setup prior to the operation of the business. It took me a while to implement it. I would have hired a mentor in sales and marketing, this would have saved my time and allowed me to do more important decision making for the business. However, I’m still very grateful for what I learnt and who I’m today.

How do you unwind?
I enjoy visiting beaches and unwinding with the sea breeze, drinking a glass of wine and reading a book.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Singapore. It’s safe and my family are here.

Everyone in business should read this book:
7 habits of highly effective people

Shameless plug for your business:
City Funeral Singapore Pte Ltd is a one-stop solution and service for the deceased and their families.
OUR MISSION is to provide care and help to family and friends that are preparing for the last journey of their loved ones. We create community awareness for the pre-planning of their final journey and will planning.
OUR FOCUS is to always provide the family with care and love.
We offer plans for the preparation of the last journey together with will planning, estate planning and our creation of pre-planning for the “last journey” apps as well as a planner care system quiz. We provide personalized consultations and we collaborate with corporate companies, hospitals, elderly homes and insurance companies to provide pre-planning seminars for their employees and clients. We care for the less fortunate as well and offer a series of events for fundraising and community awareness to give back.

How can people connect with you?
Connect with me through FaceBook , https://www.facebook.com/alverna.cher https://www.facebook.com/cityfuneralsingapore/
Connect with me through instagram, https://www.instagram.com/cityfuneralsingapore/
Connect with me through Google+, search for City Funeral Singapore Pte Ltd
Connect with me through Linkedin, search for City Funeral Singapore Pte Ltd
Connect with me through YouTube, search for City Funeral Singapore Pte Ltd
Connect with me through my website, https://www.cityfuneralsingapore.com/advance-planning-funeral/.

Twitter handle?
@alvernacher @cityfuneralsingaporepteltd @preplanlastjourney @徐雪彬 @城市殡葬服务 @生前规划

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

Callum Connects

Jason Feng, Co-Founder of Pillpresso

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Mr. Jason Feng is re-engineering the healthcare industry.

What’s your story?
I am an engineer at heart. I enjoy the process of problem solving and have been actively developing innovative solutions to existing problems. Me and my co-founder settled on the problem of poor medication adherence among the elderly. This was a problem which struck a chord with us because we all have loved ones who have to take multiple medications on a daily basis. The complex medication regimen, coupled with declining cognitive abilities of the elderly tend to exacerbate the lack of medication adherence, which may lead to disease relapse and hospital readmissions, ultimately increasing the burden to caregivers and the society.

What excites you most about your industry?
The problem of medication adherence is not a new one in the healthcare industry. In fact, lack of medication adherence is a well-researched problem in many countries. Solutions which have been developed to address this problem face three major issues:

  • Entrenched mindset within the healthcare system, many of which are used to and unwilling to change from the legacy systems which were implemented decades ago.
  • Complex nuances in healthcare delivery across different countries, making it hard to “copy” and “paste” solutions which have worked well in other areas.
  • Because poor medication adherence is multifactorial, and many solutions focus solely on a few aspects, and do not employ a holistic approach.

Nevertheless, entering this industry at this time excites me because we are in the midst of a global shift in healthcare models; one where the industry is moving away from a service-based model, towards a more value-based model. This shift means that traditional players such as insurance companies and pharmaceuticals are under increasing pressure from patients and payers to demonstrate the value of their products under real-world use. Medication adherence data is one crucial missing link in this puzzle to deliver better care to patients. Being able to build a business around these incumbents and pioneer a new way of care is something which I look forward to.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am a Singaporean. Most of my experiences throughout my life have been in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I have not worked in other Asian countries outside of Singapore, so I can’t comment on other Asian countries too much. Singapore has a relatively low barrier for starting a business, and all business rules and regulations are clear and transparent. The startup ecosystem is also rather comprehensive and easily accessible. Being a small country, Singapore has a very limited market for products and services. However, due to its size and efficiency, it serves as an excellent test bed for new ideas. Being a travel hub, travelling to other Asian countries is cheap and easy.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Fail fast, fail often. The greatest lessons are never learnt through success.

Who inspires you?
Elon Musk

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Successful launch of Falcon Heavy and the recovery of the 2 side cores. The way the 2 cores landed was like something you’d only see in CGI. Very well calculated.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Applied for NOC (NUS Overseas College)

How do you unwind?
Go rock climbing.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Nepal. I’m an outdoors guy. Being able to trek around the Himalayas is probably the best form of relaxation for me.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Creative confidence, by the Kelly Brothers

Shameless plug for your business:
Pillpresso is an award-winning health-tech startup that aims to improve medication adherence. We’re developing a medication management system that empowers seniors to manage their medicines independently and deliver proactive healthcare in the community through technology. Comprising individuals with complementary skills across business, engineering and medicine, our team is driven by a desire to improve healthcare and the human condition.

Grand Prize Winner of the 2017 Tech Factor Challenge
https://www.opengovasia.com/articles/8072-top-4-grand-prize-winners-for-3rd-edition-of-ageing-in-place-tech-challenge-announced-in-singapore

Grand Prize Winner of the 2015 Modern Aging
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/3-teams-receive-s-125-000-of-seed-funding-for-elderly-friendly-i-8246318

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

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

Elizabeth Wu, Co-founder & COO of Trehaus

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Elizabeth Wu is making work-life integration a reality for working parents in her new family friendly coworking space.

What’s your story?
I co-founded a coworking space in Singapore that comes complete with a child-friendly facility. We’re the first of our kind here and we’ve been making work-life integration a reality for working parents since we opened.

What excites you most about your industry?
We are the first of our kind, and there’s no other coworking space like us. Sure, there are plenty of coworking spaces in Singapore, but we are the pioneers of championing ‘BYO-kid’ to work by creating a conducive workspace and enriching kids play, all under one roof.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I’m a local through and through.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, of course! It’s safe, well-regulated and has a diverse community. Barriers to entry for starting up a business is low, and generally there is good support for small to medium enterprises and startups, which is great.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Life is short. Do stuff that matters.” I think I decided to do “stuff that matters” a long time ago and that’s why I became an educator. When motherhood beckoned, I decided again, to do “stuff that matters” by staying home to be with my kids. Then, I began to desire a meaningful career while raising my kids. So, I decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, because I am governed by wanting to “do stuff that matters!”

Who inspires you?
So many people inspire me. My members at Trehaus inspire me with the things they do and the changes they make. But if I have to pick someone, it would be Elim Chew, founder of 77th Street; who is a seasoned entrepreneur. She started from humble beginnings, went through setbacks and never said never to new journeys in entrepreneurship. I love that she always looks for ways to give back to society and mentor the next generation with her wealth of wisdom and experiences.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I learned the 5-by-5 rule recently: That is, ‘if it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset by it.’ This helps me puts things in perspective, and I try to remember this every time the urge comes to dwell, to brood, to beat myself up or to sweat the small stuff.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would definitely be more careful with the people I hired to build the team. I’ve learned that it is important to find and build an entrepreneurial team that will plough and work hard alongside the founders. Like Jack Ma once said, “Don’t hire the most qualified candidate. Hire the craziest.” I should have done that right from the start. It would save us so much time and heartache.

How do you unwind?
I take long walks to clear my or I go for a fruitful session of self care, like yoga or a massage.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I really enjoy getting out of Singapore to the outskirts of Bangkok to live amongst the locals. My family of 5 used to do that each December; just taking off to live amongst the locals where street food is aplenty and warmth and hospitality is everywhere. I enjoy their slow pace of life and how simple things can be.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz

Shameless plug for your business:
Trehaus is Singapore’s first ever family-friendly coworking space that lets you build a career while prioritising family. If it takes a village to raise a child, then Trehaus is the modern village where you will find a robust community and supportive ecosystem that lets you be an involved parent – never missing a single milestone in your child’s early years – and at the same time do efficient and productive work. We’ve made magic happen in what we’ve created!

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

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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