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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

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Jonathan Oh, CEO & Co-founder of Supplycart

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Jonathan Oh’s enquiring mind and love for learning has led him on an entrepreneurial journey, with him starting Supplycart which helps businesses manage their offices better.

What’s your story?
I am a person that just can’t sit still. I was always intrigued by how the world spins and how people connect. Spending a lot of time outdoors, I had an affinity with exploring new paths, thus leading me to become a serial entrepreneur with experience in creating, operating and building new companies. I am a firm believer there is so much to learn in the world and I love talking to people about ideas, what they are passionate about and what drives them.
Starting off my career in the medical industry, I realised I had a flare to create something that mattered, something that impacted other people’s lives. After exiting my first company in 2014, I continued my journey with two other ventures with a purpose to look towards impacting businesses in the region together with like minded individuals, and here I am.

What excites you most about your industry?
Being able to part of the SME tech industry and seeing how technology is moving SMEs to go digital to improve workflows and efficiencies is an exciting space to be in. Users are consumers. More and more, they are familiarising themselves with using technology in their everyday lives. We foresee the SME space to be the next area where adopting new technology would become vital for any organisation to remain relevant. As I have dabbled in this industry for close to nine years now, I am really looking forward to working with more people in the business community to make a change.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Born in Malaysia, I had the opportunity to go abroad and I realised there was so much to do back home. Spending time in Melbourne, Australia for a couple of years and recently Silicon Valley, it has provided me with experiences and insights into the difference a multicultural community can make. It also made me aware that Asia is still a very culture driven economy, as each country has its unique differences. I believe that the time is right to be in Asia now. We are a growing economy and a lot of exciting stuff is happening in this region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Malaysia. I believe Malaysia is still a very attractive destination for business as it’s close to other neighbouring countries within the region and travelling between the countries is easy. There is also proper infrastructure in place, an affordable cost of living and a sizeable pool of talent. The government also has numerous initiatives for technology companies to apply for MSC status that permits companies to hire foreign companies without restrictions. Malaysia is the perfect launchpad to start growing businesses regionally. From a culture perspective, we are multicultural, which promotes diversity in business and language is never a barrier here.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“The difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur; one does a markup and the other creates value.”

Who inspires you?
I would say the people around me inspire me. I wouldn’t narrow it down to a particular person but lump it up with family, workmates, entrepreneurs and friends. From my eyes, everyone has a certain drive, a certain glow and strengths that sometimes they do not see, and that inspires me. I believe the journey to success is never alone, it’s with people.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Something recently that blew me away, made me realise, visually about how much time I have left. I was reading and stumbled upon the writer doing this. This might sound morbid but I drew a horizontal line and started plotting the year I was born all the way up to when I think I might go. It showed me that I have spent 25% of my life growing up, I am going to spend another 55% of my life working and the final 20%, maybe retirement. It got me remembering all the milestones I have achieved and to be thankful for and above all, how I want to spend the 55% of my life doing what matters the most.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I believe that I am exactly where I need to be because of the experiences I have had before. Thank god for the journey so far. It has been filled with ups and downs, new experiences and people along the way these have moulded me. I guess a small thing, if I had my time again, would be to pick up playing a musical instrument which I think still possible now. You are never too old to learn anything.

How do you unwind?
Unwinding for me would be spending time with my family and my two little boys. The little ones are such a bundle of joy. Reminding myself to have balance in terms of not missing the early years with them. Other than that, having coffee with other entrepreneurs, sharing ideas and learning from them is also another way I unwind.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
A term I would use would be “cuti cuti Malaysia.” This means heading to a local destination for some R&R to save on the cost of going on overseas to travel. Top of my the list would be heading to a farm or the jungle with clear river waters and a waterfall all to myself. Staying the night, out in the open under the stars, with a campfire and heading back to nature. The other option would be taking a boat to one of the furthest islands in Malaysia, just before the border of Indonesia, to get away from civilization.

Everyone in business should read this book:
I would actually recommend two books that everyone in business in the early years should read. ‘Founder’s Dilemma’ and ‘Start with Why.’ After being in a couple of businesses and many mistakes later, I came to realise the importance of starting it right. Both these books address the whole mind-set on what founders need to have from selecting who is it we start a business with to why are we starting the business. The business foundation is built from the founders and moving forward everything is built from there. Sometimes we are so into the business that we forget we need to be on the business as well. I would have definitely avoided a couple of bumps if I came across these much earlier on.

Shameless plug for your business:
Manage your office better, that’s our motto. We are always on the lookout to work with organisations, suppliers and partners in this field for partnerships and collaborations.
Supplycart is a B2B procurement platform addressing a need for a change in the way companies manage their office supplies, products and services. We enable suppliers and companies to adopt digital technology when selling and procuring for their business, resulting in a more efficient and productive workforce.
Supplycart provides an easy to use, convenient platform that streamlines the whole procurement process by allowing users to quickly order and reorder, receive instant quotations, obtain quick approvals from necessary approvers and fulfilment items are coordinated/planned to ensure a timely a speedy delivery.
Businesses can now focus on the more important matters in growing and sustaining their business while leaving managing the office to Supplycart. Our vision is to be the number 1 office platform for businesses across South East Asia. “Your office will never be the same again.”

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ohjonathan/
e : [email protected]
w : www.supplycart.my

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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Trung Nguyen, Founder & Managing Director of Advertising Vietnam

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Having initial success with his first start up in the ad industry, Trung Nguyen went on to start other ventures in the ad world in Vietnam. He now has the largest agency community in Vietnam.

What’s your story?
Three years ago I got my first job in the advertising industry. I worked for a local agency in town, and I fell in love with the creative industry. In June 2015, I founded Agency Life Community in Vietnam. It quickly became the most engaging community in the ad industry. The main content focuses on entertainment. After six months we had over 30,000 organic followers, now we have 120,000 followers.

Because the industry had been good to me, I decided I had to something for the industry to help the industry be better. So, I opened http://AdvertisingVietnam.com – a creative industry ad site which keeps advertising informative, creative and inspiring.

After more than a year in the ads industry in Vietnam, I figured the industry needed a better solution for the recruitment of good staff. Given I own the largest advertising community platform, why don’t I utilise Agency Life to help connect talent with ad agencies. So, I founded job site, AdJob.Asia in January 2017.

What excites you most about your industry?
The ad industry is a creative one with very passionate people who are always challenging themselves. The exciting part for creatives, in the morning they might be working on a baby brand and in the afternoon they are answering a beer brief. There is so much diversity. Every day is the new journey.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am Vietnamese.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Thailand. The Thais are the kings of the creative industry in SEA. Thai ads are very smart and creative.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Do what you love.

Who inspires you?
My friend, mentor and partner Mr Nghi Nguyen, founder of BrandsVietnam.com. We started our businesses at a similar time. He doesn’t see us as a competitor but rather, he believes that we share the same passion and we are working to provide better knowledge for the ad community.
Mr Nghi also guided me a lot when I first opened the business. I am inspired by his vision to make our marketing industry better.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Our business is a startup company and as a founder I do everything from operations, business development, planning and strategy. However, this is not the good way grow our business. You have to share the workload – find a co-founder or hire a great employee to help share the workload. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Quit my full time job sooner.
During the first year of running my business, I was still working as an ad manager for an agency. However I lacked focus at work due to the overload of work and it affected the company I used to work for. I strongly recommend people who have an idea to start their own business, quit their job early on and focus 100% on it from the get go!

How do you unwind?
Play with my cat.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love to travel throughout all of Asia. I enjoy new places and meeting new people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Carpenter: A story about the greatest success strategies of all.

Shameless plug for your business:
AdvertisingVietnam.com is a site where you can quickly update yourself on the advertising news in Vietnam. We have 15,000 unique monthly readers who are professional people in the advertising and communications industries.

The Agency Life, https://www.facebook.com/agencylife is largest agency community in Vietnam. This is the right place for ad agencies to share their creative work.

AdJob.Asia now has more than 160 agencies in Vietnam who use our services. We are a leading recruitment service for the advertising industry in Vietnam.

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trungnx26
Email: [email protected]
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trungnx26/

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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