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Entrepreneurship

Amelia Chen, Co-founder of LoveByte

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Amelia is CEO and co-founder of LoveByte. She is passionate about anything internet-related and have a keen interest in the progression of technology and digital tools. With a strong interest in businesses with positive social impact, she joined her co-founder to work on LoveByte. She first kickstarted her own mini-series of paper goods, and deal aggregator.

Her working background included experience in marketing communications, internal communications and company culture. Always enjoying good conversations with like-minded people, she loves listening to others share their stories.

The Asian Entrepreneur speaks to Amelia this week about LoveByte and app development.

What exactly is LoveByte?

LoveByte is a mobile app providing loving couples a private space for two to communicate, share things and remember precious moments. LoveByte is designed to enrich the relationship between you and your loved one by creating a private space for both of you to easily communicate, share and store memories. It also encourages you and your loved one to spend more time together by recommending interesting date ideas and things to do.

How did LoveByte come about?

Not all relationships are filled with fairy tale moments. The love story behind LoveByte is a humble one with many lessons to learn. In every romantic journey, there are bound to be ups and downs. In his relationship, Steve, founder of LoveByte, often experienced cold wars caused by minor miscommunications with his girlfriend. Determined to keep his relationship, Steve strived to build an app which could improve communication and foster understanding between them. LoveByte improved their relationship greatly and the cold wars no longer exist. That is why Steve wants to share LoveByte with the world. With the belief that the future is mobile, LoveByte pivoted from a web application to a mobile application, attaining more than 40,000 downloads during beta launch in Singapore and is now gaining popularity world-wide with over 400,000 downloads from 108 countries.

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Tell us about the process of starting up LoveByte.

In terms of starting up, as an aspiring, first-time entrepreneur I guess there were too many things we did not know about, or didn’t even know what to expect. There’s so much you can read up on, but in life you never truly understand how it really is until you experience them for yourself. I would say we learned a lot in this journey than we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to if all we did was to just read news from articles; it just wouldn’t be the same thing.

You spoke of uncertainties, could you tell us more about these uncertainties?

There’s a lot of uncertainty, sometimes things don’t always go according to plan. You may not know how to do things because it’s new to you, and end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed. You might wonder and ask yourself, “why am I doing this?” but you will just have to grind it out yourself. Having a network of support .. like-minded friends makes it more tolerable.

At what point did you guys decide to go for the full launch?

Initially the team felt hesitant to launch because the product felt “incomplete”, “can be improved on” but remembering Reid Hoffman’s quote: “If you are not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late.” We put it on the App Store anyway. Open beta in July 2012, reaching 20,000 downloads within 3 weeks on the iTunes Store. It attained #1 in Lifestyle category and #10 in Top 25 within the first ten days in SG.Now, we’re half a million downloads and the app has been downloaded in 108 countries with minimal marketing.

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How do you compete with the other apps out there?

On the surface, there are similar apps out there but actually, we are all different in our own ways – appealing to different geographical regions, demographics, with different monetization models and features. We try not to be obsessed about the competition – with competition it means we are doing something right. Instead, we focus on bringing most value to our users with our product, strongly believing that if we build something people see value in, the users will come.

What do you think about getting into the app development scene?

There are tons of mobile applications out there. Think twice before you think you pay a developer to develop your concept or idea for you. You can get many downloads within a short period, but attention spans are short. People move on to the next newest app within a matter of weeks; how will you keep it sticky?

What do you think about startups in Asia?

I think it’s a really exciting time to be doing a startup right now but remember that Asia is not Silicon Valley.

What are some personal principles or personal values that guide you and your career?

Be kind; be genuine. If you are sincere, people will accept you. see past your flaws, and help you. The more you give, the more you get. Although sometimes it doesn’t always happen, but don’t get too disappointed and understand everyone is different.

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What is your definition of success?

To me, it is being balanced in the different aspects of life. We shouldn’t harp too much on material wealth but cherish relationships, family, health, interests as well.

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I realised I had a desire to create things – since young, I found myself initiating projects and was always very passionate about learning new things. I discovered that I loved to create. Anything that interested me, I would find ways of recreating it on my own. My first project was a paper goods project when I used to make cards for my friends with handwritten notes in it, and wanted to encourage more people to express their feelings to special ones in their lives.

What do you think are the most important things entrepreneurs should keep in mind?

You cannot neglect other aspects of your life, just because work seems never-ending. Spend time to bond with your family and loved ones – these should never be considered a waste of time. Sleep is not for the weak. Take care of your own health and treat yourself right because you only have this one body.

Any tips on achieving entrepreneurial success?

An intrinsic motivation to not give up easily and stay positive even during tough times. There will be times you find yourself questioning “wtf am I doing?” and that is a question you truly have to ask yourself: what is the “why” behind what I am doing? It will help give you a clearer picture of choosing risk over security. It’s easier to be an employee – trust me on that. Taking calculated risks.

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Connect with Amelia Chen and LoveByte today:
Linkedin: http://linkedin.com/in/ameliachen
Website: http://www.lovebyte.us/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lovebyte.us

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Laina Raveendran Greene, Co-Founder at Angels of Impact

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(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Here is our interview with Laina Raveendran Greene, Founder of GETIT Inc. and Co-Founder of Angels of Impact, an impact network focused on women social entrepreneurs helping to alleviate poverty. She is an entrepreneur and social impact investor, whose passion is female empowerment, and enabling women to be key agents to help alleviate poverty in Asia.

What makes you do what you do?
As a minority female Singaporean from relatively humble beginnings, I have never taken anything for granted. I learnt early on that I have to work doubly hard to overcome the “glass ceilings” but if I persevere, I can succeed. That is why I chose to focus on helping women-led social enterprises as I know how hard things are for them and I hope to make things a little easier for them.

How did you rise in the industry you are in? 
I rose by being courageous enough to push against the “glass ceiling” and seizing opportunities open to me no matter where they were. Early on, I realized I would have better opportunities overseas, so I worked in many countries, including Switzerland, USA, and Indonesia and used these opportunities to learn and open new avenues for myself. I now come back to Singapore with many more networks and skill sets.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?
Yes, as a minority Singaporean, it may appear that I am not the usual leadership demography in Singapore. In my own way, however, I think I have amassed my own international accolades and work experience such as serving as the first Secretary General for the Asia Pacific Internet Association, CEO of one of the first few tech startups in Singapore in the early 90s, being on the International Steering Committee of the Global Telecommunication Women Network, and most recently selected as one of the 2nd cohort of Edmond Hillary Fellows in New Zealand.

I am now moving to the next phase of using these networks and skills to help other women to social enterprises, which seem to be exactly what I want to do in my next phase of life (after more than 25 years of global work experience).

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work? 
It was harder in my younger days, as one of the few women in tech to find mentors but today I do.  Men were reluctant to mentor me for fear of rumors.

How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him? 
I found my mentor when I was taking an executive program at Stanford. He was one of the keynote speakers and I went to talk to him. Intrigued by my background, when I asked if he would mentor me, he said yes. I meet with him at regular intervals and I always ensure I have put his ideas to test before reporting back to him. I feel that I value his time if I do actually listen and act on his advice.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent? 
The key qualities I look for is an eagerness to learn and humility to be open to new ideas. Also, when asked to be a mentor, I usually give homework and see how proactive they are. Only the ones who do their homework, take the advice and act on it, are the ones I actively mentor.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
I consciously and unconsciously support diversity, as I see the importance of diversity on true innovation. You never get anything new, talking to like-minded people. It is always good to have different perspectives to create new ideas. I am also an active supporter having faced racial and gender discrimination in my life and want to ensure that others are given a better chance.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb? 
A great leader to me is one who has empathy and humility, and a genuine spirit of service. Today’s challenges such as climate change and social injustice, requires many players to apply their knowledge and skills to solve and have a sense of ownership in solving these issues

Advice for others?
The only advice I can think of is do what you are strongly passionate about. You need to persevere to succeed so it helps if you truly care about the endeavor you are working on.

If you’d like to get in touch with Laina Raveendran Greene, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/laina/

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Callum Connects

Denise Morris Kipnis, Founder & Principal of ChangeFlow Consulting

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Denise Mossis Kipnis’ curiosity in people and the world, lead her to set up ChangeFlow Consulting.

What’s your story?
I’m driven by curiosity. Having been the only one in a room who looks like me for most of my life, I developed a curiosity about who stays, who leaves and who thrives in minority/majority situations including when and how connection and collaboration happen. I was a systems thinker long before I knew what that was, always asking why and so what; and seeing the pieces, the whole, and the places in between. So helping people and organisations move through the complexity of transformation feels natural to me.

What excites you most about your industry?
I see change and inclusion as two sides of the same thing; I don’t practice one without the other. Some people see change as death, as loss, as exhausting. And it can be. But I see in the work I do as an opportunity for something new or hidden to emerge. When an organisation understands that it is first a group of people, who themselves represent and belong to groups of people, and it begins to tackle what it would mean to understand and learn from all that talent, all that diversity, to have them all working for and not against the organisation, to truly unleash all that their people have to offer; that’s magic.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Change and inclusion are personal values as well as professional strengths. For me, living and working outside of the States was a bold experiment to see whether any of the stuff I’d learned about change and inclusion would work outside of the US. My husband and I targeted Asia specifically: it would be the greatest contrast, culturally speaking, for me; and a unique career springboard for him.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Although I’ve practiced in other cities, I am biased towards Singapore. In some ways it’s what Los Angeles is to the rest of the United States, a microcosm of sorts. The regional/global nature of it means that so many different nationalities and cultures are represented. As a result of this mix, you never know what you might get. In some situations, cultural dynamics are obvious, sometimes subdued. The variability is compelling.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Never ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.” Michael Rouan.

Who inspires you?
Often it’s a “what” not a “who.” I can get inspiration from a passage in a book or a situation in a movie, as well as a turn of a phrase or watching people interact. I often make the biggest connections between the various threads I’m working on when I’m sitting in someone else’s event.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’m honestly not blown away by much. Instead, I’m struck how circular things can be: ideas often come back around with a slightly different twist and I watch the way it shakes things loose for people. I recently sat through a workshop on Self as Instrument, and despite being thoroughly versed already, I learned something. In preparing for a panel on design thinking, I unearthed a new language to describe things.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
You’ve caught me at a good time. I’m sitting in appreciation and gratitude for all my experiences, because I wouldn’t be who I was today if all that has happened, didn’t. And yet one thing comes to mind: It wasn’t until I redesigned my website two years ago (shout out to Brew Creative!) that I realised I hadn’t made explicit agreements with my past clients as to what I could share publicly about our engagement, or whether I could use their logos in my promotional materials. In my business, confidentiality is so important, and yet I need to be able to talk about the work as reputation and experience leads to the next success, and so on. It turned out a lot of the contacts I had known had left the organisations where the work was done, so they couldn’t help at that point. So the practice I’m carrying forward is to get those agreements up front, and to make sure my relationships in client systems are broad as well as deep.

How do you unwind?
Science fiction, puzzles, wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Home. I don’t travel to relax, I travel to learn and explore.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Built to Change, by Ed Lawler and Chris Worley. To my knowledge, it’s the first pivot from advising organisations away from stability and toward dynamism, from strategic planning to strategizing as an action verb; to blow up the traditions and rigidity that impede organisations from developing change capability.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re taught that there are two kinds of people: those who see forests, and those who see trees. There is a third type, my type, and we see the ecosystem. Worms, climate, birds, the spaces in between. This is the perspective organisations need to be successful in solving complex problems and thriving in change.
ChangeFlow uniquely blends four disciplines (two of which are multi-disciplinary in themselves): organisation development, culture and inclusion, change management and project management.

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChangeFlowConsulting/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dmorriskipnis/
LinkedIn Company page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/4862954/
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.changeflowconsulting.com

Twitter handle?
@ChangeFlow

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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