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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 – Daphne Ng, CEO of JEDTrade

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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.)

Daphne Ng is the CEO of JEDTrade, a blockchain technology company focused on trade, supply chain, and financial inclusion projects in ASEAN. She is also the Scretary-General at ACCESS and Exco. of Singapore Fintech Association

What makes you do what you do?
I was introduced to blockchain technology in 2016 after I left my corporate banking career after 10 years. It was my mentor who first got me interested in this technology, which I then went on to delve further into, on its potential applications in the lending and trade finance space – domains where I came from.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
Being in the space for 2 years and actively involved in the ecosystem, I was able to bring on the projects, network and a good degree of thought leadership in this vertical. Early on in the startup journey, our team faced many challenges. And to me, the key to rising above failures are two essential factors – resilience and support. While resilience is innate, I received a lot of help be it in terms of connections or advice. ‘Nobody succeeds without help’ rings very true for me.

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)?
From the start, I focused on my domain expertise in trade finance and the application construct of how blockchain and DLT can be applied to these use cases. Also, my strategy from the start was to build a technology company made up of 80% tech and engineers, which is also our key competitive advantage today. At the end of the day, deliverables are about strategy and execution, which includes building and leading an ‘A’ team.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?
I have many mentors, which includes our company advisors (all of whom are well-known in this industry) and mostly informal mentors I meet via my connections, and on various occasions and circumstances. Creating opportunities also means putting myself in the right place, at the right time. And in my case, these were mostly organic and genuine friendships formed from the initial connection.

How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him?
To me, a match in values is very important. It also takes humility to ask for help and be willing to listen to advice, which is important in order for mentorships to be successful – be it formal or informal.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I love this question! I am passionate about building strong teams and helping my people grow. I abide by the 3Rs when identifying talents: resourcefulness, resilience and right values. And then I invest in the ‘potential’ and this means giving them room to lead, make decisions and take risks.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
My support of diverse talents, skillsets and characters can be seen in the make-up of our core team – all helming specific roles and each bringing their own value to the table. We need the sum of all parts to build a great company.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
Great leaders emerge in times of failures and challenges, never abandoning the team, and always putting the team’s interests before her own. And I consciously live by these mottos every day.

Advice for others?
My advice to other entrepreneurs: be resolute and dare to be different. If you are going to follow others, then you will end up on the same path as them. No right or wrong; but I would rather chart my own path. This June, we are officially launching our blockchain project, Jupiter Chain (www.jupiterchain.tech), which have garnered much interest in the industry, even before we made it public. We believe this project is the epitome of marrying innovation with practical implementation, and we want to be the first to truly operationalize blockchain for our ecosystem projects in this region.


If you’d like to get in touch with Daphne Ng, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daphne-ng-%E9%BB%84%E7%91%9E%E7%8E%B2/

To learn more about JEDTrade, please click here.

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Callum Connects

Jace Koh, Founder of U Ventures

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Jace Koh believes cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Understanding it will enhance your ability to run and manage your business.

What’s your story?
My name is Jace Koh and I am the Founder of U Ventures. I’ve always been inclined towards investment and entrepreneurship. I’ve played a hand in starting businesses across these industries – professional services, cloud integration, software and music. I believe that succeeding in business is tough, but that’s what makes the rewards even sweeter.

What excites you most about your industry?
Everything excites me. These are my beliefs:

  • Why is accounting important?
    The accounting department is the heart. Cash flow is like blood stream, it pumps blood to various parts of the body like cash flow is pumped to various departments and/or functions in a business. It is vital to the life and death of the business.
  • Is accounting boring?
    Accountants are artists too. They paint the numbers the way they want them to be.
  • What makes a good accountant?
    A good accountant can tell you a story about the business by looking at the numbers.
  • Why is budgeting and projection important?
    Accountants are like fortune tellers, they can predict the numbers and if you wish to understand your business and make informed decisions, feel free to speak to our friendly consultants to secure a meeting.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore, and here’s where I want to be.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is my favourite city. We have great legal systems in place, good security and people with integrity. Most importantly, we have a government that fosters a good environment for doing business. I recently went for a cultural exchange programme in Hong Kong to learn more about their startups. I found out that the Hong Kong government generally only supports local business owners in terms of grants. They’ve recently been more lenient and changed the eligibility to include all businesses that have at least 50% local shareholding. But comparing that to Singapore, the government only requires a 30% local shareholding to obtain government support. In the early days of starting a business, all the support you can get is precious. It’s great that we have a government that understands that.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best time ever to plant a tree was 10 years ago as the tree would have grown so big to provide you with shelter and all. When is the next best time to plant a tree? It is today. Because in 10 years time, the tree would have grown big enough to provide you shelter and all.

Who inspires you?
Jack Ma. His journey to success is one of the most inspiring as it proves that with determination and great foresight, even the poorest can turn their lives around. I personally relate to his story a lot, and this is my favourite quote from him, “If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.”

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve faced multiple rejections throughout my business journey, and recently came across a fact on Jack Ma about how he was once rejected for 32 different jobs. It resonated very deeply and taught me the importance of tenacity, especially during tough times.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I live a life with no regrets. Everything I do, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, happy or sad, and regardless of outcome, it’s a lesson with something to take away.

How do you unwind?
I love to pamper myself through retail therapy and going for spas. I also make a conscious effort to take time off work to have a break outside to unwind as well as to uncloud my mind. This moment of reflection from time to time helps me see more clearly on how I can improve myself.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan! Good food with no language barriers and the people are great!

Everyone in business should read this book:
I don’t really read books. Mostly, I learn from my daily life and interactions with hundreds of other business owners. To me, people tell the most interesting stories.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re not just corporate secretaries, we’re “business doctors.”
U Ventures is a Xero certified advisory firm that goes beyond traditional accounting services to provide solutions for your business. You can reach us on our website: http://uventures.com.sg/

How can people connect with you?
Converse to connect. You can reach me via email at [email protected] or alternatively, on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacekoh/

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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