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Bernard Tan, CEO of ReCactus

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Bernard Tan created ReCactus, a social platform which allows users to record, watch, connect and share commentary on different video content.

What’s your story?
I’m a 3rd-culture kid from Australia. I grew up appreciating Malaysian Laksa from Dad, Hong Kong Har-Gau from Mum and good-ole Aussie meat-pies from school. Hence, I’ve always been rather confused about my identity, never having felt truly at home anywhere. With a deep sense of ‘fernweh,’ I decided to embark overseas, like my parents, on a journey to find home.
As a designer, I’ve worked around the world, from America, Europe, Australia to Asia, for companies like Apple in Silicon Valley, to Audi in Frankfurt, Germany. During my years of solo travel, I gained some insight about human connection and how we make sense of the world through our peer reactions. I imagined a social platform that could connect people globally over the most current viral video. With that, ReCactus was born, a social platform based on our reactions. I consider reactions, the natural evolution of the old-fashioned like and comment.

What excites you most about your industry?
The digital world is kind of like the Wild-West. To start a business you used to have an entry barrier, but now, even a child can create a successful app and release it within a few months spending little on resources.

What’s your connection to Asia?
My exposure to Asia always felt a little second-hand, either through my parents or what I saw in Western media. I wanted to discover Asia for myself. To my pleasant surprise, I was welcomed with open arms immediately. The startup scene here is growing fiercely, and people are incredibly generous in supporting each other. It’s also where I found my co-founder!

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Taipei is a big-city girl with a small-town heart. I’ve travelled the world, but I can’t think of another city that equals in its warmth. We’ve had so many larger companies that have mentored our start-up, happily offering their time, office space, and advice. For that, we’re incredibly grateful.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be brilliant when you enter, and when you exit, leave your ego at the door.

Who inspires you?
Different people inspire different aspects and different stages of my life; from Bruce Lee to Banksy, I admire the resilient. In business, I’m inspired by Elon Musk. His vision for the future, desire to change the world and the way he treats his employees are all very worthy of admiration.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Did you know the Monopoly man NEVER had a monocle? My whole life has been a lie.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t have asked my mum to drop me out of Chinese school as a kid! I was young, impatient and foolish. However, I’ve found learning Mandarin as an adult is somewhat endearing to the native speaker. To return the love, it’s made me quite defensive when someone mocks an Asian person who isn’t very good at English.

How do you unwind?
I take photos, write and collect foreign words with no English equivalent. ‘Hiraeth’ is a Welsh word that means “Homesickness for a home which maybe never was.” Can you imagine that centuries ago, someone had a feeling so inundating that they had to give it a label? And centuries later, a young man traversing the globe would stumble upon it, realising that this feeling he has carried all his life actually had a name! Connection that transcends time, space and language. I can think of nothing more romantic.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love getting lost and becoming anonymous in big cities. Speaking to locals, learning the culture. For that, I choose Osaka.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Lao Tzu’s Tao Te King. It may sound like an odd choice, but I use it to stay calm amidst tumultuous times, insightful of human desires, letting go of what cannot be controlled, but sensitive to small behavioural changes in the market. Ancient wisdom doesn’t grow stale because human nature hasn’t evolved very far.

Shameless plug for your business:
ReCactus is a social media platform for Reaction Videos! Think of us like the Instagram for reactions! Record, watch, connect and share, all in one app! React and respond with your commentary on different video content, from Donald Trump to new movie trailers! Download ReCactus from the App Store today and find out why everyone is talking about ReCactus!
Find out more at www.recactusapp.com

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]
My personal design site: www.bernardtan.com

Twitter handle?
@recactus

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnectsCallum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.

Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com

Callum Connects

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures

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Marek Danyluk has a talent for assessing the competencies of management teams for other businesses and pulling together exceptional teams for his own businesses!

What’s your story?
I am the CEO of a venture capital business, Space Ventures, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses. I also own and run Space Executive, a recruitment business focused on senior to executive hires across sales, marketing, finance, legal and change.

My career started as a trainee underwriter in the Lloyds market but quickly moved into recruitment where I set-up my first business in 2002. The business grew to around 100 people. I moved to Asia in 2009 as a board member of a multinational recruitment business with the mandate to help them scale their Asian entities, which helped contribute to their sale this year, in 2017.

My main talent is assessing the competencies of management teams as well as building high performing recruitment boutiques and putting together exceptional management teams for my own businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
Building the business is very much about attracting the best talent and being able to build a culture which people find invigorating and unique. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to define a culture in that regard and salespeople are a fun bunch, so when you get it right it’s tremendous.

From a VC point of view there is just so much happening. South East Asia is a melting pot of innovation so the ideas and quality of people you have exposure to, is truly phenomenal. The exposure in the VC has taken me away from a career in recruitment. Doing something completely different has given me a new level of focus.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Whilst I came here with work, both my boys were born in Singapore and to them this very much is home. That said, my father in law spent many years in the East so coming and settling here was met with a good degree of support and familiarity.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Possibly Hong Kong. It’s the closest I’ve been to working in London. Whilst there are massive Asian influences people will work with you on the basis you are good at what you do and work hard. I find that approach very honest and straightforward.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always treat people well on the way up!”

Who inspires you?
I like reading about people who have excelled in business such as Jack Ma, James Kahn, Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, all have great stories to tell and they are all inspirational. No-one has inspired me more than my parents and they are well aware as to why…

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much any technology innovation blows me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whilst it is important not to have regrets I do continually wake up thinking I’m still doing my A’ Levels. So, I’d have probably tried a little harder in 6th form.

How do you unwind?
I like the odd glass of red wine and watching sport

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan skiing. I love skiing and Japanese food and it’s a time when I can really enjoy time with the wife and kids. I recently tried the Margaret River which was divine, although not technically Asia.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Barbarians at the Gate

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive is the fastest growing recruitment business in Singapore focused on the mid to senior market across legal, compliance, finance, sales and marketing and change and transformation. Multi-award winning with exceptional growth plans into Hong Kong and London this year, and the US, Japan and Europe by the end of 2022. We are building a truly global brand.

Space Ventures is interested in any businesses that require capital or management and financial guidance or any or all of the above. We have, to date, invested in on-line training, food and beverages, peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring as well as other tech and fintech start-ups. We are always interested in hearing about potential deals.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@Spaceexecutive

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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Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings

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Malcolm Tan is an ICO/ITO and Cryptocurrency advisor. He sees this new era as similar to when the internet launched.

What’s your story?
I’m a lawyer entrepreneur who owns multiple businesses, and who is now stepping into the Initial Coin Offering/Initial Token Offering/Cryptocurrency space to be a thought leader, writer (How to ICO/ITO in Singapore – A Regulatory and Compliance Viewpoint on Initial Coin Offering and Initial Token Offering in Singapore), and advisor through Gravitas Holdings – an ICO Advisory company. We are also running our own ICO campaign called AEXON, and advising 2 other ICO’s on their projects.

What excites you most about your industry?
It is the start of a whole new paradigm, and it is like being at the start of the internet era all over again. We have a chance to influence and shape the industry over the next decade and beyond and lead the paradigm shift.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m Singaporean and most of my business revolves around the ASEAN region. Our new ICO advisory company specialises in Singaporean ICO’s and we are now building partnerships around the region as well. One of the core business offerings of our AEXON ICO/ITO is to open up co-working spaces around the region, with a target to open 25 outlets, and perhaps more thereafter.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, since it is my hometown and most of my business contacts originate from or are located in Singapore. It is also a very open and easy place to do business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be careful of your clients – sometimes they can be your worst enemies. This is very true and you have to always be careful about whom you deal with. The closest people are the ones that you trust and sometimes they have other agendas or simply don’t tell you the truth or whole story and that can easily put one in a very disadvantageous position.

Who inspires you?
Leonardo Da Vinci as a polymath and genius and leader in many fields, and in today’s world, Elon Musk for being a polymath and risk taker and energetic business leader.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Early stage bitcoin investors would have made 1,000,000 times profit if they had held onto their bitcoins from the start to today – in the short space of 7 years.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Seek out good partnerships and networks from day one, and use the power of the group to grow and do things together, instead of being bogged down by operations and going it alone from start.

How do you unwind?
I hardly have any time for relaxation right now. I used to have very intense hobbies, chess when I was younger, bridge, bowling, some online real time strategy games and poker. All mentally stimulating games and requiring focus – I did all these at competitive levels and participated in national and international tournaments, winning multiple trophies, medals and awards in most of these fields.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket – nature, resort life, beaches, good food and a vibrant crowd.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki

Shameless plug for your business:
Gravitas Holdings (Pte) Limited is the premier ICO Advisory company and we can do a full service for entrepreneurs, including legal and compliance, smart contracts and token creation, marketing and PR, and business advisory and white paper writing/planning.

How can people connect with you?
Write emails to [email protected], or [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@malcolmABM

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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