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Boryana Uzunova, Founder of MorphX

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Boryana Uzunova

Boryana Uzunova is morphing the digital and fashion industries with her business MorphX.

What’s your story?
Three years ago I needed an elegant, youthful, simple dress for New Year’s Eve and I failed to find one. From H&M to Roberto Cavalli I couldn’t find a design that I loved, fitted me well and was good value for money. This pushed me to launch a dress business (yes, for elegant, youthful, simple, affordable dresses), yet I found out providing the perfect fit was a dimension I couldn’t achieve without having the client next to me. But who could? Even tailors ask you to come at least twice for probes before they finish a bespoke piece. This pushed me to find a way to enable tailors, luxury brands and freelance designers to deliver the perfect fit remotely. MorphX, my startup, is achieving this now.

What excites you most about your industry?
Fashion and technology is a very empty intersection. I mean, imagine Mark Zuckerberg strolling from H&M to Roberto Cavalli and whining about not being able to find the perfect t-shirt. For some reason tech guys are generally not keen on fashion and fashion people are generally all about art. Having worked in the fashion industry for 4 years and being in a very tech environment for the past 3 years, I have made the connection between two very clear things – fashion and tech. Imagining how disruptive it could be, blows my mind.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I dropped out of school (in Bulgaria) at the age of fourteen and moved to Japan to get a non-standard education and also tried to earn funds to support my own education. While dropping out was not planned, living in Japan has always been on my dreams radar. The flair for life-aesthetics in Japan is something I could talk about for days. After a year in Tokyo, I moved to Hong Kong, where I somehow have been stuck for the past 7 years.

Boryana Uzunova - Sea

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong. It is diverse enough for you to sell almost anything. It is super dense, so reaching people is relatively easy. You can find capital, so you can kick-off your ideas. You have talent, so you can develop your ideas. You are close to China, so you can manufacture your ideas.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Allen Zeman gave it to me when explaining the success of Ocean Park: Build your vision assuming no limitations, then figure out how to build it given the existing (financial) limitations.

Who inspires you?
My parents; having started from nothing, they are both doctors by education but entrepreneurs by heart, which has resulted in running multiple ventures ranging from niche syringe production to pharmaceutical stores. Their belief in my brother and I has always been inspiring for us to pursue our passions and their support has encouraged us to undertake risky decisions such as dropping out of school and turning down an i-banking offer to start my own business.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I watched a documentary about the mantis shrimp… Did you just laugh? Well, don’t! It has the most advanced eyes on the planet seeing blue, red, green and 13 more colours our eyes can’t even comprehend; a punch so strong, that if you equate its force to the human body, it could throw a baseball into orbit; a bone-structure so resilient, body armours are built after its mechanism. Pretty badass if you ask me.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
When you live consciously, every choice has been weighed. When the weighed choice does not succeed, it opens your eyes to all the factors you missed out to put in the equation and so your sight widens. I have always followed what I am passionate about and have chosen the options I undertake consciously, thus I wouldn’t change anything really.

How do you unwind?
Primarily with sports. I can’t go through my day without training. On weekdays I workout in the gym or do ballet and on weekends I usually hike. I love spending time with my friends, ideally involving food, wine and, or something new and exciting, such as trying a mantis shrimp. May I add that it is also super delicious?

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I am not so much into relaxation vacations. I choose my destinations based on how much hiking, diving and unique things I can do. I think Java island has a lot of beautiful hikes and Cebu is amazing for diving!

Everyone in business should read this book:
I haven’t come across a one size fits all book for people in business. Some biz-people need encouragement, in which case “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu would be appropriate. Others need to humble it out, thus “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens can be a grounding experience. I am a fan of know-how and how-to books, such as the “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries and “The 4-hour work week” by Timothy Ferris, but one has to be careful not to conform to buzz-strategies and keep a flexible framework in mind and make a unique adaptation of it.

Shameless plug for your business:
MorphX enables apparel manufacturers, from tailors, to luxury brands, to e-commerce platforms to provide the perfect fit for their clients, without the client having to leave their home. Don’t make your client return that otherwise cool piece again!

MorphX

How can people connect with you?
I can be reached on [email protected] – I am very quick with e-mails. Otherwise, Facebook is always there – https://www.facebook.com/Boryana.O.Uzunova

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

Brad Adams, Managing Director of Ocean Grown Abalone

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Ocean Grown Abalone’s, Brad Adams is revolutionising abalone production in a clean, green and sustainable way off the south west coast of Australia.

What’s your story?
I grew up in the remote town of Augusta in the very south west of Western Australia where the Southern Ocean meets the Indian Ocean.

My family have a long association with aquaculture and the fishing industry. I’m a 3rd generation fisherman and my father founded the commercial wild abalone diving industry in Flinders Bay in the 1960s.

I followed an aquaculture route, and after I completed my studies in Tasmania, I returned home to start the development of a new technique of growing abalone.

After close to 20 years researching, developing and inventing a new technology, OGA’s sea ranching technique was born and the ‘abitat’ was developed.

Sea ranching is an aquaculture technique where hatchery bred juvenile abalone are placed on OGA designed artificial reefs, ‘abitats’, which are placed in the ocean and left to nature to grow for 2-3 years until they reach a marketable size. They feed and survive in the wild.

The abalone produced from the sea ranch is identical to the highly sought after wild catch product, but has the competitive advantages that only aquaculture can provide. OGA can supply year round to meet market demands to whatever size or product specification the market requires.

Importantly, the sustainability of the abalone using the sea ranching technique is proven and monitored on an ongoing basis. Monitoring the ‘abitats’ and the sea ranching technology is paramount to OGA.

What excites you most about your industry?
That we can grow a premium seafood product which is highly revered in Asia, in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. The sea life we are seeing in Flinders Bay now that the reefs are down is incredible. We are seeing many different types of fish which were no longer in the bay as well as plenty of sea grass creating an underwater sustainable ecosystem.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am born and bred in Augusta in WA. OGA exports premium greenlip abalone to Asian markets including Singapore, Hong Kong and China.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong. It has a strong seafood (especially abalone) culture developed with Australian exporters over many years. Also the buyers are great; relaxed people who enjoy having a good time showing you their amazing city.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You only live once, so always follow your passions.

Who inspires you?
Andrew Forrest – his single minded purpose and determination, and how he uses his wealth to improve the lives of others.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Banging your head against a wall burns 150 calories per hour.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
There are many things I would do differently if I had today’s hindsight as foresight, however all my mistakes, successes and decisions have made me the person I am today. I am comfortable with that.

How do you unwind?
I am a keen surfer. Being at one with the ocean is important to me.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Lembongan, Indonesia. Great waves, great food, great people

Everyone in business should read this book:
Grit – Angela Duckworth
“Success is the result of passion and persistence, not talent and luck.”

Shameless plug for your business:
OGA have developed the world’s first commercial greenlip abalone sea ranching facility. We build our own artificial abalone reefs (called abitats) on our leases in the pristine waters of Flinders Bay. We place hatchery reared juvenile abalone on them – then let nature (with a little help from our divers) do the rest to produce this marine delicacy. A totally natural, ‘wild-harvest’ product. Because we have some control of the process we can harvest to market demand to whatever size the market requires. We call this aquaculture technique sea ranching.

This video explains the business in 7 minutes: https://vimeo.com/225797022

How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected] or
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oceangrownabalone/

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

Lex Na, CEO of Bountie Pte Ltd

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Lex is the founder of a digital agency, a couple of e-commerce businesses and he has just started a gaming, tech, blockchain business, Bountie.io which is his main focus.

What’s your story?
I’m a workaholic, not because I’m forced to but I absolutely love the grind. I may be conditioned due to my previous gaming experience. We as gamers have to play long hours everyday to level up as the difficulty increases. Everything I do right now is a step towards the greater good.
I’m the founder of a boutique Digital Agency and a couple of e-Commerce businesses. I have been in tech for more than 10 years. Those businesses are currently automated to hand to my partners so I can solely focus on Bountie.io.

What excites you most about your industry?
Bountie is in the Gaming/eSports/Technology/Cryptocurrency/Blockchain industry. It’s a combination of all the things I love to do and have been doing since I was young. Right now it’s at the forefront of the world’s economy.
I love the crazy pace, the hype and the future of this industry and it’s drawing the best and the brightest, the upcoming generation that will be the leaders of our future.
Everyday there’s something new, different and revolutionary happening.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore. I have been to most parts of Asia and I have been learning and observing other cultures, languages and lifestyles. I have also been to Europe and America. I still love the diversity here.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s one of the many cities that’s truly efficient, meritocratic and frictionless. The only con is that it’s too small! Other than that, I love Singapore. We have great infrastructure and support. Low corporate taxes as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Live each day as if it’s my last. By Steve Jobs in his 2005 commencement speech in Stanford. Although I didn’t receive it personally, I took it to heart. I listened to that speech multiple times, sometimes putting it on repeat whilst I was working. I really believe in giving everything I have every single moment of my life. Because life is so fragile, you’ll never know when your last day is. So I live everyday without regrets.

Who inspires you?
As above, Steve Jobs. He has an amazing story. I read his biography, watched a keynote presentation by him, saw the movie about him. His ideology and way of life inspires me. His attention to detail and perfectionist mindset, resulting in a legacy that’s still impacting our lives until now.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It was from someone whom I just knew for an hour. He told me that if I can find happiness in the same thing that makes me sad, that’s when I truly would be happy. I didn’t understand until he explained further.
An occurrence may result in a few reactions to a person. You can either look at the positive side or negative side, both are dependant on you personally. For example, a difficult boss may result in you becoming a more detailed employee, but you only think about how miserable your life is under him.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would do all this again, if not I wouldn’t be at the stage where I am at currently and where I will be in the future. I believe every single step of the way resulted in who and what I am presently. The tough times I have been through, regardless of how bad it was back then, made me stronger. If I could go back and change it, take the easy way out, I’ll be a softer person now.

How do you unwind?
I have been practicing yoga and meditation for about 3 years now. These two activities allow me to slow down and maintain a sane mind from my 14-16 hours of work, Monday to Sunday. I would strongly encourage anyone interested to try a “Calm” mobile app, it has free content for you to try before purchasing their premium content.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Langkawi Island in Malaysia. I unknowingly booked a flight there for my wife’s birthday about 2 years ago because it has a Starwood Hotel (I’m a platinum member). When I reached there I understood why it was one of the best islands to visit in Asia. The best experience I had was the island hopping on jet skis. We could ride fast and there weren’t caps like other touristy places and across huge distances with the guide. The waters were also clean and clear. A perfect getaway.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferris. One of the many books of our time that would remain as a timeless classic for entrepreneurs and business owners. Great interview questions which reveal deep insights into the inner workings of each and every one of his guests. He also asks some similar questions to multiple guests, from there the reader is able to distinguish that there isn’t one fixed method that the successful people follow, but each of them have a different path. So follow the ones that resonate with you and you’ll still be able to reach the point of success.

Shameless plug for your business:
1. Advisors and Mentors – Industry experts who have been there and done that. We need your wisdom and guidance through this challenging path.
2. Investors – In order to achieve what we aim to in our projected timeline and pace, we need more money to give us the runway and fuel to do it.
3. Team members – We are expanding at breakneck speed, from 2 guys to now 24 people working to make Bountie a success. But in order to increase the speed of growth, we need more “A” players who share our vision and are willing to work hard together to make this happen.

How can people connect with you?
It’s usually the case if you want to reach out to people in a company, by emailing [email protected] So make a guess, drinks on me for the right answer.

Twitter handle?
Unfortunately I do not have Twitter nor Instagram. I do have Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/lexfromhotmail) and LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/lexna/) if you wish to connect via social. From there we can connect and chat further!

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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