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Cassiopea Yap, Founder of Ashleigh Ivory

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Cassiopea Yap founded Ashleigh Ivory a health and skincare business in 2007.

What’s your story?
Ashleigh Ivory is a key business venture that I began way back in 2007. Since it has been 10 years, some may be inclined to think that we have a whole repertoire of fine skincare items.

This is not the case. In fact, we don’t have a plethora of products because I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Instead of common focus on the finished item, my journey begins from the backend. This is where products undergo QC, stringent tests and personal use to determine if First Impressions Last Forever.

A product may be subject to 600 tests in three years before being released to purveyors and consumers.

What excites you most about your industry?
The Health and Skincare aspects of it. I am excited even though the industry is filled to the brim with products and solutions, a fact that challenged me to come up with something totally new.
The result? Ashleigh Ivory’s Black Diamond Beauty Roller and Fuji Shiitake Age-Defying Serum set.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia is dynamic and happening. What is more, in several countries, there is a niche for bespoke, handcrafted and anti-ageing products and services. Hence, my connection to Asia and within Asia lies in my travels to various countries in search of these special items.

One example is how I found my sensei in Japan, and the result is my Made in Japan Roller in combination with the Fuji Shiitake Age-Dying Serum. The specially formulated Serum has eight amino acids as well as a high content of Vitamin C. It is also rich in Kojic acid that helps in brightening skin, fading pigmentation and reducing acne scars.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Singapore. Because the infrastructure of the city supports the employment of reliable staff for a personalised, face-to-face shopping experience.What is more, technology thrives in Singapore so this supports our omni-channel shopping experience as well, whether it is for B2C or B2B business models.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
We need not pursue beauty under the knife.

Who inspires you?
Princess Diana. Like she said: “People think that, at the end of the day, a man is the only answer.”

To me, a fulfilling business is better for me and yes, I am going to own it myself and be true to myself. I no longer want to live someone else’s idea or life. I just want to build my own legacy before I leave this Planet Earth for my next generation to come.”

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Lip Service Providers out there who lie without blinking when offering their services.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Not marry my present husband.

How do you unwind?
By listening to music. Music sets the tone right in the hustle and bustle of city-dwelling. I wouldn’t say no to a glass of wine or chocolates either.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It’d have to be Japan. I love the scenery, and how the Japanese respect aesthetics indoors as well as outdoors. Even with functional items, they tend to make them beautiful as well. I love their onsen too, with great hygiene practices and rejuvenating soaks in hot springs. Guess this is a way to unwind too.

Everyone in business should read this book:
God is my CEO, Following God’s Principles in a Bottom-line World by Larry S Julian. It contains real-life accounts of business leaders and other people in authority. When reading these real stories about how ‘Rome was not built in a day,’ I can fully empathise with how important work takes time.

Shameless plug for your business:
Don’t get addicted to my Black Diamond Beauty Roller & Fuji Shiitake Age-Defying Serum set because its effects are so so good. In a way, this is true, because you’ll only need to use it twice a day, 5-10 minutes each time.
Alright, I succumb. You can use it three times a day.
Ashleigh Ivory’s Black Diamond Beauty Roller and Fuji Shiitake Age-Defying Serum set. We can all apply well concocted creams and serums on our skin, but how do we maximise its penetration?
The Black Diamond Beauty Roller is designed to penetrate deep into skin, acting directly on the cell level for optimum results.
Each Roller is handcrafted from terahertz ore in a diamond cut of 48 facets to reduce crow’s feet, diminish fine lines, tightenpores and lots more.

How can people connect with you?
I am just a text or phone call away

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

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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Callum Connects

Ray Ferguson, Founder of Caber Partners

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Ray Ferguson left the banking world and returned to Asia to explore exciting fintech opportunities.

What’s your story?
I am the Founder of Caber Partners, a Singapore based MAS Licensed Fund Manager and Financial Advisor investing and working with companies focused exclusively on the intersection of finance and technology. I work specifically in the areas of payments, insurance, wealth management, alternative lending and blockchain.

I am also Chairman of Singapore Life which was founded last year. It is the first new local life company in Singapore. Concurrently, I chair Youtap a business which is creating a cashless e-money processing backbone providing real-time interoperable settlements of all consumer e-money payments to the merchants, e-money providers, retail and FMCG distribution groups, and banks across emerging markets.

My 30 year journey as a banker had its main leg with Standard Chartered Bank, where I held multiple country chief executive and regional leadership roles across four continents. I spent 6 years as Regional CEO, South East Asia and Chief Executive, Singapore. After Standard Chartered, I moved to Bank ABC, Bahrain and assumed the role of Group Chief Banking Officer where I took care of the group’s banking businesses worldwide.
Last year, I decided to step down after 3 years from my role with Bank ABC to return to Asia to pursue interesting and exciting opportunities that fintech disruption was providing.

What excites you most about your industry?
The sheer pace of technological innovation in the financial sector, and how it is up-ending the traditional models and traditional players. There are huge implications and benefits for efficiency, transparency and importantly financial inclusion which will drive growth in emerging markets.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have lived in and worked in Asia for more than 30 years. I first came to Singapore in 1994 and today I am a proud Singapore citizen, and to me Singapore is home.

Its an invigorating environment. Asia is in the middle of an historic transformation. If it continues to follow its recent trajectory, by 2050 its per capita income could rise sixfold in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms to reach Europe’s levels today. It would make some 3 billion additional Asians affluent by current standards. By nearly doubling its share of global gross domestic product (GDP) to 52 percent by 2050, Asia would regain the dominant economic position it held some 300 years ago, before the industrial revolution. This is a big deal and I’m excited to be part of it!

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore! Singapore is known for being a business-friendly country and it was crowned the best country in World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business List” and ranks as the top 3 in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitive Index.” Singapore is an attractive hub, for both businesses and has a great community to live in.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Listen intently and you will know what you don’t know.

Who inspires you?
Nelson Mandela

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That the global mobile wallet market was valued at approximately USD 594 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach approximately USD 3,100 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of around 32% between 2017 and 2022.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have learnt to code.

How do you unwind?
Exercise, golf and sailing large catamarans.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket. Easy to reach, Thai people and service, breadth of choice of locations/accomodation and great sailing weather.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Good to Great – Jim Collins. It’s about how companies transition from being good companies to great companies, and how and why most companies fail to make the transition.

Shameless plug for your business:
Caber Partners team is uniquely connected with our networks and experience in fintech markets, investing and banking and business growth solutions throughout Asia and across the emerging world.

How can people connect with you?
Come connect with me through my LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rayfergusonscb

Twitter handle?
Rayferguson888

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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