Never thinking of herself as an entrepreneur, Crystal Chua has started two businesses now and is very passionate about her latest venture, the food industry.

What’s your story?
I graduated with a finance major in a business degree. Everyone around me was applying for jobs in the banks but I wasn’t sure if I was cut out for the finance industry. I thought I could work for the events industry to figure out which industry and jobs would suit me better. Singapore was promoting itself as a great MICE location so I went to Singapore Tourism Board to apply for jobs with all the event companies listed on their events calendar. 15 years later and out of sheer boredom of the many meaningless powerpoint slides I had to do in my last job as the marketing director for a telecoms manufacturer, I dreamt about my second business idea – providing private chefs to home party hosts who do not want to cook. My first business was a small marketing agency called Crystal Clear Communications. Four and a half years later and after burning my life savings during the first two years, My Private Chef evolved to provide exclusive dining services to both residential and corporate party hosts. I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. I started both my businesses as I saw a gap in the market for something I am passionate about.

What excites you most about your industry?
Food and the passion for something different. Most of our clients are bored with standard events and want to impress with food. Working with chefs is mostly inspiring. They are generally very passionate about their work. These days, we are fortunate enough to get to play with artistic, theatrical and technological elements to help our clients impress their guests. Fun!

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am Singaporean.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! The government has been very supportive of entrepreneurs like myself. Also, the system here is very transparent. It’s easy to maneuver and run my business smoothly.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Make sure your passion pays.

Who inspires you?
Neal Moore, my husband, who runs his own business Click2view. He is always full of ideas and he is a self starter. I draw a lot of my positive energy from him when going through ups and downs in my business.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
A romantic idea for a business must be backed by numbers. I should have been more focussed on profit margins.

How do you unwind?
Yoga, swim and massages.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love how calm the people, the heritage and the food are.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Blue Ocean Strategy by W Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne. It teaches you to how to carve out a niche for your business and why you are different from your peers.

Shameless plug for your business:
My Private Chef is a bespoke dining service that incorporates art, music and technology to create unforgettable experiences for brands, corporate and private clients.  With a roster of world-class chefs, experienced service staff and unique venues in Singapore and overseas, we conceptualise, create and deliver themed events that tell your brand story through fine food, creative event design and unique ambience.

How can people connect with you?
Tel: (65) 6224 4050 or [email protected]

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
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Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com

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Callum Laing
Callum Laing has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He is a partner in the Private Equity firm Unity-Group. Co-founder and non-exec director of The Marketing Group PLC and is CEO of Key Person of Influence (Asia). He is author of 'Progressive Partnerships'.

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