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Darren Chua, Co-Founder & CEO of Markedshot

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Darren Chua

Darren Chua is on a quest to enable individuals of all levels to be rewarded for their photography through his business Markedshot.

What’s your story?
I am an average kid from NUS majoring in Computer Engineering. Always wanted to be an entrepreneur but didn’t want to rush things.
During my 3rd year in college, I embarked on a NUS Overseas College program where I spent 1 year interning and studying in Shanghai. I was extremely fortunate to meet 2 of the most important people in my life, Brendon and Kim McQueen. They were my bosses and mentors from my internship company. I interned at Curves, a 30 minute fitness center for women only, a franchise brand from the USA. What’s a computer engineer doing at a gym for women, I hear you ask? Well, I wanted to put myself in a country that I knew little of and an industry that I knew nothing about. This turned out to be the best decision I made and maybe best decision of my life.
I was exposed to every aspect of the business, from logistics to manufacturing to growing new markets. It was an experience like no other. I continued being part of Curves way pass my internship until my graduation from NUS.
My time at Curves enabled me to be all rounded in terms of business, technology, marketing and almost all other aspects of the business.
As, I was always passionate about harnessing technology to improve business processes, I went on to be an IT consultant for a local Singaporean ERP company. I had a great time learning and helping traditional businesses adopt technology and using ERP systems to automate their workflow. As my role was to analyse and propose the best approach to any project, this allowed me access and insights into every intricate part of my client’s business. Every client offered something new to learn and allowed me to apply my knowledge and deliver results.
I love filmmaking and photography as well. I took on freelance video and development projects on the side and collaborated with a few friends from college to help them out with their work.
That was when I caught the startup flu again. I never wanted to rush entrepreneurship for the sake of doing it. I always knew the moment would present itself in the future. My buddy and now co-founder, Nur Iman Izam from NUS started a discussion regarding a platform for photography. We decided to go ahead and launch a MVP on the appstore. Users grew to a thousand in a month and we decided to launch on Android and a web version. We hit 10 thousand users in less than 3 months from launch which got us really excited.
I quit my fulltime job, decided to give my startup a 100% of my resources and I never looked back since.
Currently, I am on my quest to enable individuals of all levels to be rewarded for their photography action through Markedshot.

What excites you most about your industry?
Almost everybody owns a smartphone, why not earn some money or rewards for the photos that you’re taking?
Everyone is uploading photos and contents about their daily life. What they eat, where they go brands they love, things they buy.
We know brands would die for data and contents that are organically created by their customers.
Our mission is to enable brands to market the voices of their happy customers.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I love Asia. Being born in Singapore, I am fortunate to have friends of different races, religions and from different countries. It is that very diversity that makes Asia a really special continent where every country or city is unique in its own ways.
For any brand that wants to expand in Asia, it would have to harness content to be local, authentic and relatable to users in the respective countries.
That’s where we want to help brands expand across Asian countries.

Darren Chua & Wife

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It would have to be Taipei.
During my days at Curves, I was often in Taiwan as that is our biggest market. It is a country that retains historical ties with China and yet is very much influenced by the Japanese culture. Working with the locals has been really eye-opening. I find Taiwanese people extremely hardworking and intelligent and it’s always a pleasure to be working with a Taiwanese team.
My startup is currently also part of AppWorks, the biggest accelerator in Taiwan. My experience there has been awesome and very rewarding.
Last but not least, my wife is Taiwanese as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be sincere, be honest and walk the talk.
I think we are remembered not by the things one said, but often by the things one did.
Being sincere and having a no BS policy has not only helped me in my startup journey but also forged great friendships within a very short period.

Who inspires you?
My biggest inspiration comes from my Curves mentors, Brendon and Kim McQueen.
They taught me countless lessons that are applicable in life as well as business.
I learnt what it takes to be a good businessman, son to my parents, husband to my wife and also parent to my future kids.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The beauty of life is that we never stop learning. I am constantly learning from my everyday experiences and through meeting people from different backgrounds.
As I recently got married, I learnt to enjoy and cherish the “now” moments and to pay attention to the little things that matter to my partner.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would strive to be a film director or a chef.
Being born in Singapore, there wasn’t much emphasis given to the arts. We were encouraged to be engineers, doctors or accountants at a young age.
What would the world be without music, art and film?

How do you unwind?
Putting my phone and tech gadgets away. (means my wife locking them away)
Going on movie dates and nature walks with my wife.
Family time is important as well.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand.
The beaches are great, food is great and people are amazingly friendly.
Hence the name, Land of Smiles.

Everyone in business should read this book:
How to Win Friends and Influence People
Having great interpersonal skills might be the tipping point.
Humans are by nature social animals.

Shameless plug for your business:
Markedshot is a crowdsourcing platform for businesses to acquire user-generated content directly from thousands of photographers or their fans and customers.

Darren Chuan & team

How can people connect with you?
If you love linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/darren2424/
If you love to stalk: https://www.facebook.com/darren2424
If you love stickers: Line id: darren2424
Or just the old fashion email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/markedshot

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

Jasmine Tan, Director of Stone Amperor

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Jasmine saves her clients time and effort when doing kitchen fit outs with her biz Stone Amperor.

What’s your story?
I started working in the industry in 2003. I was in a marble and granite supplier company for 5 years. Even though I left the company, I still had customers calling me for my services. I referred them back to my previous company but they refused to because they loved the fast response service that I offered. I realised that customers do look at prices, however most of them prefer quality over quantity. Thus I have decided to establish a sole proprietor company also known as 78 Degrees which later rebranded as Stone Amperor in 2014.

What excites you most about your industry?
The kitchen countertop industry is a very confusing market. There are many brands, materials and prices to choose from. What excites me the most is my ability to help clients choose the best materials and brands within their budgets, whilst saving them time and effort.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have been in Asia all my life and I love Asia. No matter where you go there is no place like home.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Singapore. This is because Singapore has always been a stable country and it is great for doing business. However as it is a small country, it can be really competitive. I believe that if just do your best and give your best to your customers, you can overcome this.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Take actions. Learn and improve continuously. An idea without action is just a dream.” This was really good advice that I received from my partner.

Who inspires you?
A very down to earth billionaire from Malaysia, Robert Kuok

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Property is the foundation of every business.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Own instead of renting property for my business.

How do you unwind?
I enjoy going shopping, watching movies and hanging out with friends. I am quite a simple being.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love going to Taiwan as I love the culture there. Everyone is so polite and the weather is great.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Sun Tzu, Art of war

Shameless plug for your business:
Perfect top, Perfect price, Perfect life from Stone Amperor

How can people connect with you?
Email me at [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@StoneAmperor

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

Dextre Teh, Founder of Rebirth Academy

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Dextre Teh is a consultant and marketing guru, helping F&B businesses to tighten their operations and grow their businesses.

What’s your story?
I help frustrated F&B business owners stuck in day to day operation transform from a glorified operator into a real business owner. I’m a 27 year old Singaporean second generation restaurant owner and a F&B business consultant. Entering the industry at 13 years old, I have always been obsessed with operations and systemisation. At the age of 25, I joined the insurance industry and earned a six figure yearly income. However, I left the high pay behind because it was not my passion and returned to the F&B industry. Now I help other F&B companies to tighten operations and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services.

What excites you most about your industry?
The food. I’m a big lover of food and even have a YouTube show on food in development. But that aside, it is really about impacting people through food. Creating moments and memories for people, be it a dating couple or families or friends. Providing that refuge from the daily grind of life. So in educating my consulting clients and training their staff to provide a better experience for their customers, I aim to shift the industry in the direction of creating memories instead of just selling food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I love the culture, the food and travelling in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore hands down. The environment here is built for businesses to thrive. The government is pro business and the infrastructure is built around supporting business growth. Not to mention the numerous amount of grants available in helping people start and even grow business. If I’m not mistaken, the Singaporean government is the only government in the world that offers grants to home grown businesses for overseas expansion.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Learning to do things you do not intend to master is a BIG mistake in business. Focus on what you are good at and pay others to do the rest.

Many business owners including myself are so overwhelmed by the 10,000 things that they feel they need to do everyday. We try to do everything ourselves because we think it saves us money. The only thing that, that does for us is overload our schedules and give us mediocre results. Instead we should focus on what we do best and bring in support for the rest.

Who inspires you?
Christopher M Duncan.

At 29, Chris has built multiple 7 figure businesses. He opened me to the possibility of building a business on the thing that I loved and gave me a blueprint of how to do it. He also showed me that being young doesn’t mean you cannot do great things.

Imran Mohammad and Fazil Musa
They are my mentors and inspire me every single day to pursue my dreams, to focus on celebrating life and enjoying the process of getting to where I want to be.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Time is always more expensive than money. Money, you can earn over and over again but time, once you spend it, will never come back.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am a firm believer that your experiences shape who you are. I am grateful for every single moment of my life be it the highs or the lows, the successes and the failures because all these experiences have led me to become the person I am and brought me to the place that I’m at so I will probably do things the same way as everything was perfect in its time.

How do you unwind?
Chilling out in a live music bar with a drink in hand, listening to my favourite live band, 53A. Other than that I’m big on retail therapy, buying cool and geeky stuff.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bangkok. It feels like a home away from home where the cost of living is relatively low, the food is good and the people are friendly.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Everything you know about business is wrong by Alastair Dryburgh. It is a book that challenges commonly accepted business “truths” and inspires you to go against the grain, think different, take risks and stand your ground in the face of the challenges that will come your way as a business owner.

Shameless plug for your business:
I’m the creator of the world’s first Chilli Crab Challenge. It gained viral celebrity earlier this year with 3 major newspaper features and more than a dozen blog and online publications featuring it in the span of two weeks. In the span of the two weeks, the campaign reached well over a million people in exposure without a single cent spent in ads.

Now I help F&B companies to tighten operations, increase profits and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services. Chilli Crab Challenge (https://www.chillicrab.com/nationalday)

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/djtehkh) or visit www.rebirthacademy.sg for more information or book a 10 minute call with me @ www.tinyurl.com/dexclar

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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