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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

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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Callum Connects

William Chin, Founder of Mummy’s Market

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William Chin set up Mummy’s Market. Mummy’s Market is the uncontested platform connecting parents and retailers in Singapore.

What’s your story?
After National Service, I enjoyed a rousing start to my corporate career with successful stints at events and conventions companies such as IQPC, Hannover Fairs Australia and Lighthouse Independent Media in management roles, building my experience in conventions, trade fairs and events.

However, I hit a particularly bad streak of unemployment after that, facing difficulty finding jobs because according to recruiters, I was overqualified, yet too young. In fact, at one point I was struggling so badly with my family loans that I was sharing bowls of ramen with my girlfriend for our meals, to save costs.

My financial pressures eventually culminated in my forced venture into entrepreneurship where I had to strike out my own path with a brief stint in Expomal. However, this turned out to be my next break that fuelled my current success. It was there I built up Smartkids (another wildly successful baby and child fair) before it was bought out by a bigger company. Inspired by SmartKids, I started Mummy’s Market and eventually Baby’s Market, outperforming established names in the business to take its current place as market leader.

What excites you most about your industry?
Mummy’s Market is the industry leader in baby, kids, maternity and household with 80% market share and our clients – coupled with branding, advertising and exhibiting on Mummy’s Market platforms, we are seeing a 30-60% company growth year on year despite the downturn in the economy. With attendance of over 100k consumers per fair and serving 70-80% of pregnant mums, our actual business is in data, data collection and processing from consumer fairs.

I am excited about how big data analytics from Mummy’s Market can be applied at every stage of the retail process such as data segmentation – for retailers now when mums are giving birth to sending relevant content over. This will transform and innovate the industry of baby fairs and Mummy’s Market, with the huge amount of data we process from our fairs yearly, is the forerunner in this disruption. With this, we have transformed the DNA of how digital business has always been done. Global online marketplaces are burning cash quickly to achieve big data analytics, but not us.

Another testament to Mummy’s Market’s popularity is that huge marketplaces have been trying to pass off as Mummy’s Market. It shows that we are heading in the right direction and the most exciting part is, we are only at 10% of where we want to be – a platform where $1 billion gross market value products are transacted annually around Asia in a niche market.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore, and intend to stay in Singapore to build the Mummy’s Market brand.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore – if one can strategically become a leader in a small market like Singapore, its grounds to show that one’s business has an opportunity to grow further in larger countries.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“It is easy to become number 1 because the others can just copy and tweak to overtake you.
It is more difficult to STAY number 1, because you have no one to copy. You have to innovate.”

Who inspires you?
Steve Jobs – he transformed the digital age. Without the invention of smartphones, mobile computing and mobile advertising would never have grown. He changed the way businesses and consumers communicate. Without the introduction of iPhones, mobile applications would have never existed the way we are using them today.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You no longer have to lick stamps to make it sticky.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I love my life and my family. And I love the platform Mummy’s Market has created to help businesses grow.

How do you unwind?
I play with my little 1 year old baby girl.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan – cool weather with beautiful mountains and lake scenery.

Everyone in business should read this book:
7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

Shameless plug for your business:
Mummy’s Market has established its reputation as not just Singapore’s but Southeast Asia’s largest baby fair:

  • Nearly S$100 million gross merchandise volume transacted on Mummy’s Market platforms annually
  • 800,000 visitors at its fairs yearly
  • 80% of all of Singapore’s baby product distributors in one convention
  • 15-20% year on year increase in sales volume at every baby fair since its inception

Apart from market dominance, Mummy’s Market also has the largest database of parents and the number 1 platform for MNCs and SMEs to reach out to this audience. From exhibitions, magazines, seminars to digital campaigns and roadshows. Mummy’s Market is the uncontested platform connecting parents and retailers in Singapore.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]
https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-chin-23910a9/

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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