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Dato Sri’ Dr. Eric Yap, CEO of Technology Revolution On-Net (TRON)

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This dynamic CEO of Technology Revolution On-Net Sdn Bhd (Tron) is undeterred by competition amongst giants in the technology arena. In fact he relishes the challenge and sees it as an opportunity to engage in technology- related businesses. His mind does not cease to amaze those who work closely with him.

Born and raised in Kuantan, to parents from Fujian, China, even at a very young age, Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap’s thirst and passion for lifelong learning helped set him on a path as a serial entrepreneur which led him to various industries, including insurance, property, construction, travel, security and telecommunications. He attributed the success to his mother who had set high expectations for him from his early days. After passing all his exams in the country, he continued his higher education in the United Kingdom.

In June 2014 he was bestowed an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy Degree in Business Administration by an American University for outstanding achievement in his business career and contributions to society.

In 2012 he was conferred the title DIMP (which carried the title Dato) and in 2013, the SSAP (which carried the title Dato’ Sri) both by His Royal Highness the Sultan of Pahang. It was in October 2015 that he was awarded the First Diamond Entrepreneurship by the Sultan of Pahang on the occasion of His Royal Highness’ 85th birthday.

On 10 March 2016, Tron was awarded the SME’s Corporate Award Best Brand in ICT by the Brand Laureate SME’s Best Brands Award 2015-2016 and Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap was awarded the SME’s Brand Leadership Award. He attributed his leadership style to the many articles he read from books and management articles, singling out Jack Ma as the person he most admire and who inspired him most.

Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap started his career at MAA Bhd as a life insurance agent and quickly rose to up the ranks to Agency Supervisor and subsequently Agency Manager. That earned him the much coveted Million Dollar Round Table membership where only the industry’s top 1% is recognized. From Insurance he went on to Property Trading and established two companies dealing in investment and property holdings in Malaysia and Hong Kong. It was inevitable for him to diversify his business to furniture and home furnishing as well as an interior design firm having managed property trading since he was in the property line. Later he went on to set up a travel and tour agency, a security company and recently Tron.

“I don’t believe in doing things halfway as it is a waste of my time, money and efforts. I always push harder telling myself that I’m nearer to my goals and success is just within my grasp.” Holding on to this principle, he transformed Tron into a lean and mean team with just 46 people when he took over the company. The revamp, including successful partnerships with different partners, set Tron on the right path and it is looking good today.

Rather than jumping into the price war game, Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap believes in leading with innovations and providing more value added rewards to Tron subscribers. Tron is the first Telco to offer unconditional 365 days validity without extra charges to subscribers so long as they reload on a monthly basis. Besides that, Tron subscribers will also receive Tron Points for every purchase and these points can be used to redeem reload coupons and other offers from Tron and partners. Hence Tron’s tagline ‘It’s Good to Share’ is to consistently provide economical and value added services such as incentives and promotional plans to Tron subscribers. Tron was also the first in the country to launch a 4G Global SIM that allows ultra-fast browsing and downloading. Tron is constantly looking into introducing new products to the public. “We are also expanding our network to South East Asian countries like Thailand (already started operations), Indonesia and the Philippines.”

Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap’s stand on ‘leadership by example’ proves he is a leader to be reckoned with when he made the first RM500,000 sales for Tron after he took over the reins. In his books, nothing is impossible “if you set your mind on it.” He had to make some pretty tough decisions and set goals and objectives for all his employees to accomplish. He even had to sacrifice his own personal time and learn as much as possible about the MVNO industry which was totally new to him then. A firm believer in providing opportunities to all his employees to grow and shine, he looks to loyalty, dedication and teamwork. His tenacity paid off when the route he took was not the usual MVNO way and that made some of the competitors sit up and take notice. In fact he even promoted his personal assistant to the position of Assistant Vice President of the company.

Corporate Social Responsibility is a term that is dear to Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap and he has a soft spot for the less fortunate, especially orphans and the elderly. He takes pride in being able to give back to society and what better way than to engage the entire company on CSR activities where 10% of the proceeds from sales of reloads will be contributed to selected charitable organizations on a monthly basis. Tron is the first in this region to embark on such a CSR initiative. The first project kicked off in January this year with festive gathering for the less fortunate both young and old.

Crime prevention is another topic close to his heart. He wants to educate the young and old alike on crime prevention and security. As part of this initiative, Tron has sponsored CCTVs to Sekolah Kebangsaan Batu Lima in Kepala Batas Penang in the beginning of 2016 and sponsored festive dinners for ‘warga emas” and orphans. Tron also launched and introduced a GPS tracking device that will enable parents or guardians to keep an eye on their children and the elderly. The device allows parents or guardians to check their children’s whereabouts and whether they are in a safe surrounding. For the elderly, the device allows SOS calls during emergencies.

On a personal note, Dato’ Sri Dr Eric Yap believes that everyone has to shape his or her own destiny. “When writing the story of your life, don’t let anyone else hold the pen” and “that means you are in control of your own life and the directions you take.”

Callum Connects

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures

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Marek Danyluk has a talent for assessing the competencies of management teams for other businesses and pulling together exceptional teams for his own businesses!

What’s your story?
I am the CEO of a venture capital business, Space Ventures, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses. I also own and run Space Executive, a recruitment business focused on senior to executive hires across sales, marketing, finance, legal and change.

My career started as a trainee underwriter in the Lloyds market but quickly moved into recruitment where I set-up my first business in 2002. The business grew to around 100 people. I moved to Asia in 2009 as a board member of a multinational recruitment business with the mandate to help them scale their Asian entities, which helped contribute to their sale this year, in 2017.

My main talent is assessing the competencies of management teams as well as building high performing recruitment boutiques and putting together exceptional management teams for my own businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
Building the business is very much about attracting the best talent and being able to build a culture which people find invigorating and unique. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to define a culture in that regard and salespeople are a fun bunch, so when you get it right it’s tremendous.

From a VC point of view there is just so much happening. South East Asia is a melting pot of innovation so the ideas and quality of people you have exposure to, is truly phenomenal. The exposure in the VC has taken me away from a career in recruitment. Doing something completely different has given me a new level of focus.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Whilst I came here with work, both my boys were born in Singapore and to them this very much is home. That said, my father in law spent many years in the East so coming and settling here was met with a good degree of support and familiarity.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Possibly Hong Kong. It’s the closest I’ve been to working in London. Whilst there are massive Asian influences people will work with you on the basis you are good at what you do and work hard. I find that approach very honest and straightforward.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always treat people well on the way up!”

Who inspires you?
I like reading about people who have excelled in business such as Jack Ma, James Kahn, Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, all have great stories to tell and they are all inspirational. No-one has inspired me more than my parents and they are well aware as to why…

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much any technology innovation blows me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whilst it is important not to have regrets I do continually wake up thinking I’m still doing my A’ Levels. So, I’d have probably tried a little harder in 6th form.

How do you unwind?
I like the odd glass of red wine and watching sport

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan skiing. I love skiing and Japanese food and it’s a time when I can really enjoy time with the wife and kids. I recently tried the Margaret River which was divine, although not technically Asia.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Barbarians at the Gate

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive is the fastest growing recruitment business in Singapore focused on the mid to senior market across legal, compliance, finance, sales and marketing and change and transformation. Multi-award winning with exceptional growth plans into Hong Kong and London this year, and the US, Japan and Europe by the end of 2022. We are building a truly global brand.

Space Ventures is interested in any businesses that require capital or management and financial guidance or any or all of the above. We have, to date, invested in on-line training, food and beverages, peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring as well as other tech and fintech start-ups. We are always interested in hearing about potential deals.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@Spaceexecutive

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

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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