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David Wong, Founder of Deemples

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David Wong set up a golf app, Deemples to connect golfers around the globe.

What’s your story?
Born in KL, went to the US to get a finance degree, started my sales career selling books door-to-door in the US, then food and then onto vacuum cleaners back in KL. The last 9 years was all about digital advertising media, from social media, to analytics technology, launching businesses across Asia Pacific based in KL, Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore.
Golf was the thing that made me look forward to every weekend, however getting around was never easy since I had to find people to play with.
It didn’t help that I was always moving countries, so there were never a permanent group of golfing friends. I needed a solution, so I decided to build something myself.
We built the Deemples Golf App and tested it in Malaysia and Singapore to much success. Golfers had finally found a solution to a common problem.

What excites you most about your industry?
It’s very hard to explain why golf is exciting to a non-golfer, but the most exciting thing about the golf industry is just being able to play it! That’s the main motivation that drives us to continue to help golfers play golf whenever and wherever they want to.
Aside from helping existing golfers, since only 1% of the population plays golf, sharing that joy of golf to non-golfers, enabling more people to pick up the sport also drives us everyday.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m born and raised in the Malaysian public schools. I speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Malay, which helped when I was based for 4 years in Beijing and Shanghai and 2 years in Singapore where I was in a regional role opening markets in Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Australia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Shanghai in China. It has become the capital of the world in the last few years and the sheer size and opportunity within it eclipses many of the largest cities in the world, both for business and pleasure.
Both Shanghai and Beijing are often the national HQ for a lot of large corporations, but aside from these 2, other cities in China cannot be taken lightly as they’re the size of small countries!

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Don’t just think of making money, think of solving problems, this will drive you much farther than money, and in turn the money will come.” Ava Yu, entrepreneur and friend from Shanghai.

Who inspires you?
No specific person, but I do have a lot of people I admire, that have come from nothing but believed in something, worked hard at it, and made it happen, both as an entrepreneur or an employee.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That a big chunk of “e-commerce” in SEA is still done in a manual way. Most of the e-commerce that we hear about in the region is related to brands like Lazada, Redmart, Taobao, Shopee, and MatahariMall, where payments are done online through these retailers. However, in rural areas, “e-commerce” happens through Instagram, Whatsapp, Wechat and FB messenger and the cash transactions are done “offline.”
After some trust is established between buyer and seller through IM, the buyer will then go to a nearby ATM, deposit the cash into an account provided, take a picture of the bank-in slip, and then send it to the seller. While products are still marketed through online channels, transactions are taking place offline. Very “carousell!”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I don’t think I would have done anything differently. I cherish all the experiences I’ve gone through, good/bad/stupid, to get me to where I am today.
Am I satisfied? No.
Could I have done better? Probably.
Have I always pushed myself? Yes.
What’s more important, is what I can do from here. There’s only so much brain bandwidth, so thinking about the past is useless when you can’t change it. I try to focus on what I can do today, and plan on what to do tomorrow.

How do you unwind?
Play golf! Aside from that, do a lot of other activities – wakeboarding, running, working out, swimming, going out to listen to some jazz performances, catching up on TV series.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Anywhere along the beach in Thailand. I love beaches, Thai food, Thai massages and Thai hospitality.

Everyone in business should read this book:
I rarely read books, I know I should read more but I rather just get summarised versions from articles. I’m very trashy when it comes to books, last 2 books read were Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, both by Kevin Kwan. The former is currently being made into a movie, which I’m looking forward to watching.

Shameless plug for your business:
When business is up, celebrate with a golf game, when business is down, play some golf since there’s nothing to do. And if no one can play with you, just get on Deemples and find others to play with. For all you know you might meet your next business partner, next client, next supplier or next wife.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]
https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidwpy
https://www.facebook.com/davidwpy

Twitter handle?
@davidwpy

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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