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Deeba Rajpal, Owner of Passionate About Baking

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Deeba has been ‘bitten by the food blog’ bug as she puts it. From economics, airlines and now food, she has found her passion and she is excited by it everyday. Find out how Deeba combines food, photography and inspiration from her vibrant, chaotic and magical culture, India.

What’s your story?
Honours in Economics to a very enjoyable stint with the airlines, I eventually found myself the most fulfilled when I discovered food blogging several years ago in 2007. A self taught baker driven by passion, happy in my own space, inspired by the huge pool of creativity, I got bitten by the ‘food blog meets photography’ bug. The result? An opportunity to use my ever growing collection of vintage rustic food props. The combination of food and vintage touched my soul and excited me endlessly. As time passed, I developed my own personal style, an expression that is often a rustic, moody frame that plays with food, props and shadows. Now I style food, shoot some, write recipes, inspire and get inspired!

What excites you most about your industry?
The food industry is understandably a dynamic one. Where else can you find such a passionately captive audience? Add to it the digital angle, and its images that eyes feed on. ‘Foodgawker’ is a word that captures the essence beautifully!!  It is an ideal playground for creativity, and has a place for everyone. That which allows me room to grow, and that one isn’t confined by boundaries of any sort is my kind of space.  The food industry is trend setting, yet allows you to set trends.  It hosts some of the finest creative talent in the world. How much better can life get!
 
What’s your connection to Asia?
India. That’s home. Best place ever. There’s a method to the madness here, and I don’t believe I could survive elsewhere. The colours, the tradition, the chaos, the cuisine, the history, the culture of old cities, the hidden gems all spell magic for me.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Mumbai. A city with a heart. As Gregory David Roberts said in Shantaram , “More dreams are realised and extinguished in Bombay than any other place in India.” It’s a hypnotic city. Inspiring folk, thoroughly professional, helpful to the core and so large hearted! Even if the traffic doesn’t flow, even if the rain doesn’t stop, so what if the city is flooded, nothing dampens the spirit of Mumbai {or Bombay as I like to call it}.
 
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Believe in yourself. You are the best!” I’ve had ‘believe’ tattooed on my wrist and that’s a constant source of inspiration. I am not the best but it certainly makes me feel good, motivating me to enjoy what I do.
 
Who inspires you?
Chefs who create from the heart, have a conscience, work from farm to table, and are great human beings. Michelin Star Chef Vikas Khanna for one because I have been fortunate enough to work with him. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is a wonderful human being. Others who inspire me are chefs like Ottolenghi and Donna Hay.
 
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That I just got lucky! I was invited for a ten day sponsored Grand Tour of Switzerland by a leading lifestyle TV channel in India. 10 days in Switzerland!! Me? YES!!

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Be more patient, listen more, react less, improve on my organisational skills, learn to be technically savvy too!
Pick up a camera from day one, explore every corner of India.
 
How do you unwind?
Explore the streets of the old city, bake, shoot nature, play with the dog, surf the net {Pinterest, Instagram, Tumbler}, become a couch potato with a TALL glass of cold coffee, watch cricket on telly with the better half etc, talk food with my friends!
 
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Goa. Slow paced if you like, beautiful beaches, scenic drives, great food and folk, not too expensive. There’s something for everyone. The kids love it there.
 
Everyone in business should read this book:
Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” by Ed Catmull and Amy Wallace
 
Shameless plug for your business:
{this is something very unlike me to do}
I will add character and style to your food and frame. If you need food work done, give it to someone who loves what they do! Give it to me!
 
How can people connect with you?
Twitter https://twitter.com/vindee
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/PassionateAboutBaking
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/deebarajpal/
Instagram https://instagram.com/passionateaboutbaking/
 
Twitter handle?
@vindee

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnects

Callum 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

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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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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