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Eric Edmeades, Founder of WildFit

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Eric Edmeades is a South African born, Canadian raised, serial entrepreneur with a business background in mobile computing, wireless networking, Hollywood special effects, military research and development and business consulting. He is also the founder of WildFit, a fast-growing nutritional coaching company.

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In your own words what do you do?

Mostly, I like to have fun. When I look at business projects I am looking for things that lie at the intersection of fun and value-creation. Recently, I have shifted my focus to one of my most serious passions: health care through self-care. I have spent over twenty years on an Indiana Jones-like exploration into the the history of the human diet and the science of behavioral change to create programs that genuinely change the way people think and feel about certain foods. As the founder of WildFit, I find myself at the forefront of a badly needed food revolution and nothing I have worked on in my life so far has been more fulfilling than this.

What led you to your current business?

As a young man I was frequently sick. Well, no, I should say I was pretty much always sick. I didn’t really think of it as ‘being sick’ so much as just being the way I was. After receiving some advice from a good friend, I changed a few things about my diet and, about a month later, I felt better than I had in years. That made me curious. I wondered how 10 years of doctors and specialists had done so little for me and one month of changing my diet could do so much.

That started me on a journey looking into medical education, human history, nutritional anthropology, behavioral psychology and the food manufacturing, marketing, and distribution business.

What I learned, over the next several years would change everything I thought I knew about food and health and soon I was sharing my views with anyone who would listen. I think I was even sharing with people who didn’t want to listen.

Could you walk us through your process of developing your business?

At first, it was a hobby. I had learned some powerful things about food and created great results for myself, some close friends and my family. About 5 years ago, I got into professional speaking as a business speaker and soon had many people asking me how I could have so much energy even though I was flying all over the world and spending so long on stage; some of my programs have me on stage for 10 or more hours a day for up to 5 days in a row.

And so I started sharing my ideas with customers and fans. And getting results.

One day I decided to formalize the approach. Instead of just giving people ‘rules’ to follow, I created a structure that would ease them into those rules while giving them a chance to really get to know themselves and to understand their relationship with food. The first class we did went so well, that we decided to launch a business around it. The rest, so far, is history.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties in the beginning?

Not really. I mean, yes, we have had growing pains. We have experienced exponential growth over the last year and that has been tough on our business systems and our people but otherwise, we have been pretty lucky. Our business grows primarily through word-of-mouth. Our clients look so different after a few weeks on the program that their friends and relatives start asking how they did it.

What is your long term plan?

We aim to have a major impact on the food and health care industry in the western world. Healthcare is one of the most significant burdens on society, and upon many families. So much of that is because our relationship with food is incredibly wrong. We are waking up to the realization that the cigarette manufacturers were puppy dogs compared to the level of profit-motivated manipulation that we have seen from the food industry.

Could you share with us some industry insights?

Look, if you manufacture food, there are only a few ways to increase your profits. You can get more people to eat your food but once you have saturated the market, you need to start getting more creative.

You could start by lowering the cost of the food you manufacture, which might then lower the quality of that food.

You could then figure out ways to get people to eat a great deal more of your food than they really need including, for instance, adding addictive substances or reducing the nutritional value of the food so that people remain hungry even after eating it.

The ‘industry’, per your question, in our world, starts with food manufacturers and ends up with the medical industry. The whole chain profits by people eating large volumes of low-quality food and then spending a great deal of money on medication starting with the innocuous and prolific antacids up to and including expensive and multi-year treatments for lifestyle caused heart disease and cancer.

What are some important lessons you’ve learnt about entrepreneurship?

The first thing is People. It is all about people. Take care of your people and they will take care of you.

The second thing is to invest in business systems. To be really scalable, a business needs well-defined procedures and solid business systems.

Have fun. I think it is really important to enjoy what you are doing as much of the time as possible and make sure that your people feel the same way.

Any tips for achieving success?

There are two different versions of success to consider. For business success, add as much value as possible (to everyone involved), attract the right people and don’t ever give up.

Personal success is much more simple. The more days you spend in true happiness, the more successful you really are.

Connect

Website: www.EricEdmeades.com

LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/ericedmeades

Facebook: http://facebook.com/ericedmeades

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ericedmeades

Callum Connects

Benjamin Kwan, Co-Founder of TravelClef

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Making music to create a life for his family, Benjamin Kwan, started an online tuition portal and his music business grew from there.

What’s your story?
I am Benjamin and I’m the Co-Founder of TravelClef Group Pte Ltd, a travelling music school that conducts music classes in companies as well as team building with music programmes. We also run an online educational platform which matches private students to freelance music teachers. We also manufacture our own instruments. I started this company in 2011 when I was still a freshman at NUS, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

I was born to a lower income family, my father drove a taxi and was the sole breadwinner to a family of 7. I have always dreamed of becoming rich so that I could lessen the burden placed on my father and give my family a good life.

After working really hard in my first semester at NUS, my results didn’t reflect the hard work and effort I put in. At the same time, I was left with just $42 in my bank account and it suddenly dawned on me that if I were to graduate with mediocre results, I would probably end up with a mediocre salary as well. I knew I had to do something to gain control of my future.

During that summer break, I read a book “Internet Riches” by Scott Fox and I knew that the only way I could ever start my own business with my last $42 would be to start an online business. That was how our online tuition portal started and after taking 4 days to learn Photoshop and website building on my own, I started the business.

What excites you most about your industry?
Music itself is a constant form of excitement to me as I have always been an avid lover of music. As one of the world’s first travelling music schools, we are always very eager and excited to find innovative ways to a very traditional business model of a music teaching.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and I love the fact that despite our diversity in culture, there’s always a common language that we share, music.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hands down, SINGAPORE! Although we are currently in talks to expand to other regions within Asia, Singapore is the best place for business. I have had friends asking me if they should consider venturing into entrepreneurship in Singapore, my answer is always a big fat YES! There’s a low barrier of entry, and most importantly, the government is very supportive of entrepreneurship.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been blessed by many people and mentors who constantly give me great advice but right now, I would say the best piece of advice that I received would be from Dr Patrick Liew who said, “Work on the business, not in it.” This advice is constantly ringing in my head as I work towards scaling the business.

Who inspires you?
My dad. My dad has always been my inspiration in life, for the amount of sacrifices that he has made for the family and the love he has for us. He was the umbrella for all the storms that my family faced and we were always safe in his shelter. Although my dad passed away after a brief fight with colorectal cancer, the lessons that he imparted to me were very valuable as I build my own family and business.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You can not buy time, but you can spend money to save time! With this realisation, I was willing to allow myself to spend some money, in order to save more time. Like taking Grab/Uber to shuttle around instead of spending time travelling on public transport. While I spend more money on travelling, I save a lot more time! This doesn’t mean that I spend lavishly and extravagantly, I am still generally prudent with my money.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more time to spend with my family and especially my father. While it is important to focus our time to build our businesses, we should always try our best to allocate family time. Because as an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as “after I finish my work,” because our work is never finished. If our work finishes, the business is also finished. But our time with our family is always limited and no matter how much money and how many successes we achieve, we can never use it to trade back the time we have with our family.

How do you unwind?
I am a very simple man. I enjoy TV time with my wife and a simple dinner with my family and friends.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Batam, it’s close to Singapore and there’s really nothing much to do except for massages and a relaxing resort life. If I travel to other countries for shopping or sightseeing, I am constantly thinking of business and how I can possibly expand to the country I am visiting. But while relaxing at the beach or at a massage, I tend to allow myself to drift into emptiness and just clear my mind of any thoughts.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Work The System, by Sam Carpenter. This book teaches entrepreneurs the importance of creating systems and how to leverage on systems to improve productivity and create more time.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you are looking for a team building programme that your colleagues will enjoy and your bosses will be happy with, you have to consider our programmes at TravelClef! While our programmes are guaranteed fun and engaging, it is also equipped with many team building deliverables and organizational skills.

How can people connect with you?
My email is [email protected] and I am very active on Facebook as well!
https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.christian.kwan

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

Nadia Al Sheikh, Founder & CEO of Flenco & Deal’n

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Nadia Al Sheikh has created a business module which incorporates philanthropy and business to empower others, and herself, she’s called her business Deal’n.

What’s your story?
My story is mirrored in my work. Flenco and our Singaporean eco skin care brand, “Flen” combines Dead Sea minerals from the lowest point of earth with Chinese medicine, which represents the wisdom and mystics of the east and these things represent my journey. I’m a single mother rediscovering my identity at a low point in life. Throughout my journey, determination, flexibility and assertiveness are the pillars of innovation. Thus Deal’n was born after years of groundwork in volunteering with various NGO’s and pursuing my masters degree. Transforming a vision, into a module that incorporates philanthropy and business, with tools to empower others and empower myself!

What excites you most about your industry?
The endless opportunities for improvement, innovation, creativity, free thinking which is mastered through interaction with other players in the market and customers creating a virtual place for brainstorming and the exchange of ideas. An evolving industry that challenges each and every person to use their skills, talents, expertise and utilise all their abilities to claim a slice of the pie.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia and specifically Singapore are my second home. It’s my spiritual and business safe haven that provides fair opportunities for everyone to succeed. If I was back in the Middle East as a single mother, I’m pretty sure my struggle would have been much longer and more difficult, however, it wouldn’t have stopped me from achieving my dreams. Singapore specifically empowered me professionally and Asia spiritually in redefining who I am as a person and understanding myself better.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, although it’s a very tough and competitive market for entrepreneurs to start a business, it provides them with support and motivation through grants, competitions and subsidising the cost of exhibiting or promotional events to promote their business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Success is measured by achieving your own personal goals and dreams and not what others think you should achieve.

Who inspires you?
Those who go unnoticed. From senior citizens, cleaning tables at food courts regardless of their wealth of knowledge and experience to single mothers, who are fighting everyday to overcome the social stigma and manage taking care of their children while earning an income. The amazing people who give their lives to start an NGO to empower others asking for nothing in return except the success of their beneficiaries, the humble members of our community that work in silence changing lives not for the spotlight but for their belief in making the world a better place.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
To step onto the balcony! In order to evaluate situations and understand people’s motivations from different perspectives and even to understand ourselves better we all need to step onto the balcony and become observers rather than participants. It gives you the power to see life through a variety of lenses.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d be wiser with my decisions, evaluate situations from different perspectives and believe in myself and my capabilities. That all came with experience and the ups and downs throughout my journey so I guess, to be who I am today I would have accepted the rough times and embraced them because they were my best teachers. So I wouldn’t undo the past but I am changing my future.

How do you unwind?
Meditation, exercising, listening to music, reading a book and a walk in the botanical gardens.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Maldives, I love the peace and harmony in the simplicity of what it offers; beautiful beaches and wonderful people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Wisdom Of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Shameless plug for your business:
Deal’n provides opportunities for all members of the community to utilize their skills, talents, expertise, capabilities and abilities in various ways, aiming at empowering all users to become productive members of their community. Using the services of other users for all to grow and benefit, interact with each other through the Deal’n community, thus enhancing their self esteem, level of confidence and as a result, a more empathetic and happier community!

How can people connect with you?
Through my FB page Nadousheh, my email [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@nadiaalsheikh

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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