Connect with us


Fred Mouawad, Founder of Taskworld



Fred Mouawad is the founder of Taskworld. A task management application that improves the performance of teams.  Fred is also a global citizen, serial and portfolio entrepreneur, and founder of Synergia One Group of Companies. Synergia One is the entity that groups all the companies Fred founded which includes the family jewelry business, Mouawad, of which he is the fourth generation.

Synergia One group operates in 16 countries across several industries that encompass gems and jewelry retailing, diamond manufacturing and wholesaling, watchmaking, food service franchising, food manufacturing, interior fit out, publishing and trade shows, and software as a service with Taskworld.

taskworld-logo-white-3508 x 932px

Fred grew up in Geneva, Switzerland where he attended boarding school. He received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Pepperdine University, where he was also a teacher’s assistant for the Business Policy & Strategy course. Fred is a Graduate Gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America, and have co-authored articles in the field of gemology.

He is an Alumni of the Harvard Business School (MBA) and of the Stanford Executive Program (SEP) at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Trained in Lean Six Sigma and ISO 9001 and also a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO).

Fred is passionate about improving myself and the world within my sphere of influence.  He loves the entire process of conceiving, starting, and building a business.  It’s the challenge, customer satisfaction, and the creative part of the journey that I enjoy the most.

Can you share with us how you came up with Taskworld?

In 2006, I realized I was spending at least a third of my time following up on tasks. I was using a variety of different tools ranging from Excel to notebooks to write down all the key tasks I had to track. As I run a portfolio of companies, I monitor multiple projects in different companies with distributed teams across countries.  As you can picture the effort and energy required to manually follow-up became counterproductive. I found myself doing less strategic thinking, and spending too much time in the trenches making sure we were executing on multiple fronts.  Realizing the magnitude of the challenge, I had to find a solution and it came in the form of building an online Task Management system.  We built the software internally and started using it within our group by end of 2006.  It was a great success, and as a result we increased productivity across all our divisions.

It wasn’t until 2012 that I decided to build a separate business based on the idea that had worked so well for our companies.  The opportunity was further amplified with the advent of social, mobile and cloud.  It felt like the perfect time to move from strategic insight to action by building a similar service that would be open to the world.  That’s how we started working on a prototype with a core group of our IT team.

7 pain points of project solved

Are there any industry insights that you can share with us?

I think we’re at the beginning of what is truly possible.  The more people embrace online collaboration tools, the more information they will get about their business.  It will make what was previously invisible, visible. Companies will start to see opportunities for improvement effortlessly. Traditionally, companies have very little visibility in regards to tasks assigned throughout an organization, and online tools are about to fundamentally change the way we collaborate and measure performance.

For example: in factories, we know exactly where all the material flows are going. We know how products are being constructed, but when it comes to the knowledge workforce, it’s far less transparent. Collaboration tools provide far more visibility pertaining to productivity by flagging tasks or projects that are behind schedule.  They also have the means to allow team members to provide feedback to each other in order to provide an evidence-based performance evaluation. Based on identified problems, the system can even make recommendations on what to do in order to improve performance. The power lies in the artificial intelligence that can be generated from the task unit level.

Who are your competitors and what makes Taskworld different?

The market we are in is very crowded. We see everything from To-Do list type apps to sophisticated enterprise solutions. We aim to differentiate ourselves by offering performance reports that enable teams to know how well they are doing, and figure exactly where they can make further improvements.  It’s a different long term philosophy, and that’s where we see the opportunity.

We have registered users from 120 countries and what’s exciting is that they cover a very broad range of industries. We have lots of success stories that we’re actually posting on our blog.  It’s very motivating to see individuals, small to midsize organization, and large enterprises use our application.  We’ve proven that we have a general purpose application that allows people to collaborate more effectively. People are enjoying using Taskworld, and are using it across multiple platforms such as on mobile, tablets, and on the web.

How difficult was your entrepreneurship journey? How did you achieve this and what keeps you motivated?

Being an entrepreneur is one of the toughest jobs on earth.  For a start-up to succeed it requires everything you’ve got, and you can’t easily quit along the way.  Your entire reputation is at stake.  You need to have resilience, determination, and the intelligence to adapt and shift when necessary.  It’s all about wanting to change or make an impact on the world around you, and then having the courage to embark on a journey of hard labor and on an emotional roller coaster as the business goes through different phases.  Great entrepreneurs are avid learners.  From every experience they try to reflect and learn, so in the future they avoid the same mistakes and focus on what is required to succeed.

What keeps me motivated is the impact I can make on customers.  I get satisfaction adding value to customers whether it’s by offering them a great cup of coffee or with a productivity app such as Taskworld.  If we can make customers happy, employ passionate people, and make money in the process to continue doing what we enjoy doing, we are rendering a valuable service to society.  That’s very satisfying to me.

taskworld testimonial

What are your personal goals and what is the future for Taskworld?

To be a good son, father and husband are my personal goals.

In regards to Taskworld, I would love to reach millions of people and improve the way they collaborate.  If we can improve the productivity of teams around the world, we would play a small role in making the world a better place.  The potential impact of Taskworld is far-reaching and a great motivation to me and our team members.

What values do you want to instil with the people you reach and employees?

The value of thinking first, planning, doing, learning and then adjusting and doing again. I want people to improve by constantly learning through execution and then making adjustments.  The key is to have people that first want to improve themselves so they can drive continuous improvements in the organization to increase value for customers and shareholders.

If you could pick two things to change in this world, what would they be and why?

I would want to give an opportunity for every child to grow with a chance to succeed in life.  I wish there were more justice around the world. The world can be very unfair. You may be extremely smart and ambitious, but if you’re just born in the wrong country and in the wrong family then all your possibilities are eliminated and that’s sad. If I could do something, I would give every child a real opportunity to develop to their full potential.

The other thing I would do is to try to eliminate war. I don’t know how I would it, but I don’t think human beings in this day and age should kill each other to solve problems. Those are two things I feel strongly about.

Can you describe your working style and what do you do on your free time?

I always make sure that we have the right people, that they’re self-motivated, and that they’ve got the right skills.  The next step is to then make sure everybody is aligned towards a clear goal. I am therefore very involved in making sure we have the right people, assure they are motivated, and are working on the right projects to create value.

I view my role as a guide and a coach. I fill the gaps where and when required. I don’t run the day to day operations of any company.  My challenge is how to best allocate my time across each company in the portfolio to maximize value. Since Taskworld is the youngest company right now, I’m deep in it and I’m doing more than I should. Eventually, I will rise and build a full team and be less involved in the details. It’s also necessary to find the right distance and decide at what depth to plunge in specific projects. At times it’s necessary to go deep into the details and at others keep a good high level strategic insight.  Managers that get stuck at one level tend to have higher rates of failure.  The key is being able to shift levels seamlessly based on the situation.

My style is ultimately getting the right people involved.  I believe that it’s important to have the right people with the right goals, and that they’re provided with the right resources in order to increase their probability of success.

I don’t have much free time. I like reading, exercising, snow skiing, diving, jet skiing, swimming and going to the gym.  With the family, we enjoy traveling together and experiencing different places.

Do you think education or the support of your government is more important in the entrepreneurial process?

Education is critical in providing the fundamental skills entrepreneurs need to increase the odds of building a successful business. However, it is not enough to assure success. You need an entire eco-system dedicated to providing entrepreneurs with support.

In the United States for instance, Silicon Valley has an incredible eco-system to encourage and support young entrepreneurs with great ideas.  They have venture capital firms to provide the capital and the guidance needed for start-ups to grow, universities that graduate talented individuals and conduct research with significant government and private grants, angel investors that will seed an idea, lots of talent living in the area, and many companies that can support or eventually acquire a budding company.  Without all the support structure, it’s difficult for governments to expect their citizens to be entrepreneurial.  If you have a great idea, but no one to fund it will remain just an idea.

Any inspirational entrepreneurs in mind? Why?

I like Richard Branson because he challenges the status quo and dreams big. He is bold and has the courage to challenge larger institutions.  He also built a great reputation for himself, and that has helped him launch more businesses.  What I appreciate the most is his resilience and willingness to experiment.  Many of the ventures he started did not make it, but those that did ended up creating significant value.  That’s an essential trait of being an entrepreneur.  Having the intelligence to learn from both successes and failures, and always having the courage to start your next venture with more wisdom and flair.

Connect with Fred Mouawad:


task management


Is There A Coworking Space Bubble?



An annual growth rate of nearly 100%, almost five years in a row? More than 60 coworking spaces in a city like Berlin? Are these the characteristics of a bubble? Nope, these are characteristics of a lasting change in our world of work, which has been further catalyzed by the recent economic crises in many countries. But what makes this change different to a bubble? We’ve summarized some arguments of why the coworking movement is based on a sustainable change. However, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy job to open a good working coworking space.

Five reasons why the growth of coworking spaces is based on organic and sustainable growth: 

1. Coworking spaces invest their own money and create real wealth

Already, there is a convincing argument supporting why coworking spaces are not developing in a bubble: the fact that they create real wealth.

Whether referring to the dotcom bubble a decade ago or the real estate crisis in Spain or the United States, the crisis originated in a glut of cheap money, in an environment in which the sender and the recipient were unacquainted. From funds and banks, money flowed in steady streams to investments which offered little resistance and the most promising returns – which only a little while later turned into delusions and ruined investments.

Redistributed risks create illusions. Those people who distributed the money rarely wore the risk of investment decisions. The risk was mainly taken by small shareholders or people who bought parts of those investments. This was because either both parties’ (better) judgement was drowned out by the noise of the market, or because shareholders were unaware of the risk, and were at the mercy of banks and funds for reliable information.

Another fundamental condition for the creation of bubbles are the sheer amounts of money that flow from various locations globally and are concentrated, by comparison, in much fewer places.

Most coworking spaces, however, receive their funding from local or nearby sources and do not operate within this financial system. In fact, the founders mainly inject the bulk of the required investment, and turn to friends or relatives for additional support. They wear the full brunt of the risks that are involved in small-time investment.

They have access to much more information, because it is their own project, rather than a foreign one thousands of miles away. This also includes failures and mistakes that are encountered along the way, but the risk is less redistributed, thereby decreasing the probability of failures.

2. Labor market changes demand on certain office types lastingly

Most users of coworking spaces are self-employed. The proportion of employees is also on the rise, in many cases simply because they work for small companies that increasingly opt to conduct their business in coworking spaces rather than in traditional offices. The industry of almost all coworkers fall within the Internet-based creative industries.

With flexibilisation of work markets, new mobile technologies that are changing work patterns, and the increase of external services purchasing from large and medium-sized enterprises (outsourcing), the labor market has changed radically in many parts of the world.

The long-term financial and emotional security of becoming an employee no longer exists, especially for younger generations of workers. Bigger companies are quicker to fire than hire, and precarious short-term contracts are on the rise. Promising options on the labor market are more often recuded to freelancer careers and starting your own company.

And that’s possible with less money to invest. All you need is a laptop, a brain and a good network. For years, the number of independent workers and small businesses has been growing worldwide – particularly in internet-based creative industries. Anyone who has sufficient specialized skills and the willingness to take risks may adapt more quickly to market conditions if they own a small business or are self employed; more so than if they were to work in a dependent position in an equally volatile market.

Coworking spaces provide an environment in which to do this. Once they have joined a (suitable) coworking space, these factors become apparent to coworkers, who will remain in their space for years to come.

Furthermore, independent workers rarely fire themselves in crises, and even small companies are less likely to give their employees the boot – compared to their large counterparts. This combination enables more sustainable business models – and less business models à la Groupon.

3. Coworking spaces don’t live on crises

Global economic growth is waning while the number of coworking spaces is continually growing. Do coworking spaces thus benefit from this crisis?

The current crises accelerate the formation and growth of coworking spaces, because they offer solutions and space for the resulting problems. Coworking spaces are therefore not a result of a crisis, but the product of change that pre-dates their existence. A crisis is simply the most visible expression of change.

The first coworking spaces emerged in the late 1990s; the movement’s strong growth started six years ago – before the onset of economic downturns in many countries.

4. Coworking spaces depend on the needs of their members

Most coworking spaces are rarely full. Does this mean they are unsuccessful? On average, only half of all desks are occupied. But the average occupancy rate of 50% refers only to a specific date.

In fact, coworking spaces generally serve more members than they can seat at any given time, since members do not use the spaces simultaneously. Coworking spaces are places for independents who want to work on flexible terms. Smaller spaces rely more on permanent members. Larger spaces can respond more flexibilty to the working hours of its members, and, can rent desks several times over.

If a coworking space is always overcrowded or totally empty, the purpose of said space would be defeated. Firstly, it is rather impossible to work in an overcrowded room. Second, it’s impossible to cowork in an empty room. Given the nature of flexible memberships, a coworking space only can survive if they fit the needs of their members. Members would otherwise be quick to leave, and membership would be much more transient.

5. The coworking market is far from saturation

Less than 2% of all self-employed – and even fewer employees – currently work in coworking spaces. Reporting on coworking may increase, but inflated reporting on the coworking movement in the mainstream media is still far away.

Coverage of coworking space are most likely to be found in the career or local sections in larger publications – front cover coverage remains the dream of many space operators. This is because the whole coworking movement can’t be photographed in one picture. What appears to be a disadvantage, however, is actually a beneficial truth: niche coverage allows the industry to grow organically, and avoid over inflation.


Coworking spaces don’t operate in parallel universes – like the financial market. Demand and supply are almost exclusively organic and operate in the real world economy.

For the same reason, there is no guarantee that opening a coworking spaces will be automaticly successful. Anyone who fails to learn how to deal with potential customers in their market, or is unfamiliar with how coworking communities function, will have a difficult time of making one work. In the same way that business people in other industries will fail if they do not understand their market.

Those who simply tack on the word ‘coworking’ to their space’s facade will need to work harder. The structure of most coworking spaces is based on real work, calculated risk, and real-world supply and demand.


About the Author

This article was produced by Deskmag. Deskmag is the magazine about the new type of work and their places, how they look, how they function, how they could be improved and how we work in them. They especially focus on coworking spaces which are home to the new breed of independent workers and small companies. see more.

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Dextre Teh, Founder of Rebirth Academy



Dextre Teh is a consultant and marketing guru, helping F&B businesses to tighten their operations and grow their businesses.

What’s your story?
I help frustrated F&B business owners stuck in day to day operation transform from a glorified operator into a real business owner. I’m a 27 year old Singaporean second generation restaurant owner and a F&B business consultant. Entering the industry at 13 years old, I have always been obsessed with operations and systemisation. At the age of 25, I joined the insurance industry and earned a six figure yearly income. However, I left the high pay behind because it was not my passion and returned to the F&B industry. Now I help other F&B companies to tighten operations and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services.

What excites you most about your industry?
The food. I’m a big lover of food and even have a YouTube show on food in development. But that aside, it is really about impacting people through food. Creating moments and memories for people, be it a dating couple or families or friends. Providing that refuge from the daily grind of life. So in educating my consulting clients and training their staff to provide a better experience for their customers, I aim to shift the industry in the direction of creating memories instead of just selling food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I love the culture, the food and travelling in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore hands down. The environment here is built for businesses to thrive. The government is pro business and the infrastructure is built around supporting business growth. Not to mention the numerous amount of grants available in helping people start and even grow business. If I’m not mistaken, the Singaporean government is the only government in the world that offers grants to home grown businesses for overseas expansion.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Learning to do things you do not intend to master is a BIG mistake in business. Focus on what you are good at and pay others to do the rest.

Many business owners including myself are so overwhelmed by the 10,000 things that they feel they need to do everyday. We try to do everything ourselves because we think it saves us money. The only thing that, that does for us is overload our schedules and give us mediocre results. Instead we should focus on what we do best and bring in support for the rest.

Who inspires you?
Christopher M Duncan.

At 29, Chris has built multiple 7 figure businesses. He opened me to the possibility of building a business on the thing that I loved and gave me a blueprint of how to do it. He also showed me that being young doesn’t mean you cannot do great things.

Imran Mohammad and Fazil Musa
They are my mentors and inspire me every single day to pursue my dreams, to focus on celebrating life and enjoying the process of getting to where I want to be.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Time is always more expensive than money. Money, you can earn over and over again but time, once you spend it, will never come back.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am a firm believer that your experiences shape who you are. I am grateful for every single moment of my life be it the highs or the lows, the successes and the failures because all these experiences have led me to become the person I am and brought me to the place that I’m at so I will probably do things the same way as everything was perfect in its time.

How do you unwind?
Chilling out in a live music bar with a drink in hand, listening to my favourite live band, 53A. Other than that I’m big on retail therapy, buying cool and geeky stuff.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bangkok. It feels like a home away from home where the cost of living is relatively low, the food is good and the people are friendly.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Everything you know about business is wrong by Alastair Dryburgh. It is a book that challenges commonly accepted business “truths” and inspires you to go against the grain, think different, take risks and stand your ground in the face of the challenges that will come your way as a business owner.

Shameless plug for your business:
I’m the creator of the world’s first Chilli Crab Challenge. It gained viral celebrity earlier this year with 3 major newspaper features and more than a dozen blog and online publications featuring it in the span of two weeks. In the span of the two weeks, the campaign reached well over a million people in exposure without a single cent spent in ads.

Now I help F&B companies to tighten operations, increase profits and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services. Chilli Crab Challenge (

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me on Facebook ( or visit for more information or book a 10 minute call with me @

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:
Download free copies of his books here:

Continue Reading