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Guan Zhen Tan, Co-Founder of Bountie Technologies

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Guan Zhen Tan launched his startup, Bountie Technologies after leaving a stable but monotonous banking job. He’s pretty happy with where he is at today, helping gamers do what they do and earn a living doing it!

What’s your story?
Last year I left a stable investment banking job in London without any backup plan. I wasn’t thrilled about working 70 hours a week as an analyst and decided that if I was ever going to launch a startup, now was the time. I could see that the adoption of blockchain technology was accelerating and I wanted to get involved because of the enormous potential it had to alter the fabric of society. As a liberal arts major, this was the kind of technology that appealed to me deeply. Furthermore, it was inspiring to see how many startups were being launched out of ASEAN and it really made me realise how advantageous it was to be based here. I was also very fortunate to have met my teammates: They are superstars and we all have complementary skills when it comes to launching a startup. Together we’ve had a ton of fun building Bountie Technologies. Now I am at a point where I enjoy going to work every morning, and that’s how I know I’m in a good place.

What excites you most about your industry?
There is an open secret at work that most people outside the gaming industry are unaware of; gaming is a fantastic business. The gaming market serves 2.2 billion people globally, and industry revenue is growing 50% year-on-year. Furthermore cryptocurrency technology presents us with a unique opportunity to monetise gamers and we are doing our part for gamers by helping them make money competing on our platform. We are proud of how we help gamers make a living, playing their favorite games. One day people won’t recognise competitive gaming without cryptocurrency at its core, because transactions and integration with the wider gaming ecosystem will be completely seamless. We are the team that is spearheading this vision and we have the backing of some of the biggest incumbents in the industry. Knowing that the people I work with are fanatical about building our product right, keeps me motivated every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Besides being born here, I think my deepest connection to Asia is a shared optimism about the future. I have lived in three continents, and the thing that reminds me most about Asia is the positive outlook that my Asian colleagues have. The business community here is bolder today than I have ever remembered. These days, investors in Asia want to back a local company that innovates for the Asian market. Consumers are more receptive to trying new technology and as a founder, it’s evident that companies here can scale much faster and cheaper than anywhere else, without sacrificing quality. That is what makes Asia so much more competitive than other regions and it’s incredibly exciting to be in business here.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Shanghai, because it is a city whose energy and dynamism is hard to find anywhere else. There is so much hustle and bustle. Everyone is out to get things done. I find the pace of life in Shanghai faster than New York and I would love to relocate there in a few years if I get the chance.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
That the most important thing in business is to execute properly.

Who inspires you?
My teammates at Bountie who are always at the top of their game and bring so much enthusiasm with themselves to work every day.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The total revenue from the gaming industry recently exceeded the total revenue from the movie and music industries combined.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have invested in cryptocurrency 2 years earlier.

How do you unwind?
I like to plan my next vacation. I try to travel once a month to see more of the world, and Gili is next on my list

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Favourite Asian destination has to be Hokkaido. I love the snow, love the food, love the people, love the hot springs, the list goes on. It’s the perfect getaway in December.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Viral Loop by Adam Penenberg. It’s the analysis of how you can make your product gain virality.

Shameless plug for your business:
Bountie is a gaming platform that hosts thousands of tournaments simultaneously for gamers to compete in. Gamers can make real money on our platform by beating other players in tournaments. To be precise, they actually earn Bountie Coins that can be exchanged into real, fiat money. Our goal is to allow gamers to use our platform to make a living, playing games full time, in the same way that professional basketball or football players can live off of their athletic ability. We hope to do the same with eSports. We partner with game developers around the world to provide them with a tournament, SAAS, allowing them to incorporate real-money tournaments into their games. We are currently in our fundraising round and have raised over US$16m. Check out our website at www.bountie.io and if you want to invest in us, don’t hesitate to reach out. We welcome investors of all shapes and sizes.

How can people connect with you?
Telegram: @guanzhen
Instagram DM: @guanitos

Twitter handle?
@guanitos

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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