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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

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Mark Winterton, General Manager of InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay

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Mark Winterton has dedicated his life to achieving unparalleled and extraordinary guest experiences in the hospitality industry.

What’s your story?
I’m a seasoned hospitality professional with over twenty years international experience launching luxury brands, repositioning existing brands and driving innovation for some of the world’s most successful hotels.

As General Manager of InterContinental® Singapore Robertson Quay, I’m responsible for the strategic positioning of the property as the next generation of the InterContinental hotel brand and have been spearheading the hotel since its opening in October 2017, with the goal of achieving a unique and unrivalled market positioning as Singapore’s most luxurious residential hotel.

I started my career with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®) in 1995 and have since been dedicating myself towards achieving perfection. I find immense fulfillment in leading my team towards achieving extraordinary and unparalleled guest experiences.

What excites you most about your industry?
The hospitality industry boasts an extremely dynamic landscape, and we are always seeing new hotels opening alongside the entry of burgeoning brands. This growth has, over time developed positive competition and generated positive driving forces that have elevated the overall standard of the industry in Singapore. The industry has a dynamic landscape. There are many opportunities to bring the right people together and create amazing teams to launch or reposition hotels. The process of creating teams, inspiring individuals and then working together to bring a project to life is where I find the excitement lies.

What’s your connection to Asia?
The lure of Asia has always been very strong for foreign economies and companies, with great accessibility to new opportunities, customers, consumers and clients. My first foray into Asia was back in 2007, when I launched Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in Singapore. Following that, I was also based in Bangkok for a couple of years for the rebranding of Crowne Plaza Bangkok Lumpini Park. Over my years in Asia, I have had the opportunity to truly immerse myself in new cultures, establish new connections with key counterparts and friends; and these have further solidified my interest in and strengthened my connection to Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore. Commonly known as the gateway to Asia, we’ve been blessed with a stable government, a sound political economy and a comprehensive infrastructure for reliable business operations. With tremendous efforts put in by the Singapore Tourism Board towards elevating the city as an attractive venue for visitors, the growth of Singapore as a key MICE destination, coupled with a cosmopolitan pool of talent, Singapore remains my favourite city in Asia for business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“You can never be 100% ready for a new role.” I believe that there will always be room for growth and learning on the job. As long as a person is 80% ready for a new role, the opportunity should be extended. I am a strong believer in the development of people and the grooming of talent, and this piece of advice has allowed me to take more chances on people I’ve worked with and developed over the years.

Who inspires you?
Simon Sinek, a speaker with TED Talk.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I don’t think I can pinpoint just one lesson learnt recently, as learning is an ongoing process. No matter how small a piece of knowledge may seem, it should be valued. Everyday is a journey of learning and development.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing at all. I don’t believe in regrets and everything that has happened thus far, has had a part to play in who I am and where I stand today.

How do you unwind?
Spending time with friends over relaxed conversations and wine or working my green fingers in my balcony garden.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. It’s one destination where I’ve always returned to, simply because it offers me the same level of comfort and familiarity each time I return. It’s where I can feel most relaxed, yet still be able to enjoy the vibrant dining scene.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.

Shameless plug for your business:
Officially opened on 12 October 2017, InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay is the first international luxury hotel brand situated at Robertson Quay. Set amidst a dynamic, sophisticated neighbourhood along the Singapore River, known for its dining options and arts houses, the luxury residential-inspired hotel has been carefully curated by world-­class designers, architects and culinary purveyors. Located minutes away from the CBD, the hotel still maintains a stylish but laid back, relaxed feel in the leafy, upscale neighbourhood of Robertson Quay. The hotel offers 225 luxurious studios and suites, including an expansive Penthouse, which has unparalleled views of both the Singapore River and vibrant city via floor-­to-­ceiling windows.

The residential-­inspired property combines elements from Robertson Quay’s industrial and intriguing past with sleek contemporary finishes whilst seamlessly blending into the residential surrounds. Light-­filled room interiors have been designed to magnify the familiar comforts of home where guests may enjoy bespoke amenities such as a specially designed in-­room cocktail kit.

Established as part of a holistic dining and lifestyle destination, the hotel boasts a wide range of restaurant and bar concepts. Flagship restaurant Publico, representing the central core of Italian culture, is a multi-­concept dining destination comprising a variety of Italian experiences under one roof – a neighbourhood deli and bar and a ristorante with adjoining terrazzo by the river. Other highlights throughout the hotel include New York institution Wolfgang’s Steakhouse by Wolfgang Zwiener, and a bar and dining concept from the team behind Izy Sushi. Over 40 other dining options await at the hotel doorstep, in The Quayside precinct.

How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markwinterton1/

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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Joel Tay, CEO of Soft Space

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With a desire to run his own business, Joel Tay wanted to tick two boxes first – trying his hand in the corporate world and knowing the business he wanted to end up in.

What’s your story?
I’ve always wanted to run my own business. Before that, I needed to fulfill two important things. The first thing, having a corporate foundation, and the second, knowing the business that I’m getting into. First of all, after gaining experience with Ernst and Young, I started a school in Jakarta with my mother, who used to be a teacher. Some of my ex-colleagues laughed at me for doing this instead of working towards partnership like everybody else.

While the school was running, I returned to the corporate world because I was given a chance to try out something I’ve always wanted to try, consulting in IT Security, and this time with PwC. In my second return to the business world, I never looked back. I started a mobile device distribution company with friends, and later on diversified into IT Consulting in Mobile Device Management, and subsequently ended up in the payments business.

Today I manage Soft Space – a company thriving in the payments industry with a group of talented colleagues and engineers. The school I mentioned earlier is now in 8 different locations across Jakarta serving more than one thousand students.

What excites you most about your industry?
Payments are evolving so quickly; there’s so much to learn. No one can really say that they know everything there is to know about payments. I have learnt so much going from one country to another learning each time how payments work uniquely in each society.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia is Soft Space’s focus. We strongly believe that markets in Asia will be the primary drivers and innovators in the payments space for years to come.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Bangkok. I have a great business partner there, the banks are innovative, the market is huge and the people are creative.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My parents reading Matthew 6:33 to me: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” This has taught me to prioritise the important things in life, and then everything else will fall into place according to God’s will.

Who inspires you?
My father and my Godfather. Both are men of principles who are very successful in their own trade, loving to their families and God-fearing.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The amount of money technology companies in the US lost in 2017. In Asia, and in particular SEA, investors won’t take two glances at your company if you’re not profitable to begin with.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Learn Mandarin. When I was young, my teacher gave a group of us a choice – attend Mandarin classes or wash school toilets. Every time I hear my colleagues laugh when I try to speak Mandarin, I think of that moment when we walked towards the toilet.

How do you unwind?
I watch movies with my wife. It takes us to another world and back to reality in two hours. No vacation can be so fast and effective.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. Friendly people, great resorts and good restaurants.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. There are many lessons to be learned from the man who had it all, lost it all, and earned it back again.

Shameless plug for your business:
No one can claim to have one solution that fits all in payments. Your needs are always different and unique to the market you’re operating in. I’d like to think that we’ve been around the industry long enough to be able to advise and customise something for you. https://www.softspace.com.my/about-us

How can people connect with you?
I’m always just an email away – [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@crusaderdotcom

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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