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Gwen Guo, Co-Founder of IMBA Interactive

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Gwen Guo

Gwen Guo started IMBA Interactive which contributes high quality audio to the evolving games industry in Asia.

What’s your story?
As an avid gamer from the age of 5, video games have always been a huge part of my life although, I wanted to be an animator. When I turned 18, I picked up electronic music production as a hobby and was intrigued by its effect on the clubbing culture and spirituality. As I applied to the Singapore-MIT Gambit Gamelab internship program intending to be an animator, the interviewer saw value in my music and got me in as a sound designer instead. Here, I had the privilege of working with many talented teams in games development. Confidence was built and years down the track, I started a business with other professionals, to provide game audio services to developers and to advocate for this often undervalued craft.

What excites you most about your industry?
The people and change. There are so many meaningful conversations surrounding games development such as the push to have deeper functions aside from entertainment, diversity in both developer roles and in-game character representation and getting closer to the metaverse. Games have so much potential to push for ideals which other mediums don’t. When I share these conversations with like-minded people, it’s exciting to know that you’re part of something bigger and you’re not doing it alone.

What’s your connection to Asia?
All of my team members including myself are Singaporean and we’re all based here.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
In terms of doing business, working with clients in Taiwan/Taipei has been an absolute pleasure. While stability, funding and initiatives may not match up to Singapore’s ease of starting a business, the people, their willingness to take risk, their sincerity and warmth, their positivity and ability to value expertise beyond monetary worth; all these traits resonate with me deeply. It is the perfect recipe for collaborative, creative work.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Radical softness is the idea that sharing your emotions is a political move and a tactic against a society which prioritizes a lack of emotions” – Lora Mathis, poet and artist.

Who inspires you?
Gerard Ee from Beyond Social Services (youth and poverty), Vanessa Ho from Project X (sex workers’ rights), Brie Code from TruLuv Media (games and care) and Damian Kastbauer formerly from PopCap Games (game audio advocacy). These people inspire me for various reasons, which are:
1. Highly skilled. 2. Gets stuff done. 3. Truly has a heart for the community. 4. Dedicated to their cause. 5. Strong leadership yet down to earth. 6. Sensitive to others, self-aware and kind.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
A fellow local game developer in his early 20s survived stage four cancer and his family had to downsize to a much smaller flat to pay off treatment fees. Recently, the nodes grew a little bringing all the worries back. Despite all this, he still persists in wanting to make games, attending the game community gatherings, volunteering at game conferences to learn more. The tenacity of this friend, although much younger than me, is a humbling reminder of how life is a gift and we should live it to its fullest; building meaning in whatever we do.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing; I’m very grateful for what life has thrown at me and can’t imagine it being anything else.

How do you unwind?
I play lots of video games. I also hang out with friends and talk about absolutely nothing productive. Recently, I’ve been volunteering with a group of youths for a campaign on body image, eating disorders and bullying.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Indonesia. It’s such a diverse country that’s not far from Singapore, has beautiful landscapes and hiking spots. I’m also a huge fan of their food. My partner proposed to me at Mount Bromo and in the same trip, we hiked up and down Ijen Crater where we caught the stunning natural blue fire. Ijen Crater and its sulphur miners were also featured in BBC’s Human Planet. It was an incredible thing to witness.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Difficult Conversations by The Harvard Negotiation Project.

Shameless plug for your business:
IMBA Interactive (www.imbainteractive.com) does everything audio for games – music, sound effects, voice and implementation. Our goal of IMBA is to contribute high quality audio to the evolving games industry in Asia, promote good game audio practices in development teams and educate game developers/students on the value of sound. We also actively promote mutual support, diversity and synergy within local game development communities.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]
https://www.facebook.com/gy.guo

Twitter handle?
@gy_gwen

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

CallumConnectsCallum 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

Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

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

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

Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

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Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/ceedeees

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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