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Gwi Terk Chern, Founder of Dinez-in

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Like most Malaysians, Gwi Terk Chern started his professional life in the corporate world. For 3 years, he toiled as a management associate for Astro before quickly climbing into a senior executive in the strategic finance department. Despite, establishing himself comfortably in the corporate world, Terk Chern felt a greater calling at hand. Being a major foodie in addition to his exposure to multiculturalism, Terk Chern decided to start Dinez-in in an attempt to make a valuable impact in Malaysia through entrepreneurship. The Asian Entrepreneur has the opportunity to speak to Terk Chern today about his startup.

In your own words what is Dinez-in? 

Dinez-in is a platform which helps home chefs share their food with the world, and lead hungry tummies to good old-fashioned home cooking. The Dinez-in difference lies in one word: empowerment. We offer a fully-functioning platform that gives chefs the best support system, providing them with the skills they need to cultivate a sustainable business model. You can sell your home-made foods online, cater for certain events, welcome guests to dine with you, and even teach cooking classes in the comfort of home.

Every kitchen is a story: From the retiree realizing a lifetime dream of running his own food business, to someone who lost her legs in an accident and never gave up, the single mother of one who juggles childcare with making ends meet, to the baking whiz who’s still a student and can’t afford to set up a café just yet–we’re here for all of them. We’re here to give them what they need to make their dreams of self-sustenance and culinary artistry a reality.

How did Dinez-in come about? 

Firstly, our founder – TC loves to cook and eat, mostly eating. On top of that, he is raised in a Peranakan (Baba Nyonya) family with many culinary experts around him. Of all, his grandmother and mother are great cooks and they truly embrace all kind of culture. He had to learn how to fold a ketupak, bake chinese new year cookies, make satay, capati and others since young. He then realised there are so many great recipes just within his family, and believe there will be even more outside.

Aside from that, he is also inspired by the thoughts of homesick. Busy with works, earning money, socializing, chasing dreams; going home, seems to be a luxury. Missing home cooked food is one common phenomenon in this busy city, which then inspires us to create this home cooked online platform. Home is always everyone’s haven.

Lastly and most importantly, as above mentioned, we hope to bring more love to the society. One of TC’s initial objectives of starting Dinez-in is to help those who are in need. We have single mothers, retirees, disables and many more who are underprivileged in our platform; we are dedicated to assist these group of people. By the end of the day, it also helps to increase the productivity of our society and providing more opportunities to them.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up Dinez-in? 

There were many interesting ideas spark my interest back then. However, none of them were solid enough to convince myself that “This Is It”. Only at around middle 2015, I came out with the idea of Dinez-in, and then took around 6 months to conduct some research. In addition, it took me quite a while to convince my wife and my parents with regards to the idea of me resigning from the previous job. Fortunately, they were very supportive.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties initially and if so, how did you overcome it? 

It wasn’t easy to gather the like-minded talents together and work towards the same vision.

In the beginning, there were a lot of experiments to test such as our marketing direction, user interface and user experience, operation flow and others.

At the early stage, the operation works required heavy manpower and caused the extra heavy workload. Therefore, we decided to digitalize some business process and the automation process has significantly lightened our workload.

How have you been developing Dinez-in since the beginning? 

In the beginning of January 2016, it took me another 6 months to gather the right team. William, Head of Tech, and Vee Gee, Head of Operations joined the team of Dinez-in even before we start operating. We are invested for RM200K by an angel investor at May 2016 as pre-seed investment. We had our first team meeting on July, and took another 3 months on the planning of business operations, technology, marketing and strategy. At October 2016, we started operating officially with our MVP. On February 2017, we re-launch again after collected numerous feedback on operation, technology and marketing efficiency.

At the initial stages we only provide the service of dine in, nevertheless we realized the needs of other services from a number of home chefs. Eventually, we have all 4 main products (meals, goodies, catering, and classes) and, both delivery and dine in service available.

What is the process behind developing your products? 

Yes, we are in the midst of designing and developing our first version. We are planning to launch the first Android’s and iOS’s version of Dinez-in mobile app on July 2017. Stay tuned!

Interestingly speaking, our app developers are also deep foodie lovers too! They have been following us everywhere to taste different home chefs’ dishes and goodies.

Do you face a lot of competition in this industry?

Yes, there’re a number of direct and indirect competitors entering the market recently. Nevertheless, we always keep our agility ahead of our competitors. Moreover, we have

Have you developed any industry insights that you could share? 

As spoken, home-cooking is in a growing trend at recent years. Aside from that, dine in and delivery service is also only on a rising trend. What we foresee is that not only café and restaurant, but those talents outside these premises will be more familiar with the

What is the future of the industry and how do you plan to stay relevant in this industry? 

Home cooked foods have its unique market attractiveness. In a few years, home cooked foods will have its own market due to its product differentiation and price leadership. Aside from that, we emphasis a lot of customer experience, we always try to bring the best experience for both our chefs and users.

Were there anything that disappointed you initially? 

I won’t see it as disappointment; it’s more of a motivation to bring us forward. In the beginning, I went through a tough time gathering the right team. Most startups failed because we are short of talents.

What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?

Many Asian economic practices are today still very much a reflection of family values deeply rooted in Asian society, with honor being one of the abiding objectives of such practices. There’s a study supported the theory that the possibility to gain face through social status identified with entrepreneurship and lose face through business failure were more prominent in Asia. Culture level shame of failure related negatively to feasibility and desire towards entrepreneurship in Asia. Singaporean and Indonesian interviewer stated that they would only start a business if it was a pledge. To innovate, they would prefer to do it within the protective walls of a larger company.

In most of the Western countries, a common view is that people start businesses in order to innovate. In fact, it is noticed that a negative relationship exists in Western culture that suggests the connection between innovation and entrepreneurship might dampen the desire to start a business. Icons of entrepreneurship like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, who emphasis the importance of innovation, may discourage people who lack an innovative idea to venture their own business.

What is your definition of success?

Success does not define with the state of wealth; it’s more of a state of mind. Success does not have easily defined boundaries. It’s as varied as those who attempt to define it.

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

Being an entrepreneur will never be easy no matter in Asia or other places. Many believe that entrepreneurial success happens overnight so the entrepreneurs able to have a shorter working hour, more free time and high income level too. In reality, entrepreneurship means building your business carefully and faithfully a day in day out marathon of work with very little glamour over a period of years. Being an entrepreneur means hardcore perseverance and working extended hours than what a normal employee usually does. In fact, work really never ends when you become an entrepreneur.

When I become an entrepreneur, I don’t expect customers to go crazy about my products or services straightaway. They might even reject it outright for seemingly no reason at all. Being able to handle that elegantly and continuing to try again until you get what your customers want right will be the key to success.

Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?

To the fellow dreamers, it is good to be humble. However, at certain matters, it is impossible for you to keep low profile. If you don’t do some crazy stuff when you’re young, if not, you have nothing to be called memory.

It is an ugly world, when you are in a devastating situation; don’t turn your back to someone who you don’t trust, because there might be a knife stabbed through your chest.

What’s more terrifying is not the fear of failure or power of your strength, but our thoughts staying in the comfort zone. There’s a fine line between modest and norms, being different give someone more motive to persuade others.

Connect

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/gwi-terk-chern-b8135539/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tcgwi

Website: https://wiseintro.co/tcgwi

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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