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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

Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings

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Malcolm Tan is an ICO/ITO and Cryptocurrency advisor. He sees this new era as similar to when the internet launched.

What’s your story?
I’m a lawyer entrepreneur who owns multiple businesses, and who is now stepping into the Initial Coin Offering/Initial Token Offering/Cryptocurrency space to be a thought leader, writer (How to ICO/ITO in Singapore – A Regulatory and Compliance Viewpoint on Initial Coin Offering and Initial Token Offering in Singapore), and advisor through Gravitas Holdings – an ICO Advisory company. We are also running our own ICO campaign called AEXON, and advising 2 other ICO’s on their projects.

What excites you most about your industry?
It is the start of a whole new paradigm, and it is like being at the start of the internet era all over again. We have a chance to influence and shape the industry over the next decade and beyond and lead the paradigm shift.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m Singaporean and most of my business revolves around the ASEAN region. Our new ICO advisory company specialises in Singaporean ICO’s and we are now building partnerships around the region as well. One of the core business offerings of our AEXON ICO/ITO is to open up co-working spaces around the region, with a target to open 25 outlets, and perhaps more thereafter.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, since it is my hometown and most of my business contacts originate from or are located in Singapore. It is also a very open and easy place to do business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be careful of your clients – sometimes they can be your worst enemies. This is very true and you have to always be careful about whom you deal with. The closest people are the ones that you trust and sometimes they have other agendas or simply don’t tell you the truth or whole story and that can easily put one in a very disadvantageous position.

Who inspires you?
Leonardo Da Vinci as a polymath and genius and leader in many fields, and in today’s world, Elon Musk for being a polymath and risk taker and energetic business leader.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Early stage bitcoin investors would have made 1,000,000 times profit if they had held onto their bitcoins from the start to today – in the short space of 7 years.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Seek out good partnerships and networks from day one, and use the power of the group to grow and do things together, instead of being bogged down by operations and going it alone from start.

How do you unwind?
I hardly have any time for relaxation right now. I used to have very intense hobbies, chess when I was younger, bridge, bowling, some online real time strategy games and poker. All mentally stimulating games and requiring focus – I did all these at competitive levels and participated in national and international tournaments, winning multiple trophies, medals and awards in most of these fields.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket – nature, resort life, beaches, good food and a vibrant crowd.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki

Shameless plug for your business:
Gravitas Holdings (Pte) Limited is the premier ICO Advisory company and we can do a full service for entrepreneurs, including legal and compliance, smart contracts and token creation, marketing and PR, and business advisory and white paper writing/planning.

How can people connect with you?
Write emails to [email protected], or [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@malcolmABM

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

William Chin, Founder of Mummy’s Market

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William Chin set up Mummy’s Market. Mummy’s Market is the uncontested platform connecting parents and retailers in Singapore.

What’s your story?
After National Service, I enjoyed a rousing start to my corporate career with successful stints at events and conventions companies such as IQPC, Hannover Fairs Australia and Lighthouse Independent Media in management roles, building my experience in conventions, trade fairs and events.

However, I hit a particularly bad streak of unemployment after that, facing difficulty finding jobs because according to recruiters, I was overqualified, yet too young. In fact, at one point I was struggling so badly with my family loans that I was sharing bowls of ramen with my girlfriend for our meals, to save costs.

My financial pressures eventually culminated in my forced venture into entrepreneurship where I had to strike out my own path with a brief stint in Expomal. However, this turned out to be my next break that fuelled my current success. It was there I built up Smartkids (another wildly successful baby and child fair) before it was bought out by a bigger company. Inspired by SmartKids, I started Mummy’s Market and eventually Baby’s Market, outperforming established names in the business to take its current place as market leader.

What excites you most about your industry?
Mummy’s Market is the industry leader in baby, kids, maternity and household with 80% market share and our clients – coupled with branding, advertising and exhibiting on Mummy’s Market platforms, we are seeing a 30-60% company growth year on year despite the downturn in the economy. With attendance of over 100k consumers per fair and serving 70-80% of pregnant mums, our actual business is in data, data collection and processing from consumer fairs.

I am excited about how big data analytics from Mummy’s Market can be applied at every stage of the retail process such as data segmentation – for retailers now when mums are giving birth to sending relevant content over. This will transform and innovate the industry of baby fairs and Mummy’s Market, with the huge amount of data we process from our fairs yearly, is the forerunner in this disruption. With this, we have transformed the DNA of how digital business has always been done. Global online marketplaces are burning cash quickly to achieve big data analytics, but not us.

Another testament to Mummy’s Market’s popularity is that huge marketplaces have been trying to pass off as Mummy’s Market. It shows that we are heading in the right direction and the most exciting part is, we are only at 10% of where we want to be – a platform where $1 billion gross market value products are transacted annually around Asia in a niche market.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore, and intend to stay in Singapore to build the Mummy’s Market brand.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore – if one can strategically become a leader in a small market like Singapore, its grounds to show that one’s business has an opportunity to grow further in larger countries.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“It is easy to become number 1 because the others can just copy and tweak to overtake you.
It is more difficult to STAY number 1, because you have no one to copy. You have to innovate.”

Who inspires you?
Steve Jobs – he transformed the digital age. Without the invention of smartphones, mobile computing and mobile advertising would never have grown. He changed the way businesses and consumers communicate. Without the introduction of iPhones, mobile applications would have never existed the way we are using them today.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You no longer have to lick stamps to make it sticky.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I love my life and my family. And I love the platform Mummy’s Market has created to help businesses grow.

How do you unwind?
I play with my little 1 year old baby girl.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan – cool weather with beautiful mountains and lake scenery.

Everyone in business should read this book:
7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

Shameless plug for your business:
Mummy’s Market has established its reputation as not just Singapore’s but Southeast Asia’s largest baby fair:

  • Nearly S$100 million gross merchandise volume transacted on Mummy’s Market platforms annually
  • 800,000 visitors at its fairs yearly
  • 80% of all of Singapore’s baby product distributors in one convention
  • 15-20% year on year increase in sales volume at every baby fair since its inception

Apart from market dominance, Mummy’s Market also has the largest database of parents and the number 1 platform for MNCs and SMEs to reach out to this audience. From exhibitions, magazines, seminars to digital campaigns and roadshows. Mummy’s Market is the uncontested platform connecting parents and retailers in Singapore.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]
https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-chin-23910a9/

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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