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Jason Lee, Co-Founder of Grindz

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Grindz is an ambitious health supplement startup hailing from Malaysia that is prepared to tackle and shake the fitness and supplement scene in Asia. Conceived by brothers, Jeffrey and Jason Lee, Grindz is one of the few startups encountered by The Asian Entrepreneur that has the most unforeseen but yet natural beginnings. Both brothers were in fact, majoring in Account, Banking & Finance respectively from Monash University and Melbourne University. By assumption, Jason and Jeffrey both appear to be the conventional corporate-finance yuppies that you’d expect to meet at the board room or so you would assume. However, getting into good shape and knowing how nutrition plays an important role in daily life have always been passions that drove the brothers. For example, despite working as an accountant for KMPG post-graduation, Jason worked on personally transforming himself from an overweight 81 kg to a lean 63 kg within 6 months. He also became an ISSA certified Personal Trainer. Whilst, Jeffrey who had also worked on similar personal fitness goals, was personally involved in a project which oversaw the import of health supplements from a US company into Malaysia and Macau. From which Jeffrey got the opportunity to learn about the intricacies nutrition formulation, sourcing and prescription to consumers based on needs. He later also became ISSA certified as sport nutritionist.

The idea came for Grindz really came about to the brothers when they decided to employ the knowledge that they have accumulated pursuing their personal passions for fitness and health to guide and help people to stay healthy in a the right, sustainable and most flexible way. This eventually culminated in the founding of Grindz in 2015 which combines the knowledge of nutrition and personal training from both brothers who were able to achieve their own fitness and health goals despite being busy individuals.

The Asian Entrepreneur has the pleasure of speaking to Jason Lee today about his experiences starting up Grindz in Malaysia and the insights that he learnt as a budding supplements entrepreneur.

grindz-athlete

How would you describe the essence of Grindz?

Grindz is a lifestyle company that markets and offers the public its high-quality nutritional products and a wealth of fitness information. Grindz motto are “Weight management made easy”.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up Grindz Supplement?

We started from brainstorming of ideas, name, vision, mission and motto which represents our value. Grindz is derrived from Grind whereby we believe that life’s a journey, not a destination. At the end of the day, really, it’s the journey that matters most. Because despite the ebbs and flows, and as trying and tiring the course may be, our ultimate goal in life remains the same, and that’s to achieve an even better tomorrow through the grinding of life.

We then move forward to look for a great creative designer and manufacturer to produce products that appeal to consumers. We work closely with manufacture on formulations and did the entire product tasting on our own before we agree to produce to public. Next, getting approval for the products from Ministry of Health is the most important step in our process of starting up.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?

We had difficulties when we were registering our products with Biro Pengawalan Farmaseutikal Kebangsaan (BPFK). Due to our young age, the BPFK not only reviewed our application carefully but also questions us on our background to ensure the safety of the approval. We never gave up and managed to overcome this difficulty by showing our passion to improve the health of people and by providing information on how the supplements and the meal plan works together.

jason-transformation-2

How have you been developing Grindz Supplement since startup?

We knew that we need a team to share our ideas, passions and visions. However, to keep the expenses we are not able to recruit a big team to run the business. We believe nowadays people collaborate to achieve a greater result rather than competing with each other. Hence, we gather fitness enthusiast in KL to form Grindz Athlete. They were our brand ambassador in collaboration to help inspire and motivates people in picking up proper nutrition and training to stay healthy. Grindz athlete had been actively sharing the Grindz idea in social media to promote awareness.

Grindz is looking to expand the company in future to target on South East Asia market where obesity is on the rise and we share similar food culture. We will also increase our product range which revolve around lifestyle, health and beauty. We also plan to develop our very own mobile applications with features revolving around lifestyle, health and beauty.

What kind of feedback did you get for Grindz Supplement so far?

Most of the feedback we get from our Client is very positive and do make ourselves proud. I remember some conversation which really make us happy are for example “I still can’t believe I can eat cake and lose weight” and “congratulations to you and your brothers for a marvellous product and the simplest diet to follow”. As for the taste, most of the clients are happy with it and they could drink it every day. These feedbacks motivate us to go further and promoting to more people.

What edge do you have over your competitors?

We focus on 2 factors which are the Price and Unique selling point (USP). Firstly, our price is reasonable for a weight management and detox product as compare to some which the price more than RM1,000 in the market.

Second, our USP is the supplements and meal plan guide that we have provided. Our supplements are having unique blend which has various health benefits and a great taste that appeal to consumers. Our meal plan is designed by Fitness Nutritionist to suit Malaysian based on gender and weight category. We do not believe that 1 formula suits everyone where most competitors have 1 eating diet for everyone disregard gender, age and activity level. Besides than that, our meal plan guide is sustainable and flexible whereby Malaysian could lose weight in a healthy way by choosing the right food and portion when they eat outside in their busy schedule. There is also one day whereby Malaysian could eat anything they want as much as they can to reset the metabolism rate and to be happy throughout the weight loss program.

Lastly, we as Co-Founder are certified and equipped with fitness knowledge. We provide extra consultation for our clients. We also share the right knowledge through our blog in the website.

jeffrey-transformation-1

Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?

Based on National Health and Morbidity Survey of 2015, obese Malaysians make up 17.7 per cent of the population while those who are categorised as overweight make up 30 per cent. The obesity prevalence have increased drastically from 4.4 per cent in 1996 to 14 per cent in 2006. Then it increased to 15.1 per cent in 2011 and continued to increase to 17.7 per cent in 2015. Malaysia is also rated as the highest obesity rate in South East Asia.

Frost & Sullivan research shows that Malaysian healthcare expenditure could rise as high as USD20 billion by 2020 due to the rising incidences of chronic diseases, increasing healthcare costs especially in Wilayah Persekutuan and Selangor due to urbanisation, and a weak ringgit. At a market size of close to USD500 billion, the Asia Pacific Healthcare market (consisting of pharmaceuticals, medical devices and healthcare technology) represents 30% of global revenues, and is still the fastest growing region globally with a growth rate of 11.5% projected for 2016.

Technavio’s research analyst predicts the health supplement market in Malaysia to grow at a CAGR of 7% during the forecast period.

What is the future of the industry?

Based on industry insights, we could foresee that the healthcare industry is growing especially in recent years due to the rise of aging population in Malaysia. We also noted that there are more new fitness centre in Malaysia being open. Malaysian are getting more health conscious.

We would be keep up to date with the latest knowledge on health and fitness industry. Besides, we will be increasing our product range which revolve around health, beauty and lifestyle in near future to keep up with the industry.

Were there anything that disappointed you initially?

Since we started, we were trying to reach out by trial and error. As being one of the first to promote through a fitness team coming from different background but shares the same vision, we weren’t sure which of our content or our features would appeal most to consumers. Thus, we only spread amongst our own social media platforms to our family, friends and peers through word of mouth. We started to worry when some content doesn’t generate sales to us. At first, we followed a few suggestions from consultant however some ideas don’t works for us. Having disappointment is therefore unavoidable in startups when you can’t make sure there is a solid plan for your company.

What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?

Being an entrepreneur in Asia is challenging as Asian usually takes a little while longer to adapt to new innovation being introduced in the market. We are so used to follow the traditional way of living and the knowledge that has been passed down by our parents. We tend to live with social norm as we do not feel comfort when we are different compare to peers. This eventually challenge us mentally and physically. However, things are getting easier as there are more community and groups being formed to support entrepreneurship. For instance MaGIC that has been formed as a platform in Malaysia to support entrepreneurship. Additionally, more young generations are picking up entrepreneurship and we are able to learn from everyone from different background through networking events.

jason-lee

What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?

There are cultural differences between Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship. In my opinion, this cultural differences is mainly due to how Asian vs Western being brought up by the family.

Asian parents tend to emphasise on the results rather than the progress itself compare to western. This eventually make Asian entrepreneur having higher fear of failure. They do not dare to try as they are afraid to fail. Whereas western understands that the progress of trying is important rather than focus on it end result.

Asian parents tend to be protective which results in stricter parenting rather than giving the freedom. They do not let their children do anything which they think it will cause harm to the children. The western would let their children to explore and learn from the mistake itself. The western eventually will be greater in entrepreneurship as they will be exploring the opportunity with their passion. Whereas, there are a few jobs traditionally deemed to be ‘successful’ ones to Asian parents: doctor, engineer, lawyer and accountant.

Asian parents generally have an autocratically-inclined way of raising their children, and questioning authority at any time is seen as being disrespectful. Whereas western take a different approach by establishing a friendship with their children. The kids in western do question their parents which eventually builds a questioning mind rather than just follow strictly.

In bottom line, I would think that western entrepreneurship would be greater as they have learn to follow their passion, having questioning mind and willing to try without fear of failure.

What is your definition of success?

Life’s a journey, not destination. Success is to achieve a greater me tomorrow through the constant grinding of life and at the same time enjoying the life journey. Be fearless, have a vision.

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

Be passionate. There’s a saying where do what you passionate about will lead you to success. However, in our thinking, we believe that being entrepreneur must be more than that. We must be passionate with business and the idea itself. Idea is the lead to create the product or services. But passionate with business is the one which drives the long term success. As Mark Cuban once said, “Follow the green, not the dream.” If your dream startup won’t make you any money, you may need to change your focus

Be flexible but persistent. Every entrepreneur has to be flexible, continually learning and adapt to new knowledge. We have to learn to change our strategy at the right time when we face difficulties. At the same time, we have to remain devoted to the cause and mission of our company. Consistency shows value of whatever we are after and eventually it will leads to success.

Be open-minded but trust your gut. We should always empty our cup when we meet anybody. There is always something to learn from someone. Always seek for advice and listen to others opinion. However, there is no right and wrong, black and white to an answer. Digest the advice and opinion, trust your gut and make a decision to move on. Be responsible to the consequences for the decision has made.

Having a great team. No individual can be good at everything and we have limited of time per day. Everyone needs people around them who have complementary skill sets. Build a team of colleagues, suppliers, friends and mentors who able to support you throughout the entrepreneurship.

Having a plan and enjoy the journey. Planning help us concentrate on our goals, keep finances and progress on track and help us understand our deviations or failure. However, there is no perfect plan in the world, action speaks louder than words. Plan well and execute it, solve the problem when it arise. The road to success is a long one, do enjoy the journey while we are trying to reach our destination.

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

Dream is just a dream, make your move on the dream. Surround yourself with greater people and you will see miracle. Do not stay in comfort zone as comfort zone doesn’t make you a greater man.

grindzday

Connect

Website: http://grindz.com.my/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/grindz.my/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/grindz.my/

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Dextre Teh, Founder of Rebirth Academy

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Dextre Teh is a consultant and marketing guru, helping F&B businesses to tighten their operations and grow their businesses.

What’s your story?
I help frustrated F&B business owners stuck in day to day operation transform from a glorified operator into a real business owner. I’m a 27 year old Singaporean second generation restaurant owner and a F&B business consultant. Entering the industry at 13 years old, I have always been obsessed with operations and systemisation. At the age of 25, I joined the insurance industry and earned a six figure yearly income. However, I left the high pay behind because it was not my passion and returned to the F&B industry. Now I help other F&B companies to tighten operations and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services.

What excites you most about your industry?
The food. I’m a big lover of food and even have a YouTube show on food in development. But that aside, it is really about impacting people through food. Creating moments and memories for people, be it a dating couple or families or friends. Providing that refuge from the daily grind of life. So in educating my consulting clients and training their staff to provide a better experience for their customers, I aim to shift the industry in the direction of creating memories instead of just selling food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I love the culture, the food and travelling in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore hands down. The environment here is built for businesses to thrive. The government is pro business and the infrastructure is built around supporting business growth. Not to mention the numerous amount of grants available in helping people start and even grow business. If I’m not mistaken, the Singaporean government is the only government in the world that offers grants to home grown businesses for overseas expansion.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Learning to do things you do not intend to master is a BIG mistake in business. Focus on what you are good at and pay others to do the rest.

Many business owners including myself are so overwhelmed by the 10,000 things that they feel they need to do everyday. We try to do everything ourselves because we think it saves us money. The only thing that, that does for us is overload our schedules and give us mediocre results. Instead we should focus on what we do best and bring in support for the rest.

Who inspires you?
Christopher M Duncan.

At 29, Chris has built multiple 7 figure businesses. He opened me to the possibility of building a business on the thing that I loved and gave me a blueprint of how to do it. He also showed me that being young doesn’t mean you cannot do great things.

Imran Mohammad and Fazil Musa
They are my mentors and inspire me every single day to pursue my dreams, to focus on celebrating life and enjoying the process of getting to where I want to be.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Time is always more expensive than money. Money, you can earn over and over again but time, once you spend it, will never come back.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am a firm believer that your experiences shape who you are. I am grateful for every single moment of my life be it the highs or the lows, the successes and the failures because all these experiences have led me to become the person I am and brought me to the place that I’m at so I will probably do things the same way as everything was perfect in its time.

How do you unwind?
Chilling out in a live music bar with a drink in hand, listening to my favourite live band, 53A. Other than that I’m big on retail therapy, buying cool and geeky stuff.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bangkok. It feels like a home away from home where the cost of living is relatively low, the food is good and the people are friendly.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Everything you know about business is wrong by Alastair Dryburgh. It is a book that challenges commonly accepted business “truths” and inspires you to go against the grain, think different, take risks and stand your ground in the face of the challenges that will come your way as a business owner.

Shameless plug for your business:
I’m the creator of the world’s first Chilli Crab Challenge. It gained viral celebrity earlier this year with 3 major newspaper features and more than a dozen blog and online publications featuring it in the span of two weeks. In the span of the two weeks, the campaign reached well over a million people in exposure without a single cent spent in ads.

Now I help F&B companies to tighten operations, increase profits and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services. Chilli Crab Challenge (https://www.chillicrab.com/nationalday)

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/djtehkh) or visit www.rebirthacademy.sg for more information or book a 10 minute call with me @ www.tinyurl.com/dexclar

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

Arthur Lam, Co-Founder of Synergy

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Arthur Lam’s business, Synergy offers B2B energy saving solutions.

What’s your story?
I am Arthur Lam, Co-Founder and Vice Chairman at Synergy (1539.HK). I was born and raised in Hong Kong until I was 13. Then, I lived in boarding schools in Melbourne and California during my high school years. After that, I attended the University of Notre Dame in Indiana and graduated with a Mechanical Engineering degree in 2008.

Upon graduation, I came back to Hong Kong and worked for a hedge fund. The financial crisis in 2008 wiped out a big part of the industry and gave me a chance to rethink and reposition myself. After the financial crisis, companies stopped spending and everyone was on cost-cutting mode. As an entrepreneur with an engineering background, I co-founded an energy management company called Synergy, offering B2B energy saving solutions. The idea is simple – clients don’t have to pay anything upfront, we do all the engineering and upfront capital investment. In return, we share part of the savings we create for the client over a period of time. We first started with energy saving lighting technologies based in Hong Kong. We are now also in the field of cooling & refrigeration, solar PV and battery storage with operation in over 10 countries. Synergy is one of the first and few energy management companies listed on the Main Board of The Hong Kong Stock Exchange.
On the side, I started a student co-living space with about 80 rooms.

What excites you most about your industry?
Sustainability, renewable energy and energy efficiency are some of the few industries that can ensure the continuity of our existence! We do not need to quantify the potential market size to justify our effort to provide a more sustainable future for the next generations. Practically every nation and business leader have pledged to work collaboratively, trying to undo the harm we have done to the planet for the past century. As a result, more energy efficient technologies and solutions are always in demand.

What’s your connection to Asia?
My great grandparents were from Chiu Chow and Shunde. I was born and raised in Hong Kong until I was 13. I spent 3 years in Melbourne during middle school before heading to US for high school and college. With Synergy, I was able to travel and work in China and most of the major cities in Asia such as Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Jakarta and Bangkok. Besides Cantonese and English, I speak Mandarin and took 4 years of Japanese during high school. I’m also trying to pick up Bahasa slowly.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Every city has its own merits and it is extremely interesting to learn about the intricacy of cultural diversification and different ecosystems. As a business owner, I believe in top quality service. No other city would exemplify world class service better than Hong Kong with respect to speed, quality, effectiveness and robustness of the financial and legal system.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Life is a journey – you come to this world to enjoy life, to be happier and healthier – Jack Ma

Who inspires you?
Elon Musk

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I am always amazed by the rapid advancement of technologies and innovations around the world. Everyday there may be a breakthrough coming up in different areas. One thing I learnt recently is the possibility of extracting clean water from air anywhere! Previous technologies require very high energy input, high cost and certain environmental conditions such has high humidity levels to extract water from air. However, MIT and The University of California provide a new method which has the potential for use in any locations. They developed a foam-like material that draws moisture into its pores and is powered entirely by solar heat. Today there is another commercially available product which is also a self-sustaining system, using sunlight to generate electricity to drive a cycle of condensation and evaporation that can produce 2 to 5 litres of clean water per day. People now may obtain drinking water anywhere with no external energy usage and this may solve severe water shortages in some areas in the future!

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would love to learn more languages and learn how to code better. These are two important skill sets which I find very useful wherever I go.

How do you unwind?
On weekdays, I try to visit the gym at least 2-3 times a week after work. A good workout definitely helps to de-stress. Occasionally, I have the luxury to play a round of golf with my father or friends after completing a major project.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Sipadan, Malaysia is an amazing place for scuba diving.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Book of Changes “I Ching”. I make most of my business decisions based on the philosophy from the book.

Shameless plug for your business:
Victoria Park is one of the most famous parks in Hong Kong and it has about 3,500 trees. The amount of energy we have saved in the past 8 years is equivalent to planting 1,000 Victoria Parks worth of trees from the carbon emissions we saved.
Synergy is ranked 2017 top 100 most potential public listed companies in China by Forbes.

How can people connect with you?
Linkedin: Arthur Lam
Email: [email protected]

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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