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Joakim Cimmerbeck, Owner of Eico

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If there are two overarching trends that are impacting everyone it is technology and a broader awareness of our impact on the environment (and it’s ultimate impact on us). Consequently it was great to connect with Joakim and see how he is combining these trends in something as seemingly simple as paint.

What’s your story?
Born in Sweden, I had an idyllic countryside childhood where I was taught that you must take care of your environment. That didn’t mean much then but later working in big cities as an investment banker I began to understand the importance of that principle. My own children were raised in London where we lived for 15 years. They may be city kids but they also know the importance of respecting their environment. It’s why I chose to invest in eico during this time. Then we moved to Hong Kong and a few years later I decided to give up banking to launch eico here in Asia. It’s not just about having a livelihood. It’s also about ensuring that my children, and their children’s children, can enjoy the countryside as much as I did.

What excites you most about your industry?
Judging by the offerings of established paint providers (almost all chemical companies) you’d have no idea how versatile paint and other decorative products can be. This is just the beginning – smart paint that changes colour with temperature, embedded microchips, truly organic paint that decomposes on the wall – these are just some examples of what the industry will be doing in the future. And of course it will all be greener. eicó is at the forefront of these innovations. In a few years we won’t be niche – we’ll be the industry yardstick.
 
What’s your connection to Asia?
I fell in love with Hong Kong and Asia when I lived here in the 90s. I was desperate to return so when a new opportunity presented itself I didn’t hesitate to board that plane. It’s a great place to raise a family. There’s so much energy and drive here, along with great social awareness. Hongkongers demand so much and have exacting standards, but they’re also versatile and creative. It’s these qualities that excite me and make for such a dynamic market across Asia. That’s why I know eico’s ethos will translate well here.

IMG_3578 IMGL0162
 
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I have two favourite business cities. Shanghai for the size and the scope. Singapore for simply being perfect. Hong Kong to me is the blend of those two.
 
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Trying is learning. Failure is teaching.
 
Who inspires you?
My wife. One day I hope to be as forgiving and generous. Until then I am by her side.
 
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Titanium Dioxide, the main ingredient in the white base of all paints, is also found in most everyday household foods. What makes your skimmed milk so white? Yep, Titanium Dioxide. We didn’t have to check its organic credentials in a lab (although of course we have!); it’s being tested everyday in a kitchen near you, by you!
 
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Learn a lot more. Mainly languages. The rest can be found on the internet.
 
How do you unwind?
Sport to release. Music to focus. Books to understand.
 
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Hanoi. It is a great blend of Europe (maybe a bit too French…) and Asia in a manic mix. Sit at a café… strong coffee… let the day go by. What can possibly be more relaxing? And when that’s not fun anymore find one of the badminton games that are always being played along the boulevards. Some games are of very high quality and are very entertaining. Also the players love an audience and always do a bit extra to keep you watching!
 
Everyone in business should read this book:
There has been many books written about expectation – most call it greed when it goes wrong. And there have been many books about Enron; a definitive study in expectation – on speed! I do recommend Brian Curver’s book about Enron. If we learn anything from it, it is that expecting too much is not good for anyone and if you take any shortcuts to fulfill those expectations you will get caught. I adore success but only if it is on the back of hard work, dedication and reasonable expectation.
 
Shameless plug for your business:
We all have a responsibility to safeguard Mother Earth for future generations. That’s why I helped start eicó, a carbon-neutral company, which is as close to a clean and raw product that paint can possibly be. If I can get people to think differently about their environment and the crap we allow into our personal spaces, then I will have contributed to something. Think about it – paint is everywhere life is: in classrooms, bedrooms, offices, hospital wards. If people can begin to consider what we slap on walls, then maybe they’ll be more discerning when it comes other things too. Paint won’t save the world, but it’s a real start.

How can people connect with you?
Linkedin
[email protected]
[email protected]
facebook eico hong kong

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

CallumConnects

Callum Laing has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He is the owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 11 countries and he is also the CEO of Entrevo Asia, a company that runs 40 week Growth Accelerator programs.

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

Benedict Heng, Founder of Mr. Farmer

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Benedict Heng is bringing back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your story?
I’m Ben from Mr. Farmer. Mr. Farmer is an online grocer dedicated to supplying the freshest produce to our customers. We believe in sustainable and ethical farming. Since a young age, I have always been an avid food lover (especially meats), developing a strong interest in all things delicious. That is why I ventured into the F&B industry, working as a junior cook for 3 years.

Midway through my career, I made a move to the finance industry to pursue monetary rewards. I dove into high-risk investments and I made lots of money from these investments. However, the good fortune did not last long and all these came crashing down when I suffered a tremendous loss. This coincided with the time that I had just started my own family and it was a huge blow to me both materially and mentally. It was this crash that made me realize that this life wasn’t for me. I went on a hiatus and eventually, it was only through the strong support from my family that I managed to tide over this tough episode.

I went back to help the family business and this was how Mr Farmer came about. My family has been in the food industry for many decades and one thing they noticed from years of experience is that sustainable farming practices are not as developed as in Europe. This is why through Mr Farmer, we hope that we can provide the best quality products to families out there who want the best ingredients for their loved ones.

What excites you most about your industry?
Delicious and wholesome food excites me. I believe food is a critical component of life and it brings people together. The opportunity to serve the community with fresh produce for a healthy life, that brings me joy.

I feel that there is still so much more we can do to improve the quality of food and bring it to the masses. One of the key components of ensuring greater quality of food is to support ethical and sustainable farming. Due to commercialization and urbanization, most farming practices these days are no longer the way they were in the old “kampong” times. Shortcuts are taken, standards are compromised, all in the name of profit. At Mr. Farmer, profit is important too but we want to focus on the concept of One Welfare – sustainable farming directly impacts our health. Our vision is to bring back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore. I call Singapore my home as it’s where my family and close friends are. I also travel frequently to Malaysia and APAC for work.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It’s definitely Singapore. There is just so much this tiny city can offer! Singapore has been globally recognized for its top-notch business environment providing its residents with developed infrastructure, political stability and excellent connectivity. These factors have given us an outstanding support system for businesses to strive.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Surround yourself with people that inspire you, challenge you to rise higher, make you better and, keep them in your life.

Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from my uncle, who is the head of both the family and business. He takes care of our family matters at home and manages hundreds of employees at work. Handling both the family and business side of things can be tricky, but he has shown me that success can be sustainable and done with a conscience. His guiding philosophy of handling business and family is simply, to have a big heart.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Even just one day of separation from the day the meat is slaughtered, makes a world of difference to its flavour.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I have come to learn that awareness is the beginning of everything. If I had my time again, I would have probably spent more time figuring out who I truly am and with that self-awareness, begun to lead my life with more purpose and meaning.

How do you unwind?
I like to spend my free time sipping white coffee at my favourite coffee place. I enjoy taking in the surrounding sights and letting my mind wander freely. It allows me to unwind and gain clarity at the same time. It also helps me organize my thoughts to prepare for the week ahead.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It would be Bangkok as the people there are genuinely friendly and hospitable. They say people are what defines the city and I couldn’t agree more with this. I also enjoy the ‘laid back’ vibe of Bangkok. Not to mention Bangkok has all the good food and awesome shopping choices too!

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Spin selling” by Neil Reckham. It’s an amazing book that teaches you a process designed to help you successfully sell your products and services to business buyers.

Shameless plug for your business:
We at Mr. Farmer have the best tasting meats in Singapore, do a blind test and you will know why it’s Michelin chefs’ preferred choice. Not only are we very confident about the taste, we are also proud to say that all our products are chemical, hormone and antibiotic free. We also focus a lot on supporting ethical and sustainable farming practices believing in the ‘One Welfare’ concept. Do check us out if you enjoy good quality food like us!

How can people connect with you?
[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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Zac Chua, Founder & CEO of The Kettle Gourmet

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Zac Chua’s popcorn business validated itself straight away and fast tracked him to the startup world. Zac now employs 11 people and shifts 500 bags of popcorn daily.

What’s your story?
It’s a crazy one. It was an accidental startup. If you think about it, no university graduate would ever dream of becoming a popcorn seller. We crashed our first tech event to validate our idea and it took off from there. I bought a logo for $7 from a designers marketplace, printed some cheap name cards, and built a 1 page landing page. Sales started pouring in and eventually, we were serving B2B clients (corporate pantries) and we have never looked back. Today we move about 500 bags daily, we have 11 employees and we are growing. Talk about a validation that worked in our favour.

What excites you most about your industry?
It’s food! Everybody loves food! In Singapore the F&B scene is brutally competitive and it spurs me on to fight and compete for market share and to prove to myself that I can do it. It keeps me going and I won’t stop until we become the market leader.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Singapore, and have traveled to most of Southeast Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! Even though Singapore has a high cost of living, the Government is actually very supportive of startups. They provide grants for us to tap into, and the technological infrastructure makes it possible for us to compete on a global scale. I believe if you can succeed in your business in Singapore, you can succeed in most of Southeast Asia.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You only need to be right once, and the rest is history.

Who inspires you?
My father, who was a VC. In fact he was the one who gave me the best piece of advice which I shared above. Having one successful exit, he showed me that it’s okay to fail a million times – all it takes is just one time for you to win in business and in life.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The power of compounding.

  • Mary and John are the same age.
  • Mary saves $2k annually from the age of 19-25 – so she puts $14k into her portfolio
  • John saves $2k annually from the age of 26-65 – so he puts $80k into his portfolio, but 7 years after Mary.
  • If both are able to generate 10% per annum, who would have more at age 65?
  • John of course! But how much more?
  • Mary will have $944,641 whilst John will have $973,704
  • Think about it! Mary puts in only $14k but John delays for 7 years and puts in $80k.

CRAZY RIGHT!?!?

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing, my mistakes taught me how to become a better me. But if I really must choose, I’d say take more time to find the right business partner.

How do you unwind?
Poker, Mahjong and Dota 2.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Vietnam! Things are cheap, people are warm and friendly, and their coffee fills up my life. I would love to retire there if possible.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The richest man in Babylon

Shameless plug for your business:
We don’t need a plug. Just try our competitors and you’ll understand why!

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chuazongyou
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zacchua

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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