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Joelle Pang, Market Launcher of Wantedly

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Joelle Pang saw the opportunity to disrupt retail and started her first venture, Dressabelle, a leading online fashion platform that caters to professional women.

What’s your story?
I’m an energetic and empathetic entrepreneur and market launcher from Singapore, and also a passionate advocate of women empowerment in the workplace. With 10 years experience in technology startups in e-commerce, big data, mobile and on-demand space, I am currently spearheading business expansion for Wantedly, one of Japan’s largest social recruiting platform. Having successfully launched Wantedly Singapore, I am now tasked with launching the brand into the Hong Kong market.
I entered the tech scene back in 2008 when fashion e-commerce was on the rise. Seeing the opportunity to disrupt retail, I started my first venture, Dressabelle, a leading online fashion platform that caters to professional women. After exiting from the business in 2013, I went on to be the key driver for the Data Innovation Challenge platform in partnership with iDA, founded my second mobile tech startup, GetKlarity, and also spearheaded regional growth for Honestbee.

What excites you most about your industry?
My personal mission is to drive social inclusion by empowering the society’s excluded. I believe this can be done through technology-enabled startups and enterprises where technology is harnessed to create environments for marginalized communities to thrive and have better livelihoods. Technology plays a critical role in designing environments for the industry and educational institutions, so as to tackle social and economic challenges, cost effectively and at scale. It is especially exciting to able to continue leveraging my 10 years of experience in entrepreneurship and tech startups to institutionalize the role of technology and entrepreneurial solutions in tackling social and economic challenges, and in promoting sustainable and equitable built environments as Singapore strives towards digital transformation and its future economy.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am born and bred in Singapore, the sovereign city-state in Southeast Asia which I call home and have learnt to speak, read and write in both English and Chinese. To broaden my perspectives and worldview beyond the little red dot, I have made it a point to let work take me to different parts of Asia–namely, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Hong Kong SAR, so as to gain a comparative perspective of how different Asian markets and cultures function.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Not to be tooting our own horn, but after driving several launches in various Asian markets, my favourite Asian city for business has got to be Singapore. The generosity and resolve by our government to foster an entrepreneurial culture has given rise to a bevy of grants and schemes, making us one of the world’s easiest cities to start a business. Being Singaporean, my ability to access these grants, combined with the network I’ve built makes this a no-brainer. That said, there is also a strong need to keep pushing for growth outside of Singapore due to its tiny home market, and to stay grounded with the realities of doing business successfully in Asia.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
To learn to have focus, and stay focused. While it’s great to take on as many learning opportunities as you can in your younger years to build the foundation, it is important to make it a discipline to center in on what you’re passionate about. If you’re not lucky enough to figure out what your passion is, then look at which area you want to excel in. Only with focus can you accelerate your learning and work towards becoming the best at what you do.

Who inspires you?
Sheryl Sandberg. Not just because she’s one of the world’s most accomplished female professionals, but because she effectively finds the lesson in her life’s experiences–whether they be achievements or even her sufferings–to connect and empower people at scale. She could very well have chosen to enjoy her lifestyle as a top executive, but she chose to put herself out there in the public forum to talk about topics that are controversial or hard to even begin talking about; and because of her stepping up and speaking out, many of the rest of us are also able to find our own voices.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Having only been previously informed of the wealth gap in Hong Kong, I have come to see it firsthand while residing here. What really blew me away is how desensitized the wealthy are in relation to the plight of the low-income individuals and families have not been able to benefit from the economic growth. In my neighbourhood, the same person who pays HKD 50,000/month for an apartment also attributes “economic efficiency” to justify how it is alright for the elderly to be going through trash for recyclables until the wee hours of the morning for basic survival.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would take the time to distinguish the opportunities and distractions that were presented to me in my younger years. Distractions are usually disguised as opportunities, but do not take you very much closer to where you want to be in life. While I agree that the experiences associated with my distractions still taught me something and made me who I am today, I sometimes think about the number of years I would have “saved” if I had started to grab hold of opportunities and firmly rejected distractions at a younger age, instead of saying yes to everything regardless for the sake of “learning.”

How do you unwind?
I am very disciplined in my unwinding. I make it a point to take 1 full day a week and avoid anything work-related. On that day, you’ll find me at church, in a cafe reading a book, or just grabbing a drink with my friends.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan. Because I don’t yet speak the language, I can’t really tune in (i.e. eavesdrop) to the conversations and chatter going on around me, nor could I easily start chatting with random strangers; and I remember how I felt for the first time I was truly alone. It was a very zen moment where I felt like there were endless possibilities of how I could spend my day.

Everyone in business should read this book:
How Will You Measure Your Life? by Clayton M. Christensen
There are many books which taught me skills, processes and techniques to become more creative, effective and empowered at work. This book by Clayton Christensen used business frameworks and principles to teach me how to think, and center me back to what was truly important to me in life. It was quite life-changing.

Shameless plug for your business:
Wantedly is a Tokyo-based social recruiting platform founded in 2010 with a mission to create a world where work meets passion. We do this by connecting like-minded talents to companies, based on passion and interests instead of the traditional focus of pay and benefits. We believe this this will solve not just the problem of talent acquisition, but also talent retention at the same time. We do this by helping companies to create their unique brand story, and help them to get discovered via social media, so that they can connect with like-minded talents in a super casual but high impact way. We currently have 22,000 companies onboard and over 1.5 million monthly active users in Japan, and are used in 15 countries.

How can people connect with you?
linkedin.com/in/joellepang/
instagram.com/miss_pang
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@miss_pang

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

Jonathan Oh, CEO & Co-founder of Supplycart

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Jonathan Oh’s enquiring mind and love for learning has led him on an entrepreneurial journey, with him starting Supplycart which helps businesses manage their offices better.

What’s your story?
I am a person that just can’t sit still. I was always intrigued by how the world spins and how people connect. Spending a lot of time outdoors, I had an affinity with exploring new paths, thus leading me to become a serial entrepreneur with experience in creating, operating and building new companies. I am a firm believer there is so much to learn in the world and I love talking to people about ideas, what they are passionate about and what drives them.
Starting off my career in the medical industry, I realised I had a flare to create something that mattered, something that impacted other people’s lives. After exiting my first company in 2014, I continued my journey with two other ventures with a purpose to look towards impacting businesses in the region together with like minded individuals, and here I am.

What excites you most about your industry?
Being able to part of the SME tech industry and seeing how technology is moving SMEs to go digital to improve workflows and efficiencies is an exciting space to be in. Users are consumers. More and more, they are familiarising themselves with using technology in their everyday lives. We foresee the SME space to be the next area where adopting new technology would become vital for any organisation to remain relevant. As I have dabbled in this industry for close to nine years now, I am really looking forward to working with more people in the business community to make a change.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Born in Malaysia, I had the opportunity to go abroad and I realised there was so much to do back home. Spending time in Melbourne, Australia for a couple of years and recently Silicon Valley, it has provided me with experiences and insights into the difference a multicultural community can make. It also made me aware that Asia is still a very culture driven economy, as each country has its unique differences. I believe that the time is right to be in Asia now. We are a growing economy and a lot of exciting stuff is happening in this region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Malaysia. I believe Malaysia is still a very attractive destination for business as it’s close to other neighbouring countries within the region and travelling between the countries is easy. There is also proper infrastructure in place, an affordable cost of living and a sizeable pool of talent. The government also has numerous initiatives for technology companies to apply for MSC status that permits companies to hire foreign companies without restrictions. Malaysia is the perfect launchpad to start growing businesses regionally. From a culture perspective, we are multicultural, which promotes diversity in business and language is never a barrier here.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“The difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur; one does a markup and the other creates value.”

Who inspires you?
I would say the people around me inspire me. I wouldn’t narrow it down to a particular person but lump it up with family, workmates, entrepreneurs and friends. From my eyes, everyone has a certain drive, a certain glow and strengths that sometimes they do not see, and that inspires me. I believe the journey to success is never alone, it’s with people.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Something recently that blew me away, made me realise, visually about how much time I have left. I was reading and stumbled upon the writer doing this. This might sound morbid but I drew a horizontal line and started plotting the year I was born all the way up to when I think I might go. It showed me that I have spent 25% of my life growing up, I am going to spend another 55% of my life working and the final 20%, maybe retirement. It got me remembering all the milestones I have achieved and to be thankful for and above all, how I want to spend the 55% of my life doing what matters the most.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I believe that I am exactly where I need to be because of the experiences I have had before. Thank god for the journey so far. It has been filled with ups and downs, new experiences and people along the way these have moulded me. I guess a small thing, if I had my time again, would be to pick up playing a musical instrument which I think still possible now. You are never too old to learn anything.

How do you unwind?
Unwinding for me would be spending time with my family and my two little boys. The little ones are such a bundle of joy. Reminding myself to have balance in terms of not missing the early years with them. Other than that, having coffee with other entrepreneurs, sharing ideas and learning from them is also another way I unwind.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
A term I would use would be “cuti cuti Malaysia.” This means heading to a local destination for some R&R to save on the cost of going on overseas to travel. Top of my the list would be heading to a farm or the jungle with clear river waters and a waterfall all to myself. Staying the night, out in the open under the stars, with a campfire and heading back to nature. The other option would be taking a boat to one of the furthest islands in Malaysia, just before the border of Indonesia, to get away from civilization.

Everyone in business should read this book:
I would actually recommend two books that everyone in business in the early years should read. ‘Founder’s Dilemma’ and ‘Start with Why.’ After being in a couple of businesses and many mistakes later, I came to realise the importance of starting it right. Both these books address the whole mind-set on what founders need to have from selecting who is it we start a business with to why are we starting the business. The business foundation is built from the founders and moving forward everything is built from there. Sometimes we are so into the business that we forget we need to be on the business as well. I would have definitely avoided a couple of bumps if I came across these much earlier on.

Shameless plug for your business:
Manage your office better, that’s our motto. We are always on the lookout to work with organisations, suppliers and partners in this field for partnerships and collaborations.
Supplycart is a B2B procurement platform addressing a need for a change in the way companies manage their office supplies, products and services. We enable suppliers and companies to adopt digital technology when selling and procuring for their business, resulting in a more efficient and productive workforce.
Supplycart provides an easy to use, convenient platform that streamlines the whole procurement process by allowing users to quickly order and reorder, receive instant quotations, obtain quick approvals from necessary approvers and fulfilment items are coordinated/planned to ensure a timely a speedy delivery.
Businesses can now focus on the more important matters in growing and sustaining their business while leaving managing the office to Supplycart. Our vision is to be the number 1 office platform for businesses across South East Asia. “Your office will never be the same again.”

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ohjonathan/
e : [email protected]art.my
w : www.supplycart.my

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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Trung Nguyen, Founder & Managing Director of Advertising Vietnam

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Having initial success with his first start up in the ad industry, Trung Nguyen went on to start other ventures in the ad world in Vietnam. He now has the largest agency community in Vietnam.

What’s your story?
Three years ago I got my first job in the advertising industry. I worked for a local agency in town, and I fell in love with the creative industry. In June 2015, I founded Agency Life Community in Vietnam. It quickly became the most engaging community in the ad industry. The main content focuses on entertainment. After six months we had over 30,000 organic followers, now we have 120,000 followers.

Because the industry had been good to me, I decided I had to something for the industry to help the industry be better. So, I opened http://AdvertisingVietnam.com – a creative industry ad site which keeps advertising informative, creative and inspiring.

After more than a year in the ads industry in Vietnam, I figured the industry needed a better solution for the recruitment of good staff. Given I own the largest advertising community platform, why don’t I utilise Agency Life to help connect talent with ad agencies. So, I founded job site, AdJob.Asia in January 2017.

What excites you most about your industry?
The ad industry is a creative one with very passionate people who are always challenging themselves. The exciting part for creatives, in the morning they might be working on a baby brand and in the afternoon they are answering a beer brief. There is so much diversity. Every day is the new journey.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am Vietnamese.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Thailand. The Thais are the kings of the creative industry in SEA. Thai ads are very smart and creative.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Do what you love.

Who inspires you?
My friend, mentor and partner Mr Nghi Nguyen, founder of BrandsVietnam.com. We started our businesses at a similar time. He doesn’t see us as a competitor but rather, he believes that we share the same passion and we are working to provide better knowledge for the ad community.
Mr Nghi also guided me a lot when I first opened the business. I am inspired by his vision to make our marketing industry better.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Our business is a startup company and as a founder I do everything from operations, business development, planning and strategy. However, this is not the good way grow our business. You have to share the workload – find a co-founder or hire a great employee to help share the workload. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Quit my full time job sooner.
During the first year of running my business, I was still working as an ad manager for an agency. However I lacked focus at work due to the overload of work and it affected the company I used to work for. I strongly recommend people who have an idea to start their own business, quit their job early on and focus 100% on it from the get go!

How do you unwind?
Play with my cat.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love to travel throughout all of Asia. I enjoy new places and meeting new people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Carpenter: A story about the greatest success strategies of all.

Shameless plug for your business:
AdvertisingVietnam.com is a site where you can quickly update yourself on the advertising news in Vietnam. We have 15,000 unique monthly readers who are professional people in the advertising and communications industries.

The Agency Life, https://www.facebook.com/agencylife is largest agency community in Vietnam. This is the right place for ad agencies to share their creative work.

AdJob.Asia now has more than 160 agencies in Vietnam who use our services. We are a leading recruitment service for the advertising industry in Vietnam.

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trungnx26
Email: [email protected]
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trungnx26/

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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