Connect with us

Callum Connects

Jorn Middelborg, Managing Director of Thavibu

Published

on

What’s your story?
I came to Bangkok more than twenty years ago to work with UNESCO.  We were developing educational programmes in the region in non-formal education, literacy, and adult education.  It was an exciting and challenging job, though in the end I felt I’d like to do my own thing rather than working within an international bureaucracy – which is very bureaucratic..  

When the Internet started to develop in the late 1990s, I decided to start a contemporary art gallery online and physically at the same time, having been a collector myself. It became the first ‘internet gallery’ in Thailand, and surely one of the first galleries in Asia with an online presence, in 1998.  I remember the first painting we sold online to a client in the USA who had not come to the gallery but bought it from viewing a photo on the website.  

What excites you most about your industry?
Contemporary art is exciting in the way that you meet lots of interesting people; artists from different countries who often have highly interesting personalities.  On the other hand you also meet many interesting clients and collectors.  The work is varied and never boring.

What’s your connection to Asia?
<see first question/answer above>

thavibu_gallery5

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I have lived in Bangkok since I first settled down in Asia, and this is my favourite city to stay in.  Few other cities can beat Bangkok in terms of diversity, contrasts and good food!  It is not a cheap city anymore, but it is one of the most liveable cities, I think.  Singapore and Hong Kong are supposedly good for business, though they seem somewhat boring compared to Bangkok. I often travel to Yangon and Hanoi to interact with artists and they are some of my favourite cities to visit.  

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Follow your dreams.  The future is uncertain so it is hard to plan accurately.  Often life is a zigzag path and you have to make the best out of it.

Who inspires you?
Personally I look up to great personalities such as Desmond Tutu and Dalai Lama.  They maintain their integrity and humor in all kinds of situations.  In the art world, I find the amazing lacquer paintings by Vietnamese artists quite inspiring: Dinh Quan, Truong Tan, Trinh Tuan and Le Quang Ha.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The apps that you can download and use on your mobile phones.  There are so many, and for every imaginable purpose.  I decided to produce an app for the gallery and we’re probably the first gallery in Asia with an iPhone/iPad app.  
Since Bangkok is a world class food city, I also decided to develop a restaurant app for iPhone, which is called: ‘Bangkok’s 100 Best Restaurants’.  It is useful to have all the restaurant details at your fingertips rather than carrying a guide book around. It seems to be the future.  

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I don’t think I would have done things differently.  I started my career in sciences (biology), moved on to education (UNESCO) and then art (Thavibu Gallery).  I have lived and worked in Europe (Norway), Africa (Tanzania) and Asia (Thailand). Thus, I have covered many fields and have had a broad range of experiences.

How do you unwind?
I always find going to the beach in Thailand can help you unwind.  You can find some of the world’s best beaches here, like in Phuket and Krabi, though a nearby place is Kho Samet island. At home listening to classical music, in particular Bach, makes me wind down or sometimes the opposite – but both ways it is rewarding.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Since I live in Thailand, I am biased.  Other really amazing destinations I have been to several times are Bali and Nepal.  They are just magical places – but who knows for how long.  These places have changed a lot during the last few years, and not for the better.  

Everyone in business should read this book:
<sorry….but I don’t have a recommendation really>

Shameless plug for your business:
After a boom in Chinese and Indian contemporary art, the focus in Asia is now shifting to Southeast Asia, and top art works here are still very reasonable.

How can people connect with you?
Feel free to browse our website of top quality contemporary art from Thailand, Vietnam and Burma/Myanmar at www.thavibu.com. The gallery also has a Facebook page, and Instagram and Twitter accounts.  

Twitter handle?
@thavibu

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

Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

William Chin, Founder of Mummy’s Market

Published

on

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

Continue Reading

Trending