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Julian Lee, Founder and CEO of Ambi Labs

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Julian Lee

Julian Lee is using AI to unlock intelligent home automation systems.

What’s your story?
I’m Julian, the founder and CEO of Ambi Labs. Born in Singapore, grew up in Hong Kong, studied in the UK, before working in Singapore, Hong Kong, and (briefly) in KL, Beijing and Taipei. I studied Mechanical Engineering in school (Mechatronics – kind of related to IoT in some ways), and after a brief stint in DSTA as a human factors engineer (during NS), I spent most of my career in strategy consulting and finance. Before setting up Ambi Labs, I was in private equity for 5 years, investing in companies ranging from startups to mining companies.

What excites you most about your industry?
The convergence of IoT and A.I. has the potential to unlock truly intelligent home automation. Many IoT devices today offer only sensors, or simple remote functionality, but we believe that users want a seamless, effortless and most importantly automatic experience. Sensors can allow the user greater insight into non-visible factors, but still requires the user to manually adjust their lifestyle – whether it’s opening a window or switching on an air purifier. Often, multiple factors affect a user making it difficult for the user to balance these factors and make the required adjustments manually. A.I. abstracts away this complexity for the user, delivering a better experience overall.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve spent most of my life in Hong Kong, lived in Singapore for 5 years (I’m actually Singaporean), and have worked extensively throughout Asia (Japan, Taiwan, China, Malaysia). In setting up Ambi Labs, we wanted to develop IoT products that suit the Asian lifestyle – too many products today only focus on US or European lifestyle habits, but I believe that Asia has a great potential for the future.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It’s really hard to pick just one. Hong Kong’s work culture is very fast-paced and flexible, and there is a great melting pot of cultures, making it a very international city. I find Singapore is another really great place – perhaps it’s due to the fact that most ideas in the world are still shared in English, but I find people in Singapore to be curious, innovative and many seek to truly innovate.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Just stay in the moment. As an entrepreneur, you face challenges everyday – and sometimes, it’s easy to get overly excited about certain opportunities. I believe all you can do is to overcome the immediate challenges, and many seemingly amazing opportunities can evaporate in a flash. So you need to have an internal compass as to where you’re going, and just proceed along that path one step at a time. Of course, you have to seize opportunities that show up too! But only as long as they fit into your longer term goals.

Who inspires you?
All the entrepreneurs around me. I love meeting and chatting with other entrepreneurs, it’s inspiring to hear their stories – and quite often hearing their thoughts and experiences helps me to process my own challenges!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It’s hard to pin down just one thing – I feel like I’m learning every day, and always adapting my plans to new information that comes through!

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Looking back, I truly believe that I made the best possible decision based on the information and resources I had at the time. But then again, who doesn’t wish they had moved faster, or more efficiently?

How do you unwind?
Enjoying the moment – whether it’s meditating, lying on a beach, or watching the sun set, I find nothing more relaxing than just switching off my mind and focusing on the sensations of the world around me.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan – for onsens. I love just sitting in the hot water, watching the view from an outdoor bath. Bonus if it’s snowing!

Everyone in business should read this book:
The five dysfunctions of a team

Shameless plug for your business:
Ambi Climate is the world’s first A.I. enabled accessory for air conditioners. Why do you need A.I. for ACs? ACs today only consider temperature alone, but many other factors affect your comfort – humidity, changing outdoor weather, time of day, seasonality and more. Through A.I. Ambi Climate simplifies the AC control paradigm to just 1 factor: Comfort. The user just has to indicate if they are hot, cold or comfortable, and our A.I. will learn how each of these factors affect your comfort; it will then auto-adjust your AC to keep you more comfortable and save energy.

How can people connect with you?
Just drop me a note at [email protected] – happy to share entrepreneurial stories over a cup of coffee, explore partnerships, or whatever!

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/julianshlee

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

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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Callum Connects

Joelle Ung, Founder of Treasure Unity

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Joelle’s entrepreneurial journey has been an interesting one, leading her to the world of network marketing, enabling her to help other entrepreneurs succeed.

What’s your story?
The sense of wanting to make an impact, of needing to add value to ‘something,’ be it focused on business or peoples’ lives, has led me, through many failures, to where I am now, the food and beverage manufacturing industry. My entrepreneurial journey began as a wedding planner. Then, having tasted initial success, my desire to find meaningful business mentors brought me to the world of network marketing.
Having benefited from the teachings of my mentor, plus the time I spent growing up as the daughter of a great father, I realised that the urge to ‘pay it forward,’ by mentoring future entrepreneurs and helping my colleagues, other entrepreneurs to succeed, had become a personal mission.
The Honest Living Program, owned by my current company, Treasure Unity, is a realisation of that dream. The program opens up learning opportunities for women under duress, underprivileged women and single mothers. It provides a platform from which I am able to teach, imparting people skills and the art of presentation through the day-to-day program. It is absolutely free.

What excites you most about your industry?
To be able to keep adding values to others. On stage or off, it doesn’t matter. I enjoy every call I receive, every appointment that is set up, every individual I have met, and have yet to meet. There is only one agenda, and that is to add value to the person I am speaking to.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Having lived in Singapore and Malaysia for the past 39 years, my heart is impacting the people in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Because of the people who live there, and because there are no barriers to communication for me.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t make any decision out of confusion, disappointment or anger. Decisions should always be made with a restful heart.

Who inspires you?
Walt Disney: “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
My husband is an ‘overcomer’ who had a near fatal stroke 18 years ago. He lost the ability to practice his dream career as a medical doctor, yet he chose to be a prisoner of hope rather than be a prisoner within his body, and he has never indulged in self-pity.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Lately, I have learned to be still when an opponent strikes at me. It works! You do not need to immediately rebut an opponent. He, or she, will most probably be waiting for a reaction. When they don’t get one, when you remain still and unmoved, you become unpredictable. They do not know your next move.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have sought advice from more wise counsellors before making major decisions, especially if finance or investments were involved.

How do you unwind?
Sometimes I like to take a short getaway or, on a daily basis, I read bible verses that I find uplifting.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Penang. It is close to home and you can get a premium service at an affordable cost. Also, I can pack light, and it is easy to find anything and everything there.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Like a Virgin, by Richard Branson

Shameless plug for your business:
Become an irresistible woman with substance! We will bring out your natural leadership skills through the Honest Living Program.

How can people connect with you?
They can connect with me by email [email protected], through WhatsApp 92300071, or they can call me on my mobile.

Twitter handle?
My twitter account is inactive. @ungjoelle @treasureunity

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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