Callum Connects Julian Lee, Founder and CEO of Ambi Labs Published 10 months ago on June 26, 2017 By Callum Laing Share Tweet 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: Callum 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 Related Topics:asiaasianasian entrepreneurbusinessCEOEntrepreneurentrepreneursequityfinanceFocusHong KonginterviewinvestingIoTJapanlifemalaysiamePrivate EquitysingaporestartupsStorythe asian entrepreneur Continue Reading You may like Jason Feng, Co-Founder of Pillpresso Will Financial Liberalisation Trigger a Crisis in China? Georges Tchokoua Women on Top in Tech – Chrissa McFarlane, Founder and CEO of Patientory Why Angel Investors are Shaking Up the Global Startup Scene Emmanuelle Norchet Callum Connects Jason Feng, Co-Founder of Pillpresso Published 22 hours ago on April 26, 2018 By Callum Laing Mr. Jason Feng is re-engineering the healthcare industry. What’s your story? I am an engineer at heart. I enjoy the process of problem solving and have been actively developing innovative solutions to existing problems. Me and my co-founder settled on the problem of poor medication adherence among the elderly. This was a problem which struck a chord with us because we all have loved ones who have to take multiple medications on a daily basis. The complex medication regimen, coupled with declining cognitive abilities of the elderly tend to exacerbate the lack of medication adherence, which may lead to disease relapse and hospital readmissions, ultimately increasing the burden to caregivers and the society. What excites you most about your industry? The problem of medication adherence is not a new one in the healthcare industry. In fact, lack of medication adherence is a well-researched problem in many countries. Solutions which have been developed to address this problem face three major issues: Entrenched mindset within the healthcare system, many of which are used to and unwilling to change from the legacy systems which were implemented decades ago. Complex nuances in healthcare delivery across different countries, making it hard to “copy” and “paste” solutions which have worked well in other areas. Because poor medication adherence is multifactorial, and many solutions focus solely on a few aspects, and do not employ a holistic approach. Nevertheless, entering this industry at this time excites me because we are in the midst of a global shift in healthcare models; one where the industry is moving away from a service-based model, towards a more value-based model. This shift means that traditional players such as insurance companies and pharmaceuticals are under increasing pressure from patients and payers to demonstrate the value of their products under real-world use. Medication adherence data is one crucial missing link in this puzzle to deliver better care to patients. Being able to build a business around these incumbents and pioneer a new way of care is something which I look forward to. What’s your connection to Asia? I am a Singaporean. Most of my experiences throughout my life have been in Asia. Favourite city in Asia for business and why? I have not worked in other Asian countries outside of Singapore, so I can’t comment on other Asian countries too much. Singapore has a relatively low barrier for starting a business, and all business rules and regulations are clear and transparent. The startup ecosystem is also rather comprehensive and easily accessible. Being a small country, Singapore has a very limited market for products and services. However, due to its size and efficiency, it serves as an excellent test bed for new ideas. Being a travel hub, travelling to other Asian countries is cheap and easy. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? Fail fast, fail often. The greatest lessons are never learnt through success. Who inspires you? Elon Musk What have you just learnt recently that blew you away? Successful launch of Falcon Heavy and the recovery of the 2 side cores. The way the 2 cores landed was like something you’d only see in CGI. Very well calculated. If you had your time again, what would you do differently? Applied for NOC (NUS Overseas College) How do you unwind? Go rock climbing. Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why? Nepal. I’m an outdoors guy. Being able to trek around the Himalayas is probably the best form of relaxation for me. Everyone in business should read this book: Creative confidence, by the Kelly Brothers Shameless plug for your business: Pillpresso is an award-winning health-tech startup that aims to improve medication adherence. We’re developing a medication management system that empowers seniors to manage their medicines independently and deliver proactive healthcare in the community through technology. Comprising individuals with complementary skills across business, engineering and medicine, our team is driven by a desire to improve healthcare and the human condition. Grand Prize Winner of the 2017 Tech Factor Challenge https://www.opengovasia.com/articles/8072-top-4-grand-prize-winners-for-3rd-edition-of-ageing-in-place-tech-challenge-announced-in-singapore Grand Prize Winner of the 2015 Modern Aging https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/3-teams-receive-s-125-000-of-seed-funding-for-elderly-friendly-i-8246318 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 Continue Reading Callum Connects Elizabeth Wu, Co-founder & COO of Trehaus Published 4 days ago on April 23, 2018 By Callum Laing Elizabeth Wu is making work-life integration a reality for working parents in her new family friendly coworking space. What’s your story? I co-founded a coworking space in Singapore that comes complete with a child-friendly facility. We’re the first of our kind here and we’ve been making work-life integration a reality for working parents since we opened. What excites you most about your industry? We are the first of our kind, and there’s no other coworking space like us. Sure, there are plenty of coworking spaces in Singapore, but we are the pioneers of championing ‘BYO-kid’ to work by creating a conducive workspace and enriching kids play, all under one roof. What’s your connection to Asia? I was born and bred in Singapore. I’m a local through and through. Favourite city in Asia for business and why? Singapore, of course! It’s safe, well-regulated and has a diverse community. Barriers to entry for starting up a business is low, and generally there is good support for small to medium enterprises and startups, which is great. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? “Life is short. Do stuff that matters.” I think I decided to do “stuff that matters” a long time ago and that’s why I became an educator. When motherhood beckoned, I decided again, to do “stuff that matters” by staying home to be with my kids. Then, I began to desire a meaningful career while raising my kids. So, I decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, because I am governed by wanting to “do stuff that matters!” Who inspires you? So many people inspire me. My members at Trehaus inspire me with the things they do and the changes they make. But if I have to pick someone, it would be Elim Chew, founder of 77th Street; who is a seasoned entrepreneur. She started from humble beginnings, went through setbacks and never said never to new journeys in entrepreneurship. I love that she always looks for ways to give back to society and mentor the next generation with her wealth of wisdom and experiences. What have you just learnt recently that blew you away? I learned the 5-by-5 rule recently: That is, ‘if it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset by it.’ This helps me puts things in perspective, and I try to remember this every time the urge comes to dwell, to brood, to beat myself up or to sweat the small stuff. If you had your time again, what would you do differently? I would definitely be more careful with the people I hired to build the team. I’ve learned that it is important to find and build an entrepreneurial team that will plough and work hard alongside the founders. Like Jack Ma once said, “Don’t hire the most qualified candidate. Hire the craziest.” I should have done that right from the start. It would save us so much time and heartache. How do you unwind? I take long walks to clear my or I go for a fruitful session of self care, like yoga or a massage. Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why? I really enjoy getting out of Singapore to the outskirts of Bangkok to live amongst the locals. My family of 5 used to do that each December; just taking off to live amongst the locals where street food is aplenty and warmth and hospitality is everywhere. I enjoy their slow pace of life and how simple things can be. Everyone in business should read this book: The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz Shameless plug for your business: Trehaus is Singapore’s first ever family-friendly coworking space that lets you build a career while prioritising family. If it takes a village to raise a child, then Trehaus is the modern village where you will find a robust community and supportive ecosystem that lets you be an involved parent – never missing a single milestone in your child’s early years – and at the same time do efficient and productive work. We’ve made magic happen in what we’ve created! 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. 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