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Keith Lam, Founder of Limezy.com

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To Keith Lam, starting your own business is something only you can learn yourself. Creating his own opportunity, Keith has recently launched Limezy.com, an online leisure learning video platform.

What’s your story?
After graduation from the United Kingdom, I went back to where I felt I belonged, Hong Kong. I had several jobs in which I gained experience in recruiting and corporate sales, but I always knew one day, I would set up my own company. Most of my friends started their own businesses. So, I started to think that I should not wait for an opportunity to come to me, I should create one for myself and start my own venture. So I gathered together my like-minded friends and started a leisure learning platform called Limezy.

What excites you most about your industry?
There have been several well established video platforms over the past decade. Well known free platforms such as youtube.com which focus on entertainment and paid platforms such as Lynda.com which focus on professional courses such as software and business skills. I am certain that currently there is a lack of well-established leisure learning video platforms. Modern video sites are certainly full of videos, however, they are disorganized. One of our main goals is to establish an organized video platform. We have chosen to start with food and beverages due to the current supply and demand in the market and we have successfully partnered with several content providers in a short period of time.  
 
What’s your connection to Asia?
Limezy is currently based in Blueprint, a working space together with several well-known local startups and it is also one of the largest startup communities in Hong Kong. Blueprint allows us to share ideas, knowledge and experience amongst different startups. We have a good relationship with local Hong Kong coffee shop owners, wine sellers and restaurant owners who provide valuable ideas on our platform. We have also formed partnerships with video creators from Japan, Australia, India and the United States which allow users to learn about international food as well as local.

limezy employee 1 limezy employee 2 limezy logo 1

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong is my favourite city in Asia for business. Although it is a very small city compared to other Asian cities with only 7 million people, Hong Kong is a multinational city where most people understand more than 3 languages (such as English, Chinese and Putonghua). Another key element is Hong Kong has a high-speed internet connection. Hong Kong has the fastest internet connection for smartphone and PC compared to other countries around the world. Hong Kong people are also well educated and more willing to accept new ideas.
 
Moreover, IT development in both hardware and software are not as matured as they are in the U.S and Europe, therefore there are is a lot of potential for us to grow.
 
Geographically, Hong Kong has a close relationship with China. This relationship allows us to source cheap resources and expand our market to other nearby countries such as Singapore and Thailand.
 
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Don’t forget about the content,” is the best piece of advice given to me. This statement may sound very simple, but many IT startups forget this point out and focus too much on their website or app. Imagine there is a physical store on the street selling clothes. No matter how nicely you decorate your store, if you only have 10 pieces of clothes in it, you can only attract customers to a certain point and then you have sold all your clothes. In an IT startup, rather than just looking at the design, the content should be the key to success.
 
Who inspires you?
The co-founder of GOGO VAN. He is a well-known entrepreneur and also a close friend. I have seen his business grow from scratch. It is now a large corporate business.  

He has given me a lot of advice to keep our keep our business going! The most inspiring thing he said was, “developing a start-up business is a difficult process, you may hear a lot of negative comments from friends and even family. You may get challenged by people around you.  But the only thing that makes you a successful entrepreneur is to believe in yourself.”
 
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I read in an article titled, 10 disappearing jobs that will not exist in 10 years and learnt that even social media manager is on the list!
 
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have started my own business whilst I was in university. School does not teach you how to start your own business. The only way to learn is by doing it yourself.
 
How do you unwind?
I enjoy walking around at midnight when there is no one on the streets and no lights on. Quiet places help me cool down and refresh myself, as do open areas. Sometimes when I walk around the streets, I look at the different banners and advertisements. They give me inspiration. Some of my epiphanies actually came from walking!
 
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
My favourite Asian destination for relaxation is Hua Hin in Thailand. Hua Hin is around 200km south-west of Bangkok. I love it’s beautiful long shore, sunshine and beaches.
 
Hong Kong people work in small offices all day long, especially those who work in IT startups. Having a big office in Hong Kong is almost impossible. With the long hours we work, sunshine and blue sky are a luxury.
 
If I could travel to Hua Hin again, I would spend a day lying on the beach sunbathing, reading books, and listening to the waves to recharge myself.
 
Everyone in business should read this book:
Zero to One by Peter Thiel, Co-founder of Paypal.

This book talks about the pitfalls that a startup business may face. The book is inspiring and you can easily relate to the stories. The most important message I learnt was to always self-assess the business to ensure you are on the right track.

We failed many times during our early stages in developing this business, and the mistakes we made are clearly pointed out in the book! I wish I could have read this book earlier!

This book is highly recommended to start-up businesses like us!
 
Shameless plug for your business:
Limezy – Discover the fun in cooking
 
How can people connect with you?
You can visit us on www.limezy.com
Via our corporate website (www.limezy.info) or message us at message at [email protected]
 
Twitter handle
We don’t have a Twitter account but you may visit our Facebook fan page
(https://www.facebook.com/Limezy-Discover-the-Fun-in-Cooking-500378233373515/)

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

CallumConnects

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

Callum Connects

Sun Ho, Founder of LittleLives Inc

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Sun Ho has an edtech business, LittleLives. She’s helping turn complex school operations into simple and enjoyable processes.

What’s your story?
I’m just a small town girl who won’t stop believing.
Someone recently told me that the curious little 10-year-old girl in me is still shining through with excitement for the world today. Although, now, instead of being curious about how things work, I am interested in how we can solve real world problems. Today, I get to learn and build everyday on our dream to turn complex school operations into simple and enjoyable processes.

What excites you most about your industry?
Have you been to a preschool lately? In our day-to-day, we get to hear the wonderful laughter of children. We see the innocent smiles of our little ones, who learn as they play. We meet the tirelessly loving educators, leaders and parents who give their best. These are the people we serve everyday at LittleLives. It excites us greatly to be in an industry that meaningfully impacts the future of our world. When we see a new feature we have implemented in our system helping to shave off minutes or hours of administrative work for schools (and put a smile on many faces), it is deeply satisfying.

What’s your connection to Asia?
LittleLives started in Singapore. We have since expanded to multiple cities in Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and China. Everywhere we go, we gain unique insights about different cultures. One thing that remains unchanged around the world is the passion to improve education. This includes the desire to refine school processes too. I absolutely love the people I work with, in schools and in my own team overseas. They have taught me so much about their cultures and countries.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It is so hard to choose one. We love Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi, Beijing and pretty much every city we have visited. Setting up in multiple Asian cities has really become faster and more transparent than ever before. What a time to be alive and working on a startup, and even more so for a young woman in Asia.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be true to yourself.

As a woman and as the founder of a tech startup, I have heard the many ways in which people express their surprise that I do not fit into – for lack of a better word – the norm. I am my own mix of feminine and geeky. I have a computer science background that I am passionate about and, at the same time, I love fun aesthetics and product development. Technology is an industry in which venture capitalists traditionally favour white, male founders as the stats show a concentration of success in this small demographic. Despite this, I have found that the people around me will respect me for being me because I let my personality and passion take the stage.

Who inspires you?
Beth Fredericks, the Executive Director at Wheelock College. She is a wonderful educator, leader and orator. At 67, she is as active as any young teacher and as wise as the oldest, most experienced professor. She has inspired so many early childhood educators with her stories, her teaching and above all, her warmth and delightful personality. She has contributed so much to the early childhood field here in Asia, and all over the world, over the span of her illustrious career. Her charm and kind heart makes her one of the most sought-after collaborators in our industry today. Yet, she remains humble, approachable and personable. Her enthusiasm for education and children, coupled with her infectious humour, are what I aspire to.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
What continues to blow me away every time I witness it, is incredible potential that can be unlocked when a great team comes together. When you put together bright, experienced, communicative and open-minded people in a team, miracles can happen.

Creative ideas that were recently put forth in a small ad-hoc project team are now being turned into a new product that LittleLives will soon offer. When we first began discussions, we had no idea where they would take us; the only thing we knew definitively was that we wanted to help educators gain better access to resources to help them in their everyday classroom. It all fell into place when our team started brainstorming ideas that were based on the problems we knew were present in early childhood education.

Now, we have the trial version of a new module, LittleAcademy, and I am in awe of how all of this came together. I would like to quote Margaret Mead here, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
To be honest, I would not change a thing. We made so many mistakes when we started this journey, but the lessons we learnt from our failures are what make us stronger today.

On a related note, there is this beautiful quote from Batman Begins:
Thomas Wayne asked, “Why do we fall, Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.”

How do you unwind?
It is important for us to allow our body, mind and soul to unwind and recharge. Badminton is my go-to exercise. I play twice weekly to keep fit and nimble. Recently I have picked up Yoga Nidra with an excellent instructor who has opened my eyes to all the good that meditation does for our minds.

Beyond this, I find that spending time with my loved ones, friends and teammates helps me feel grounded and loved.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I travelled to China twice last year and truly fell in love with the country. It provides such a rich variety of experiences, from culture and art, to commerce and tech. I was in a constant state of amazement. It is a fast advancing nation that I really enjoy my time in, both learning and relaxing with the people I meet.

Everyone in business should read this book:
High Output Management by Andrew Grove, late CEO and Chairman of Intel. This is a book written in the 90s, but its ideas are still very much applicable to businesses today.

Andy lays out what you need to do to successfully manage your business in simple and concise terms. This does not mean that it is easy to grow as successfully as Intel did, but the book shows us that the path to greatness is apparent. What I personally love about this book is that it presents its ideas both logically and emotionally without judgement.

On the issue of an underperforming teammate, Andy offers a very simple explanation:
“When a person is not doing his job, there can only be two reasons for it. The person either can’t do it or won’t do it; he is either not capable or not motivated.”

And as a manager, all you can do is to train and motivate.

This is an excellent review of the book by Ben Horowitz of Andreessen Horowitz: https://a16z.com/2015/11/13/high-output-management/
I highly recommend this book to all entrepreneurs.

Shameless plug for your business:
LittleLives is a leading preschool edtech company with a strong presence in over 700 schools in Singapore, 20 in Vietnam, 130 in China and 100 in Malaysia. LittleLives develops and provides applications that allow preschools to record children’s administrative records digitally, from attendance-taking to portfolio management. In addition to reducing the hassle of physical filing and documentation, the LittleLives system allows parents to keep track of the progress of their children’s learning at school through LittleLives parents’ app.

As an edtech company, LittleLives does more than facilitate day-to-day school operations. In 2017, LittleLives hosted the first ever International Pre-school Conference in Kuala Lumpur, which was attended by educators representing 1200 preschools in the region. LittleLives has helped over 215,000 children, 430,000 parents and 23,000 teachers bring schools into the 21st century and we are hoping to continue empowering many more around the world.

Reach out to us if you are involved in education or entrepreneurship. We’re always happy to chat!

How can people connect with you?
Just drop me an email at [email protected].

Twitter handle?
With so much to say, 140 characters is not enough. Hence, it is best to follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/littlelivesbigdreams), Instagram (littlelives_inc), YouTube (youtube.com/user/hosunSG), and check out our LittleLives Blog (blog.littlelives.com) to get to know us better!

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

Jace Koh, Founder of U Ventures

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Jace Koh believes cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Understanding it will enhance your ability to run and manage your business.

What’s your story?
My name is Jace Koh and I am the Founder of U Ventures. I’ve always been inclined towards investment and entrepreneurship. I’ve played a hand in starting businesses across these industries – professional services, cloud integration, software and music. I believe that succeeding in business is tough, but that’s what makes the rewards even sweeter.

What excites you most about your industry?
Everything excites me. These are my beliefs:

  • Why is accounting important?
    The accounting department is the heart. Cash flow is like blood stream, it pumps blood to various parts of the body like cash flow is pumped to various departments and/or functions in a business. It is vital to the life and death of the business.
  • Is accounting boring?
    Accountants are artists too. They paint the numbers the way they want them to be.
  • What makes a good accountant?
    A good accountant can tell you a story about the business by looking at the numbers.
  • Why is budgeting and projection important?
    Accountants are like fortune tellers, they can predict the numbers and if you wish to understand your business and make informed decisions, feel free to speak to our friendly consultants to secure a meeting.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore, and here’s where I want to be.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is my favourite city. We have great legal systems in place, good security and people with integrity. Most importantly, we have a government that fosters a good environment for doing business. I recently went for a cultural exchange programme in Hong Kong to learn more about their startups. I found out that the Hong Kong government generally only supports local business owners in terms of grants. They’ve recently been more lenient and changed the eligibility to include all businesses that have at least 50% local shareholding. But comparing that to Singapore, the government only requires a 30% local shareholding to obtain government support. In the early days of starting a business, all the support you can get is precious. It’s great that we have a government that understands that.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best time ever to plant a tree was 10 years ago as the tree would have grown so big to provide you with shelter and all. When is the next best time to plant a tree? It is today. Because in 10 years time, the tree would have grown big enough to provide you shelter and all.

Who inspires you?
Jack Ma. His journey to success is one of the most inspiring as it proves that with determination and great foresight, even the poorest can turn their lives around. I personally relate to his story a lot, and this is my favourite quote from him, “If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.”

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve faced multiple rejections throughout my business journey, and recently came across a fact on Jack Ma about how he was once rejected for 32 different jobs. It resonated very deeply and taught me the importance of tenacity, especially during tough times.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I live a life with no regrets. Everything I do, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, happy or sad, and regardless of outcome, it’s a lesson with something to take away.

How do you unwind?
I love to pamper myself through retail therapy and going for spas. I also make a conscious effort to take time off work to have a break outside to unwind as well as to uncloud my mind. This moment of reflection from time to time helps me see more clearly on how I can improve myself.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan! Good food with no language barriers and the people are great!

Everyone in business should read this book:
I don’t really read books. Mostly, I learn from my daily life and interactions with hundreds of other business owners. To me, people tell the most interesting stories.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re not just corporate secretaries, we’re “business doctors.”
U Ventures is a Xero certified advisory firm that goes beyond traditional accounting services to provide solutions for your business. You can reach us on our website: http://uventures.com.sg/

How can people connect with you?
Converse to connect. You can reach me via email at [email protected] or alternatively, on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacekoh/

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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