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Kenneth Tan, CEO & Founder of Sproutfore

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Kenneth believes people should have a better understanding of the source of their food.

What’s your story?
I grew up in a family where we emphasize the quality of the source of the food. We believe that the starting quality of the food source will determine the end result. “Good source, good food.” I finally got to experience what that meant when I was living in Australia. It taught me about the value of food quality. Firstly, it starts with healthy farming practices where chickens aren’t caged or injected with growth hormones and pesticides aren’t used on vegetables. Generally, in Australia, I realised that the quality of food is much higher. That is mainly due to the local agriculture (direct from their local farmers). Quality food is what everybody needs. It is not a “want.”
It should be a culture whereby quality food should be accessible and people should know where and how their food comes from. Not surprising, people have much less information on where their food comes from as compared to where their smartphones are designed and manufactured from. Consumers should be educated on the food they consume as it empowers them to make healthier decisions for their future.

What excites you most about your industry?
I love food. Food is a universal language and everybody loves to eat good food. What excites me the most is being able to communicate with the farmer farmer or the beekeeper who grew / made your food. This is something really, really new and food traceability allows you to chat with the food creator and ask them questions about their harvest. Our team has come across merchants from farmers, pastry chefs to beekeepers. To understand more, our team actually went down personally to a farm, tasted their products (freshly plucked from the crops) and witnessed honey being taken from a beehive. This is something behind the scenes which many people and businesses have never experienced.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Previously, I held the position of Regional Director at Dragon Brand Bird’s Nest for almost four years. That gave me a better insight into the Asian market and culture as I frequently traveled and communicated with business associates in countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Cambodia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore and Taiwan. Growing up in Singapore, I love Singapore’s multi-cultural settings and the convenience of getting food, catching transport and the banking facilities. Establishing a business in Singapore just take seconds. It is convenient to manoeuvre around this city. For Taiwan, the customer service and innovation in marketing is astonishing. You can find creative packaging designs. In Asia, Taiwan is considered a place for art and design.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Nothing comes easy and the harder we work, the luckier we get. It is only the grittiest person who will survive as a successful entrepreneur. Whenever I am met with setbacks, I will always remind myself of this.

Who inspires you?
Elon Musk. He went against all odds to create and lead what he believed in – SpaceX and Tesla. It is not easy to take criticism and rejections. It takes a lot of courage to move on or recover from criticism and rejections.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Mobile payments are coming to Singapore. This will create a greater opportunity for Sproutfore’s platform and optimise our QR code system. This is a huge leap for the Singapore payment system and I’m definitely looking forward to that.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I would still choose what I have chosen. I don’t regret a single decision I made or the business that I choose to be in. We never know for sure what the perfect outcome is. I am a hard believer in, ‘you will only see things when you start it and you will never see them when you wait for that perfect moment.’ This is a hard truth. You will never see a clear and perfect path for your ideal business because there isn’t any. The market changes faster than you plan. We have to act on it first and learn from our mistakes and improve progressively.

How do you unwind?
Thinking of unwinding is a bad habit for entrepreneurs.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan during winter. I love cold weather probably because it is pretty humid and hot throughout the year in Singapore. Nice food, nice place to shop and travel. My most memorable place is Universal Studios especially the Harry Potter Village, it is really amazing and Disney Sea Japan!

Everyone in business should read this book:
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
How to take charge of your life by Richard Bandler

Shameless plug for your business:
We make good quality food accessible for everyone. We make a good quality food more affordable by giving our customers a promotion code and loyalty points to offset their purchases. At the same time, consumers will be able to get more information and be more aware of the food they purchase. The hope is, it will raise the standard of food quality in Singapore as well as South East Asia.

How can people connect with you?
They can connect with me via:
Facebook @ Kenneth Tan
Linkedin @ Kenneth M.S. Tan
Instagram @ Kennethmstan
WeChat @ Kenneth M.S. Tan
Youtube @ Kenneth M.S. Tan

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

Callum Connects

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures

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Marek Danyluk has a talent for assessing the competencies of management teams for other businesses and pulling together exceptional teams for his own businesses!

What’s your story?
I am the CEO of a venture capital business, Space Ventures, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses. I also own and run Space Executive, a recruitment business focused on senior to executive hires across sales, marketing, finance, legal and change.

My career started as a trainee underwriter in the Lloyds market but quickly moved into recruitment where I set-up my first business in 2002. The business grew to around 100 people. I moved to Asia in 2009 as a board member of a multinational recruitment business with the mandate to help them scale their Asian entities, which helped contribute to their sale this year, in 2017.

My main talent is assessing the competencies of management teams as well as building high performing recruitment boutiques and putting together exceptional management teams for my own businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
Building the business is very much about attracting the best talent and being able to build a culture which people find invigorating and unique. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to define a culture in that regard and salespeople are a fun bunch, so when you get it right it’s tremendous.

From a VC point of view there is just so much happening. South East Asia is a melting pot of innovation so the ideas and quality of people you have exposure to, is truly phenomenal. The exposure in the VC has taken me away from a career in recruitment. Doing something completely different has given me a new level of focus.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Whilst I came here with work, both my boys were born in Singapore and to them this very much is home. That said, my father in law spent many years in the East so coming and settling here was met with a good degree of support and familiarity.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Possibly Hong Kong. It’s the closest I’ve been to working in London. Whilst there are massive Asian influences people will work with you on the basis you are good at what you do and work hard. I find that approach very honest and straightforward.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always treat people well on the way up!”

Who inspires you?
I like reading about people who have excelled in business such as Jack Ma, James Kahn, Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, all have great stories to tell and they are all inspirational. No-one has inspired me more than my parents and they are well aware as to why…

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much any technology innovation blows me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whilst it is important not to have regrets I do continually wake up thinking I’m still doing my A’ Levels. So, I’d have probably tried a little harder in 6th form.

How do you unwind?
I like the odd glass of red wine and watching sport

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan skiing. I love skiing and Japanese food and it’s a time when I can really enjoy time with the wife and kids. I recently tried the Margaret River which was divine, although not technically Asia.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Barbarians at the Gate

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive is the fastest growing recruitment business in Singapore focused on the mid to senior market across legal, compliance, finance, sales and marketing and change and transformation. Multi-award winning with exceptional growth plans into Hong Kong and London this year, and the US, Japan and Europe by the end of 2022. We are building a truly global brand.

Space Ventures is interested in any businesses that require capital or management and financial guidance or any or all of the above. We have, to date, invested in on-line training, food and beverages, peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring as well as other tech and fintech start-ups. We are always interested in hearing about potential deals.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@Spaceexecutive

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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Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings

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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

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