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Lim Jing Ying, Co-founder of Soule Enterprise

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Lim Jing Ying is ‘Souledeiring’ on with her business, Soule providing, “a sole for every soul.”

What’s your story?
My name is Jing Ying and I co-founded the social enterprise, Soule with my two friends, Justine Lee and John Tay.
Soule is a play on two words – Soul and Sole. It all started as a project in the year 2008 after Justine, my good friend, was impacted by a humanitarian trip to China after finishing his O Level exams. Upon witnessing the lack of proper footwear in the rural villages, Justine thought of a sustainable business model: for every Soule product bought, part of the proceeds will go into helping children in need – aka to provide a Sole for every Soul.
We then started this journey with another friend, John Tay (we were then aged 16 and 17 respectively) and took the business to new heights in the youth’s business and social enterprise platform.
Currently, I am the chief shopkeeper of The Soule Store, selling locally-designed lifestyle goods such as flip-flops, sunglasses and notebooks. A portion of each sale of every Soule product goes into initiatives for children from low-income families and survivors of natural disasters. Our products are housed at our online store and in physical stores like Naiise and The Nail Social.
We have gifted a total of 1,877 pairs of footwear to children in rural schools in China and also footwear for survivors of natural disasters and 154 school bags to Singaporean children. We believe in the viability of a commercially successful brand that can sell attractive products and at the same time generate finances and awareness for social work.
Besides selling products, we recently started branching out into Soule Social Consulting to provide Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) consultancy services to corporations that seek to engage in social work or social engagement projects.

What excites you most about your industry?
What I think excites me the most is the idea that businesses can be a platform to do good, disrupt the way traditional businesses are being done and the concept of doing well, whilst doing good. We are indeed living in exciting times.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m was born and bred in Singapore. One of my favourite countries is China, where we have been doing shoe drops in the past few years to gift the children in the Yunnan province with shoes and school supplies.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
China! Funnily enough, after doing this business for the past 8 years, businesses in Singapore and China have heard about us either through media or word of mouth. Some business owners have approached us to find out more about how they can do their part to help the community – which led to the start of our CSR Consulting arm. In our consulting arm, we aim to help businesses better define and achieve their social objectives and to help give back to their community in sustainable ways.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“You create the world, blink by blink. It is entirely yours to discover and yours to create.”
― Sophia Amoruso, #GIRLBOSS

I love this quote as it inspires me to think beyond the box that we constantly and subconsciously house ourselves in.

One more quote!
“Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
– Mother Teresa

Who inspires you?
Elim Chew (founder of 77th Street) is probably one female entrepreneur that inspires me to be bold and outspoken about what I believe in. Also, she was a very good mentor to us during our start up days; and her belief in youth inspire me to always give back to the next generation just as she has done for me personally.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I think it was not a recent encounter per say, but I would like to share the story of the girl with the pencil sharpener. During our very first shoe drop in 2010, we collected paper hearts filled with the dreams of the children in China. Before leaving that particular village school in the mountains of Yunnan, Lincang, I came across a written heart by a Primary 3 student, that stated – her dream was to own a pencil sharpener. I was shocked! Before that, when we asked the students, their dreams were lofty and big, and they had ambitions. However, this little girl’s dream was to own a pencil sharpener.
To any of us in Singapore, this item would be a necessity. It really blew me away in that sense. Upon uncovering this dream, we then combed the entire village school and found one last pencil sharpener that was in the staffroom. We then gave it to the girl and she was speechless. It made me realise that it sometimes takes very little to impact another person, me included.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would embrace myself and my failures with a little more grace.

How do you unwind?
I love reading and binge watching different shows on Netflix (not proud of it but not ashamed either!)

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Krabi! I recently went there for a beach vacation and it was really fun. I would love to take another short trip there again soon.

Everyone in business should read this book:
A light, fun read for lady bosses would be #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso. Her advice really speaks to me as she also spearheaded her own brand through e-commerce and selling products online.

Shameless plug for your business:
Soüle = Sole + Soul. Our mission is to provide a sole for every soul.
Can shopping change the world? We think so. Every purchase you make at Soule goes towards empowering someone in need. Since 2008, our “Sole for every Soul” initiative and Souledier movement have enabled change through shopping – a portion of each sale of every Soule product goes into initiatives for children living under the poverty line and survivors of natural disasters. To find out more about us, check out www.soule.com.sg 🙂

How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected]
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/limjingying
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jyings

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

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]om, 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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William Chin, Founder of Mummy’s Market

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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

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