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Marcus Luer, Founder & CEO of Total Sports Asia

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I first met Marcus when I owned a Sports Events company in Thailand.  He came out and spent a few days at one of our Yacht Regattas.  It is awesome to see the business he has built up and I look forward to seeing what events he will be working with next.

What’s your story?
My story started in Cologne, Germany for the first 22 years of my life.  I moved to the US to study and graduated with an MBA from TCU (Texas Christian University). During that time the US was awarded the FIFA World Cup and I ended up working at the event in 1994. Prior to that I also had the privilege to work on implementing American Airlines sponsorship program for the World Cup.  The FIFA World Cup was such a powerful experience for me that I wanted to stay in the industry.  I was always a sports nut so making money with something I love doing was too good to be true.  I ended up with my first “real” sports marketing job in Hong Kong working for a small outfit at that time called “Asia Sports Group” (now World Sports Group). I was thrown into the deep end right from the start handling entire events and commercial deals for the Asian Basketball Confederation and then helped set up the Asian PGA Tour.  Three years later with my “youthful ignorance” (at the age of 29) I started my own business, Total Sports Asia (TSA) during the height of the Asian economic crisis (1997-98).  Eighteen years later we weathered many more Asian crisis  and have grown to be one of the leading players in the industry in Asia and in some respect globally. I have now lived longer outside of my home country then in Germany itself.  The last 20 years of it in Asia, so clearly Asia is my home and playground in all aspects of life.

What excites you most about your industry?
The sports marketing industry has plenty of challenges and opportunities and I love seeing how we help generate new revenue streams for events, clubs, Leagues, etc.  Because of us, these entities can use the money to create bigger and better events and create career paths for athletes.  Athletes and teams are able to “inspire” entire cities or nations with their performance. I love being in a stadium and watching thousands of people having a great time because of what we put together.
 On the other hand our commercial partners have the opportunity to leverage the power of our sports entity clients and in return generate bigger returns for themselves and their stakeholders. I call  it the “Greater Purpose” of TSA and that is to grow the sports side on one end and at the same time grow our corporate clients business as well. Being the agent and conduit in the middle and creating these opportunities for both sides is what gets me up in the morning.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I came here at the age of 26, set up my business at 29 and haven’t left since then (20 years later). My kids are mixed and my wife is Thai. So, I am part of this amazing part of the world in many ways.

TSA new logo

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore from an efficiency point of view.  You can get lots of meetings done in a day.  Most of the big Asian cities have their own charm and I actually enjoy going to most of them.  Travelling in the region is one of my favorite things of my business.  TSA allows me to do business in so many different places, with different cultures and way of operating.  I love that challenge and diversity and have become quite a chameleon in terms of adapting to the different styles of doing business in Asia.  

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Watch your overheads. Don’t ever let that get out of control or you end up working just to pay your staff.  From Donald Dell, one of the true pioneers of our industry and a dear friend.

Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from many people who have overcome the odds and/or have achieved incredible things in their life. I am a big fan of Michael Jordan and Michael Schumacher in the sporting world, Anthony Robbins in the field of Human Psychology and motivation. I have always been fascinated by Billionaire stories and how they achieved their wealth, especially the ones who came from poor backgrounds or had to overcome major obstacles to reach this level.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I am fascinated by the progress in medicine and what technology can do to prevent and also cure diseases in the future. In our industry, I am big believer in new technology in terms of content distribution and I have no doubt we will play a role in this space in the future.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
There are many mistakes I have made in my life and in hindsight I would do them differently. At the same time when I was in the situation I didn’t have the experience or foresight to anticipate the outcomes. So i guess I had to learn these lessons the hard way. At the end they are all part of my life and i am grateful for them.

How do you unwind?
I do sports, not just “talk” sports. I participate in Triathlon’s in the region and enjoy the training part. I train with my two kids at times and love connecting with them that way. Travelling actually is a certain form of unwinding. I like long-haul flights where you are “disconnected” from the world for a while. I wrote my book during plane flights. Just chilling at home with my wife is another simple pleasure in life.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thai Islands of any kind. I love sea, beach and sun. Anytime anywhere.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes, best sales/marketing book I know

Shameless plug for your business:
True Pioneers in Sports marketing in Asia.  We have been there and done it and very little we don’t know in the commercial world of sports.  We have a creative way of looking at challenges and have created many firsts for our clients. Come challenge us. Now we are also pioneering the world of “Branded Real Estate” and are the leading agency in the world in this space. Another great example of our creative thinking and out of the box approach.

How can people connect with you?
www.totalsportsasia.com
www.brandedrealestate.com
[email protected]
[email protected]

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

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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