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Mario Berta, Founder of FlySpaces



Mario Berta is the founder and CEO of, a tech-start up that empowers SMEs to get access to flexible office and retail space. Mario is a professional Speaker with more than 5 years of experience in helping Corporation with their digital transformations.

Previously, Mario served as a Senior Consultant to PLDT Global and had a stint as Nova Founder’s director for growth, a tech incubator and VC firm that boasts among its investor Richard Li (among HK’s richest tycoon) and Asia Regional Co-Founder of Rocket Internet’s Easy Taxi, which saw immense growth under his leadership. His wealth of experience is also topped up by the fact that, he was also a contestant in “The Apprentice”.

A true global professional with extensive experience in leadership, strategy, innovation and expansion, Mario is passionate about empowering and enabling people, developing businesses, and supporting companies and institutions all around the World. The is a venture embedded with Mario’s drive, values and beliefs and he shares with us his story today.


In your own words what is FlySpaces?

We self brand ourselves as the “Airbnb” for office space, we are a market place for short-term commercial rentals.

How did you come up with the idea of FlySpaces?

I had to go through the immense pain of finding an office myself multiple times in my previous ventures, and dealing with Landlords.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up FlySpaces?

We started in the Philippines, which is also our operational HQ, well Philippines does not score high in “easy place to do business” but again thanks to my previous experience it was relatively easy. Then we set up operations in Singapore, which is our Holding and where we have a small office. Most our team is in Manila and it was my team in my previous times in Rocket Internet and Nova Founders.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?

Difficulties in building a start-up (of any industry) are ordinary administration! Mostly now as we are new concept we need to educate the market on adoption, if we had to build a “simple” e-commerce company it will be easier, as people are buying items on-line all the time. We are telling businesses to find office space in a different way they are currently searching and using the office space differently. So most is education.

How have you been developing FlySpaces since startup?

We experienced tremendous growth and traction challenge now is to keep up with growth. As many companies we might pivot a little our business model in the future, but is more on the space acquisition side hence not a radical pivot.

Wish I could disclose more on the company direction but I can’t at this stage.

What kind of feedback did you get for FlySpaces so far?

People love it ! We save so much time and money for SMEs (which are our primary customers), should be a no brainer for an SMEs to make a fix cost like office space variable, so they scale it up or down based on their business.

But some customer still think we actually own a co-working spaces that’s why we do not put our address on our business cards !

Do you face a lot of competition in this industry?

There is not ASEAN platform like ours as of now, our competitors are the local players (so a localize platform in MY, another one in Sing etc..). The big American guys are focusing in the US, Canada and Australia. We wanted the first moving advantage that in a market place is critical for success.

In a way we compete with our own merchants to find the leads before them. But we can provide an seamless solutions for SMEs to find office space without having them going merchant by merchants, and our price by mandatory-policy are the same as customer will be going to merchants directly.

What can you tell us about the industry?

The best example is having the World’s 3rd most valued start up operating in this space (WeWork), investors they are also betting that companies will change the way they occupy their office space, and WeWork, which is a “full chain” player, is a great example. The continuous growth of players like Regus (which is our partner) and co-working spaces in this part of the world is the sign that this trend is hitting the SEA region.

What is the future of the industry?

I believe companies will look at office space as more commoditized thing, we will still need developer to build amazing and sustainable buildings but what it will change will be how spaces will be occupied hence monetized. Big Corporations will always take conventional big offices, but the SMEs that always made about 90% of the companies and employ 70% of the work force in any economy will look at office space differently.

As tech and asset free players, we can easily adapt to changes, not event WeWork could be as agile as we could be. Even with if everything goes according the plan (which never does) for WeWork takes at least 18 months to find a space, do the JV, lawyers’ negotiations, start construction, launch the space. We acquire spaces over 1 skype phone call.

Were there anything that disappointed you initially?

Of course! Asia is still not a first mover market, when we talk to big developers instead of looking at us as en opportunity to learn and diversifying their risk, they look at us as potentials treat and this is sooooo common in this part of the world. But I am convinced that once a trend hits Asia it moves 10x faster then other places in the World, due to their tech savvy and young populations. A great example is Capital Land, doing a JV to build their first co-working space. The trend has started!

What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?

Thanks for this question! I am a great fan of Asia, I think there is not OTHER PLACE in the World better than Asia to be and to be an entrepreneur. When I took some “sabbatical” time after my times in Rocket Internet I travelled to Latin America (only part of the world I did not know) and yes is a great place all over from Mexico to Colombia and Brazil, but still light years away from the vibrancy of the Asians’ megalopolis. Buenos Aires, San Paolo, Bogota are not even close to Manila, Jakarta or Hong Kong in terms on what is happening at every level.

Nonetheless Asia still face some challenges mostly related to finding talents, but the hard working mentality of the Asian’s people is nearly-impossible to find it in other part of the World.

I am native Italian but I have spent a considerable amount of time in Spain and other EU countries and I always tell my University mates and child-hood friends that their only problem is not having problems at all. Europeans are accustomed to very accommodating policies by their governments (some one more than others).

What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?

Back on to my point of the question above is talent related.

I think there are 2 main issues that are still road-blocking the boom of an entrepreneurship spirits in this part of the world.

  1. Is Socio-Economic:-

Most of the middle class in the SEA’s region has just in this decade (a side from SG and HK of course) reached the comfort zone, meaning only recently they can finally afford a car and finally afford a home, it will take time for these middle classes to evolve and be willing to leave this comfort zone. The economies are doing so well that any good-educated person can get a very decent job from the big conglomerates which control basically most of the sectors the SEA’s economy, Philippines top 40 families represents 88% of the country’s GDP for instance. Even us we compete with the big telecom to hire ops managers and marketing managers, we offer a great working environment but much less money than a telecom, instead they can offedr a telecom working environment but more money, more benefits, more stability, less work loads, etc.

  1. Cultural:-

The very essence of Entrepreneurship is based on taking big risk, thinking dramatically out of the box, being a hassle, not taking no for an answer, being perseverant, not respecting rankings or procedures. Now, these are threads that I do not see in this part of the world yet, a part from rare cases.

As mentioned before SEA’s economies are dominated by the Tycoons, these guys where the only ones following the “non-rules” if you look at their past you can see these common threads.

Every single conglomerate in this part of the world is trying to build a sort of “innovation center” in within its organization and they are all dramatically failing cause there are recycling their own people to do that. I.e. If you want to build a innovation center of a bank you need to hire NON banking people and so on.

China I think is the exception there is a tremendous entrepreneurship drive, but I am not an expert on China.

What is your definition of success?

I think you can tangibly defined success but you have to use your own metric, in my case is very simple is money, but money is a result of a lot things that you did very well. I would like to see Flyspaces becoming a 1 Billion dollar company because of the prestige that comes with it and the market recognition of changing how the world use office space. I do not really need 1 billion in my bank account as long as the company does well and the employees are “infected with our culture”

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

It was Rocket Internet’s fault! (Better to say merit). Rocket is the best school of entrepreneurs in the world. I enjoyed every single day I worked there. They allow me to build a company as I was it was mine (at least at the beginning), they finance it and they also pay me to do so. Thanks to rocket I shifted from a corporate person to an entrepreneur, I will never be grateful enough to them for that. And at some point like many former rocket we decide to build our own ventures, that bing jump of the cliff not that big anymore.

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

I believe most of them are the ones I mentioned above, but one: being great recruiter, nowhere in the world like in Asia you need a strong team, if you are an A player you hire an A+ player and so on, hire people that are better than you than can complete you.

Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?

Let’s Do It!


Callum Connects

Adrian Reid, Founder of Enlightened Stock Trading



Adrian Reid escaped the rat race and became a knowledgeable trader. He now shares his trading knowledge and empowers others to take control of their stocks.

What’s your story?
After working 12-16 hour days in the corporate world for many years I had a moment of realisation on the 1 hour bus ride to work. It was here at this moment in time, I realised that I felt trapped, desperate and isolated. Trapped in a job I hated, and a life I had not designed. I had long been interested in investing, but I made the decision at that point to become the best trader I could possibly be and escape the rat race.
My dream was to be free; free of the 9 to 5, the commute, the stress and the exhaustion. I threw myself into my stock trading research and study and emerged 3 months later with the trading rules that would ultimately buy me my freedom. I am now retired from the corporate world, I trade full time and share my knowledge with other aspiring traders through my online education program which puts them in control and empowers them to take control and accountability for their trading results.

What excites you most about your industry?
So many people are trapped in jobs they don’t like or are feeling immense financial pressure in their life. Trading education is typically done extremely badly today because of the conflicts of interest in the industry. Fund managers want to hold onto your money forever; brokers want you to trade more frequently; forex brokers want you to use more leverage. Why? Because that is how they make their money.
By teaching traders how to develop and test their own stock trading systems I am able to empower them to find trading rules which fit their own personality, objectives and lifestyle. This is the only way for new traders to be successful. This process transforms people’s financial future, their relationship with money and wealth and gives them hope. I love that!

What’s your connection to Asia?
I recently spent 3 years living in Singapore which I absolutely loved. This put me in a good position to observe the other Asian markets. As a stock trader I am interested in many markets and economies around the world, however the Asian markets have some of the best potential for trading profits. I have traded stocks in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo and I have developed trading systems that work in many other Asian markets as well.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
My favourite city is Singapore. After living in Singapore for 3 years my family fell in love with the city. Life is great in Singapore for the whole family and the pro-business and investing policies of the government make it a wonderful place to build your financial future as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
On a personal front: Find something you love, throw all your energy and passion into it.
On the wealth front: Spend less than you earn and invest the difference. Take control of your finances and always accept 100% responsibility for your investment decisions.

Who inspires you?
My wife Stephanie inspires me. Her commitment to everything she does, her compassion, her insights into people and her ability to uplift those around her, make me want to be a better person.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
No matter what we think we know, there will always be a different perspective that can change our opinion. In my own trading, I continually find that the truths I cling to are not absolute and they can be misleading if held onto dogmatically. Striking a balance between taking a stance and knowing when to change that stance based on new information is critical in all areas of life.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more action earlier on. My fear of mistakes (which still limits me on occasions, like most people) has always proven to be baseless. Playing small to avoid the embarrassment or pain of mistakes is very limiting and I would have taken more action earlier, if I had my time again.

How do you unwind?
To unwind I like to read, meditate, run and ride my mountain bike in the forest.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I just love the small island resort at Batu Batu. It is beautiful, isolated, quiet and surrounded by clean water, full of sealife. After a week at the resort I felt like a different person.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Pyramid Principle by Barbara Minto. This book teaches the art of clear and structured communication. My time working as a business strategy consultant gave me a great appreciation for the importance of communication in business. Clear and effective communication can solve a myriad of challenges in your business and professional life, and as a strong communicator your employment prospects, business relationships, team performance and family life are all dramatically improved.

Shameless plug for your business:
Enlightened Stock Trading ( is the only stock market trading education business that empowers you, as an individual trader. It shows you how to design and test your own unique stock trading system that fits YOUR Personality, Objectives and Lifestyle. We have no conflicts of interest and we are focused on teaching you how to trade stocks profitably in a way that fits your life.
After working through the Enlightened Stock Trader Certification Program you will find yourself confident and empowered with your own battle tested trading system and trading plan to guide you through the markets.

How can people connect with you?
Email me directly at [email protected] or through my Facebook Page (

Twitter handle?

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:
Download free copies of his books here:

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Callum Connects

Elaine Zhou, Co-Founder of China Women Equipping Center



Elaine went on a journey of self discovery and once she knew her true self she could be successful in her own business.

What’s your story?
I am very proud of where I came from and I am grateful for where I am living and working today. Singapore is my adopted home and it is my aim to always contribute to and serve this country and its people.
Twelve years ago, I moved to Singapore for an internship opportunity. I was twenty one years old and I didn’t have any friends, I didn’t speak English, I didn’t understand the culture or the customs. Everything was new and strange to me. Everything was difficult, but my parents had tremendous faith in me.
My parents have worked diligently on the family farm to raise us and send us to college. My parents had a huge influence on me. The important things I learnt from them are to love, to never give up, to be a hard worker and to have a can-do attitude. These are the qualities that I embrace in my daily life.

What excites you most about your industry?
We offer more than just training. Our business is a resource to be leveraged for transformation, improved teamwork, leadership behaviours, communication skills, relationship skills, coaching skills and increased job satisfaction and productivity.
Our passion and purpose is to help people grow as leaders and to create tremendous results by serving others well. We take people to daring destinations, beyond their imagination.
My greatest joy is to see people grow, change and transform and live a purposeful life; this is what motivates me to do more and do it well.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in China and I have spent all my adult and professional life in Singapore.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore and China.
Singapore is a very sophisticated and systematic country. It is a structured and highly efficient business environment and people are generally nice and honest. Also, the convenience and diverse culture is a great advantage for people who want to settle down there, no matter if they are from the East or West. You always feel at home in Singapore.
I also like China because of its fast growth. The population and the market is here. However, it takes time to settle in because of the language barrier and the very different traditional culture. But you will also find it is very interesting and you’ll want to learn more about China. The people are nice if you know them well. It is always about relationship first and business second, and when you are in a business meeting, you really have to master the skill of “reading the air.” It is a skill to let people know and understand you; your values, your background, why you think in that way or why you do or do not do certain things. Doing business in China is like swimming in the ocean; it is an abundant ocean and it is full of risks. Always know your values and stay true to yourself and make decisions close to your heart. It will help you see things more clearly and get things done in a way that doesn’t violate your values.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Be yourself, Elaine.” That is the best advice I have ever received. It was a big ‘aha’ moment for me. It was also the moment I truly and honestly looked within myself. I realized that when I am being my true self, and not trying to be someone else, I am able to connect with people instantly in a genuine and authentic way. It is a great feeling.

Who inspires you?
There are so many people who encourage me, lift me up and challenge me everyday. My mentor, John Maxwell who helped me discover my purpose in life; Michael Griffin, for his passion for Christ which is contagious and Wayne Dyer, my spiritual mentor who passed away in 2016. Also, people who are living with a purpose and striving everyday for their dream, they really inspire me. My clients, mentees and students. When I see that joy and peace in them, that inspires me to do more and do well. My team inspire me, especially when they said, “Elaine, I joined the business because of you.” They inspire me to make it work for the team and the business because it is beyond my own self interest. I am grateful for having so many people in my life who inspire me.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
China is a big country, we all know that, and it is also an internet giant. Recently on a team meeting, one of the directors who manages a successful beauty business, shared with us, that everybody is on the internet, especially on WeChat. People are obsessed with online communities – for ordering food, getting taxis, forging relationships, connections and friends. Almost anything and everything can get done online. But right now, there is a new trend; more and more people want the “offline” experience. It usually takes one to two hours from one place to another in Beijing, but people want to make the effort to have a real connection with other people, to attend networks, seminars, workshops and business meetings.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I started my first business when I was 24 years old, it failed. One year later, I started my second business and after a year and a half, I closed down the operation. After several painful experiences and two failed businesses, I started to look within myself, and seriously and intentionally invested in my personal growth at the age of 28. If I could turn back time, I wish I could have grown a lot earlier. I strongly believe that the level of our success is determined by the level of our self growth and we are always learning, everyday. But I also understand it is not the only way to live. I also consciously and intentionally try to live in the now. It is a beautiful and great way to live. In fact, I am grateful for what I have gone through; the pains, setbacks and challenges in my earlier life.

How do you unwind?
I like to stay connected with nature. For example, taking a walk barefoot on the grass and smelling the roses on the street. Having a beer or coffee along the riverside with friends; reading a good book; hunting for nice restaurants; swimming or running.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand – nice beaches, food and people.
Bali – fantastic beaches and food, great people.
Malaysia – Nice food and people, particularly Langkawi, Penang and KK.
Of course Singapore, it is always a place dear to my heart. It’s my home.
There are a lot of other interesting places in China which I am still exploring.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill
The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Tao Te Ching: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life by Wayne Dyer
Developing the Leaders Within You by John C.Maxwell
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
These are some of the books that truly transformed my thinking and shaped my values.
I used to read a lot of different types of books, from sales, marketing, branding and management to different business models. I found it is really hard to master all of it and I was not optimizing my own strengths.
Entrepreneurship is a skill to be learnt. But it is really important to recognize what we are good at and what we are not so good at. We can not be everything.
Entrepreneurship is a journey of self-discovery and soul searching. It is all about learning and striving. We should try and always remember why we started our business in the first place.

Shameless plug for your business:
The China Women Equipping Center, is something both my team are I are very proud. We have put our hearts and souls into it, to help women in China grow and transform. As a developing country and with the rise of China, people are not lacking in money, everywhere is full of opportunity, but the challenge is the civilizations, values and faith. In fact the Chinese government puts a lot of effort into improving and shaping the international image to ensure it is making progress. But people are still facing a lot of pressure, especially women.
One of our business partners who is runs traditional Chinese medicine retail stores, shared that 80% of his patients are female, and the reason they are coming to see him are anxiety and depression.
Our China Women Equipping Center creates a safe and comfortable environment for women to help build their values and characters. My local team and I are very passionate about our mission and purpose. Beijing is our headquarters in China. We are planning to take three to six months to establish our business in Beijing and grow and expand to other major cities in China after that.

How can people connect with you?

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:
Download free copies of his books here:

Continue Reading