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Martin Toft Sorensen, Co-Founder & Managing Director of WearYouWant

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What’s your story?
I’ve always been interested in fashion since being a young teenager. My father was running a brick and mortar shop in my hometown, where I started working at a young age so I was in a way fed up with both fashion and entrepreneurship. Back then I was not really planning a career in the fashion industry so i did a Master Degree in International Relations at the same time. The studies brought me to Bangkok and that caught my attention and I saw a world of opportunities.

What excites you most about your industry?
Well, fashion in itself has always been an interesting business. Combine that with an untapped e-commerce market, and you have a beautiful recipe that will keep you excited. Things are moving really fast, new startups within the fashion & beauty industry are being launched almost every month, and this has without doubt caught the attention of potential investors. This whole thing about being part of something new which is about to kick off is kind of dream coming true.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve been living in Bangkok for the last 5 years running WearYouWant since Q3 2011. I’ve always been attracted to Asia since I started to travel here in my early twenties. I did one semester as an exchange student in Bangkok, and I guess that was the spark which later resulted in moving here permanently.

WearYouWant team

martin02

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Bangkok. Bangkok is the most centralized capital in the world gathering more or less all business in Thailand in 1 big boiling city. The market has a decent size, Thai’s are relatively keen on new technology and to try out new things. I also believe Thailand is considered one of the most important markets in SEA for investors giving you access to funding to scale your business. Finally, attracting foreign employees/expats is much easier when based in Bangkok compared to Manilla or Ho Chi Minh – Bangkok just has that thing.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
When making your first budget for your new startup divide your expected GMV with 2 and multiply your expenses with 10. I actually didn’t listen, but I’m sure I will for my next startup – learning by doing the hard way:)

Who inspires you?
I’m so fortunate to meet a lot of interesting people everyday due to WearYouWant. So to be honest, I’m inspired by other entrepreneurs,  by people who works hard and has passion for what they do and I’m inspired by people who I can learn from. The daily inspiration is like a fix for me, and it makes me wanna achieve more whether it’s increasing the company’s GMV or running those 5km faster.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That some scientist say jogging extend your life by 6-10 years, but running at higher intensity has no impact on your age when compared to people doing no exercise at all. I sometimes choose to believe in what makes sense to me, and not necessarily what “experts” say.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Listen to the advice I was given:) Well, I would probably have thought too much about numbers and competitors and then perhaps not launched WearYouWant with my Co-Founder. We have learnt some things the hard way, but honestly speaking, that has taught us a lot and brought us to where we are today. Real entrepreneurs must be willing to take risks that no other want to do.

How do you unwind?
I try to keep myself as active as time allows it. I do cardio and weightlifting several times every week and would love to squeeze in some Thai boxing as well. In general I get more energy when hitting the gym often, and it gives me a much more positive can-do attitude at work as well. Besides that a good book on a beautiful beach does well for me too.  

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Koh Kood in Thailand has that perfect combo of beautiful beaches, relatively untouched nature (getting hard to find), and that laid back atmosphere. For recharging your batteries, it’s definitely recommendable.

Everyone in business should read this book:
I had it recommended by one of our investors. If your business growth needs funding from VC’s it’s a must-read. “Venture Deals” by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

Shameless plug for your business:
WearYouWant is a business relying on several partners via a B2B2C business model. In this kind of setup you control much less than in a typical B2C setup, and therefore you have to be better at creating, maintaining  and evolving partnerships with everything from logistic companies to fashion distributors. It might look like a much leaner business, but you have to run faster when it comes to optimizing all these elements.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]
th.linkedin.com/in/martintoftsorensen/en

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

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Callum Laing has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He is the owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 11 countries and he is also the CEO of Entrevo Asia, a company that runs 40 week Growth Accelerator programs.

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

Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/agnesyee/

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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Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

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Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/ceedeees

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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