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Natalie Turner, Founder of Entheo

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For anyone sitting on the fence as to whether they should explore the business opportunities in Asia, Natalie and Carl have a great story of how they built up a contact base, made the leap and have been thriving in Singapore.

What’s your story?
in January 2009 I came to Singapore in the dark, cold days of the Global recession  to speak at a leadership conference at SMU. Within the space of four days I had set up 22 meetings and was overwhelmed by the interest and enthusiasm for innovation and creativity services. I thought, what am I doing in the UK,  packed up my bags, spent a year building up contacts, set up our company in Singapore and moved, with my husband and business partner, in February 2010. We have never looked back.

What excites you most about your industry?
Being on the evolving edge of the new and helping broaden people’s thinking to imagine great things. To see people light up when they realise they have untapped creative potential, and to see organisations change so that their culture’s support innovation as a way of working. To take innovation beyond the Research and Development labs and democratise it amongst the many. The fact that there is never time for boredom, always more to both learn and unlearn and to have our curiosity constantly fuelled with new ideas.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I originally came to Singapore in January 2008 to speak at a creativity conference and had been here on a couple of business trips whilst I was working for an international research company, prior to setting up my company in 2006.  I made some great friends and kept in touch and it was through these contacts that the opportunity to move to Singapore evolved a few years later.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It’s got to be Singapore really. Ease of setting up business, business friendly policies and regulations, a Government that invests heavily in helping grow local companies’ innovation capabilities.  As well as working with local SMEs through SPRING Singapore’s capability funds, we work a lot with multi nationals who have their Asian headquarters here.  This gives us great opportunities to travel across the region and work with the diversity of cultures in Asia which we love.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I had a great mentor in the UK who said to me, “Natalie, you have been working in the field of innovation for many years, you know a lot, go and create your own intellectual property.” So, I did.  Out of this The Six ‘I’s of Innovation ® was born and is now used as an innovation management and assessment tool all over the world.

Who inspires you?
There are a number of people that inspire us but what they all have in common are certain types of characteristics. Those who have grit, the ability to preserve against the odds, the passion to follow their heart as well as their mind and a willingness to be open to life and all that it can give.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
We are both really interested in science and health and were recently introduced to an amazing company called Jeunesse Global, one of the fastest growing companies in the direct selling industry. Jeunesse are bringing cutting edge Nobel Prize winning research to a mass market.  One of their products, Finiti, blew our minds. It can actually reverse the aging process by growing the shortest telomeres in our cells (the parts of our chromosomes which protect our DNA). As a species we are only dipping our toes into these new discoveries. It is an exciting time to be alive.  

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
We don’t live with regrets. Never have. We are hugely optimistic and see the bright side of life in all things.  We could say that we wish we hadn’t made some business decisions that we made in the UK when economic times were really hard, but then we might never have come to Asia if we had done things differently. That doesn’t mean that we don’t go through the pain, we do, but we firmly believe, if you have strong relationships with people and a supportive family, you can turn what might be considered disastrous into something quite beautiful.

How do you unwind?
I have, what I call, rhythms in my life that help me keep anchored and balanced.  The practice of mindfulness and meditation, journal writing, Qi Gong and yoga.  I start my day, or most days anyway, with these rhythms and if I miss them for a few days I start to miss them. They keep my feet firmly on the ground, in the here and now. Carl likes to DJ and play soul, disco and funk music and staying healthy and fit with regular gym workouts. He also designs his own clothes and loves to look stylish. We both are epicurean in nature, and love the finer things of life, enjoying a glass of red wine or two and hanging out with friends as well as being keen fiction readers and travellers.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
There are many, but we would have to say Bali. We have been five times, over the last few years, and never tire of the beauty and uniqueness of the Island of the Gods. I went to the Ubud Writers festival a couple of years ago and stayed in a small guest house overlooking rolling rice paddy fields.  The sounds of the Gamelan fused with the scent of jasmine and frangipani transport me back to Bali, and in so doing, to a place of deep relaxation. We both love to hang out in Seminyak too, cool shops and great night life, sipping cocktails by the sea.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Unleashing Innovation by Nancy Snyder and Deborah Duarte.  There are very few books that document how a large company, with all the legacy systems and corporate culture that that entails, can be innovative.  This is a great story of how Whirlpool, the white goods manufacturer transformed not only itself but its industry.

Shameless plug for your business:
The Entheo Network is a leadership innovation company that provides consultancy and training services to help individuals and companies create new products and services whilst building innovation skills, capabilities and the right cultural environment to support and sustain innovation as a way of working. Our clients come from a range of industries, both big and small. We’d be delighted to explore with you how we could help you grow your business.

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

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

CallumConnects

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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