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There are no Women Entrepreneurs, there are just Women who become Entrepreneurs.



There are no Women Entrepreneurs
There are just Women who become Entrepreneurs.

Here are their top 7 traits:-

1. They see a male dominated society or industry and they don’t bat an eyelash.

From a Princess to a young graduate entering STEM industries, their stories are the same. Yes, I was told there are usually no women. And then I told them I would be the first.

At the Crib Summit, H.R.H. Princess Nisreen El-Hashemite said her greatest challenge was her title. The title, which gave her cultural and religious power by being ahead of the state, was disempowering because her colleagues in her field of choice asked why she didn’t wear a tiara to work. Or do more ‘princessy’ things. Thankfully, this modern princess knew she could have her pretty clothes and her Ph.D. in Human Genetics.

The recent release of the movie, Hidden Figures is another case in point, a brilliant mind is a brilliant mind and it comes it all shapes, sizes, and genders.

2. They simply don’t give up.

They just keep on keeping on. Panelist after panelist told stories of how they outran and outlasted everyone else to be the one still standing. It was never a gender issue, it was a who could deal with the challenges longer.

Claire Chiang spoke of Banyan Tree riding the wave of one economic crisis after another and still managing just to keep afloat. Small business founders shared at breaks and at private one-on-one or small groups their own stories of tenacity and grit. Brené Brown would have been so proud to hear us.

The vulnerability is not worn on the sleeve as a bleeding heart but more like an empress dowager. She looks strong outside but inside, she too has doubts and challenges and she finds trusted advisors – here at Crib, a trusted female community of advisors who have seen their way through their own tough entrepreneurial patches.

3. They are continual learners

This was one rich deep and expansive summit. So many offerings of workshops and rich conversations – and we were asked to join Howdy an app to continue talking before and after events. Women bring other women together to an almost potluck a business meal together. When not on stage, we found Elim Chew drinking a coffee surrounded by young men and women who wanted to learn from her varied experiences. She herself so versed in the social media world, was seen attending a Facebook workshop to deepen her knowledge.

Anna Gong, the finalist for Women Entrepreneur of the Year, went to the Negotiation Workshop and Elim joked that Anna probably needed to teach her own workshop on how to re-found a startup and make it successful by negotiating with new partners and investors. A rare skill that Anna has shown to the world and that’s why Perx has Eduardo Saverin and Golden Gate Ventures behind this Singapore-born startup.

4. They lean in before Leaning In was what you called it

Virginia Tan spoke of Lean In China and how they have started researching about the wage gap. She mentioned her own experiences of being paid less that a male colleague and how he was a friend and told her. She reflected and spoke to her Human Resources department and realized she had negotiated lower than most men during her work relocation from London to China. She now uses this story to remind the women in her communities not to underestimate their worth and value.

Rosaline Chow Koo jumped in with a great story of how an established investment firm told her after one of her pitches, that when they see a man presenting whatever numbers he gives them for his startup – they divide it by 10. For women they multiple by 10. That’s how often he sees women underestimating their value.

5. They are comfortable being in the limelight and the tough light. They carry themselves with grace.

As women who know they have made headways that many other women still aspire towards, most successful women entrepreneurs take the social media limelight and use it for good.

The “How to Build your Brand and Grow your Influence using Social Media” workshop where Love Bonito’s co-founder Rachel Lim and Katherina-Olivia Lacey spoke about the integrity of being a personal brand. It rang true with how we all know that most people want to see only the “happy happy” times and not the tough times. Yet how entrepreneurs and women and humans have those tough days and we need to show that too. To be a true face to what being an entrepreneur really is.

6. They do things to create a Me-We world

At the Crib Summit, partnering with DBS foundation, we saw many amazing initiatives for social good. I was impressed by The Everyday Revolution’s CEO Sophia Tan’s vision for art allowing autistic kids an expression as well as means of fundraising for their needs. The artwork spoke of their world and was such a spark of joy to the conference venue.

Also, they had a great Crib Marketplace with green initiatives to swap clothes and use eco-friendly products.

They make a business that makes the world better – Triple Bottom Line: Planet, People, Profits.

7. Not Women Power – but Self Power.

Anita Kapoor tells us she is blessed with a voice. She uses this to shine a light on challenging social issues and to awaken her audience to their full potential.

In her workshop and while on the opening panel, she espouses the need to know ourselves first. To go deep and align ourselves with whether that is the true mission before embarking.

What I loved most about the Crib Summit were the little children and daddies in tow, the Crib women have made family and work one. There is no division. Reema Khan of Great Sands Equity has scaled her company quickly and is the youngest member of the team. The rest are older men with roller decks that help her create the relationships she needs for the company. However, she spoke about her travels and arriving and departing as quickly as she could to get back to her kids in San Francisco. Yet she did come to the Crib Summit.

MP Lily Neo was seen carrying her newest grandson from daughter Crib Co-Founder Dr. Elaine Kim. The self-power is the way to re-make the rules of the business game the way it suits women. Know yourself. Create the world that gives that to you.

And in a very Arianna Huffington way, we started the day and took breaks with Mindfulness exercises.

Want to listen to a STEM Princess … watch the video below:

The CNBC video of HRH is here:
Interested in such events for yourself or your female team members? Find out more here.

What is CRIB video:

Follow CRIB Society on Facebook at for information about CRIB events and the CRIB Ball.


Women on Top in Tech – Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and Digital Innovation Strategist



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

I am talking to Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and freelance Digital Innovation Strategist. Tara was selected and recognized by as one of the 500 most talented young people in the Dutch digital scene during the 2017 TNW edition. Tara is known for her creative, entrepreneurial spirit, which she is using to her advantage in leading the change in SMEs and corporates around the globe.

What makes you do what you do?

I tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle. Because of my curious nature, I am in constant development, looking for new angles and new approaches to business problems. Innovation through technology is exploring ideas and pushing boundaries. The most radical technological advances have not come from linear improvements within one area of expertise. Instead, they arise from the combination of seemingly disparate inventions. This is, in fact, the core of innovation. I love going beyond conventional thinking practices. Mashing up different thoughts and components, connecting the dots, and transforming that into something useful to businesses.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I consistently chose to follow my curiosity, which has led me to where I am today. If you want to succeed in the digital industry, you need to have a growth mindset. Seen the fact that the industry is evolving in an astoundingly quick rate, it’s crucial to stay current with the trends and forces in order to spot business opportunities. I believe taking responsibility for your own learning and development is key to success.

Why did you take on the role of Digital Innovation Strategist?

The reason for this is twofold. On the one hand, I got frustrated with businesses operating in the exact same way they did a couple of decades ago. Right now we are in the midst of a technology revolution, and the latest possibilities and limitations of cutting-edge technologies are evolving every single day. This means that companies need to stay current and act lean if they want to survive. On a more personal level, I noticed that I felt the need to use my creativity and problem-solving skills to their maximum capacity. In transforming businesses at scale, I change the rules of the game. I love breaking out of traditional, old-fashioned patterns by nurturing innovative ideas. This involves design thinking, extensive collaboration and feedback, the implementation of various strategies and tactics, validated learning, and so on. I get a lot of energy from my work because it is aligned with my personal interests.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries?

Yes, I look up to Drew Boyd. He is a global leader in creativity and innovation. He taught me how to evaluate ideas in order to select the best ones to proceed with. This is crucial because otherwise,you run the risk of ideas creating the criteria for you because of various biases and unrelated factors. He also taught me a great deal on facilitation of creativity workshops.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I tend to have the characteristics of a transformational leader. People have told me that my enthusiasm and positive energy is motivating and even inspiring to them. Even though I take these comments as a huge compliment, I am not sure how I feel about referring to myself as a leader. To me, it still has a somewhat negative connotation. I guess I associate the concept with being a boss who’s throwing around commands. But if a leader means listening to others and igniting intrinsic motivation in people, then yes, I guess I’m a charismatic leader.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Yes, one hundred percent. I believe that creativity and innovation flourish when a highly diverse group of people bounces ideas off each other. Diversity in terms of function, gender,and culture is extremely valuable, especially in the ideation phase of a project, as it can help to see more possibilities and come up with better ideas.

Do you have any advice for others?

Yes, I have some pieces of advice I’d like to share.
First of all: Develop self-awareness. You can do so by actively seeking feedback from the people around you. This will help you understand how others see you, align your intentions with your actions, and eventually enhance your communication- and leadership skills.

Surround yourself with knowledgeable and inspiring people. They might be able to support you in reaching your goals, and help you grow both personally and professionally.

Ask “why?” a couple of times. This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. Make sure to often remind yourself and your team of the outcome of this exercise to have a clear sense of direction and focus.

Data is your friend. Whether it’s extensive quantitative market research or a sufficient amount of in-depth consumer interviews (or both!), your data levels all arguments. However, always be aware of biases and limitations of research.

Say “Yes, and…” instead of “No”. Don’t be an idea killer. Forget about the feasibility and budget, at least in the ideation phase. Instead, encourage your team to generate ideas without restrictions. You can compromise certain aspects later.

Prioritization is key. There is just no way you can execute all your ideas, and, quite frankly, there is no point in trying to do so. Identify the high potential ideas and start executing those first.

Encourage rapid prototyping. Don’t wait too long to experiment, launch, and iterate your product or service. Fail fast and fail often. Adopt an Agile mindset.

If you’d like to get in touch with Tara Velis, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn:

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Callum Connects

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures



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?

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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