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Norman Yeo, General Manager of Tangy Lab Group

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Norman Yeo

For Norman Yeo of Tangy Lab Group, running his own business gives him the flexibility to live his life the way he wants.

What’s your story?
Influenced by my parent’s business journey, I have always wanted to start a business and thus at 19 years of age, while studying, I started my first business – writing a book featuring established business owners in Singapore. Since then I have participated in a number of startups and helped young businesses by being involved in their strategic planning and building the system within the business.
In 2015, at the age of 28, I finally embarked on my own to run a digital marketing agency (Tangy Lab) with the intention to help businesses grow through social media marketing and lead generation. Within 3 months we were net positive and by the second year we had grown the business to a high 6-digit business with an initial capital injection of less than SGD5,000.

What excites you most about your industry?
2 words – results and growth. The thing about marketing is that it is an economic driver. Marketing allows businesses to grow, expand and hire more people. That in turn allows them to feed their families.
Being able to see the businesses we have helped generate results, grow and start hiring more people is what fuels me. It is what allows me to know that we are doing the right thing.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Singapore being my homeland is the starting point of my business. At the moment, we are in the midst of exploring neighboring countries for market expansion opportunities.

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Favorite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore. While the limitation of Singapore is its small geography and population, Singapore is still, in my opinion, the best place to start a business because of transparency and government support. The eco-system for business here is so strong and it is something our country should be really proud of.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best advice I ever got was from another business owner who told me that staying small is a “sin” in business. Because, if you choose to stagnate your business, you have let yourself down, your family and your staff.
Those who follow you will have very limited means for progression, making it difficult to attract and retain talented staff. And those who continue staying, will have let down their own families, because they will give their families a limited future.
As an entrepreneur, we have limitless potential to achieve and not allowing that potential to come through is not being fair to oneself.

Who inspires you?
My parents are the one who inspired me on the entrepreneurship journey.
Being from a family that runs a business, I was able to understand from young age that running a business is the best way of being compensated based on your effort and the decisions you make. If you want to be able to control your own future and lifestyle, running a business allows you that dream.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
One of the new things that I have learnt and developed in the last few months is to build a marketing funnel within messenger bots. This is relatively new in Singapore and an area which I really believe has tremendous potential. Basically, it allows marketers to sell and engage all within messenger bots itself. When I first found out about its capabilities, it totally blew me away and we knew we had to take action quickly.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I can turn the clock back, I would have done 2 things differently. Firstly, I would have placed a lot more emphasis on specialised education at a young age. Secondly, I would have experimented much more at a young age with a variety of things. As we grow older and many commitments start to kick in, we naturally have to move from more testing to greater stability as more is at stake. I would have loved to experiment and make more mistakes in my younger days.

How do you unwind?
Comedy. I love witty humor with creative catchphrases. It just gets me going.
For example, I thoroughly enjoy comedies like How I Met Your Mother and The Big Bang Theory. I also enjoy some really old comedies by Rowan Atkinson like Blackadder.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Well, I have been to many countries in Asia, but ironically, the one that is at the top is still Malaysia. It’s easy to drive into, has great food and a huge variety of different experiences from food hunting, thrill seeking adventures and plenty of nice places to have my “zen” moments.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. The term outlier, commonly used in statistics, refers to a data point that does not behave within a predictable range or an abnormality.
In this book, it covers the story of how successful outliers achieve their success and what makes them different. It also shares an idea that for someone to achieve mastery in a craft, the time required is 10,000 hours.
It’s a book filled with great ideas shared in an interesting way that I believe is an awesome read for anyone pursuing success.

Shameless plug for your business:
Tangy Lab Group Pte Ltd is Digital Marketing with the key agenda to grow business in 3 different ways. We help them establish their brand through content marketing, develop a direct response strategy to get them leads or sales and we teach businesses how they can build their own businesses through a 3-day lead generation course.
Find out more at www.tangylab.com to see how we can help you grow your business.
Or if you wish how you can generate massive amount of qualified leads for your own business, www.tangylab.com/fbleadintensive

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How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me at LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/in/normanyeo

Twitter handle?
@Normanyeo87

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

CallumConnectsCallum 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

Benjamin Kwan, Co-Founder of TravelClef

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Making music to create a life for his family, Benjamin Kwan, started an online tuition portal and his music business grew from there.

What’s your story?
I am Benjamin and I’m the Co-Founder of TravelClef Group Pte Ltd, a travelling music school that conducts music classes in companies as well as team building with music programmes. We also run an online educational platform which matches private students to freelance music teachers. We also manufacture our own instruments. I started this company in 2011 when I was still a freshman at NUS, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

I was born to a lower income family, my father drove a taxi and was the sole breadwinner to a family of 7. I have always dreamed of becoming rich so that I could lessen the burden placed on my father and give my family a good life.

After working really hard in my first semester at NUS, my results didn’t reflect the hard work and effort I put in. At the same time, I was left with just $42 in my bank account and it suddenly dawned on me that if I were to graduate with mediocre results, I would probably end up with a mediocre salary as well. I knew I had to do something to gain control of my future.

During that summer break, I read a book “Internet Riches” by Scott Fox and I knew that the only way I could ever start my own business with my last $42 would be to start an online business. That was how our online tuition portal started and after taking 4 days to learn Photoshop and website building on my own, I started the business.

What excites you most about your industry?
Music itself is a constant form of excitement to me as I have always been an avid lover of music. As one of the world’s first travelling music schools, we are always very eager and excited to find innovative ways to a very traditional business model of a music teaching.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and I love the fact that despite our diversity in culture, there’s always a common language that we share, music.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hands down, SINGAPORE! Although we are currently in talks to expand to other regions within Asia, Singapore is the best place for business. I have had friends asking me if they should consider venturing into entrepreneurship in Singapore, my answer is always a big fat YES! There’s a low barrier of entry, and most importantly, the government is very supportive of entrepreneurship.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been blessed by many people and mentors who constantly give me great advice but right now, I would say the best piece of advice that I received would be from Dr Patrick Liew who said, “Work on the business, not in it.” This advice is constantly ringing in my head as I work towards scaling the business.

Who inspires you?
My dad. My dad has always been my inspiration in life, for the amount of sacrifices that he has made for the family and the love he has for us. He was the umbrella for all the storms that my family faced and we were always safe in his shelter. Although my dad passed away after a brief fight with colorectal cancer, the lessons that he imparted to me were very valuable as I build my own family and business.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You can not buy time, but you can spend money to save time! With this realisation, I was willing to allow myself to spend some money, in order to save more time. Like taking Grab/Uber to shuttle around instead of spending time travelling on public transport. While I spend more money on travelling, I save a lot more time! This doesn’t mean that I spend lavishly and extravagantly, I am still generally prudent with my money.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more time to spend with my family and especially my father. While it is important to focus our time to build our businesses, we should always try our best to allocate family time. Because as an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as “after I finish my work,” because our work is never finished. If our work finishes, the business is also finished. But our time with our family is always limited and no matter how much money and how many successes we achieve, we can never use it to trade back the time we have with our family.

How do you unwind?
I am a very simple man. I enjoy TV time with my wife and a simple dinner with my family and friends.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Batam, it’s close to Singapore and there’s really nothing much to do except for massages and a relaxing resort life. If I travel to other countries for shopping or sightseeing, I am constantly thinking of business and how I can possibly expand to the country I am visiting. But while relaxing at the beach or at a massage, I tend to allow myself to drift into emptiness and just clear my mind of any thoughts.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Work The System, by Sam Carpenter. This book teaches entrepreneurs the importance of creating systems and how to leverage on systems to improve productivity and create more time.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you are looking for a team building programme that your colleagues will enjoy and your bosses will be happy with, you have to consider our programmes at TravelClef! While our programmes are guaranteed fun and engaging, it is also equipped with many team building deliverables and organizational skills.

How can people connect with you?
My email is [email protected] and I am very active on Facebook as well!
https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.christian.kwan

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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Nadia Al Sheikh, Founder & CEO of Flenco & Deal’n

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Nadia Al Sheikh has created a business module which incorporates philanthropy and business to empower others, and herself, she’s called her business Deal’n.

What’s your story?
My story is mirrored in my work. Flenco and our Singaporean eco skin care brand, “Flen” combines Dead Sea minerals from the lowest point of earth with Chinese medicine, which represents the wisdom and mystics of the east and these things represent my journey. I’m a single mother rediscovering my identity at a low point in life. Throughout my journey, determination, flexibility and assertiveness are the pillars of innovation. Thus Deal’n was born after years of groundwork in volunteering with various NGO’s and pursuing my masters degree. Transforming a vision, into a module that incorporates philanthropy and business, with tools to empower others and empower myself!

What excites you most about your industry?
The endless opportunities for improvement, innovation, creativity, free thinking which is mastered through interaction with other players in the market and customers creating a virtual place for brainstorming and the exchange of ideas. An evolving industry that challenges each and every person to use their skills, talents, expertise and utilise all their abilities to claim a slice of the pie.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia and specifically Singapore are my second home. It’s my spiritual and business safe haven that provides fair opportunities for everyone to succeed. If I was back in the Middle East as a single mother, I’m pretty sure my struggle would have been much longer and more difficult, however, it wouldn’t have stopped me from achieving my dreams. Singapore specifically empowered me professionally and Asia spiritually in redefining who I am as a person and understanding myself better.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, although it’s a very tough and competitive market for entrepreneurs to start a business, it provides them with support and motivation through grants, competitions and subsidising the cost of exhibiting or promotional events to promote their business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Success is measured by achieving your own personal goals and dreams and not what others think you should achieve.

Who inspires you?
Those who go unnoticed. From senior citizens, cleaning tables at food courts regardless of their wealth of knowledge and experience to single mothers, who are fighting everyday to overcome the social stigma and manage taking care of their children while earning an income. The amazing people who give their lives to start an NGO to empower others asking for nothing in return except the success of their beneficiaries, the humble members of our community that work in silence changing lives not for the spotlight but for their belief in making the world a better place.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
To step onto the balcony! In order to evaluate situations and understand people’s motivations from different perspectives and even to understand ourselves better we all need to step onto the balcony and become observers rather than participants. It gives you the power to see life through a variety of lenses.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d be wiser with my decisions, evaluate situations from different perspectives and believe in myself and my capabilities. That all came with experience and the ups and downs throughout my journey so I guess, to be who I am today I would have accepted the rough times and embraced them because they were my best teachers. So I wouldn’t undo the past but I am changing my future.

How do you unwind?
Meditation, exercising, listening to music, reading a book and a walk in the botanical gardens.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Maldives, I love the peace and harmony in the simplicity of what it offers; beautiful beaches and wonderful people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Wisdom Of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Shameless plug for your business:
Deal’n provides opportunities for all members of the community to utilize their skills, talents, expertise, capabilities and abilities in various ways, aiming at empowering all users to become productive members of their community. Using the services of other users for all to grow and benefit, interact with each other through the Deal’n community, thus enhancing their self esteem, level of confidence and as a result, a more empathetic and happier community!

How can people connect with you?
Through my FB page Nadousheh, my email [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@nadiaalsheikh

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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