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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

Benedict Heng, Founder of Mr. Farmer

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Benedict Heng is bringing back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your story?
I’m Ben from Mr. Farmer. Mr. Farmer is an online grocer dedicated to supplying the freshest produce to our customers. We believe in sustainable and ethical farming. Since a young age, I have always been an avid food lover (especially meats), developing a strong interest in all things delicious. That is why I ventured into the F&B industry, working as a junior cook for 3 years.

Midway through my career, I made a move to the finance industry to pursue monetary rewards. I dove into high-risk investments and I made lots of money from these investments. However, the good fortune did not last long and all these came crashing down when I suffered a tremendous loss. This coincided with the time that I had just started my own family and it was a huge blow to me both materially and mentally. It was this crash that made me realize that this life wasn’t for me. I went on a hiatus and eventually, it was only through the strong support from my family that I managed to tide over this tough episode.

I went back to help the family business and this was how Mr Farmer came about. My family has been in the food industry for many decades and one thing they noticed from years of experience is that sustainable farming practices are not as developed as in Europe. This is why through Mr Farmer, we hope that we can provide the best quality products to families out there who want the best ingredients for their loved ones.

What excites you most about your industry?
Delicious and wholesome food excites me. I believe food is a critical component of life and it brings people together. The opportunity to serve the community with fresh produce for a healthy life, that brings me joy.

I feel that there is still so much more we can do to improve the quality of food and bring it to the masses. One of the key components of ensuring greater quality of food is to support ethical and sustainable farming. Due to commercialization and urbanization, most farming practices these days are no longer the way they were in the old “kampong” times. Shortcuts are taken, standards are compromised, all in the name of profit. At Mr. Farmer, profit is important too but we want to focus on the concept of One Welfare – sustainable farming directly impacts our health. Our vision is to bring back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore. I call Singapore my home as it’s where my family and close friends are. I also travel frequently to Malaysia and APAC for work.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It’s definitely Singapore. There is just so much this tiny city can offer! Singapore has been globally recognized for its top-notch business environment providing its residents with developed infrastructure, political stability and excellent connectivity. These factors have given us an outstanding support system for businesses to strive.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Surround yourself with people that inspire you, challenge you to rise higher, make you better and, keep them in your life.

Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from my uncle, who is the head of both the family and business. He takes care of our family matters at home and manages hundreds of employees at work. Handling both the family and business side of things can be tricky, but he has shown me that success can be sustainable and done with a conscience. His guiding philosophy of handling business and family is simply, to have a big heart.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Even just one day of separation from the day the meat is slaughtered, makes a world of difference to its flavour.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I have come to learn that awareness is the beginning of everything. If I had my time again, I would have probably spent more time figuring out who I truly am and with that self-awareness, begun to lead my life with more purpose and meaning.

How do you unwind?
I like to spend my free time sipping white coffee at my favourite coffee place. I enjoy taking in the surrounding sights and letting my mind wander freely. It allows me to unwind and gain clarity at the same time. It also helps me organize my thoughts to prepare for the week ahead.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It would be Bangkok as the people there are genuinely friendly and hospitable. They say people are what defines the city and I couldn’t agree more with this. I also enjoy the ‘laid back’ vibe of Bangkok. Not to mention Bangkok has all the good food and awesome shopping choices too!

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Spin selling” by Neil Reckham. It’s an amazing book that teaches you a process designed to help you successfully sell your products and services to business buyers.

Shameless plug for your business:
We at Mr. Farmer have the best tasting meats in Singapore, do a blind test and you will know why it’s Michelin chefs’ preferred choice. Not only are we very confident about the taste, we are also proud to say that all our products are chemical, hormone and antibiotic free. We also focus a lot on supporting ethical and sustainable farming practices believing in the ‘One Welfare’ concept. Do check us out if you enjoy good quality food like us!

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

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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Callum Connects

Zac Chua, Founder & CEO of The Kettle Gourmet

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Zac Chua’s popcorn business validated itself straight away and fast tracked him to the startup world. Zac now employs 11 people and shifts 500 bags of popcorn daily.

What’s your story?
It’s a crazy one. It was an accidental startup. If you think about it, no university graduate would ever dream of becoming a popcorn seller. We crashed our first tech event to validate our idea and it took off from there. I bought a logo for $7 from a designers marketplace, printed some cheap name cards, and built a 1 page landing page. Sales started pouring in and eventually, we were serving B2B clients (corporate pantries) and we have never looked back. Today we move about 500 bags daily, we have 11 employees and we are growing. Talk about a validation that worked in our favour.

What excites you most about your industry?
It’s food! Everybody loves food! In Singapore the F&B scene is brutally competitive and it spurs me on to fight and compete for market share and to prove to myself that I can do it. It keeps me going and I won’t stop until we become the market leader.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Singapore, and have traveled to most of Southeast Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! Even though Singapore has a high cost of living, the Government is actually very supportive of startups. They provide grants for us to tap into, and the technological infrastructure makes it possible for us to compete on a global scale. I believe if you can succeed in your business in Singapore, you can succeed in most of Southeast Asia.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You only need to be right once, and the rest is history.

Who inspires you?
My father, who was a VC. In fact he was the one who gave me the best piece of advice which I shared above. Having one successful exit, he showed me that it’s okay to fail a million times – all it takes is just one time for you to win in business and in life.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The power of compounding.

  • Mary and John are the same age.
  • Mary saves $2k annually from the age of 19-25 – so she puts $14k into her portfolio
  • John saves $2k annually from the age of 26-65 – so he puts $80k into his portfolio, but 7 years after Mary.
  • If both are able to generate 10% per annum, who would have more at age 65?
  • John of course! But how much more?
  • Mary will have $944,641 whilst John will have $973,704
  • Think about it! Mary puts in only $14k but John delays for 7 years and puts in $80k.

CRAZY RIGHT!?!?

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing, my mistakes taught me how to become a better me. But if I really must choose, I’d say take more time to find the right business partner.

How do you unwind?
Poker, Mahjong and Dota 2.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Vietnam! Things are cheap, people are warm and friendly, and their coffee fills up my life. I would love to retire there if possible.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The richest man in Babylon

Shameless plug for your business:
We don’t need a plug. Just try our competitors and you’ll understand why!

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chuazongyou
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zacchua

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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