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Pawel Kuznicki, Director & Co-Founder of Capital Match

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I am a huge believer that the banking and finance industry is about to be tipped on its head.  Companies like WeChat offering banking services and then the rise of crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending services such as Pawel have setup are completely changing the power dynamic and offering business owners a much more compelling way forward.  Enjoy the interview.

What’s your story?
I started my career as a consultant with McKinsey & Company in Europe and Africa. Then I moved to Rocket Internet, global venture builder, to build their portfolio companies in Southeast Asia. Last year I started my current business, Capital Match. Capital Match is a peer-to-peer lending online marketplace to SMEs. Peer-to-peer lending is essentially banking without a bank as an intermediary – investors lend money directly to companies with Capital Match facilitating the transactions by providing credit risk assessment, legal documentation and debt collection services.

What excites you most about your industry?
Its enormous growth potential. Peer-to-peer lending industry in the US, UK or China is still relatively small compared to entire banking industry in retail and commercial banking (max. 1-2% market share) but growing very fast due to its attractive value proposition to both savers and borrowers. It is exciting to see that you can actually offer your customers service that they truly value while operating in such a mature industry.

What’s your connection to Asia?
First it was a job, but from last year it’s primarily my Singaporean wife. In 2012 I joined Rocket Internet and came to Singapore to build their fashion business in the region, Zalora. It was at Zalora that I met my future wife. We got married last year, just bought our HDB and are planning a family in the near future. My current business is based in Singapore and it will take me another 5-10 years to build it. So Singapore became my new home.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore. Ease of doing business, friendly tax and legal environment, corporate and financial hub for Southeast Asia, and green, comfortable living.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
To have faith in your convictions and not to give up. What often distinguishes successful entrepreneurs are their belief in what they endeavour to accomplish, the risk they take to make it happen and the determination to follow through.

Who inspires you?
Elon Musk. He built PayPal and is now managing three multi-billion dollar businesses: Tesla Motors (electric cars manufacturer), SpaceX (private space company) and SolarCity (industrial solar power plant developer). And he is 43. It is truly inspiring that a single man could have accomplished that much in a number of so diverse fields.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The cost of buying HDB for a Singaporean/PR couple! You cannot get it cheaper anywhere else in the world. Not in terms of total price, though it’s still way lower than in other global cities like London or NYC, but in terms of upfront payment and mortgage cost with both highly subsidized by CPF. The government makes a fantastic job helping young Singaporeans own their first nest.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I have had a great life and career so far. I’m grateful for everything I got and accomplished. Perhaps it could have been better, but I don’t regret anything and just look to the future.

How do you unwind?
I watch movies with my wife, play sports and read books, although I have neglected the last one recently. I have lost my Kindle where I usually have 10-15 books open so it’s not that convenient anymore to read at any spare moment.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I really like travelling to Ho Chi Minh. A French, colonial atmosphere, great food and warm people make it a truly enjoyable stay whenever we visit HCMC with my wife.

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Antifragile” by Nassim Taleb. Nassim Taleb is a mathematician turned trader turned scholar who is one of the greatest intellectuals of our times. He popularized the concept of “black swan” that stands for low probability, high impact events that only few foresee, but that become obvious to everyone in hindsight. The lesson of “Antifragile” for everyone in business is to always try to understand what those “black swans” in your life could be and position yourself to benefit from their impact, which should come at a lower cost and risk that is commonly believed. Entrepreneurs are the people who are best positioned to benefit from “black swans” or, as the author would call them, they are “antifragile”. A life-changing book.

Shameless plug for your business:
“You run a small business, need working capital but no bank wants to work with you? We will help you. Or perhaps you have surplus savings, but stockmarket seems to be erratic, real estate is either too hot or there are few attractive opportunities, and you have few other ideas how to generate healthy return? We will open ways for you to make 15-20% per year. Short commitments and no obligation.” That sounds a little bit shady, right?

How can people connect with you?
E-mail is the most convenient. I’m a little bit old-fashioned using BlackBerry but that keeps me connected to my business and private life 24/7. I can be reached at [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

Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings

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Malcolm Tan is an ICO/ITO and Cryptocurrency advisor. He sees this new era as similar to when the internet launched.

What’s your story?
I’m a lawyer entrepreneur who owns multiple businesses, and who is now stepping into the Initial Coin Offering/Initial Token Offering/Cryptocurrency space to be a thought leader, writer (How to ICO/ITO in Singapore – A Regulatory and Compliance Viewpoint on Initial Coin Offering and Initial Token Offering in Singapore), and advisor through Gravitas Holdings – an ICO Advisory company. We are also running our own ICO campaign called AEXON, and advising 2 other ICO’s on their projects.

What excites you most about your industry?
It is the start of a whole new paradigm, and it is like being at the start of the internet era all over again. We have a chance to influence and shape the industry over the next decade and beyond and lead the paradigm shift.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m Singaporean and most of my business revolves around the ASEAN region. Our new ICO advisory company specialises in Singaporean ICO’s and we are now building partnerships around the region as well. One of the core business offerings of our AEXON ICO/ITO is to open up co-working spaces around the region, with a target to open 25 outlets, and perhaps more thereafter.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, since it is my hometown and most of my business contacts originate from or are located in Singapore. It is also a very open and easy place to do business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be careful of your clients – sometimes they can be your worst enemies. This is very true and you have to always be careful about whom you deal with. The closest people are the ones that you trust and sometimes they have other agendas or simply don’t tell you the truth or whole story and that can easily put one in a very disadvantageous position.

Who inspires you?
Leonardo Da Vinci as a polymath and genius and leader in many fields, and in today’s world, Elon Musk for being a polymath and risk taker and energetic business leader.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Early stage bitcoin investors would have made 1,000,000 times profit if they had held onto their bitcoins from the start to today – in the short space of 7 years.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Seek out good partnerships and networks from day one, and use the power of the group to grow and do things together, instead of being bogged down by operations and going it alone from start.

How do you unwind?
I hardly have any time for relaxation right now. I used to have very intense hobbies, chess when I was younger, bridge, bowling, some online real time strategy games and poker. All mentally stimulating games and requiring focus – I did all these at competitive levels and participated in national and international tournaments, winning multiple trophies, medals and awards in most of these fields.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket – nature, resort life, beaches, good food and a vibrant crowd.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki

Shameless plug for your business:
Gravitas Holdings (Pte) Limited is the premier ICO Advisory company and we can do a full service for entrepreneurs, including legal and compliance, smart contracts and token creation, marketing and PR, and business advisory and white paper writing/planning.

How can people connect with you?
Write emails to [email protected], or [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@malcolmABM

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

William Chin, Founder of Mummy’s Market

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William Chin set up Mummy’s Market. Mummy’s Market is the uncontested platform connecting parents and retailers in Singapore.

What’s your story?
After National Service, I enjoyed a rousing start to my corporate career with successful stints at events and conventions companies such as IQPC, Hannover Fairs Australia and Lighthouse Independent Media in management roles, building my experience in conventions, trade fairs and events.

However, I hit a particularly bad streak of unemployment after that, facing difficulty finding jobs because according to recruiters, I was overqualified, yet too young. In fact, at one point I was struggling so badly with my family loans that I was sharing bowls of ramen with my girlfriend for our meals, to save costs.

My financial pressures eventually culminated in my forced venture into entrepreneurship where I had to strike out my own path with a brief stint in Expomal. However, this turned out to be my next break that fuelled my current success. It was there I built up Smartkids (another wildly successful baby and child fair) before it was bought out by a bigger company. Inspired by SmartKids, I started Mummy’s Market and eventually Baby’s Market, outperforming established names in the business to take its current place as market leader.

What excites you most about your industry?
Mummy’s Market is the industry leader in baby, kids, maternity and household with 80% market share and our clients – coupled with branding, advertising and exhibiting on Mummy’s Market platforms, we are seeing a 30-60% company growth year on year despite the downturn in the economy. With attendance of over 100k consumers per fair and serving 70-80% of pregnant mums, our actual business is in data, data collection and processing from consumer fairs.

I am excited about how big data analytics from Mummy’s Market can be applied at every stage of the retail process such as data segmentation – for retailers now when mums are giving birth to sending relevant content over. This will transform and innovate the industry of baby fairs and Mummy’s Market, with the huge amount of data we process from our fairs yearly, is the forerunner in this disruption. With this, we have transformed the DNA of how digital business has always been done. Global online marketplaces are burning cash quickly to achieve big data analytics, but not us.

Another testament to Mummy’s Market’s popularity is that huge marketplaces have been trying to pass off as Mummy’s Market. It shows that we are heading in the right direction and the most exciting part is, we are only at 10% of where we want to be – a platform where $1 billion gross market value products are transacted annually around Asia in a niche market.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore, and intend to stay in Singapore to build the Mummy’s Market brand.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore – if one can strategically become a leader in a small market like Singapore, its grounds to show that one’s business has an opportunity to grow further in larger countries.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“It is easy to become number 1 because the others can just copy and tweak to overtake you.
It is more difficult to STAY number 1, because you have no one to copy. You have to innovate.”

Who inspires you?
Steve Jobs – he transformed the digital age. Without the invention of smartphones, mobile computing and mobile advertising would never have grown. He changed the way businesses and consumers communicate. Without the introduction of iPhones, mobile applications would have never existed the way we are using them today.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You no longer have to lick stamps to make it sticky.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I love my life and my family. And I love the platform Mummy’s Market has created to help businesses grow.

How do you unwind?
I play with my little 1 year old baby girl.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan – cool weather with beautiful mountains and lake scenery.

Everyone in business should read this book:
7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

Shameless plug for your business:
Mummy’s Market has established its reputation as not just Singapore’s but Southeast Asia’s largest baby fair:

  • Nearly S$100 million gross merchandise volume transacted on Mummy’s Market platforms annually
  • 800,000 visitors at its fairs yearly
  • 80% of all of Singapore’s baby product distributors in one convention
  • 15-20% year on year increase in sales volume at every baby fair since its inception

Apart from market dominance, Mummy’s Market also has the largest database of parents and the number 1 platform for MNCs and SMEs to reach out to this audience. From exhibitions, magazines, seminars to digital campaigns and roadshows. Mummy’s Market is the uncontested platform connecting parents and retailers in Singapore.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]
https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-chin-23910a9/

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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