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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

Jasmine Tan, Director of Stone Amperor

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Jasmine saves her clients time and effort when doing kitchen fit outs with her biz Stone Amperor.

What’s your story?
I started working in the industry in 2003. I was in a marble and granite supplier company for 5 years. Even though I left the company, I still had customers calling me for my services. I referred them back to my previous company but they refused to because they loved the fast response service that I offered. I realised that customers do look at prices, however most of them prefer quality over quantity. Thus I have decided to establish a sole proprietor company also known as 78 Degrees which later rebranded as Stone Amperor in 2014.

What excites you most about your industry?
The kitchen countertop industry is a very confusing market. There are many brands, materials and prices to choose from. What excites me the most is my ability to help clients choose the best materials and brands within their budgets, whilst saving them time and effort.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have been in Asia all my life and I love Asia. No matter where you go there is no place like home.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I love Singapore. This is because Singapore has always been a stable country and it is great for doing business. However as it is a small country, it can be really competitive. I believe that if just do your best and give your best to your customers, you can overcome this.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Take actions. Learn and improve continuously. An idea without action is just a dream.” This was really good advice that I received from my partner.

Who inspires you?
A very down to earth billionaire from Malaysia, Robert Kuok

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Property is the foundation of every business.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Own instead of renting property for my business.

How do you unwind?
I enjoy going shopping, watching movies and hanging out with friends. I am quite a simple being.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love going to Taiwan as I love the culture there. Everyone is so polite and the weather is great.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Sun Tzu, Art of war

Shameless plug for your business:
Perfect top, Perfect price, Perfect life from Stone Amperor

How can people connect with you?
Email me at [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@StoneAmperor

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

Dextre Teh, Founder of Rebirth Academy

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Dextre Teh is a consultant and marketing guru, helping F&B businesses to tighten their operations and grow their businesses.

What’s your story?
I help frustrated F&B business owners stuck in day to day operation transform from a glorified operator into a real business owner. I’m a 27 year old Singaporean second generation restaurant owner and a F&B business consultant. Entering the industry at 13 years old, I have always been obsessed with operations and systemisation. At the age of 25, I joined the insurance industry and earned a six figure yearly income. However, I left the high pay behind because it was not my passion and returned to the F&B industry. Now I help other F&B companies to tighten operations and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services.

What excites you most about your industry?
The food. I’m a big lover of food and even have a YouTube show on food in development. But that aside, it is really about impacting people through food. Creating moments and memories for people, be it a dating couple or families or friends. Providing that refuge from the daily grind of life. So in educating my consulting clients and training their staff to provide a better experience for their customers, I aim to shift the industry in the direction of creating memories instead of just selling food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I love the culture, the food and travelling in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore hands down. The environment here is built for businesses to thrive. The government is pro business and the infrastructure is built around supporting business growth. Not to mention the numerous amount of grants available in helping people start and even grow business. If I’m not mistaken, the Singaporean government is the only government in the world that offers grants to home grown businesses for overseas expansion.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Learning to do things you do not intend to master is a BIG mistake in business. Focus on what you are good at and pay others to do the rest.

Many business owners including myself are so overwhelmed by the 10,000 things that they feel they need to do everyday. We try to do everything ourselves because we think it saves us money. The only thing that, that does for us is overload our schedules and give us mediocre results. Instead we should focus on what we do best and bring in support for the rest.

Who inspires you?
Christopher M Duncan.

At 29, Chris has built multiple 7 figure businesses. He opened me to the possibility of building a business on the thing that I loved and gave me a blueprint of how to do it. He also showed me that being young doesn’t mean you cannot do great things.

Imran Mohammad and Fazil Musa
They are my mentors and inspire me every single day to pursue my dreams, to focus on celebrating life and enjoying the process of getting to where I want to be.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Time is always more expensive than money. Money, you can earn over and over again but time, once you spend it, will never come back.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am a firm believer that your experiences shape who you are. I am grateful for every single moment of my life be it the highs or the lows, the successes and the failures because all these experiences have led me to become the person I am and brought me to the place that I’m at so I will probably do things the same way as everything was perfect in its time.

How do you unwind?
Chilling out in a live music bar with a drink in hand, listening to my favourite live band, 53A. Other than that I’m big on retail therapy, buying cool and geeky stuff.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bangkok. It feels like a home away from home where the cost of living is relatively low, the food is good and the people are friendly.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Everything you know about business is wrong by Alastair Dryburgh. It is a book that challenges commonly accepted business “truths” and inspires you to go against the grain, think different, take risks and stand your ground in the face of the challenges that will come your way as a business owner.

Shameless plug for your business:
I’m the creator of the world’s first Chilli Crab Challenge. It gained viral celebrity earlier this year with 3 major newspaper features and more than a dozen blog and online publications featuring it in the span of two weeks. In the span of the two weeks, the campaign reached well over a million people in exposure without a single cent spent in ads.

Now I help F&B companies to tighten operations, increase profits and grow their businesses with my consulting and marketing services. Chilli Crab Challenge (https://www.chillicrab.com/nationalday)

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me on Facebook (www.facebook.com/djtehkh) or visit www.rebirthacademy.sg for more information or book a 10 minute call with me @ www.tinyurl.com/dexclar

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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