Connect with us


Philipp Kristian Diekhöner, Singapore Organiser of DrinkEntrepreneurs



Blending an ecletic range of skills from design thinking and innovation consultancy to brand and design leadership in a whirlwind career, Philipp is best described as an integrative thinker who loves to create, facilitate and curate beautiful alternatives to the status quo.

A colourful melange of east and west with an infectiously optimistic vision of the future, Philipp nurtures a passion for transforming people’s perspectives of the everyday, turning complex realities into intriguingly simple and intuitive solutions through the alchemy of brand and business innovation.

An avid design thinker, Philipp enjoys galvanising teams and nurturing vibrant innovation cultures, translating creativity and vision into sustainable business and social impact. Inspired by the Bauhaus school of thought and his early-age exposure to Asian culture and heritage, he loves to invent better and sustainable models of value creation that elegantly fuse simplicity and functionality with beauty, poetic value and cultural relevance.

Advising SMEs, blue-chip clients and the public sector in various capacities, he has had the chance to impact diverse industries, including healthcare, travel management, professional services, hospitality, events, software, telecommunications and real estate. Driving change as a management consultant, entrepreneur, brand strategist, lecturer and innovation facilitator in Singapore, Germany, Netherlands and France, Philipp is an explorer at heart: A continual source of novel methodology, his contributions challenge industry practice with more effective alternatives.


What exactly is Drinkentrepreneurs and what is its objective?

DrinkEntrepreneurs is the world’s largest startup networking event organized 100% by volunteers. Entrepreneurship is the single most accessible form of economic empowerment. We’re dedicated to spread the word and share our passion for entrepreneurial ways of life, linking people from various stages of the entrepreneurial journey, all industries and all walks of life. Our events are co-created by an eclectic bunch of people who learn, laugh and enrich each others’ perspective in a relaxed atmosphere accompanied by a drink or two.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up Drinkentrepreneurs in Europe and Singapore?

DrinkEntrepreneurs is spread by a growing group of organisers and supporters. In 2013, my friend Pol Maire went on exchange to Singapore and hosted the very first de in Singapore. We decided to find a way of keep the event alive together, and as he left for France a couple of months later, I took over. Thanks to some luck and a great crowd, we’re now looking back on a formidable year and, very recently, a nomination by I-S magazine as a contender for best creative networking event of the year. Without Pol, we wouldn’t be here today.

How has it been like managing the organization since?

It’s fantastic to be working with close to a hundred passionate volunteer organisers around the globe. That said, rolling out initiatives internationally is a challenge, as we are extremely organic and coordination is challenging given multiple time zones and interfering day jobs. That said the culture and spirit of our events is really what matters most, so it’s remarkable and surprising that we somehow manage to spread it around the globe with minimal overhead in managing the organization itself.

Did you find anything particularly difficult during the startup? How did you overcome it?

It’s tempting to take up sponsorship offers, but until recently we have been very restrictive as regards that. Only in 2014 did de globally begin to open up and endorse a more commercial perspective, as we started to realise that our network offered immense value to companies and that it would be great for top brands to amplify our cause. We’re quite proud that we build de to its considerable size without any investment or sponsorship, but now it’s time to enter a new stage, in which we focus more on nurturing the right regional partnerships.

How was the initial reaction towards DrinkEntrepreneurs. Were there different responses in Europe vs. Singapore?

In Singapore, people weren’t used to the type of relaxed, laid-back networking event that de is, and to our great delight it was received very positively from the start. Little is as motivating as doing something you know people are looking for. I like to think we owe it to our awesome crowd that we’ve become a key element in the startup ecosystem here in Singapore.

How did you guys build traction for the events at your respective locations?

Things started rolling quickly – apart from submissions to the liste27 and a few other start-up calendars in initial month, we relied on word-of-mouth and organic spread. Within three months, the average crowd stabilized around 50-70, which was just right for me to still get a chance to speak with everyone as a host. This is the personal touch we’re keen to retain in all our events.


What can you tell us about the industry? Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?

We started our first event business nearly a decade ago, and I’ve always loved pioneering events that become cultural formats and serve as a watering hold for like-minded but diverse crowds. Events are nothing but experiences – as organisers, we simply allow them to happen in a way that delights attendees. I like to think that, to create a great event, your objective cannot be commercial. Recall for once the best ones you’ve been to – probably private parties, corporate anniversaries, or nightlife events celebrating an occasion or lifestyle. Notice how the primary objective of such events is to celebrate the moment – that’s what exceptional events do extremely well. A word of advice – if you want to make a lot of money in events, there are two options: Create amazing events with no agenda and keep people coming back for more, or go for low-key events that lure in the masses. As an attendee, I encourage you to mingle with the right people and show up at the right events – I’ve not had to pay for any single one I frequented in the past year.

How have you managed to stay relevant in this industry?

People enjoy our events, and they’re free. We have recruiters, VCs, start-ups, corporate crowd and visitors from the region joining us, who together make for a truly interesting bunch. People take initiative to say (and compliment us) that we’re very different from the rest of events out there. That’s all there is to it, really. (A big thanks to everyone supporting us, btw.)

What are your future plans for Drinkentrepreneurs?

Globally, we’re working on a novel platform allowing entrepreneurs to connect internationally to offline networks and resources. Regionally, we’re building partnerships with corporates that agree to support our vision for a new generation of networking events. At the same time, we’re expanding our network, and if all goes well will be launching soon in Tokyo, Japan, and other APAC cities.

If you could start all over again, would you change anything about your approach? If so, what?

Loads. Our name may be catchy, but not everyone understands why we’d call ourselves that way. In fact, it just so happened. While people may endearingly give us nicknames (my favourite one was ‘DrunkEntrepreneurs’), our event crowd is without exception polite, cheerful and moderate in their drinking habits. That said, we’ve run events that nearly turned into a party (for example, brimming the second floor of Maison Ikkoku with nearly 65 people).

What do you think about startups in Asia vs Europe? 

Singapore is trying hard to incentivize entrepreneurship, but I feel people here aren’t the born new generation of entrepreneurs quite yet. Many businesses here feel much more focused on bottom line and ‘just starting something’ than really going for radical new ideas and impactful challenger value propositions. I’d like to see the scene have more faith in doing the outlandish stuff. Why rely on the US to supply it to the world when in fact we have a perfect playing ground here in Southeast Asia?


What are some personal principles or personal values that guide you and your career?

My life revolves around existential philosophy, faith and a healthy dose of childish playfulness and imagination. Respect for etiquette and tradition matter greatly, but so do highly innovative thought and deed. Above all, I hold extremely high standards against myself and others, while I’d call my self highly compassionate at the same time; counting my blessings and upkeeping and unwavering determination to make the world fairer and motivate humans to be good in all senses of the word.

As Hermann Hesse said, every individual must find their perfect spot on the continuum of individualism and conformity. A friend once called me an ‘eloquent rebel’, and I find that befits my description rather well.

What is your definition of success?

Doing good and doing well at the same time, and having due influence to spread a culture of empathy, mutual understanding and flourishing creativity wherever you are. It’s an exacting balance of adding value to other people’s lives and enjoying life to the fullest – in ways that are faithful to your sense of personal identity.

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I was born the only son in an entrepreneurial family… my dad runs a German technology and management consultancy. I’m grateful for never having another perspective growing up. There’s immense joy to be derived out of the freedom of running your own business, and I’m extremely keen to return in full fledge to the start-up world sooner or later.

What do you think are the most important things entrepreneurs should keep in mind?

In my eyes, a big challenge is keeping one’s ego in check while being super-confident at the same time. And being sure to remember that good intent and purposeful business practice is extremely important (at least if you want to derive ongoing satisfaction from your work). Plus, accept that your product/service will be perpetually flawed, and that you’ll have to keep refining. Complacency and arrogance are perhaps part of the reason why the user interfaces of most major internet start-ups are terrible, and far behind industry best practice.

 In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

I’d love to say great ideas, but the reality is single-minded focus and extreme dedication. Second, a team unifying two skills – creative genius and determined execution. Usually, these will be two different people, but those who have both are enviably the real heros of the startup world. Oh, and did I mention unwavering optimism?

 Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there?

Three things.nChance favours the happy (and connected) mind. Hard work needs soft skills. Not judging a book by its cover is only possible if you are willing to read. People judge you not by who you are, but by how you tell your story.


Personal Website:





Is There A Coworking Space Bubble?



An annual growth rate of nearly 100%, almost five years in a row? More than 60 coworking spaces in a city like Berlin? Are these the characteristics of a bubble? Nope, these are characteristics of a lasting change in our world of work, which has been further catalyzed by the recent economic crises in many countries. But what makes this change different to a bubble? We’ve summarized some arguments of why the coworking movement is based on a sustainable change. However, that doesn’t mean it’s an easy job to open a good working coworking space.

Five reasons why the growth of coworking spaces is based on organic and sustainable growth: 

1. Coworking spaces invest their own money and create real wealth

Already, there is a convincing argument supporting why coworking spaces are not developing in a bubble: the fact that they create real wealth.

Whether referring to the dotcom bubble a decade ago or the real estate crisis in Spain or the United States, the crisis originated in a glut of cheap money, in an environment in which the sender and the recipient were unacquainted. From funds and banks, money flowed in steady streams to investments which offered little resistance and the most promising returns – which only a little while later turned into delusions and ruined investments.

Redistributed risks create illusions. Those people who distributed the money rarely wore the risk of investment decisions. The risk was mainly taken by small shareholders or people who bought parts of those investments. This was because either both parties’ (better) judgement was drowned out by the noise of the market, or because shareholders were unaware of the risk, and were at the mercy of banks and funds for reliable information.

Another fundamental condition for the creation of bubbles are the sheer amounts of money that flow from various locations globally and are concentrated, by comparison, in much fewer places.

Most coworking spaces, however, receive their funding from local or nearby sources and do not operate within this financial system. In fact, the founders mainly inject the bulk of the required investment, and turn to friends or relatives for additional support. They wear the full brunt of the risks that are involved in small-time investment.

They have access to much more information, because it is their own project, rather than a foreign one thousands of miles away. This also includes failures and mistakes that are encountered along the way, but the risk is less redistributed, thereby decreasing the probability of failures.

2. Labor market changes demand on certain office types lastingly

Most users of coworking spaces are self-employed. The proportion of employees is also on the rise, in many cases simply because they work for small companies that increasingly opt to conduct their business in coworking spaces rather than in traditional offices. The industry of almost all coworkers fall within the Internet-based creative industries.

With flexibilisation of work markets, new mobile technologies that are changing work patterns, and the increase of external services purchasing from large and medium-sized enterprises (outsourcing), the labor market has changed radically in many parts of the world.

The long-term financial and emotional security of becoming an employee no longer exists, especially for younger generations of workers. Bigger companies are quicker to fire than hire, and precarious short-term contracts are on the rise. Promising options on the labor market are more often recuded to freelancer careers and starting your own company.

And that’s possible with less money to invest. All you need is a laptop, a brain and a good network. For years, the number of independent workers and small businesses has been growing worldwide – particularly in internet-based creative industries. Anyone who has sufficient specialized skills and the willingness to take risks may adapt more quickly to market conditions if they own a small business or are self employed; more so than if they were to work in a dependent position in an equally volatile market.

Coworking spaces provide an environment in which to do this. Once they have joined a (suitable) coworking space, these factors become apparent to coworkers, who will remain in their space for years to come.

Furthermore, independent workers rarely fire themselves in crises, and even small companies are less likely to give their employees the boot – compared to their large counterparts. This combination enables more sustainable business models – and less business models à la Groupon.

3. Coworking spaces don’t live on crises

Global economic growth is waning while the number of coworking spaces is continually growing. Do coworking spaces thus benefit from this crisis?

The current crises accelerate the formation and growth of coworking spaces, because they offer solutions and space for the resulting problems. Coworking spaces are therefore not a result of a crisis, but the product of change that pre-dates their existence. A crisis is simply the most visible expression of change.

The first coworking spaces emerged in the late 1990s; the movement’s strong growth started six years ago – before the onset of economic downturns in many countries.

4. Coworking spaces depend on the needs of their members

Most coworking spaces are rarely full. Does this mean they are unsuccessful? On average, only half of all desks are occupied. But the average occupancy rate of 50% refers only to a specific date.

In fact, coworking spaces generally serve more members than they can seat at any given time, since members do not use the spaces simultaneously. Coworking spaces are places for independents who want to work on flexible terms. Smaller spaces rely more on permanent members. Larger spaces can respond more flexibilty to the working hours of its members, and, can rent desks several times over.

If a coworking space is always overcrowded or totally empty, the purpose of said space would be defeated. Firstly, it is rather impossible to work in an overcrowded room. Second, it’s impossible to cowork in an empty room. Given the nature of flexible memberships, a coworking space only can survive if they fit the needs of their members. Members would otherwise be quick to leave, and membership would be much more transient.

5. The coworking market is far from saturation

Less than 2% of all self-employed – and even fewer employees – currently work in coworking spaces. Reporting on coworking may increase, but inflated reporting on the coworking movement in the mainstream media is still far away.

Coverage of coworking space are most likely to be found in the career or local sections in larger publications – front cover coverage remains the dream of many space operators. This is because the whole coworking movement can’t be photographed in one picture. What appears to be a disadvantage, however, is actually a beneficial truth: niche coverage allows the industry to grow organically, and avoid over inflation.


Coworking spaces don’t operate in parallel universes – like the financial market. Demand and supply are almost exclusively organic and operate in the real world economy.

For the same reason, there is no guarantee that opening a coworking spaces will be automaticly successful. Anyone who fails to learn how to deal with potential customers in their market, or is unfamiliar with how coworking communities function, will have a difficult time of making one work. In the same way that business people in other industries will fail if they do not understand their market.

Those who simply tack on the word ‘coworking’ to their space’s facade will need to work harder. The structure of most coworking spaces is based on real work, calculated risk, and real-world supply and demand.


About the Author

This article was produced by Deskmag. Deskmag is the magazine about the new type of work and their places, how they look, how they function, how they could be improved and how we work in them. They especially focus on coworking spaces which are home to the new breed of independent workers and small companies. see more.

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Dextre Teh, Founder of Rebirth Academy



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 (

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me on Facebook ( or visit for more information or book a 10 minute call with me @

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:

Continue Reading