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Prerna Suri, Founder of Inspired Productions

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Gary Vaynerchuck’s view is that every business, every individual, should consider themselves a ‘media company’.  I certainly think there is a lot of truth in that and your ability to clearly articulate the value you can create for others will be a key to success.  Prerna, who spends much of her life in front of the camera, is perfectly positioned to help the rest of us hone our skills.

What’s your story?
Since I was a child, I loved talking to people and asking questions. So, journalism came naturally to me and I spent more than a decade working for broadcasters like Al Jazeera English, BBC & Reuters as a foreign correspondent. But entrepreneurship was always in my blood (my father owns a company) and I wanted to help companies and individuals communicate better.  Thats how ‘Inspired Productions’  was born in Singapore almost 2 years ago. We help industries, entrepreneurs and individuals communicate better to their stakeholders through trainings & workshops. We also have a fantastic team of videographers who produce brilliant videos.

What excites you most about your industry?
That everyday brings a new challenge. With social media on the rise and new forms of communications replacing older models, we need to be able to think on our feet while engaging with our stakeholders. Its no longer just about holding a press conference or announcing a launch, its about presenting your ideas to the largest audience in the best possible manner.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a second generation Indian who was raised in Dubai and worked in Bangkok, New Delhi, London, Kathmandu, Columbo and Khartoum. I moved to Singapore almost 2.5 years ago as I loved the fact its a gateway to the rest of the region & has a great business environment.

Al Jazeera Journalists Report From The Field

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is fantastic as its very easy to do business here.  People are very professional and unlike other Asian countries, there’s no red tape or bureaucracy which rattles you off. Mumbai, Bangkok & Dubai always have an exciting buzz and I get to catch up with old friends which is an added advantage!

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
‘If you never ask, you’ll never get’- This is literally a (not so poetic!) translation of an old Punjabi proverb my father always quotes when I think the going gets too tough. He’s always taught me and my older brother the importance of believing in one’s self and as long as what we offer is innovative and useful to clients,  the sky is literally the limit!

Who inspires you?
My parents. They came to Dubai in the early 80’s with nothing but an engineering degree & a few dollars, back in the days when no one knew where Dubai was on the map! Within a few years, they set up a successful business, sent us to the best schools and encouraged us to follow our dreams. Without them, I’m certain I wouldn’t be where I am today.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That businesses fail in the first three years of their life! Its the make-or-break period and much like a marriage, if there’s not enough passion or compassion in it, there’s no way its going to last.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have begun my entrepreneurship journey much earlier. Inspired Productions is what I breathe, eat and think almost every hour in the day and now that I think about all the wonderful clients and experiences I’m exposed to, I’m asking myself, ‘why didnt you start this earlier!’

How do you unwind?
My husband and I both love biking so on that rare weekend when we have no plans, we take our bikes out and explore Singapore. We also love traveling and try and get away every few weeks. It helps freshen up the creative juices and makes me more mindful of the business and where it stands.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Oh, so many! Thailand for its great food & hospitality. India, for everything really- family, friends & food. Vietnam for its culture and you guessed it- food!

Everyone in business should read this book:
‘Bhagvat Gita’-  a classic Indian scripture dating back to 5000 years ago. Most know it as a religious book but if you study its undertones, its the classic strategy manual combining lessons on work/life balance. The scenes where the protagonist is asking his mentor deep questions about life & work, and their subsequent conversations in the middle of a battlefield is rivetting.  The message is clear- be focused, know your allies and the rest will follow through.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’ve got the experience and credibility behind us to propel your communications strategy forward! Yes, really. Our clients speak for themselves- The Reserve Bank of India, United Nations Staff College, Save the Children, Reuters & innumerable start-ups have trusted us with their communications needs- and we’ve delivered.

How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @prernahsuri
Website: www.inspired-productions.com

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

Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/agnesyee/

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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Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

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Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/ceedeees

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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