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Ruchira Hoon Philip, Journalist & Food Blogger

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For this foodie, the world is her oyster. Ruchira Hoon Philip loves cooking, eating and writing about food. She has turned her passion for food into her profession.

What’s your story?
I’m a glutton. But that’s only half my story. I cook. I feed. I blog. I write. I develop. I do all things with food. I started cooking when I was 9 and I don’t think I’ve ever stopped really. I have been a journalist for over 10 years, participated in Masterchef India four years ago and I started food blogging about 3 years ago. Since then I have started developing recipes for restaurants, curating food events, critiquing restaurants and now I head the content and marketing of a brand new recipe aggregator site called BetterButter.in

Oh and I collect cookbooks!

What excites you most about your industry?
I love the fact that there’s unlimited possibilities in the food industry. That there is space for all. What you really need is to have your food sensibilities about you and a developed palate and then the world is your oyster.

I think this is an amazing time to be in the food industry. People are so much more aware of what they put in their mouths now and where their food is coming from. More questions means more opportunities.

What’s your connection to Asia?
For starters, I live in India. Home to at least 120 different varieties of cuisine. How much more exciting can that get.

I love that being in India now, means being exposed to so many things from our neighbouring countries. From Pakistan to Thailand to Sri Lanka, food tastes different and being in India, it’s accessible within a few hours.

David Rocco With Masterchef

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I’m torn here. My brain says Singapore but my heart says Bangkok. But to be fair, to be in Delhi or Mumbai at the moment, in the food industry, is a good place to be too. There’s a lot happening in these four cities – good food, great business acumen and an overall sense of excitement that’s almost infectious.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t worry about the money, do what you love and nurture your talent. I think I’ve always been afraid of taking that leap of faith, which is why I have always walked the fine line – to be a journalist or to cook. It took me a while to realise I could actually figure a middle path and do both. And here I am today, doing what I love, and not a day does it seem like “work”.

Who inspires you?
I think it’s more like what inspires me. Good food inspires me. Great food that knocks my socks off and that makes me want to hug it, inspires me. To be fair, I love watching people, love reading about the new trends, love looking at food pictures and then wait for a bit, and be filled with excitement.

Colours inspire me as do smells. Oh that smell of bacon frying, or cinnamon wafting through the kitchen – it’s all inspirational for me.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve been judged all my life. Too rebellious they said, too troubled. So when I recently learnt that people actually looked up to me and thought I was doing good in the world,  I felt very humbled. It was an emotional point for me and I didn’t see it coming. That blew me away.

But in terms of work, I had this meal, with my husband, which shut us both up, at Indian Accent. Oh the food, the food. Chef Manish Mehrotra is a magician. I wish I could have apprenticed under him.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t have listened to my father and gone with my gut! So the story is such – when I finished school, I wanted to go into a Hotel Management school, he coaxed me into doing my bachelors in English and then apply.

Post that, I was readying myself to go to the CIA – Culinary Institute of America – he convinced me into doing my masters, which I graduated with honors in Mass Communication. And the next thing, I knew I was a journalist.

I wish I had put my foot down, it would have opened windows of opportunity that would have changed my life.

How do you unwind?
I have two dogs that drive me completely insane but they are so much fun. They are super entertaining. I also entertain a lot, so I love designing menus and thinking of my next meal. I also love murder mysteries and watch a lot of these shows such as CSI, Unforgettable, True Detective. The more murders to solve, the happier I get. I also love Modern Family and can watch it all the time.

Oh but when I’m really bummed, I like to bake or swim or just sleep.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I have a few of them – Pondicherry for starters. Peace, quiet and general loveliness. Bangkok for it’s busy streets and awesome food and finally Bali, because it is just gorgeous.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Anything by James Beard, Ruth Reichl, Thomas Keller, Dorie Greenspan and even Ferran Adria is worth a dekko. Closer home I’d suggest we read up on Indian classics to learn about food.

Shameless plug for your business:
I blog because I love it. My blog is called www.thegreatcookaroo.com. But the truth is, I can’t stand still. I have to have my hands in many pies. And it’s through my blog I’ve got to do so many wonderful things such as; design menus for restaurants and now www.BetterButter.in, a site where we are collecting recipes, heirlooms, everyday or otherwise.

How can people connect with you?
Through email is great – [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@ruchirahoon

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnects

Callum 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

Jonathan Oh, CEO & Co-founder of Supplycart

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Jonathan Oh’s enquiring mind and love for learning has led him on an entrepreneurial journey, with him starting Supplycart which helps businesses manage their offices better.

What’s your story?
I am a person that just can’t sit still. I was always intrigued by how the world spins and how people connect. Spending a lot of time outdoors, I had an affinity with exploring new paths, thus leading me to become a serial entrepreneur with experience in creating, operating and building new companies. I am a firm believer there is so much to learn in the world and I love talking to people about ideas, what they are passionate about and what drives them.
Starting off my career in the medical industry, I realised I had a flare to create something that mattered, something that impacted other people’s lives. After exiting my first company in 2014, I continued my journey with two other ventures with a purpose to look towards impacting businesses in the region together with like minded individuals, and here I am.

What excites you most about your industry?
Being able to part of the SME tech industry and seeing how technology is moving SMEs to go digital to improve workflows and efficiencies is an exciting space to be in. Users are consumers. More and more, they are familiarising themselves with using technology in their everyday lives. We foresee the SME space to be the next area where adopting new technology would become vital for any organisation to remain relevant. As I have dabbled in this industry for close to nine years now, I am really looking forward to working with more people in the business community to make a change.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Born in Malaysia, I had the opportunity to go abroad and I realised there was so much to do back home. Spending time in Melbourne, Australia for a couple of years and recently Silicon Valley, it has provided me with experiences and insights into the difference a multicultural community can make. It also made me aware that Asia is still a very culture driven economy, as each country has its unique differences. I believe that the time is right to be in Asia now. We are a growing economy and a lot of exciting stuff is happening in this region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Malaysia. I believe Malaysia is still a very attractive destination for business as it’s close to other neighbouring countries within the region and travelling between the countries is easy. There is also proper infrastructure in place, an affordable cost of living and a sizeable pool of talent. The government also has numerous initiatives for technology companies to apply for MSC status that permits companies to hire foreign companies without restrictions. Malaysia is the perfect launchpad to start growing businesses regionally. From a culture perspective, we are multicultural, which promotes diversity in business and language is never a barrier here.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“The difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur; one does a markup and the other creates value.”

Who inspires you?
I would say the people around me inspire me. I wouldn’t narrow it down to a particular person but lump it up with family, workmates, entrepreneurs and friends. From my eyes, everyone has a certain drive, a certain glow and strengths that sometimes they do not see, and that inspires me. I believe the journey to success is never alone, it’s with people.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Something recently that blew me away, made me realise, visually about how much time I have left. I was reading and stumbled upon the writer doing this. This might sound morbid but I drew a horizontal line and started plotting the year I was born all the way up to when I think I might go. It showed me that I have spent 25% of my life growing up, I am going to spend another 55% of my life working and the final 20%, maybe retirement. It got me remembering all the milestones I have achieved and to be thankful for and above all, how I want to spend the 55% of my life doing what matters the most.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I believe that I am exactly where I need to be because of the experiences I have had before. Thank god for the journey so far. It has been filled with ups and downs, new experiences and people along the way these have moulded me. I guess a small thing, if I had my time again, would be to pick up playing a musical instrument which I think still possible now. You are never too old to learn anything.

How do you unwind?
Unwinding for me would be spending time with my family and my two little boys. The little ones are such a bundle of joy. Reminding myself to have balance in terms of not missing the early years with them. Other than that, having coffee with other entrepreneurs, sharing ideas and learning from them is also another way I unwind.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
A term I would use would be “cuti cuti Malaysia.” This means heading to a local destination for some R&R to save on the cost of going on overseas to travel. Top of my the list would be heading to a farm or the jungle with clear river waters and a waterfall all to myself. Staying the night, out in the open under the stars, with a campfire and heading back to nature. The other option would be taking a boat to one of the furthest islands in Malaysia, just before the border of Indonesia, to get away from civilization.

Everyone in business should read this book:
I would actually recommend two books that everyone in business in the early years should read. ‘Founder’s Dilemma’ and ‘Start with Why.’ After being in a couple of businesses and many mistakes later, I came to realise the importance of starting it right. Both these books address the whole mind-set on what founders need to have from selecting who is it we start a business with to why are we starting the business. The business foundation is built from the founders and moving forward everything is built from there. Sometimes we are so into the business that we forget we need to be on the business as well. I would have definitely avoided a couple of bumps if I came across these much earlier on.

Shameless plug for your business:
Manage your office better, that’s our motto. We are always on the lookout to work with organisations, suppliers and partners in this field for partnerships and collaborations.
Supplycart is a B2B procurement platform addressing a need for a change in the way companies manage their office supplies, products and services. We enable suppliers and companies to adopt digital technology when selling and procuring for their business, resulting in a more efficient and productive workforce.
Supplycart provides an easy to use, convenient platform that streamlines the whole procurement process by allowing users to quickly order and reorder, receive instant quotations, obtain quick approvals from necessary approvers and fulfilment items are coordinated/planned to ensure a timely a speedy delivery.
Businesses can now focus on the more important matters in growing and sustaining their business while leaving managing the office to Supplycart. Our vision is to be the number 1 office platform for businesses across South East Asia. “Your office will never be the same again.”

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ohjonathan/
e : [email protected]
w : www.supplycart.my

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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Trung Nguyen, Founder & Managing Director of Advertising Vietnam

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Having initial success with his first start up in the ad industry, Trung Nguyen went on to start other ventures in the ad world in Vietnam. He now has the largest agency community in Vietnam.

What’s your story?
Three years ago I got my first job in the advertising industry. I worked for a local agency in town, and I fell in love with the creative industry. In June 2015, I founded Agency Life Community in Vietnam. It quickly became the most engaging community in the ad industry. The main content focuses on entertainment. After six months we had over 30,000 organic followers, now we have 120,000 followers.

Because the industry had been good to me, I decided I had to something for the industry to help the industry be better. So, I opened http://AdvertisingVietnam.com – a creative industry ad site which keeps advertising informative, creative and inspiring.

After more than a year in the ads industry in Vietnam, I figured the industry needed a better solution for the recruitment of good staff. Given I own the largest advertising community platform, why don’t I utilise Agency Life to help connect talent with ad agencies. So, I founded job site, AdJob.Asia in January 2017.

What excites you most about your industry?
The ad industry is a creative one with very passionate people who are always challenging themselves. The exciting part for creatives, in the morning they might be working on a baby brand and in the afternoon they are answering a beer brief. There is so much diversity. Every day is the new journey.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am Vietnamese.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Thailand. The Thais are the kings of the creative industry in SEA. Thai ads are very smart and creative.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Do what you love.

Who inspires you?
My friend, mentor and partner Mr Nghi Nguyen, founder of BrandsVietnam.com. We started our businesses at a similar time. He doesn’t see us as a competitor but rather, he believes that we share the same passion and we are working to provide better knowledge for the ad community.
Mr Nghi also guided me a lot when I first opened the business. I am inspired by his vision to make our marketing industry better.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Our business is a startup company and as a founder I do everything from operations, business development, planning and strategy. However, this is not the good way grow our business. You have to share the workload – find a co-founder or hire a great employee to help share the workload. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Quit my full time job sooner.
During the first year of running my business, I was still working as an ad manager for an agency. However I lacked focus at work due to the overload of work and it affected the company I used to work for. I strongly recommend people who have an idea to start their own business, quit their job early on and focus 100% on it from the get go!

How do you unwind?
Play with my cat.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love to travel throughout all of Asia. I enjoy new places and meeting new people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Carpenter: A story about the greatest success strategies of all.

Shameless plug for your business:
AdvertisingVietnam.com is a site where you can quickly update yourself on the advertising news in Vietnam. We have 15,000 unique monthly readers who are professional people in the advertising and communications industries.

The Agency Life, https://www.facebook.com/agencylife is largest agency community in Vietnam. This is the right place for ad agencies to share their creative work.

AdJob.Asia now has more than 160 agencies in Vietnam who use our services. We are a leading recruitment service for the advertising industry in Vietnam.

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trungnx26
Email: [email protected]
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trungnx26/

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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