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Sabur Khan

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Inspired by his father, Sabur Khan always thinks about ways he can give back to society. He is now chairman of the Daffodil Family and invests in ICT and education businesses.

What’s your story?
I was born into a Muslim family in the Chandpur district of Bangladesh. I graduated and then went on to do a post graduate from Jahangir Nagar University. Then I opted to assist my father in business. I was inspired by his desire to give back to society. Keeping this value in mind, I started my own venture in 1990 involving two sectors – ICT and education. From the get-go, my intention was to contribute to society through business and empower people. So, I set up 35 organizations and I am now holding the position of chairman of the Daffodil Family.

What is your involvement with Investment?
· Mentorship
· Help in solving strategic/management issues
· Help by providing time management
· Strategic management
· Monitoring role
· Resource acquisition
· Motivation/guidance
· Help in finding more funds
· Help in finding more scope/market/promotion
· Help with hiring key employees
· Help with finding suppliers or customers

How did that come about?
From our organisation, we try to give all kinds of support to startups. Mostly we are recognised for our mentorship and that means a lot to our team. We maintain a kind of relationship with them. We help them in a lot of ways, from decision making to HR selection and promotion. We are not rigid, however the investment usually comes in the following mode:
· Capital gain
· Profit sharing
· Sale of equity to another investor
· Secondary purchase stock market floatation liquidation
· Involuntary exit
· Partnership

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
While investing, you should consider the following things:
· Evaluate your preferred zone when taking a risk
· Formulate a well-balanced business plan
· Use advanced technology
· Assess all stakes, related to the venture
· Good forecasting as well as a safe exit strategy
· Business networking is a really valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from the success of others, attain new clients and tell others about your business.

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
I have observed that new and less experienced investors, sometimes make the following mistakes:
· Insufficient research about the market
· Not following a time frame and strategy to balance the risk and return
· Not setting attainable goals
· Taking risks quickly, without gaining proper knowledge
· Limited knowledge on entrepreneurial initiative
· Investing without a plan
· Putting the customer last
· No focus on networking
· No mentoring
· Derivative idea and slow launch
· Following or copycat culture
-Focus excessively on expenses or taxes

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Bangladesh is a country with huge potential and the people here are born with an entrepreneurial mindset. Most of entrepreneurs are hardworking, trustworthy, have leadership skills but are not that well educated, and have little financial literacy. The majority of people starting out, do not get mentors or family support to start business. Therefore we find common mistakes among them.

In general, Entrepreneurs suffer from the following mistakes
· Lack of clarity in vision
· Lack of academic knowledge on compliance of business
· Not interested in conducting market research
· Tendency of avoiding confrontation (in a positive sense)
· Ignoring statistical data
· Confusing attitude
· Fear of failure

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Firstly, I would say, my parents have had a big influence on my life and I was deeply touched by a question thrown to me by them;
“After you die, what will you be remembered for?”
With this in mind, I always practice ethics in my business.

Secondly, I always get my mentors to promote this nation/country through our work. When I started my business, ICT was not at all known or popular here. But I strongly believe that someday ICT will be the power for the nation. Gradually my dream will come true. I introduced the first local brand PC in the country, competing with many global brands and our young generation are contributing greatly to the national economy through using ICT power.

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
Youth have the power of communication, technology, knowledge and the capacity to reach any level. With proper guidance they can easily bring about changes and contribute to the global economy.
· Set the vision first and be stick to it
· Collect real data and make your own sales pitch
· Positive introductions (vision, mission, stability) are essential
· Demonstrate capabilities to investors and the ability to implement innovations and have an exit strategy in place
· Increase negotiating skills
· Start building your network. Investors find entrepreneurs through networks
· Crowdfund your idea
· Angel networks
· Professional social networking sites and private equity firms

Who inspires you?
My first inspiration was my father. I liked the way he thought about the society and did business. Secondly I try to learn from everyone. I never leave any opportunity to learn from anyone, anywhere. I love to read and hear from others; sometimes I follow my students, little kids as well. Every good thing inspires me; every success story helps to take another initiative to create another success.

 

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
For my business, I travel a lot and I have found we all have lot of scope to learn from others. I like to hear from my students and their ideas to change the nation. I am interested how other nations are developing their education systems. I just visited China and I had scope to visit many of their Universities. I saw how they are maintaining quality and developing the competency of their students. I was amazed. I hope to start the same here in Bangladesh. I want to set the example which will be followed by others.

What business book do you recommend the most?
1. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie
2. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho
3. “A Journey Towards Entrepreneurship” by Md. Sabur Khan
4. “Handbook of Entrepreneurship” by Md. Sabur Khan
5. “The Power of Broke” by Daymond John
6. “Poke the Box: When Was the Last Time You Did Something for the First Time?” by Seth Godin
7. “Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
8. “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg
9. “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
Daffodil Family mainly concentrates on ICT and education. Recently Daffodil has started supporting some other ventures. We have a strong commitment to help develop entrepreneurs and support students’ initiatives. For example: Startup restaurant, prominent-online news portal, oval furniture.. These types of businesses are developed to support the students and to support the overall operation of the Daffodil Family.

How can people connect with you?
I always welcome people to share things with me. I always try to listen. For my business schedule I may not always find times to meet and greet them personally, but I am always available via email and social media.
1. Appointment
2. E-mail
3. Mobile
4. Twitter
5. LinkedIn
6. Facebook

Social Media profiles?
Web page: https://sabur.me/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sabur.khan
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+SaburKhan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mdsabur
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/sabur-khan/4/a36/2b9
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/Webmasterdiu

This article is part of the World Business Angel Forum media partnership with AsianEntrepreneur.org

If you would like more information about WBAF, please contact Callum Laing WBAF High Commissioner for Singapore. [email protected]

Investors

Victor Tan

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Victor Tan enjoys working in the start-up sector. His passion is to help SMEs and start-ups grow.

What’s your story?
I was born in Singapore. I moved to Australia for the majority of my life and I have now been back in Singapore for the past 6 years. Currently I am the CFO of Unity Group, which is a boutique merger and acquisition advisory firm. I have been in the big corporate world for the about two thirds of my career and for the past 5 years I have been involved in the start up and SME space.

What is your involvement with Investment?
My biggest investment is my time and positioning my career to focus on the start-up and SME sectors.

How did that come about?
A couple of reasons:

  1. I loved the big corporate world and the skills I Iearnt in that world. However I felt that I was wanting more and I wanted to really contribute and impact on the success of a business. In the SME space, every staff member is important and every contribution impacts the business in many ways. In the corporate world, sometimes you just feel like one of the many cogs in the wheel.
  2. SMEs are typically the forgotten businesses in the world. Everything is up against them even though SMEs contribute the highest % of their profits in taxes in all developed countries in the world. However, they are undervalued, lack the ability to grow and raise funds.

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
Establish your strategy and stick to it.

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
Speculative trading or getting rich quick. There are no quick wins. It all comes down to believing in your objective or strategy, working hard, sticking with it and being adaptable to change.

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Surrounding themselves with advisors that are “yes“ people who do not add value. Typically entrepreneurs are full of passion and sometimes that passion and emotion clouds their ability to make good decisions. Advisors around entrepreneurs, whether they are the GM, CFO or legal counsel, need to assist the founder of the business to stay on the same path but at the same time give the founder room to breathe and be creative.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You have to work hard and smart.

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
Product and data, data, data! Product or goals need to be defined, broken down and measured from the outset. That’s the only way of defining success (whether its based on revenue, profit, number of customers, etc) and it sets a performance-driven culture. The qualitative component of the product or goal is equally critical to ensure business performance and correct culture. Once these are defined and measured, it demonstrates your ability to define and measure the performance. This directly applies to seeking funding for your business. Without any quality data, investors are unable to assess the progress or viability of the product and also the future potential growth of your company.

Who inspires you?
My dad. His ability to rise to the top of his profession and give it all up for us kids.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
A quote from Malcolm X, “There is nothing better than adversity. Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss contains its own seed and its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time.”

What business book do you recommend the most?
Unfortunately I don’t read books.

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
The team at Unity really believes in supporting the SME sector and changing the landscape for small businesses around the world to enable small businesses to compete with the big boys, win bigger contracts and reward those that are creating the most value in the world.

How can people connect with you?
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/victor-tan-22880535

This article is part of the World Business Angel Forum media partnership with AsianEntrepreneur.org

If you would like more information about WBAF, please contact Callum Laing WBAF High Commissioner for Singapore. [email protected]

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Investors

John Sharp

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John Sharp gets a buzz from bring something new into the world!

What’s your story?
I started my professional career as an orchestral arranger and composer in Adelaide, Australia. Software rendered my chosen profession obsolete within a few years and pushed me down the path of networking and software. I built a Chinese language TV network, ran the Asian market for the world’s biggest ever startup, US-based WorldSpace, (where we raised 1.8 billion in our seed round) and then I built and sold a US-based cybersecurity company, when Google was telling you it’s scanning your email for viruses. We built that! In 2010, I moved back to Singapore from Florida, which is just like Singapore, with less cobras and more alligators!

What is your involvement with Investment?
I co-founded Hatcher along with seven other investors in 2013. Since then me and my fellow investors have made 21 investments in 13 companies – one of which I now work for, Hatcher+. Hatcher+ is a new AI and machine based learning platform for venture investment that has plans to make 2,000 investments over the next 3 years.

How did that come about?
I have been building and selling companies all my life. My first investment was an Asian digital sample library that returned 50 times, and my second investment was a satellite TV channel that returned 5 times. My third investment was a failure. Once you have the startup investment bug, it becomes impossible to get off the train. Nothing else is as exciting or rewarding as bringing something new into the world. It’s addictive!

What are some of the key things you have learnt about Investing?
The most important thing about investing is the valuation you come in at. Our research at Hatcher+ uncovered an interesting fact recently; most angels accept valuations that are far too high. So with this in mind, angel investing is like buying and selling a house, you need to focus on buying at the right price. The second key thing is you need to invest in honest, hardworking, intelligent, positive people. You can always put up more money, but you cannot inject optimism that is not already there.

What mistakes do you see less experienced investors making?
Experienced investors, including myself, all make the same mistake; we invest in one or two companies, or small, non-diversified portfolios, in the belief that we can grow unicorns in hamster cages. However, sometimes this is possible. Our first investment company had a TYPI of 0.40 within 3 years, which currently puts it in the top 10% of funds worldwide. However, this kind of result requires a lot of luck and hard work.

What mistakes do you see Entrepreneurs making?
Entrepreneurs need to share the good and the bad with investors. Investors are great at helping with both. One time, when I was a much younger entrepreneur and CEO of a startup that had just raised $22USD million, I was in a board meeting, waving my arms around, painting a bright picture of the future and one of my new investors put his hand up and said “Stop! You have our money. You can take off the cheerleader skirt now. What problems are you facing with the business?” I’ve never forgotten that moment. You need to be real with your investors, and tell them what is going on. Don’t wait until it’s too late to ask for their help.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best piece of advice I ever received was from an investor from Malaysia. At my very first board meeting he asked me if I knew what CEO meant? I said, “of course I do, I’m not that naive. It stands for Chief Executive Officer. He smiled and then shook his head. “You’re wrong,” he said. “CEO stands for Customers, Employees, Owners, in that order of importance.” His point being, if you look after your customers, and treat your employees well, the owners will benefit automatically. Great advice.

What advice would you give to those seeking funding?
When you seek funding, you need to be aware that investors care mostly about three things: How much, how long do you need it for and how much will I get back?

Who inspires you?
My wife inspires me. She is the most balanced, level-headed person I’ve ever met. She’s an amazing mother, a no-bullshit friend, and has a great outlook on life. I wish I could be more like her.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I recently learnt, first-hand, from my partner at Hatcher+, Dan Hoogterp (possibly the smartest man I’ve ever met), how unbelievably powerful AI can really be. It’s one thing to read about the capabilities, it’s another thing to input data and watch a machine output smart decisions that are hundreds of times more powerful and informed than human-based decisions. What I learnt is that AI is far more powerful than 99% of us know and, it’s growing in power exponentially.

What business book do you recommend the most?
The best business book for entrepreneurs to read is the Innovator’s Dilemma. It explains with great clarity, how to succeed as a small fish in an ocean full of predators. It is one of the very few books that fundamentally changed my outlook on being an entrepreneur and made me believe that a small company is capable of any level of success it aspires to.

Shameless plug for your business/organisation:
Hatcher+ is on a mission to revolutionize venture investing. We believe AI and machine learning, used in partnership with leading accelerators, can revolutionize deal sourcing and selection, and we believe that adopting portfolio theory through the use of massively scalable portfolios is the future. Finally, we think that 15 year venture funds are done. The future will consist of ETF-like venture funds traded on blockchain enabled exchanges. That’s what Hatcher+ is enabling.

How can people connect with you?
People are welcome to connect with me via Hatcher.com or LinkedIn.

Social Media profiles?
Twitter: https://twitter.com/gohatcher
Linkedin: https://linkedin.com/company/hatcher
Blog: https://hq.hatcher.com/blog.php

This article is part of the World Business Angel Forum media partnership with AsianEntrepreneur.org

If you would like more information about WBAF, please contact Callum Laing WBAF High Commissioner for Singapore. [email protected]

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