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Sean Lam, CEO of Jewel Paymentech

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Sean Lam’s interest in cyber security was sparked at uni. He is now operating Jewel Paymentech to help make e-payments safer.

What’s your story?
In my final year of school in the US, I took specialisation classes on cyber security. For one of the lectures, we had a guy from the MasterCard security team come in to share all the cool stuff that they were doing in securing electronic payments. I thought to myself, “I want to do that!”
Early in my career, I quickly got myself heavily involved in cyber security and forensics work while working at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. As early practitioners in this space, we enjoyed the perks of quick progression and I quickly found myself working for the Visa Security team.
Soon after, I was given the opportunity to help drive payment security initiatives for the industry including the migration of magstripe to EMV Chip ATMs as well as one-time passwords for eCommerce transactions.
It was at Visa where I met my co-founder Wooi Siang. We saw a gap in the ePayments business specifically in the payments acceptance side of the equation. The networks and banks were not paying enough attention or investing sufficiently in technologies to make payments safer, smarter and faster. We quickly roped in Sandra (who at that time was a VC and already invested in a fintech out in Indo China) and together we co-founded Jewel Paymentech in 2015 to materialize that very vision of ours.

What excites you most about your industry?
Payments seem to be getting a lot of attention globally. Ask anyone on the street about it and you will probably hear about some new cool QR app, some new contactless payment technology for buses or they might just say “Bitcoin?
There’s a lot of innovation going on in this space. But no matter what the technology is, there will always be risk that needs to be managed. That’s where we come in. Knowing that there are opportunities aplenty to be realised is super exciting.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I grew up in Malaysia and now call Singapore home. I’m quite well travelled in Asia – I last counted 14 Asian countries I’ve visited.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, for sure. The government has put in place policies and programs that have created an environment for enterprises to thrive.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
My dad on deals: “Don’t get a lawyer to negotiate with a lawyer – the deal will never go through.” The most sincere business dealings are always done over a handshake. It has absolutely held true for me – all our successful deals were always done without the need of debating technical legal nitty-gritty first. It’s all about trust and honour.

Who inspires you?
My family. My parents – they’ve certainly set the bar on building successful enterprises. My wife – who brings out the silly in me. She teaches me to not take life too seriously in order to be happy.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Completely random: The Shangri-la hotel was almost named something else. In Robert Kuok’s memoir, he shared that a director once rejected the name Shangri-la as he frequented a spa in Bangkok sharing the same name. Robert then thought, if there was a prostitute who shared the same name as his wife, does it make his wife a prostitute? He didn’t buy the logic and he insisted on the keeping the Shangri-la name.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Everything happens for a reason and my life experiences (both good and bad) have made me a much better person today. We should always make the best of everything that comes our way. I wouldn’t want to change any of that.

How do you unwind?
Playing with my boy, taking my wife out for breakfast, golf and most recently, Rubik’s cube!

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It’s a toss-up between Bangkok and Bali. Before parenthood, my wife and I really enjoyed these two getaway destinations for its food, sights and cheap massages!

Everyone in business should read this book:
Robert Kuok: a memoir. Anyone living in Asia should be able to relate to this book. It’s history and business all rolled into one. The man has seen, experienced a lot in his lifetime and I feel that there’s just so much to learn from the older generation tycoons.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you’re a bank, payment network or service provider looking for a partner to make merchant acquisition profitable, safer and seamless (think straight-through processing) through the use of automated due-diligence and transaction analytics – ping us!

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

Twitter handle?
@Seansayslah

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

Callum Connects

Jason Feng, Co-Founder of Pillpresso

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Mr. Jason Feng is re-engineering the healthcare industry.

What’s your story?
I am an engineer at heart. I enjoy the process of problem solving and have been actively developing innovative solutions to existing problems. Me and my co-founder settled on the problem of poor medication adherence among the elderly. This was a problem which struck a chord with us because we all have loved ones who have to take multiple medications on a daily basis. The complex medication regimen, coupled with declining cognitive abilities of the elderly tend to exacerbate the lack of medication adherence, which may lead to disease relapse and hospital readmissions, ultimately increasing the burden to caregivers and the society.

What excites you most about your industry?
The problem of medication adherence is not a new one in the healthcare industry. In fact, lack of medication adherence is a well-researched problem in many countries. Solutions which have been developed to address this problem face three major issues:

  • Entrenched mindset within the healthcare system, many of which are used to and unwilling to change from the legacy systems which were implemented decades ago.
  • Complex nuances in healthcare delivery across different countries, making it hard to “copy” and “paste” solutions which have worked well in other areas.
  • Because poor medication adherence is multifactorial, and many solutions focus solely on a few aspects, and do not employ a holistic approach.

Nevertheless, entering this industry at this time excites me because we are in the midst of a global shift in healthcare models; one where the industry is moving away from a service-based model, towards a more value-based model. This shift means that traditional players such as insurance companies and pharmaceuticals are under increasing pressure from patients and payers to demonstrate the value of their products under real-world use. Medication adherence data is one crucial missing link in this puzzle to deliver better care to patients. Being able to build a business around these incumbents and pioneer a new way of care is something which I look forward to.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am a Singaporean. Most of my experiences throughout my life have been in Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I have not worked in other Asian countries outside of Singapore, so I can’t comment on other Asian countries too much. Singapore has a relatively low barrier for starting a business, and all business rules and regulations are clear and transparent. The startup ecosystem is also rather comprehensive and easily accessible. Being a small country, Singapore has a very limited market for products and services. However, due to its size and efficiency, it serves as an excellent test bed for new ideas. Being a travel hub, travelling to other Asian countries is cheap and easy.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Fail fast, fail often. The greatest lessons are never learnt through success.

Who inspires you?
Elon Musk

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Successful launch of Falcon Heavy and the recovery of the 2 side cores. The way the 2 cores landed was like something you’d only see in CGI. Very well calculated.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Applied for NOC (NUS Overseas College)

How do you unwind?
Go rock climbing.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Nepal. I’m an outdoors guy. Being able to trek around the Himalayas is probably the best form of relaxation for me.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Creative confidence, by the Kelly Brothers

Shameless plug for your business:
Pillpresso is an award-winning health-tech startup that aims to improve medication adherence. We’re developing a medication management system that empowers seniors to manage their medicines independently and deliver proactive healthcare in the community through technology. Comprising individuals with complementary skills across business, engineering and medicine, our team is driven by a desire to improve healthcare and the human condition.

Grand Prize Winner of the 2017 Tech Factor Challenge
https://www.opengovasia.com/articles/8072-top-4-grand-prize-winners-for-3rd-edition-of-ageing-in-place-tech-challenge-announced-in-singapore

Grand Prize Winner of the 2015 Modern Aging
https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/3-teams-receive-s-125-000-of-seed-funding-for-elderly-friendly-i-8246318

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

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

Elizabeth Wu, Co-founder & COO of Trehaus

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Elizabeth Wu is making work-life integration a reality for working parents in her new family friendly coworking space.

What’s your story?
I co-founded a coworking space in Singapore that comes complete with a child-friendly facility. We’re the first of our kind here and we’ve been making work-life integration a reality for working parents since we opened.

What excites you most about your industry?
We are the first of our kind, and there’s no other coworking space like us. Sure, there are plenty of coworking spaces in Singapore, but we are the pioneers of championing ‘BYO-kid’ to work by creating a conducive workspace and enriching kids play, all under one roof.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore. I’m a local through and through.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, of course! It’s safe, well-regulated and has a diverse community. Barriers to entry for starting up a business is low, and generally there is good support for small to medium enterprises and startups, which is great.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Life is short. Do stuff that matters.” I think I decided to do “stuff that matters” a long time ago and that’s why I became an educator. When motherhood beckoned, I decided again, to do “stuff that matters” by staying home to be with my kids. Then, I began to desire a meaningful career while raising my kids. So, I decided to take the plunge into entrepreneurship, because I am governed by wanting to “do stuff that matters!”

Who inspires you?
So many people inspire me. My members at Trehaus inspire me with the things they do and the changes they make. But if I have to pick someone, it would be Elim Chew, founder of 77th Street; who is a seasoned entrepreneur. She started from humble beginnings, went through setbacks and never said never to new journeys in entrepreneurship. I love that she always looks for ways to give back to society and mentor the next generation with her wealth of wisdom and experiences.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I learned the 5-by-5 rule recently: That is, ‘if it’s not going to matter in 5 years, don’t spend more than 5 minutes being upset by it.’ This helps me puts things in perspective, and I try to remember this every time the urge comes to dwell, to brood, to beat myself up or to sweat the small stuff.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would definitely be more careful with the people I hired to build the team. I’ve learned that it is important to find and build an entrepreneurial team that will plough and work hard alongside the founders. Like Jack Ma once said, “Don’t hire the most qualified candidate. Hire the craziest.” I should have done that right from the start. It would save us so much time and heartache.

How do you unwind?
I take long walks to clear my or I go for a fruitful session of self care, like yoga or a massage.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I really enjoy getting out of Singapore to the outskirts of Bangkok to live amongst the locals. My family of 5 used to do that each December; just taking off to live amongst the locals where street food is aplenty and warmth and hospitality is everywhere. I enjoy their slow pace of life and how simple things can be.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Hard Thing About Hard Things, by Ben Horowitz

Shameless plug for your business:
Trehaus is Singapore’s first ever family-friendly coworking space that lets you build a career while prioritising family. If it takes a village to raise a child, then Trehaus is the modern village where you will find a robust community and supportive ecosystem that lets you be an involved parent – never missing a single milestone in your child’s early years – and at the same time do efficient and productive work. We’ve made magic happen in what we’ve created!

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

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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