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Seh Huan Kiat, Founder of CoAssets

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Huan Kiat founded CoAssets, a successful investment crowdfunding platform. He enjoys the ‘newness’ of the market he is pioneering and all the opportunities for innovation it represents.

What’s your story?
I founded CoAssets, an investment crowdfunding platform, together with Getty Goh. I came back from the United States in 2011 and met up with Getty to understand the real estate market in Singapore better. I was actually looking for an investment and he ran a real estate consultancy. During that meeting, we realised that many people in Singapore are shut out from investing in properties because the initial sum needed is simply too high. Both of us immediately recognised the market needs and started working on CoAssets – and the platform has since expanded to business crowdfunding as well.

What excites you most about your industry?
We are one of the pioneering debt crowdfunding platforms in the region and we are fortunate to be in a still-evolving industry that presents new opportunities to innovate all the time. For example, we are very focussed on data collection and data analytics, which we think is our key technical competitive advantage compared to our peers and makes us scaleable as it reduces the time to have effective crowdfunding campaigns in our newer offices in different regions. Lastly we love that we are disrupting how businesses are funded by providing alternatives which are well-received by the business owners.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have spent close to 20 years in the UK and the US, but Singapore is still home for me. I was born in Singapore and my wife’s and my extended families are all in Asia. So my roots are pretty deep here.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
My favorite city in Asia for business is Singapore. Firstly, a lot of applications to the authority can be done online and I can get responses very fast. Second, people here are goal-oriented so business dealings are efficient. Lastly, the public transportation is great so even when I have to travel for meetings, most of the time I can just take the MRT.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
This was given by my mentor, “If you are trying to emulate what the incumbents or  the competitors are doing, you have probably already got it wrong.”

Who inspires you?
It is not a specific person. A lot of the pioneers that came to Singapore early last century had no education and little resources and they managed to build Singapore to what it is today. The thought of those pioneers remind me that with all the opportunities and resources that are given to me, I need to make a greater difference.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It is totally unrelated to what I am doing. I met up recently with a very close childhood friend that does research in ageing. He described one of the experiments on ageing in which, by splicing an older and a younger mice together, scientists have shown that ageing can be reversed. This is amazing and shows how little we still know about our own bodies.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I don’t think I want to change or do anything differently. I enjoy where I am and what I am doing right now and would not exchange anything for it.

How do you unwind?
I love to sit outside on my balcony whenever I have time and read a good book, while smoking my pipe.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Chunghwa, Taiwan. That’s where my wife’s from, and I love to take a break there staying with her family. It is not as fast-paced as Singapore and allows me to get away from work once in awhile.

Everyone in business should read this book:
This book has probably been recommended by a lot of people. I think it is necessary for founders of companies to read Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore. It really helps someone starting out to focus their limited sales and marketing resources.

Shameless plug for your business:
CoAssets is Asia’s first public listed crowdfunding platform. Our investors have grown to  44,000+ and successfully crowdfunded S$44million without any default since 2011. I think we are the most trustworthy and credible investment crowdfunding platform out there, by subjecting ourselves to twice-a-year independent audits and oversights by credible independent directors such as Jeffrey Chi, SVCA chairman.
In addition, Lawrence Lim, the ex-Chief Artillery Officer, recently joined us as COO and this says a lot about our trustworthiness.

How can people connect with you?
They can connect via LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hkseh

Twitter handle?
huankiat

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

CallumConnectsCallum 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

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures

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Marek Danyluk has a talent for assessing the competencies of management teams for other businesses and pulling together exceptional teams for his own businesses!

What’s your story?
I am the CEO of a venture capital business, Space Ventures, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses. I also own and run Space Executive, a recruitment business focused on senior to executive hires across sales, marketing, finance, legal and change.

My career started as a trainee underwriter in the Lloyds market but quickly moved into recruitment where I set-up my first business in 2002. The business grew to around 100 people. I moved to Asia in 2009 as a board member of a multinational recruitment business with the mandate to help them scale their Asian entities, which helped contribute to their sale this year, in 2017.

My main talent is assessing the competencies of management teams as well as building high performing recruitment boutiques and putting together exceptional management teams for my own businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
Building the business is very much about attracting the best talent and being able to build a culture which people find invigorating and unique. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to define a culture in that regard and salespeople are a fun bunch, so when you get it right it’s tremendous.

From a VC point of view there is just so much happening. South East Asia is a melting pot of innovation so the ideas and quality of people you have exposure to, is truly phenomenal. The exposure in the VC has taken me away from a career in recruitment. Doing something completely different has given me a new level of focus.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Whilst I came here with work, both my boys were born in Singapore and to them this very much is home. That said, my father in law spent many years in the East so coming and settling here was met with a good degree of support and familiarity.


Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Possibly Hong Kong. It’s the closest I’ve been to working in London. Whilst there are massive Asian influences people will work with you on the basis you are good at what you do and work hard. I find that approach very honest and straightforward.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always treat people well on the way up!”

Who inspires you?
I like reading about people who have excelled in business such as Jack Ma, James Kahn, Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, all have great stories to tell and they are all inspirational. No-one has inspired me more than my parents and they are well aware as to why…

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much any technology innovation blows me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whilst it is important not to have regrets I do continually wake up thinking I’m still doing my A’ Levels. So, I’d have probably tried a little harder in 6th form.

How do you unwind?
I like the odd glass of red wine and watching sport

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan skiing. I love skiing and Japanese food and it’s a time when I can really enjoy time with the wife and kids. I recently tried the Margaret River which was divine, although not technically Asia.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Barbarians at the Gate

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive is the fastest growing recruitment business in Singapore focused on the mid to senior market across legal, compliance, finance, sales and marketing and change and transformation. Multi-award winning with exceptional growth plans into Hong Kong and London this year, and the US, Japan and Europe by the end of 2022. We are building a truly global brand.

Space Ventures is interested in any businesses that require capital or management and financial guidance or any or all of the above. We have, to date, invested in on-line training, food and beverages, peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring as well as other tech and fintech start-ups. We are always interested in hearing about potential deals.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@Spaceexecutive

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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Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings

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Malcolm Tan is an ICO/ITO and Cryptocurrency advisor. He sees this new era as similar to when the internet launched.

What’s your story?
I’m a lawyer entrepreneur who owns multiple businesses, and who is now stepping into the Initial Coin Offering/Initial Token Offering/Cryptocurrency space to be a thought leader, writer (How to ICO/ITO in Singapore – A Regulatory and Compliance Viewpoint on Initial Coin Offering and Initial Token Offering in Singapore), and advisor through Gravitas Holdings – an ICO Advisory company. We are also running our own ICO campaign called AEXON, and advising 2 other ICO’s on their projects.

What excites you most about your industry?
It is the start of a whole new paradigm, and it is like being at the start of the internet era all over again. We have a chance to influence and shape the industry over the next decade and beyond and lead the paradigm shift.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m Singaporean and most of my business revolves around the ASEAN region. Our new ICO advisory company specialises in Singaporean ICO’s and we are now building partnerships around the region as well. One of the core business offerings of our AEXON ICO/ITO is to open up co-working spaces around the region, with a target to open 25 outlets, and perhaps more thereafter.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, since it is my hometown and most of my business contacts originate from or are located in Singapore. It is also a very open and easy place to do business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be careful of your clients – sometimes they can be your worst enemies. This is very true and you have to always be careful about whom you deal with. The closest people are the ones that you trust and sometimes they have other agendas or simply don’t tell you the truth or whole story and that can easily put one in a very disadvantageous position.

Who inspires you?
Leonardo Da Vinci as a polymath and genius and leader in many fields, and in today’s world, Elon Musk for being a polymath and risk taker and energetic business leader.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Early stage bitcoin investors would have made 1,000,000 times profit if they had held onto their bitcoins from the start to today – in the short space of 7 years.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Seek out good partnerships and networks from day one, and use the power of the group to grow and do things together, instead of being bogged down by operations and going it alone from start.

How do you unwind?
I hardly have any time for relaxation right now. I used to have very intense hobbies, chess when I was younger, bridge, bowling, some online real time strategy games and poker. All mentally stimulating games and requiring focus – I did all these at competitive levels and participated in national and international tournaments, winning multiple trophies, medals and awards in most of these fields.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket – nature, resort life, beaches, good food and a vibrant crowd.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki

Shameless plug for your business:
Gravitas Holdings (Pte) Limited is the premier ICO Advisory company and we can do a full service for entrepreneurs, including legal and compliance, smart contracts and token creation, marketing and PR, and business advisory and white paper writing/planning.

How can people connect with you?
Write emails to [email protected], or [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@malcolmABM

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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