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/>

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Callum Laing
Callum Laing has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He is a partner in the Private Equity firm Unity-Group. Co-founder and non-exec director of The Marketing Group PLC and is CEO of Key Person of Influence (Asia). He is author of 'Progressive Partnerships'.

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