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Shalini Kamal Sharma, Self-Made Entrepreneur of Formula One Furniche

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Shalini Kamal Sharma has beaten all the odds to emerge as one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the 21st century. 15 years ago, nobody would have looked at her and imagined the prominence she was about to gain. Born in a well-heeled family, few could have pictured her choosing to step out of her comfort zone to build an empire for herself. Despite her position and ability to ride off the glory of their parents, she chose a less trodden route to establish herself in the business world that has won her the respect and admiration of her critics.

Shalini has fought an epic battle to get down into the books of history as a self-made entrepreneur whose presence and contribution are being felt far and wide in the world. She has a rare reputation of building multi-million dollar organizations without the need for external help or loans. She confesses that she had not anticipated the kind of merit she was now getting, although failure is never an

option for her. Throughout school and university, she won several awards from academic scholarships to beauty pageants to advance her career. She studied Law before post-graduating in International Relations.

Listening to her, you will know that Shalini is a creative entrepreneur. She speaks with a zeal and conviction that matches no other. Perhaps, this is what has helped her to stand strong even when conditions were not favourable. She approaches every challenge with audacity because she believes that fear impedes success. To her, change is the only constant in the equation of success. “It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you have, be passionate about your work, tenacious in your approach and resilient in your thinking and success will align itself with you.”

Like many other entrepreneurs, she doesn’t shy from her achievements. Who can steer a company to 3 global businesses in less than 10 years and not be proud of it? Amid the challenges, her companies have expanded globally with operations in 21 locations. In her own words, she is a staunch believer that negative thoughts do not lead to positive results and surrounds herself with cultured, creative and competent team. Her organization is renowned for a huge product range ( spanning a full range of hospitality solutions, furnishings, to organic health, beauty and lifestyle products) and is seeking to increase both production and expansion as a continuing part of creative entrepreneurship.

One can immediately single out ways in which the corporate culture of Shalini’s organizations are a reflection of her own personal values. For example, every stage between the sourcing of materials to the finished product at FORMULA ONE FURNICHE Pte Ltd are constantly refined in order to continually enhance quality, innovation and goodwill. In terms of quality, Shalini believes that there is no quick fix when it comes to providing the best standard of products, services and solutions to clients. The mindset is ‘your success is our success’, a mantra she has taken for word, providing upto 10 year warranty on most FF&E and Hospitality products, services and solutions. When she introduced her line of designer shoes under the brand Diva which is also manufactured for private label, she enhanced her designer shoes by combining sophistication with unparalleled comfort for the best wearing

experience, again a first in the foot wear industry which focuses on form over function.

Innovation at FORMULA ONE FURNICHE Pte Ltd can be seen from two aspects in particular, an environmentally responsible perspective e.g. the incorporation of non-azo dyes and a product improvement perspective such as ‘easy-clean’ soft furnishings to help clients save costs on replacement and maintenance thus lowering the environmental impact as well. When it comes to gratitude and giving back to the community that brought her success, Shalini’s efforts know no ends. She strictly implements ‘Go-Green Initiatives’ and recycling programmes within her organizations, whereas externally she is constantly on the lookout for opportunities to make a difference. Apart from working along with small businesses, personally involving herself in organizations such as The Rotary International, Singapore After Care Associations, Handicaps Welfare Association, Singapore Children’s Society, Ministry of Social and Family Development among others, being a Voluntary Probation Officer, she is deeply interested in encouraging the youth to follow their dreams. She proved all this and more when she offered one-on-one free consultations, company sponsored designer materials and media coverage to budding fashion designers all over South East Asia in a one of a kind fashion show.

In the next few years, Shalini has set a target for continued global expansion.

SUCCESS IS NOT FINAL. FOR CONTINUED SUCCESS, A SUCCESSFUL COMPANY MUST INNOVATE EVERYDAY.

For up and aspiring entrepreneurs, Shalini has this advice, “ The journey of success is riddled with valleys and pitfalls. One time you feel that you won’t make it while the truth is that you are about to accomplish something big. Every solution had a problem. Quitting is never an option in the world of entrepreneurship.”

Callum Connects

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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Callum Connects

William Chin, Founder of Mummy’s Market

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William Chin set up Mummy’s Market. Mummy’s Market is the uncontested platform connecting parents and retailers in Singapore.

What’s your story?
After National Service, I enjoyed a rousing start to my corporate career with successful stints at events and conventions companies such as IQPC, Hannover Fairs Australia and Lighthouse Independent Media in management roles, building my experience in conventions, trade fairs and events.

However, I hit a particularly bad streak of unemployment after that, facing difficulty finding jobs because according to recruiters, I was overqualified, yet too young. In fact, at one point I was struggling so badly with my family loans that I was sharing bowls of ramen with my girlfriend for our meals, to save costs.

My financial pressures eventually culminated in my forced venture into entrepreneurship where I had to strike out my own path with a brief stint in Expomal. However, this turned out to be my next break that fuelled my current success. It was there I built up Smartkids (another wildly successful baby and child fair) before it was bought out by a bigger company. Inspired by SmartKids, I started Mummy’s Market and eventually Baby’s Market, outperforming established names in the business to take its current place as market leader.

What excites you most about your industry?
Mummy’s Market is the industry leader in baby, kids, maternity and household with 80% market share and our clients – coupled with branding, advertising and exhibiting on Mummy’s Market platforms, we are seeing a 30-60% company growth year on year despite the downturn in the economy. With attendance of over 100k consumers per fair and serving 70-80% of pregnant mums, our actual business is in data, data collection and processing from consumer fairs.

I am excited about how big data analytics from Mummy’s Market can be applied at every stage of the retail process such as data segmentation – for retailers now when mums are giving birth to sending relevant content over. This will transform and innovate the industry of baby fairs and Mummy’s Market, with the huge amount of data we process from our fairs yearly, is the forerunner in this disruption. With this, we have transformed the DNA of how digital business has always been done. Global online marketplaces are burning cash quickly to achieve big data analytics, but not us.

Another testament to Mummy’s Market’s popularity is that huge marketplaces have been trying to pass off as Mummy’s Market. It shows that we are heading in the right direction and the most exciting part is, we are only at 10% of where we want to be – a platform where $1 billion gross market value products are transacted annually around Asia in a niche market.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore, and intend to stay in Singapore to build the Mummy’s Market brand.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore – if one can strategically become a leader in a small market like Singapore, its grounds to show that one’s business has an opportunity to grow further in larger countries.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“It is easy to become number 1 because the others can just copy and tweak to overtake you.
It is more difficult to STAY number 1, because you have no one to copy. You have to innovate.”

Who inspires you?
Steve Jobs – he transformed the digital age. Without the invention of smartphones, mobile computing and mobile advertising would never have grown. He changed the way businesses and consumers communicate. Without the introduction of iPhones, mobile applications would have never existed the way we are using them today.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You no longer have to lick stamps to make it sticky.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I love my life and my family. And I love the platform Mummy’s Market has created to help businesses grow.

How do you unwind?
I play with my little 1 year old baby girl.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan – cool weather with beautiful mountains and lake scenery.

Everyone in business should read this book:
7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

Shameless plug for your business:
Mummy’s Market has established its reputation as not just Singapore’s but Southeast Asia’s largest baby fair:

  • Nearly S$100 million gross merchandise volume transacted on Mummy’s Market platforms annually
  • 800,000 visitors at its fairs yearly
  • 80% of all of Singapore’s baby product distributors in one convention
  • 15-20% year on year increase in sales volume at every baby fair since its inception

Apart from market dominance, Mummy’s Market also has the largest database of parents and the number 1 platform for MNCs and SMEs to reach out to this audience. From exhibitions, magazines, seminars to digital campaigns and roadshows. Mummy’s Market is the uncontested platform connecting parents and retailers in Singapore.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]
https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-chin-23910a9/

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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