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Sunny Tan, Founder of Maths Heuristics

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Sunny Tan set up mathsHeuristics™ after being stumped by the maths syllabus in schools. mathsHeuristics™ embraces technology thus staying relevant to today’s students.

What’s your story?
I was a mathematics teacher in Singapore since 1997 but realised that the mathematics syllabus taught in schools often left the average student stumped. I saw daily, how students were inundated with mathematical heuristics, a fact they were oblivious to. This was because these techniques were embedded in different topics and not taught as self-contained chapters. What ensued was a generation of students who were required to apply heuristics but only had a smattering of it.
Seeing this gap in the market, I left my comfortable job as a teacher in 2008 and set up my own mathematics coaching centre called mathsHeuristics™ which was set up to help students achieve breakthroughs in their study of mathematics.
I am proud to say that while many of such centres come and go in Singapore, our company has been growing, culminating with the launch of Singapore’s first “total learning solution” for mathematics. This is where we offer a suite of learning tools – classes, guidebooks, mobile app, soon-to-be-launched web videos and upcoming virtual classrooms. With students becoming digital natives, this was something that helps us stay relevant to today’s students. Additionally, by embracing technology, we give students, parents and educators 24/7 access to our expertise.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me is that Singapore’s education system is moving away from rewarding students based on memorisation towards a more holistic education. Additionally, with the clear move towards going digital, the challenge is for academic coaching centres such as ourselves to find innovative ways to keep up with these changes.
At mathsHeuristics, this is something we watch closely, continuously evolving our curriculum and teaching ecosystem in order to keep pace with the times and ensure our students learn in a way that fits them. The launch of our mobile app and virtual classrooms are a testimony to that.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am a true blue Singaporean. However, I have travelled to various parts of Asia and have had the privilege to experience the unique culture that each country brings. Having also interacted with various businessmen across Asia, it is fascinating to see how each nation has its own unique business culture yet so many similar underlying principles that makes us all truly “Asian.”

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
As much as this might sound clichéd, there is no place like home. Having been a part of various startups since I started mathsHeuristics, Singapore has been undoubtedly the easiest and most efficient place to do business. Beyond the networks that I have built here, Singapore has built an entire eco-system that has been beneficial to business owners. Additionally, it has also built in regulations that have made it easy to start, maintain and build a thriving business. For example, it takes about 2 to 3 days to start a new business in Singapore, something unheard of in other parts of the world. This is just one of the many things that both Singaporeans and foreigners coming into Singapore rave about.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Simplicity is the key to success.”
In order to achieve simplicity, it is not the absence of complexity but an in-depth understanding of the situation or topic which allows it to be so.

Who inspires you?
The late Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, one of Singapore’s modern founders. It says a lot when his death triggered an international outpouring of grief not just in Asia but globally. His leadership, strategic mind and tenacity as a leader in my opinion is unmatched.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I attended a seminar recently, and a speaker quoted this fascinating statement, “In today’s market, you do not build a company to last, but you build one to change.”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would focus on building strong communications with my business partners. This is because I have had bad experiences where the lack of clear communication has led to the breakdown of relationships. This is something I truly regret in my early days as a businessman and something I put a lot of emphasis on now.

How do you unwind?
I jog and do weight training at least three times a week. In my free time, I go boating with friends and my business partner.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

Shameless plug for your business:
From my humble beginnings as a teacher, I have been able to build multiple strong businesses. Besides the success of mathsHeuristics (www.mathsheuristics.com) which has become one of Singapore’s leading primary school Mathematics coaching centres, I have also been successful in the food and beverage industry. I am a partner in BBQ House (www.bbqhouse.com.sg) , a one-stop solution for barbequed food in Singapore and also one of the biggest in Singapore.
However, we also had our fair share of failures in business. My first business was a renovation company and closed it after 3 years of operation due to our inexperience in project management and poor cash flow management. We have also ventured into the leisure boat rental business. Also due to a lack of experience and network in the marine industry, the boat we purchased sank and we were unable to claim insurance for the boat. The business was forced to close down 2 years later.

How can people connect with you?
Email: [email protected]
Tel: 62555941 (Office)

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

Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

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

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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Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

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Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/ceedeees

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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