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Tak Fung, founder of Supermono Studios



Tak Fung is the founder of Supermono Studios , an app making studio that has made such successful and popular mobile games as “Rescue Rush” and “Forever Drive”. Tak’s journey began after graduating from the University of Cambridge with a degree in Computer Science. He was employed by Lionhead Studios for 7 years, where he has worked on numerous renowned games such as the “Fable” series of games. He moved on to working at Geometrics at Cambridge before embracing work as a freelancer. As a freelancer he has worked for various companies including Passion Pictures, United Visual Artists and Sony. With a plethora of experience, in 2009 Tak Fung created Supermono Studios.

Tak Fung takes the seat today with the Asian Entrepreneur, as he tells us about his studio and experiences developing app games.

In your own words, what does Supermono Studios do?

We are an independent studio focused on creating visually exciting apps that try and capture your imagination! They mostly involve games but we are always trying new things.

I understand that you’ve been in the game industry for awhile, what led you to start Supermono Studios?

It was a time when I felt it was right to go into a quickly emerging digital market, which had very low barriers to entry and was very suited to my skills. In particular at that time, I had an idea for this game I wanted to do, and it seemed like a great opportunity to try it out on the App Store and see how easy it was to distribute it WorldWide. I was already freelancing so it was a very natural move to start an independent studio making things I like , since I was free to do so.

So what sort of games do you guys create?

Mostly action and skill games, we have tried a lot of genres! We’ve created a Shoot-em-up, a Driving game, a Tilt game, a To-Do-List with bits of game, and we’ve tried all sorts of monetization models including Free-To-Play, Premium, DLC and so on. As long as it’s an interesting idea that rattles in my head for long enough then it will be good to try!

How was it like with the initial release of early games?

Our first game was MiniSquadron, which was a very well received game. Which was followed by several others, which were well received, such as EpicWin. Both showed a level of quality that few were willing to achieve at that point in the App Store’s life, and hence they stood out.

And how did you guys market the games initially?

Word of mouth and Twitter! It is a lot harder these days but initially I adopted a Grass Roots approach whereby I did a lot of blogs about the game I was making, whilst in progress. I also contacted lots of press and forums in order to excite people. The competition then was much less than it is now so the marketing approach these days needs a vastly different approach.

So was money an issue for the studio initially and did that affect how you approach work?

Initially, because I was self-funded, money was always an issue and a sharp reminder of the time you have left to get the work done. But I really enjoyed the work, and it was an amazing feeling to just do whatever I felt like that aside from the long hours, I really can’t complain too much!

In your opinion, how should one approach developing apps?

In my opinion, you have to be intelligent in how you spend your time, how you scope your project out and how you network to find the best people to work with in order to make your game a success. This includes teaming up with strong artists, Dave Ferner and Rex Crowle in my case and also being focused on what you do. It’s also very important to be totally objective about the quality of your work by testing it on unbiased people who will tell you if your game is rubbish! It may hurt but it is always for the better.

And is there an art to creating games?

Creating games is art and for me, I want to separate the art from the business. Making wonderful games requires process, research and most importantly a voice or an idea that you feel is rich and deep enough to communicate to the world. Many people have achieved this but there’s no real formula to it apart from a certain set of common attitudes in the developers whilst making it. When you put in monetization however, the goalposts do change and the game design must change to incorporate that too. Obviously it is good to achieve revenue for your game so you can continue your craft, but it is a different subject matter and involves other processes to guide game design.

How do you find out what the market wants?

I try to make games that I think is cool and fun, with an idea that it is of interest to a market of choice. It’s always hard to find out what the market wants – they usually don’t know themselves! There’s the old saying where Henry Ford, inventor of the motor car, said if he had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses! At the end of the day , it’s important to be working on something you believe in yourself, so I try and keep that in mind.

So how have you dealt with competition in the industry?

Competition in the App Store, especially in the field of games, is 100% saturated. You will be up against huge companies with massive budgets, all the way to independent small teams of 1-2 who are creating wonderful niche games. You really need to work hard and find a voice in your games to stand out.Its a balancing act of doing something original and unique that also resonates with an audience. We try not to be too niche, but at the same time we know its hard to go head to head with some of the big names on the App Store now. Quality of work is still a good basic component of our games that you can rely on though.

Any major disappointments so far?

Our free to play modelling was very difficult to get right so we will have to think long and hard about our future monetization plans.

What does the future hold for Supermono Studios?

Tenacity and humility. Staying on course when things get hard, remembering that there’s still so much to learn no matter how far ahead you’ve gotten in the game.

What are some important lessons you’ve learnt that you could share with our readers?

I think one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is that there is really no substitute for experience in running a startup/business on your own. On that, it is also never the perfect time to start, except “as soon as possible or now”! There are a lot of processes and methods you can prepare your entrepreneurship with, but there is also a lot of luck involved. All I do know is, if you do not go ahead and try it, then I can guarantee you will have 0% of becoming successful, whereas if you are brave enough to have a go, then you are at least rolling the dice with a chance of winning!

In your opinion, how could entrepreneurs improve their results?

Iterate and learn from mistakes. Be persistent and use failures as lessons. Understand that what we do will inherently have chaotic results – especially if we operate within society, which we all do, and that markets are irrational, so never lose hope or optimism, but be grounded in reality.

So why do you do what you do? Why entrepreneurship?

Interesting question! I do what I do because I believe one of the big reasons why I live is to turn my ideas into reality. Not all my ideas are actually possible in my skill set and time on this earth to produce, but of those that are – then I want to arrange things in my life such that I can do that. Importantly for me – although I have made a lot of games, I don’t limit myself to them.


Connect with Tak Fung and Supermono Studios today:
Email: [email protected]


Women on Top in Tech – Dawn Dickson, Founder and CEO of PopCom, Inc. and Founder of Flat Out of Heels



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Dawn Dickson is the Founder and CEO of PopCom, Inc. (formerly Solutions Vending, Inc.), the company behind PopCom Kiosks and the PopCom API, which provides a software solution to make vending machines more intelligent. She created the company after her own struggles to find vending machines that could sell her roll-up flat products, Flat Out of Heels, at high-traffic areas like airports.  She was awarded First place in the PowerMoves NOLA Big Break pitch Competition and second place in the 2016 SBA Innovate Her Challenge.

What makes you do what you do? 
I love solving big problems and working with amazing people to get it done.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
After working in the vending industry for three years selling Flat Out of Heels in vending machines in airports and nightclubs, I was frustrated with the lack of data I was able to collect from my hardware. I also wanted more engaging and interactive experiences for my customers and after speaking with several retailers they felt the same way. That is when I decided to focus on PopCom and developing a software solution to solve the data problem in self-service retail.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)? 
The fact that I am not the usual, leadership demographic is the main reason why I was up for the challenge. The industry is in need of a change and I believe someone with a unique and different perspective and experience is needed. I look forward to collaborating with the industry leaders and veterans to build a product that everyone loves and finds value in.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work? How did you make a match if you did, and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
I am involved in several different industries and sectors – retail, self-service retail, hardware, software…so I have to learn a lot of information quickly.  There are several people that I look up to, follow their career, and seek advice from. I was fortunate to be able to participate in some of the country’s top accelerator and entrepreneurship development programs, including Techstars, Canopy Boulder, and the BIxel Exchange – the mentorship and network I gained from these programs has been invaluable and very instrumental in our progress.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent? 
I have learned that spotting talent takes time, it takes patience, and building relationships with people and networks to meet new people, most of my connections come from introductions. I focus on finding the right fit for the company culture, there is a lot of great talent out there, but the culture is different, I want us to be on the same wavelength. I am fortunate to have met some great people through the programs I was in that came on as mentors, advisors, and eventually full time team members. I take time to get to know my team individually and understand what their personal goals and ambitions are, ask them what their dream job looks like, understand their needs so they can be happy at work and be fulfilled. I believe in self-care and making mental health a priority, if a person is good within themselves they radiate positivity and are more productive.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
I am a black woman so I am diversity. Naturally, we attract people we can relate to and have things in common, so I found that my team was heavily female and my diversity initiative was finding more men…when I thought about it I found it funny. Now I have a balanced team of men and women from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives which is exciting.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb? 
To be a great leader you have to be a team player, my rule is I never ask someone to do something that I would not do myself. I also have a rule to give the team the freedom and flexibility to work when and how they are most productive. That means some of us working different hours and being in the office different days, but happy team builds the dream!

Advice for others?
My advice is never give up if you believe in it. I started my company selling shoes in vending machines in 2011, it took me 7 years, a few failed hardware attempts, and many people telling me it would not work because the market was not ready. I was patient and what I believed would happen is happening. In May PopCom is bringing the PopShop to market, a next gen smart vending machine to sell and sample products. Our API will be ready in July and for the first time vending machine and kiosk owners can understand their conversion rates and have the level of data and analytics available that eCommerce stores have, but better. It has been a long journey and I feel it is just getting started, but I am only here because I never gave up.

If you’d like to get in touch with Dawn Dickson, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn:

To learn more about PopCom, please click here.

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Callum Connects

Elaine Zhou, Co-Founder of China Women Equipping Center



Elaine went on a journey of self discovery and once she knew her true self she could be successful in her own business.

What’s your story?
I am very proud of where I came from and I am grateful for where I am living and working today. Singapore is my adopted home and it is my aim to always contribute to and serve this country and its people.
Twelve years ago, I moved to Singapore for an internship opportunity. I was twenty one years old and I didn’t have any friends, I didn’t speak English, I didn’t understand the culture or the customs. Everything was new and strange to me. Everything was difficult, but my parents had tremendous faith in me.
My parents have worked diligently on the family farm to raise us and send us to college. My parents had a huge influence on me. The important things I learnt from them are to love, to never give up, to be a hard worker and to have a can-do attitude. These are the qualities that I embrace in my daily life.

What excites you most about your industry?
We offer more than just training. Our business is a resource to be leveraged for transformation, improved teamwork, leadership behaviours, communication skills, relationship skills, coaching skills and increased job satisfaction and productivity.
Our passion and purpose is to help people grow as leaders and to create tremendous results by serving others well. We take people to daring destinations, beyond their imagination.
My greatest joy is to see people grow, change and transform and live a purposeful life; this is what motivates me to do more and do it well.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in China and I have spent all my adult and professional life in Singapore.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore and China.
Singapore is a very sophisticated and systematic country. It is a structured and highly efficient business environment and people are generally nice and honest. Also, the convenience and diverse culture is a great advantage for people who want to settle down there, no matter if they are from the East or West. You always feel at home in Singapore.
I also like China because of its fast growth. The population and the market is here. However, it takes time to settle in because of the language barrier and the very different traditional culture. But you will also find it is very interesting and you’ll want to learn more about China. The people are nice if you know them well. It is always about relationship first and business second, and when you are in a business meeting, you really have to master the skill of “reading the air.” It is a skill to let people know and understand you; your values, your background, why you think in that way or why you do or do not do certain things. Doing business in China is like swimming in the ocean; it is an abundant ocean and it is full of risks. Always know your values and stay true to yourself and make decisions close to your heart. It will help you see things more clearly and get things done in a way that doesn’t violate your values.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Be yourself, Elaine.” That is the best advice I have ever received. It was a big ‘aha’ moment for me. It was also the moment I truly and honestly looked within myself. I realized that when I am being my true self, and not trying to be someone else, I am able to connect with people instantly in a genuine and authentic way. It is a great feeling.

Who inspires you?
There are so many people who encourage me, lift me up and challenge me everyday. My mentor, John Maxwell who helped me discover my purpose in life; Michael Griffin, for his passion for Christ which is contagious and Wayne Dyer, my spiritual mentor who passed away in 2016. Also, people who are living with a purpose and striving everyday for their dream, they really inspire me. My clients, mentees and students. When I see that joy and peace in them, that inspires me to do more and do well. My team inspire me, especially when they said, “Elaine, I joined the business because of you.” They inspire me to make it work for the team and the business because it is beyond my own self interest. I am grateful for having so many people in my life who inspire me.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
China is a big country, we all know that, and it is also an internet giant. Recently on a team meeting, one of the directors who manages a successful beauty business, shared with us, that everybody is on the internet, especially on WeChat. People are obsessed with online communities – for ordering food, getting taxis, forging relationships, connections and friends. Almost anything and everything can get done online. But right now, there is a new trend; more and more people want the “offline” experience. It usually takes one to two hours from one place to another in Beijing, but people want to make the effort to have a real connection with other people, to attend networks, seminars, workshops and business meetings.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I started my first business when I was 24 years old, it failed. One year later, I started my second business and after a year and a half, I closed down the operation. After several painful experiences and two failed businesses, I started to look within myself, and seriously and intentionally invested in my personal growth at the age of 28. If I could turn back time, I wish I could have grown a lot earlier. I strongly believe that the level of our success is determined by the level of our self growth and we are always learning, everyday. But I also understand it is not the only way to live. I also consciously and intentionally try to live in the now. It is a beautiful and great way to live. In fact, I am grateful for what I have gone through; the pains, setbacks and challenges in my earlier life.

How do you unwind?
I like to stay connected with nature. For example, taking a walk barefoot on the grass and smelling the roses on the street. Having a beer or coffee along the riverside with friends; reading a good book; hunting for nice restaurants; swimming or running.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand – nice beaches, food and people.
Bali – fantastic beaches and food, great people.
Malaysia – Nice food and people, particularly Langkawi, Penang and KK.
Of course Singapore, it is always a place dear to my heart. It’s my home.
There are a lot of other interesting places in China which I am still exploring.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Law of Success by Napoleon Hill
The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
Tao Te Ching: Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life by Wayne Dyer
Developing the Leaders Within You by John C.Maxwell
Start with Why by Simon Sinek
These are some of the books that truly transformed my thinking and shaped my values.
I used to read a lot of different types of books, from sales, marketing, branding and management to different business models. I found it is really hard to master all of it and I was not optimizing my own strengths.
Entrepreneurship is a skill to be learnt. But it is really important to recognize what we are good at and what we are not so good at. We can not be everything.
Entrepreneurship is a journey of self-discovery and soul searching. It is all about learning and striving. We should try and always remember why we started our business in the first place.

Shameless plug for your business:
The China Women Equipping Center, is something both my team are I are very proud. We have put our hearts and souls into it, to help women in China grow and transform. As a developing country and with the rise of China, people are not lacking in money, everywhere is full of opportunity, but the challenge is the civilizations, values and faith. In fact the Chinese government puts a lot of effort into improving and shaping the international image to ensure it is making progress. But people are still facing a lot of pressure, especially women.
One of our business partners who is runs traditional Chinese medicine retail stores, shared that 80% of his patients are female, and the reason they are coming to see him are anxiety and depression.
Our China Women Equipping Center creates a safe and comfortable environment for women to help build their values and characters. My local team and I are very passionate about our mission and purpose. Beijing is our headquarters in China. We are planning to take three to six months to establish our business in Beijing and grow and expand to other major cities in China after that.

How can people connect with you?

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:
Download free copies of his books here:

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