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Taran Kumar, founder of DTAutomobile

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Taran Kumar, founder of DTAutomobile

T​aran Kumar is the founder of DTAutomobile, a highly successful and independent luxury car importing business based in Indonesia. He founded his business when he was previously living in London and pursuing business school studies. Whilst residing in London, Taran saw a business opportunity. Being heavily involved and active in monitoring the car trading industry in London and Europe, Taran was able to build his own acumen and envisioned ways in which he could develop the domestic luxury car industry in Indonesia. His expereinces and ideas culminated in the birth of his business, which he has passionately developed for the past few years.

A well noted entrepreneur who has been featured by several publications, Taran is here with us today to offer us his insights on his current venture and share with us his ideas on how to tackle business development.

​​Taran, tell us abit about your background

Well, I am from Jakarta, Indonesia. I come from a family of entrepreneurs. My family owns numerous well established businesses in Indonesia. One of which is a renowned garments manufacturing business which I have been heavily involved in since a young age. Through my family businesses, I have been able to develop my own business experience and vision as I had the opportunity to deal with and create business relations with numerous big names internationally. Besides all this I am also an independent stocks trader, I believe in investments.

What are you currently working on?

I am working on developing DTAutomobile at the moment. I am personally striving to bring in more diesel engine cars into Indonesia. I want to try to change the minds of people who love cars. Especially in regards to diesel engines. I am trying to show, as against people’s expectations, that diesel engines have much better fuel consumption as well as being environmentally friendly. That is a major thing I am working on in my luxury car business.

​As my business network grew exponentially along these years, I’m also working on expanding the market for vehicular oil lubricants in Indonesia. I want to make it excessively viable and reachable to everyone in Indonesia. This relates to something that my family has been involved in as well. My father has a similar business specializing in vehicular oil lubricants based in Jakarta. Now, I am striving to reach each markets in Java and everywhere else.

Aside from cars, I have a love for properties. I believe investing in properties is the best option for business and personal growth. Especially, if you have got spare cash rather than buying luxury goods and materialistic things to boost personal egos. Having another property file in your drawer makes you grow day by day. So I started investing in property personally within Indonesia. With property as well it grows. All you just see is people offering you to buy at a higher price, never at a lower.

Where did your initial idea for DTAutomobile come from?

My idea was based on my own passion for cars since I was a little boy. Having a father who loves cars is a blessing too. So when I started my venture in importing cars, my father had fully supported me in realizing it even without thinking twice. Having my ideas ripe and perfect, we kicked off with personal orders from people around Jakarta. Initially the orders were received from mostly friends and family. There were even personal investment to try out demand.

​I think the uniqueness of a private luxury car importer is getting the best of best cars. It is all about being bespoke. Doing what you want with these cars. It’s all about options, from upholstery leather colours, everything can be bespoken. This has never been done before. So I wanted to get in on it but not only that, offering these things at a price way, way cheaper then market values.

So what is the revenue model for DTAutomobile?

At DTAutomobiles, we make money but not as much as local competitors and dealers. The only reason being my objective to get more people to trust our brand and creating a very high turnover for our brand. We make money from each car base on how much difference am we are willing to give to each client and whether there should be a high charge of fee for our importing services. Importantly, that fee is nothing compared to the discounts we give customers. They could even buy another car with the amount of discount we give them.
How do you realize your business ideas?

​I do take time to understand and get focused. I do meet a lot of people and I love networking. Having someone to talk about your ideas too is the most essential thing as you can understand different perspectives and their ideas. It is always best to reassure what you have with another workaholic. I have realised a lot of my ideas. And all I do is work, work and work. I sometimes take the time to think and research based on the smallest thing that may be able to help me accomplish my business ideas.

What does a typical week in your work life look like?

My typical day is to wake up in the morning , spare some time for coffee and breakfast, as those are the two most essential things when you wake up. Giving sometime to God is my essential guide to a perfect day. Then I head to my office and clear out my morning work and have a meeting with my accountant on the company’s books and accounts , making sure everything gives out a tally.

On a busy day, I don’t even have the time to go to the office. I will be out for meetings the whole day and giving time to satisfy customers by attending to each one of them and their needs. These meetings are normally far away from my office so I take on the traffic jam of Jakarta and move around replying emails from all over with UK and The States as I work with them.

After work hours, I give myself time to go to the gym and spa. During tiring days, I just swim at home. I think it is essential to exercise and rejuvenate ourselves everday and take an hour from work , so for me exercising is part of my schedule.

After that I head home and spend time with my family and have dinner together if not I go and tend to meet my friends for an hour. I have to be back home before 11pm as during that time as American markets and offices open so I work until about 2-3am everyday. Often I attend to my conference calls and emails with abroad , and there goes my daily life.

During the weekends, I tend to go dinners and sometimes clubbing as well as to new fantastic places in Jakarta. I like to treat myself with a nice glass of wine or liquor, while socialising and catching up with my friends.

On Sunday, I go to church with my family as Sundays are very much likely to be dedicated and spending time with God as well as family.
Would you have approached certain things differently in regards to DTAutomobile?

“In life there are no regrets , just lessons.” I truly believe in this statement. In all honesty, I may have done certain things differently in regards to spending my time in London and making sure I had more time concentrating on my luxury car business and meeting more and more suppliers and also from all other parts of Europe. However, there was also a difficulty. I was juggling between business school and my meetings, I think it was a pretty good outcome that I was able to kick off DTAutomobile at the end of it all. So really I have no regrets.

Despite this I have I’ve learnt many lessons in the past few years from my business, my travels and studies. I grew and understood that I should be completely focused on one business rather then juggling around several because I have been involved in several.

What is one advice you would give to other entrepreneurs out there?

The advice I would give to entrepreneurs out there is to learn and understand the concept and characteristics of managing a business.

I would also like to advise them that Faith and determination is the key to achieving wonders. As I believe Faith moves mountains. This gives the upper hand of focus and positive thinking. That will definitely enable a successful outcome to entrepreneurs out there.

Something overlooked often is the power of note keeping. I think carrying a notebook is also essential for entrepreneurs as ideas come anytime, anywhere. Having it jotted down is a key to not forgetting as what they have just written might be their big one tomorrow.

What is the greatest challenged you’ve faced so far with your business?

The greatest challenge we faced so far in DTAutomobile is finding new suppliers in London. London is an interesting place, as initially I was completely new to the place and didn’t know how the tax system worked so that was the greatest challenge I had to overcome initially. This is because for my company cutting cost is our main priority and the tax in the UK is about 17%. This gives us a huge challenge as we had to take back the tax and make sure that is brought down to making the overall cost for the car cheaper.

What is a business idea you are willing to share with our readers?

I personally don’t have few businesses in mind that I don’t mind sharing. I do have an idea about making an annual conference for understanding how each entrepreneurs thinks. I think this idea will be the most effective idea to pursue for the purposes of now.

What are some of the online resources you utilize daily?

Probably these websites:
Bloomberg (www.bloomberg.com)
WallStreet Journal (www.wsj.com)
Autotrader (www.autotrader.com)
Coursera.org (www.coursera.org)
What is one important book you would recommend to our readers?

The Holy Bible, possibly the most important book you can read. Furthermore, Topgear and GQ.​

ceb171

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Website: http://www.dtautomobile.com/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/taran.topandasani?fref=ts
Email: [email protected]

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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Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Pam Weber, Chief Marketing Officer at 99Designs

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(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.)

Pam Webber is Chief Marketing Officer at 99designs, where she heads up the global marketing team responsible for acquisition, through growth marketing and traditional marketing levers, and increasing lifetime value of customers. She is passionate about using data to derive customer insights and finding “aha moments” that impact strategic direction. Pam brings a host of first-hand startup marketing experiences as an e-commerce entrepreneur herself and as the first marketing leader for many fast-growing startups. Prior to joining 99designs, she founded weeDECOR, an e-commerce company selling custom wall decals for kids’ rooms. She also worked as an executive marketing consultant at notable startups including True&Co, an e-commerce startup specializing in women’s lingerie. Earlier in her career, Pam served in various business and marketing positions with eBay and its subsidiary, PayPal, Inc. A resident of San Francisco, Pam received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MBA from Harvard Business School. Pam is a notable guest speaker for Venture Beat, The Next Web, Lean Startup, and Growth Hacking Forum, as well as an industry expert regularly quoted in Inc., CIO, Business News Daily, CMSwire, Smart Hustle, DIY Marketer, and various podcast and radio shows. You can follow her on Twitter at @pamwebber_sf.

What makes you do what you do?
My dad always told me make sure you choose a job you like because you’ll be doing it for a long time. I took that advice to heart and as I explored various roles over my career, I always stopped to check whether I was happy going to work every day – or at least most days :). That has guided me to the career I have in marketing today. I’m genuinely excited to go to work every day. I get to create, to analyze, to see the impact of my work. It’s very fulfilling.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
I had a penchant for numbers and it helped me stand out in my field. This penchant became even more powerful when the Internet and digital marketing started to explode. There was a great need for marketers whose skills could span both the creative and the analytic aspects of marketing. I capitalized on that growth by bringing unique insight to the companies I worked with, well-supported with thoughtful analysis.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup?
I’m not sure this is relevant to my situation as I had been a marketing leader in various start-ups and companies. I took on the role at 99designs because I was excited by the global reach of the brand and the opportunity the company had to own the online design space. I especially liked the team as I felt they were good at heart.

The challenge I’ve faced in my time at 99designs is how do I evolve the team quickly and nimbly to address new challenges. The work we do now, is very different than the work we did a year ago and even the year before that. There is a fine line between staying focused on the goal ahead and being able to move quickly should that goal shift.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industry or did you look for one or how did that work?
There is no one I’ve sought out or worked with over my entire career as my “mentee” needs have changed so much over the years. There are many people who have helped me along the way. For example, one of my peers at eBay, who was quite experienced and skilled in marketing strategy and creative execution, taught me what was in a marketing plan and how to evaluate marketing assets. As I have risen to leadership positions over the years, I often reach out to similarly experienced colleagues for advice on how they handle situations.

How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him?
I learned early in my career that it rarely hurts to ask for advice. So that is what I have done. Additionally, there are people that are known to be quite helpful and build a reputation for giving back to others in advisory work. Michael Dearing, of Harrison Metal and ex-eBay, is one of those people. I, as well as countless others, have asked him for advice and guidance through the years and he does his best to oblige. Finding mentorship is about intuiting who in your universe might be willing and whether you are up for asking for help.

That being said, generally, I have found, if you are eager to learn and be guided, people will respond to the outreach.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I generally look for a good attitude and inherent “smarts”. A good attitude can encompass anything from being willing to take on many different types of challenges to working well amongst differing personalities and perspectives. Smarts can be seen through how well someone’s done in their “passion areas” (i.e. areas where they have a keen interest in pursuing).

I try to hire those types of people because in smaller, fast-growing companies like many of the ones I’ve worked in, it’s more often than not about hiring flexible people as things move and change fast.

Once those people are on my team, I try to keep them challenged and engaged by making sure they have varying responsibilities. If I can’t give them growth in their current job or in the current company, I encourage them to seek growth opportunities elsewhere. I’d rather have one of my stars leave for a better growth opportunity than keep them in a role where they might grow stale.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
I consciously support diversity. When I am hiring, I am constantly thinking about how to balance the team with as broad a range as possible of skill sets, perspectives, etc. to ensure we can take on whatever is thrown at us, or whatever we want to go after.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
I’m going to assume a great leader in my industry to mean a marketing leader in a technology company. I think a great leader in this industry is not afraid to learn new tricks no matter their age – it’s the growth mindset you may have heard about. I have a friend who inspires me to do this – she purchased the Apple Watch as soon as it was available, and was one of the first people I knew to use the Nest heating/cooling system. She’s not an early adopter by most definitions, but she adopts the growth mindset. This is the mindset I, too, have sought to adopt. In my field of marketing, it most recently has meant learning about Growth Marketing and how to apply this methodology to enhance growth. Independent of your industry, I think a growth mindset serves you well.

Advice for others?
I have been at 99designs for 3.5 years. During that time we’ve invested in elevating the skills and quality of our designer community, we’ve rebranded to reflect this higher level of quality, and have improved the satisfaction of our customers. Our next phase of growth will come from better matching clients to the right designer and expanding the ability to work with a designer one-on-one. We have the best platform to find, collaborate, and pay professional designers who deliver high quality design at an affordable price, and it’s only going to get better. I’m excited to deliver on that vision.

Pam Webber
Chief Marketing Officer of 99designs
Twitter: @pamwebber_sf

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