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Innovative Asian Entrepreneurs

Varun Chandran, Founder of Corporate360

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I am 33; I was born and raised in a small farming village called Padam in Kerala, India. I dropped out of college early. I was a national level footballer in India, captained Kerala youth and university football teams. I spent 10 years working for some of the world’s largest software companies such as SAP & Oracle in India, US and Singapore. Work brought me to Singapore in 2008; Presently, I live between San Francisco & Singapore running Corporate360 global operations.

In your own words what is Corporate360?

We offer a SaaS based marketing data cloud software to help B2B marketers discover sales leads, ideal buyer contacts, technology installations & competitive intelligence. Our data-as-a-service cloud helps B2B sales reps close deals faster, eliminate sales research, accelerate pipeline creation, beat competition & maintain CRM data accuracy.

How did you come up with the idea of Corporate360?

It was incidental. The idea was triggered from a business problem I faced in my previous job. My friend and ex boss – Prasanth, who is now VP in NTT Data, inserted the idea of entrepreneurship and motivation in me. He changed my career, I am thankful to him.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up Corporate360?

We self-funded to start the company and remain bootstrapped. We relied on open source technologies and leveraged cloud infrastructure to get off the ground. We built the product and started sharing with our potential customers to learn feedback first and improvised it accordingly. I am confident that the practical validation of any product should come from customer adoption, revenue and repeatable business. We are entirely focused on that.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?

The hardest part is finding the right talent. It’s important to build a collaborative yet performance driven team culture. We don’t do interviews; we give specific tasks for a few weeks to mutually ascertain job fitment and cultural compatibility. We don’t hire normal job seekers; we look for candidates with entrepreneurial attitude, innovative thinking, passion and commitment in what we do.

How have you been developing Corporate360 since startup?

We are always learning from our data-to-day experience to innovate products and improvise our short to mid term goals. Our ultimate objective is to help our customers grow their business. In the long run, we want to be a global leader in marketing data and sales intelligence software space.

What kind of feedback did you get for Corporate360 so far?

We have more than 200 clients now, generating multi million dollars in revenue. Some of the world’s technology companies, enterprise start-ups, successful digital and telemarketing agency partners use C360 for total addressable market analysis, competitive displacement campaigns, predictive analytics data modeling, marketing campaigns, and cross-sell initiatives. We secured a number of international awards including the best lead generation software in Asia and best new marketing data product in US, which means our products have gone through serious and vigorous testing by analysts and customers.

What is your strategy against your competition?

B2B marketing tech industry is highly competitive. Every player has some differentiators. The addressable market is huge. Despite numerous marketing technology advancement, identifying sales leads has been very difficult to predict. We built a global data platform from the ground up with industry specific features. Our data platform brings in 75% high probability of discovering sales leads. We offer a low-cost data subscription model, which allows B2B marketers to avoid repeated, flat fee based, static list purchases for marketing campaigns. Our platform is data science technology enabled, combined with human intelligence, data privacy compliance validated and comes with ongoing data accuracy maintenance support real-time. Our product is a modern, all-in-one data cloud for B2B marketing campaigns. We are one of the very few companies in the world with this new business model and we are the first and only one in Asia with a global data platform.

What can you tell us about the industry?

The world is transforming into a digital economy. There is so much data being generated. Information is available everywhere and easily accessible more than ever before. In near future, all enterprise data will be on cloud. Traditional data re-seller and flat fee based data business model will be outplaced by Data science enabled technologies, which will play a significant role in marketing decision support for businesses.

How do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?

Relevancy, accuracy & compliance will be the vital factors for B2B marketing data products. We introduced a transformative business model for the B2B marketing information industry. Creating awareness through value based messaging to educate our audience and reduce skepticism is critical. We are working hard to help marketers make informed decisions to switch from traditional list sourcing to adopt modern data-as-a-service cloud.

Were there anything that disappointed you initially?

An entrepreneur’s journey is full of ups and downs. It’s a part of life. Work stress always transforms into a positive energy to do better and do more.

What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?

Asia is a dynamic market with great opportunities. The startup space here is at a budding stage. The quality of startup eco-system is improving. The freedom to apply creative thinking to build innovative products, non-reserved attitude and a fearless mindset would define an entrepreneur’s journey regardless of his location.

What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?

I run a global business. I don’t know if there is any such regional difference in entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur should be able to build businesses catering to global markets from anywhere. Startup ecosystem in San Francisco-Bay Area is extraordinary.

What is your definition of success?

The ability to change lives and make a difference with your work

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I found an opportunity and took the risk.

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

First, understand customer problems and then build products & services to solve them. Focus on customer adoption, revenue and repeatable business; nothing else can validate your product better.

Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?

Learn something new every day, Make a difference with your work, Travel the world

Entrepreneurship

Uber’s Future with Grab?

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Following Bloomberg’s report, Grab on Monday announced that it has acquired Uber’s Southeast Asia operations.

This deal is said to be the largest-ever of its kind in Southeast Asia. Grab said it will integrate Uber’s ride sharing and food delivery business in the Southeast Asia region into Grab’s existing platform as it takes over Uber’s operations and assets in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

As part of the acquisition, Uber will take a 27.5% stake in Grab and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Grab’s board.

Moving forward:

  • Food delivery: Grab will rapidly expand its existing GrabFood businesses in Indonesia and Thailand to two more countries – Singapore and Malaysia – following the integration of the Uber Eats business. GrabFood will be available across all major Southeast Asian countries in the first half of 2018.
  • Transportation: Grab will grow its core transport offering to include more localised transport services and new mobility solutions, in partnership with other transport providers and automakers. Grab will also collaborate with governments and public transport operators to link public transport services and create seamless and integrated multi-modal commuter experiences. The recently announced GrabCycle marketplace for shared bicycles and personal mobility devices, and GrabShuttle Plus for on-demand bus routes are pilots toward this vision.
  • Payments and financial services: Grab will continue to enhance and expand its suite of offerings under Grab Financial, including mobile payments, micro-financing, insurance and other financial services for millions of underserved and unbanked consumers, micro-entrepreneurs and small businesses in the region. GrabPay as a mobile wallet will be available across all major Southeast Asian countries by the end of the year.

To minimise disruption, Grab and Uber are working together to promptly migrate Uber drivers and riders, Uber Eats customers, merchant partners and delivery partners to the Grab platform.

The Uber app will continue to operate for the next two weeks for existing Uber drivers where during this period they can sign-up to drive with Grab. Uber Eats will run until the end of May, after which Uber delivery and restaurant partners will move to the GrabFood platform.

Anthony Tan, Group CEO and Co-founder, Grab said, “We are humbled that a company born in SEA has built one of the largest platforms that millions of consumers use daily and provides income opportunities to over 5 million people. Today’s acquisition marks the beginning of a new era. The combined business is the leader in platform and cost efficiency in the region. Together with Uber, we are now in an even better position to fulfil our promise to outserve our customers. Their trust in us as a transport brand allows us to look towards the next step as a company: improving people’s lives through food, payments and financial services.”

“This deal is a testament to Uber’s exceptional growth across Southeast Asia over the last five years. It will help us double down on our plans for growth as we invest heavily in our products and technology to create the best customer experience on the planet. We’re excited to take this step with Anthony and his entire team at Grab, and look forward to Grab’s future in Southeast Asia,” said Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber.

Over 5 million people use Grab in Southeast Asia daily. Today, the Grab app has been downloaded onto over 90 million mobile devices. Grab is in 195 cities in eight Southeast Asian countries and offers the widest range of on-demand transport services including private cars, motorbikes, taxis, and carpooling services, in addition to food and package delivery services.

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About the Author

This was an approved submitted release provided by Mike Cheong. 

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Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Anna Gong, CEO of Perx Technologies

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

I am talking to Anna Gong, CEO of Perx Technologies, a leading mobile customer engagement and loyalty software company headquartered in Singapore.  Anna was born in China and grew up in the U.S., and has been in the tech industry for nearly 20 years. She has worked at large and startup companies before taking over the leadership of Perx in November 2014.

perx-logo


How did you rise in the industry you are in?

With pure perseverance and an undying passion for success. All because of the fear of letting my parents’ big sacrifice go in vain. They came to the U.S. with $500 and 2 young kids (my sister and me). They sacrificed their careers as established academic and healthcare professionals. I wanted them to be proud and while growing up in the U.S. where it’s full of dreams and hopes. I took on many challenges and tried many things to prove that I can achieve success and greatness but not without hardship, obstacles, and major discrimination challenges.

From the day I graduated from college, I started my career in the tech industry. I have never once let a mostly male-dominated industry discourage me. I also did not let rejection of opportunities discourage me either. I optimistically persevered and even acted like one of the boys to fit in and disguised my femininity at times. I was not afraid to face challenges, push backs and lean into difficult situations. I always knew if I didn’t take those chances, the opportunity would pass me by.

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.)

I wouldn’t say I wasn’t the usual leadership demographic. There are more and more tech companies being led by females, but it still has ways to go to be on the same level playing field as men.

I was actually recruited into this role by the board and I took it since I knew the mobile technology was a hot area to get into and it was a great business model. However, when I came in, I discovered that this company needed a whole new face lift, an entire shift in the way we did business to ensure we could achieve sustainable and repeatable success.

I therefore “refounded” the company and developed a whole new culture, technology platform, business and service model. You now see a different Perx. Perx 2.0.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?

This is one of the more common challenges with companies of all sizes. It has to start from the foundational ingredients such as core values and culture. Then it’s leadership and how well you instill and practice ownership, accountability but yet still make it a fun, creative and challenging environment.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

I now unconsciously support it. I believe in and embrace diversity but at the end of the day, I aim to hire the best person for the role and not the best gender.

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 not sure if there’s any single handbook that teaches you to be a great leader but there are things that I believe in and practice. You have to have great vision, strong purpose, and core values that the company can buy into, support, and love by. Focus focus focus and be transparent. Lead from the front line and lead with compassion and empathy.

Advice for others?

Don’t be afraid to fail and seek advice from your community. You cannot do this alone and being a CEO is a lonely job. Find one or a few mentors. This is absolutely essential to our success and our sanity.


To learn more about Perx, please see http://www.getperx.com.

Are you a startup looking for investment? Come join me at Expert Dojo’s “Q4 Investor Festival – Where Startups Meet Investors” in Santa Monica, from October 24 to 28. Details at http://expertdojo.com/events/biggest-startup-pitch-event-usa-5-days-focus-get-startup-funded-investor-festival/.

For information about the first ever “Latinx in Tech Edition”, please see http://www.kaporcenter.org/event/startup-weekend-oakland-latinx-tech-edition/.
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