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Vinay Menon – Founder, Meratiffin



Please write us a short bio of yourself.


A very easy paced entrepreneur. Strong believer in delegating power and creating sense of ownership within the organisation is vital to its success. Teams can make or break a business. I am very aspiring and believe every problem can be solved and larger the problems bigger the opportunity to build solution around it. Took a sabbatical for a year and completed Post Graduate (Diploma) in Marcom from St.Xaviers Kolkata at a late age of 40. Traveled length and breadth of the country and I am amazed by the potential, India as a country has to offer to her citizens.

In your own words what is Meratiffin?
Meratffin is an order and pay platform on handheld devices, allows users to discover delicious home cooked food in their neighborhood. It facilitates foodprenuers to scale their businesses by bringing them online and help them connect with their potential customers. Meratiffin is also micro entrepreneurship enabler.
How did you come up with the idea of Meratiffin?
Hunger pangs is a concern because “Hunger can strike anytime”, different day parts will have different food cravings for a human. Discovering gourmet to quench your hunger is a pain,  one needs to consider so many things like place, options, price, safety, packaging, food temperature, time and many more factors. This consumes a lot of mindwidth and one may give up the idea of eating or consume wrong food at wrong time. This trend is mostly seen amongst Migrants. On the other hand there is a latent need for a woman to become self-sustaining. These women may have worked earlier or had to give up their job to bring up their children or some issues which lead them to job loss. Many of these jobless women have good culinary skills which can create a tongue twister and some have even commercialized their skill, they can be found everywhere. We just needed to bridge this gap. The opportunity we saw was in connecting hunger pangs with nearest home kitchen. Meratiffin was conceived to bridge this Gap. “With Meratiffin no more Hunger strike”. We empower micro food businesses (including women entrepreneur) to adopt IT to improve their business processes and grow their margins. Enabling them to come to mainstream and help them compete with big players and gain traction in the ever growing demand for safe food is our motto.
Could you walk us through the process of starting up Meratiffin?
Finding home chefs or home kitchen was the first on our agenda, these businesses don’t have advertising budgets and discovering them was a concern. Classified and social media sites were handy. We connected with quite a few and spoke to them about their business plans. Interestingly every kitchen wanted to reach out and grow, they are aware about the opportunity and knew the demand is growing. The only thing they lacked was marketing. We started checking how they were managing deliveries and was surprised to find they had no issues, their support staff in the kitchen doubled up as a delivery runner. We could now stitch our business plan from here. We enrolled kitchens with logistics support in our phase 1 roll out. The insights we got from the home chefs helped us design and develop a product which was close to market fit.  The best moment for us just began.
Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup and if so, how did you guys overcome it?
Difficulties came in galore. Financially we were sucked. We shut down consulting projects to stay focussed on Meratiffin, consulting was our Cash Cow. It was a Big risk and we were ready to live with it. We reached out to experts and they laughed at us, nobody gave us a chance, nobody encouraged us or had a word of wisdom. No encouragement, no support, the fun had just began. We knew we were staring at hugely competitive marketspace. Big names had deep pockets and could burn us out. Our release dates got delayed. Nothing seems to be working. But we stayed put as a team and were grounded. We believed in ourselves and believed that we could make a difference to human life and wanted to create an Impact.
The opportunity came from NASSCOM, we got selected for their 10K Startup incubation program. This gave us the deserved boost. Its a long road ahead and we are ready for it. We were awarded as the best startup by Nasscom 10K in October 2015. We were on the winning side of the first startup realty show (Egiye Bangla) to be hosted in our state.
How have you been developing Meratiffin since startup (i.e. what’s the developmental direction)?
We launched only one platform (Android), feedback helped us improve the product. We are launching iPhone version soon, we get constant request from iPhone Fans and it can’t be ignored it makes us really happy.
What kind of feedback did you get for Meratiffin so far?
Our playstore reviews speak for themselves. Large numbers of our users are happy with the App performance, these feedback are vital, we have listened hard and have used our learning’s to improve our User Experience. We are aware the road ahead is interesting.
Do you face a lot of competition in this industry ? What is your strategy against your competition?
Competition is stiff in our industry. There are competition with access to large capital base and can disrupt any marketing plans. We believe we are ready as have carved a niche for ourselves in the space we occupy. The insight is “if you are Hungry you buy Food, you don’t buy discounts”.  We facilitate food discovery at affordable prices which suits our user base and it is delivered on premise. No need to discount. Our User base needs food to taste similar as home cooked and we are focused on bringing the best home cuisines online. This is the biggest differentiation. 
What can you tell us about the industry? Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?
Food has been the busiest sector overtime and is growing at 20 – 30% year on year. With large internet penetration and more people accessing internet on their mobile device it is good time for the industry. Online food delivery market is pegged at $ 15 billion and there is space for everyone who can add value. Having said this entry barriers are low, which is why there are so many failures in this sector. To succeed reaching critical mass early is very important and the cost structure should be driven around customer retention. Your sticky customers are your paying customers. They spread the word. Last mile delivery is also a critical component to succeed. We have figured that out early and are devoting all our effort to attain customer delight. We expect to see Big Businesses build around the Food Tech.
What is the future of the industry and how do you plan to stay relevant in this industry?
The industry is poised for a robust growth. Dual income families, more disposable income, lifestyle change, peer pressure, growing middle income families, convenience all these factors will drive demand for online delivery. Innovating our product and spreading across more channels and staying relevant to the user group will drive engagement and brand value.
Were there anything that disappointed you initially?
Disappointment for me is a state of mind. I get disappointed when I raise my bar and fail to achieve it, having said this as long as we learn from our failure and improve, I am happy. I take disappointment very constructively. It is an opportunity to introspect. It is also important to realize that in a team environment not all things can go right all the time, there could be a slip here and a miss there, as long as we recover and restore things asap all is well.
What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia? Is it harder or easier, why?
Asian Entrepreneurs are like toughened glass. They are hard core, they can take crisis like a KISS and come out scratch free.  I suggest global aspiring entrepreneurs to work in a Asian Venture for sometime before embarking on their own. We at Asia we are a different breed. For us there is no Give Up, we just do it.
What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?
Business Schools and Businesses are poles apart. West may have the best B School, we have the best Businesses who employ from these “B” Schools. This I guess speaks for all our Asian entrepreneur’s.
What is your definition of success?
Success is the start of any journey. With success one become responsible and to remember it is a label which others give you. It is also a motion you set for yourself. The motion can be happy or disappointing, one needs to balance expectation associated with success.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
Entrepreneurship is a bug, it bites everyone, those who get infected turns entrepreneur. I wanted to be in charge of my destiny, I believe I add more value to the society being an entrepreneur, so the infection stayed. 
In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?
You need to be humble, smile at your hardest time, to realize that time will change and favor you, keep faith and push yourself to the limit. Also to realize that the luck quotient is only 1% and to make the most of it when you have it on your side.
Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?
Never give up. The Gold is not at the end of the rainbow, you need to collect small nuggets on your journey to the top, when you pause to review your count you will be surprised to see there is so much that you have accumulated. Don’t miss the small nuggets, they are the fundamentals on which you will build your enterprise. Stay relevant to your customer all the time.


Women on Top in Tech – Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and Digital Innovation Strategist



(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.)

I am talking to Tara Velis, Growth Hacker and freelance Digital Innovation Strategist. Tara was selected and recognized by as one of the 500 most talented young people in the Dutch digital scene during the 2017 TNW edition. Tara is known for her creative, entrepreneurial spirit, which she is using to her advantage in leading the change in SMEs and corporates around the globe.

What makes you do what you do?

I tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle. Because of my curious nature, I am in constant development, looking for new angles and new approaches to business problems. Innovation through technology is exploring ideas and pushing boundaries. The most radical technological advances have not come from linear improvements within one area of expertise. Instead, they arise from the combination of seemingly disparate inventions. This is, in fact, the core of innovation. I love going beyond conventional thinking practices. Mashing up different thoughts and components, connecting the dots, and transforming that into something useful to businesses.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

I consistently chose to follow my curiosity, which has led me to where I am today. If you want to succeed in the digital industry, you need to have a growth mindset. Seen the fact that the industry is evolving in an astoundingly quick rate, it’s crucial to stay current with the trends and forces in order to spot business opportunities. I believe taking responsibility for your own learning and development is key to success.

Why did you take on the role of Digital Innovation Strategist?

The reason for this is twofold. On the one hand, I got frustrated with businesses operating in the exact same way they did a couple of decades ago. Right now we are in the midst of a technology revolution, and the latest possibilities and limitations of cutting-edge technologies are evolving every single day. This means that companies need to stay current and act lean if they want to survive. On a more personal level, I noticed that I felt the need to use my creativity and problem-solving skills to their maximum capacity. In transforming businesses at scale, I change the rules of the game. I love breaking out of traditional, old-fashioned patterns by nurturing innovative ideas. This involves design thinking, extensive collaboration and feedback, the implementation of various strategies and tactics, validated learning, and so on. I get a lot of energy from my work because it is aligned with my personal interests.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries?

Yes, I look up to Drew Boyd. He is a global leader in creativity and innovation. He taught me how to evaluate ideas in order to select the best ones to proceed with. This is crucial because otherwise,you run the risk of ideas creating the criteria for you because of various biases and unrelated factors. He also taught me a great deal on facilitation of creativity workshops.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I tend to have the characteristics of a transformational leader. People have told me that my enthusiasm and positive energy is motivating and even inspiring to them. Even though I take these comments as a huge compliment, I am not sure how I feel about referring to myself as a leader. To me, it still has a somewhat negative connotation. I guess I associate the concept with being a boss who’s throwing around commands. But if a leader means listening to others and igniting intrinsic motivation in people, then yes, I guess I’m a charismatic leader.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Yes, one hundred percent. I believe that creativity and innovation flourish when a highly diverse group of people bounces ideas off each other. Diversity in terms of function, gender,and culture is extremely valuable, especially in the ideation phase of a project, as it can help to see more possibilities and come up with better ideas.

Do you have any advice for others?

Yes, I have some pieces of advice I’d like to share.
First of all: Develop self-awareness. You can do so by actively seeking feedback from the people around you. This will help you understand how others see you, align your intentions with your actions, and eventually enhance your communication- and leadership skills.

Surround yourself with knowledgeable and inspiring people. They might be able to support you in reaching your goals, and help you grow both personally and professionally.

Ask “why?” a couple of times. This simple and powerful method is useful for getting to the core of a problem or challenge. Make sure to often remind yourself and your team of the outcome of this exercise to have a clear sense of direction and focus.

Data is your friend. Whether it’s extensive quantitative market research or a sufficient amount of in-depth consumer interviews (or both!), your data levels all arguments. However, always be aware of biases and limitations of research.

Say “Yes, and…” instead of “No”. Don’t be an idea killer. Forget about the feasibility and budget, at least in the ideation phase. Instead, encourage your team to generate ideas without restrictions. You can compromise certain aspects later.

Prioritization is key. There is just no way you can execute all your ideas, and, quite frankly, there is no point in trying to do so. Identify the high potential ideas and start executing those first.

Encourage rapid prototyping. Don’t wait too long to experiment, launch, and iterate your product or service. Fail fast and fail often. Adopt an Agile mindset.

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

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Callum Connects

Marek Danyluk, CEO of Space Ventures



Marek Danyluk has a talent for assessing the competencies of management teams for other businesses and pulling together exceptional teams for his own businesses!

What’s your story?
I am the CEO of a venture capital business, Space Ventures, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses. I also own and run Space Executive, a recruitment business focused on senior to executive hires across sales, marketing, finance, legal and change.

My career started as a trainee underwriter in the Lloyds market but quickly moved into recruitment where I set-up my first business in 2002. The business grew to around 100 people. I moved to Asia in 2009 as a board member of a multinational recruitment business with the mandate to help them scale their Asian entities, which helped contribute to their sale this year, in 2017.

My main talent is assessing the competencies of management teams as well as building high performing recruitment boutiques and putting together exceptional management teams for my own businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
Building the business is very much about attracting the best talent and being able to build a culture which people find invigorating and unique. It’s an exciting proposition to be able to define a culture in that regard and salespeople are a fun bunch, so when you get it right it’s tremendous.

From a VC point of view there is just so much happening. South East Asia is a melting pot of innovation so the ideas and quality of people you have exposure to, is truly phenomenal. The exposure in the VC has taken me away from a career in recruitment. Doing something completely different has given me a new level of focus.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Whilst I came here with work, both my boys were born in Singapore and to them this very much is home. That said, my father in law spent many years in the East so coming and settling here was met with a good degree of support and familiarity.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Possibly Hong Kong. It’s the closest I’ve been to working in London. Whilst there are massive Asian influences people will work with you on the basis you are good at what you do and work hard. I find that approach very honest and straightforward.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Always treat people well on the way up!”

Who inspires you?
I like reading about people who have excelled in business such as Jack Ma, James Kahn, Phil Knight, Sir Richard Branson, Elon Musk, all have great stories to tell and they are all inspirational. No-one has inspired me more than my parents and they are well aware as to why…

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Pretty much any technology innovation blows me away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Whilst it is important not to have regrets I do continually wake up thinking I’m still doing my A’ Levels. So, I’d have probably tried a little harder in 6th form.

How do you unwind?
I like the odd glass of red wine and watching sport

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan skiing. I love skiing and Japanese food and it’s a time when I can really enjoy time with the wife and kids. I recently tried the Margaret River which was divine, although not technically Asia.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Barbarians at the Gate

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive is the fastest growing recruitment business in Singapore focused on the mid to senior market across legal, compliance, finance, sales and marketing and change and transformation. Multi-award winning with exceptional growth plans into Hong Kong and London this year, and the US, Japan and Europe by the end of 2022. We are building a truly global brand.

Space Ventures is interested in any businesses that require capital or management and financial guidance or any or all of the above. We have, to date, invested in on-line training, food and beverages, peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring as well as other tech and fintech start-ups. We are always interested in hearing about potential deals.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?

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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