Connect with us

Callum Connects

Vincent Chow, Chief Executive Officer of En-trak

Published

on

Vincent Chow has developed an Energy Management System to engage people in saving energy. Based in Asia, he is hoping to educate about energy conservation to large numbers. “With 4.5 billion people in Asia, we’ve only just begun our journey – bigger things await us and we’re ready for them!”

What’s your story?
In 2012, my team and I developed our first real-time, Energy Management System for schools to inspire and engage students to understand when, where and how they are using electricity in their school. This concept achieved instant success and was quickly adopted by hundreds of schools in Singapore, Hong Kong and Macau.
Emboldened by the positive market feedback, we further developed an enterprise version in 2013. This was awarded the Hong Kong Green Innovation Award. En-trak was formally incorporated in August 2013.
En-Trak continues the mission to build innovative solutions to create a more sustainable future including En-trak™ Paper Management System to encourage users to reduce paper wastage. Our latest invention is our patented En-trak™ Smart Lighting which was awarded the Best Innovative Research & Development conferred by the distinguished Singapore infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF) and in 2016, the company was awarded the Singapore Apex Sustainability Award.

What excites you most about your industry?
Our team works incredibly hard to design in the most effective manner to present boring technical energy data to a non-technical audience. It is only when people can understand the impact of their action, will they then be able to take action.
We conduct lunch-time seminars with our clients and when we see their reaction from their energy usage data, their expression tells us we are doing the right thing. As a result, many of our clients achieved energy savings of up to 30%, almost effortlessly. This is what excites us the most.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am a Singaporean based in Hong Kong. Our company is very Asia focused – we are currently in Singapore, Hong Kong, China, and Australia. We’re now well positioned to be the leader in the Asia Pacific region for energy IoT.
Our energy management solution is tracking 100+ million kilowatt-hours annually, sending out alerts and reports daily to help our customers reduce energy use. Our new, patented Smart Lighting solution is rapidly breaking the paradigm of zonal, offline lighting control for businesses, opening up huge new possibilities for lighting optimisation through wireless control of individual fixtures.
We are confident that our committed adherence to creating practical, scalable and sustainable solutions will be the core driver for our growth as a company. With 4.5 billion people in Asia, we’ve only just begun our journey – bigger things await us and we’re ready for them!

DSC_0174_crop_tu Vincent Chow 4

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
We are currently active in six cities in Asia – Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, Melbourne, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. Each city offers unique challenges and opportunities and each have their good and bad sides, so it is difficult to pinpoint my favourite.
I enjoy the convenience of Hong Kong where one can have really quick and easy access to various business support services, including proximity to a large manufacturing base in south China. In Hong Kong, there is a very strong “can do” mentality. Whenever there is an issue or problem that needs resolving, Hong Kong people tend to start cracking on their own without waiting for help.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“We have no money, we have to think.” We have this internal motto in our company to remind us that every problem can have multiple solutions and we should think hard for a solution, as if we haven’t got the money. It is easy for people to solve problems with money.
For example, when En-trak first started, we were very careful with what and how we spent our money. I believe there is always a workaround solution. I am not saying we shouldn’t spend or invest. I am advocating that one should spend wisely and always know why we need to spend.

Who inspires you?
Richard Branson. I read a lot about his story and that of other successful business people. What intrigues me about him is the story about him making use of the British Telecom telephone operator to make free calls to get in touch with big corporate guys. When he was bootstrapping, he found a loophole where if you tell the operator that you were trying to dial a number and it fails somehow, the operator would help to make the call for you and even tell the other party that a Mr. X from Company X is calling you on the line. This not only allowed him to make free calls but also sounded like a big corporate guy calling.
I think in life, we have to have some ingenuity and be a little ‘street smart.’ I am not advocating we should break the rules, but one should not be afraid to try things out.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
In our view, too many companies focus on making the largest possible impact while using cool new technologies but they neglect business common sense. For example, in a recent project our Smart Lighting solution helped a major multinational company reduce their office lighting use by over 70%. A competitor claimed they could reduce their lighting energy use by 90% – but at five times the cost!

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I don’t believe in turning back time. Some of my friends ask me if I knew I would do well in business, would I have ventured out earlier? In short, my answer is no. I learnt a lot about corporate management and business planning when I was working in large corporations. These experiences taught me how to do or not do certain things.

How do you unwind?
Travelling and golf are some of the things I do in my spare time. Travelling often opens new perspectives and inspires me to try new ideas. Golf, on the other hand, allows me to tune out the noise in life and just be in the moment on the fairways.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan – the attention to intricate details and the amazing food. The Japanese take pride in the work they do and food they prepare, I marvel at their dedication to their crafts. I can travel to any part of Japan to see beautiful designs incorporated into their everyday lives and enjoy meticulous meals anywhere.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Founders at Work: Stories of Startups’ Early Days by Jessica Livingston. It is a relative old book. It talks about the many lesser known journeys of co-founders of many technology startups from the early 70s. The lessons described in the book are still relevant to those who want to start the business journey. I recommend everyone who wants to enter this adventure to read it.

Shameless plug for your business:
Return on investment is key – so we maximize that return and minimize the investment with smart product design for our clients within 2 years. We at En-trak have a firm belief that sustainability is for everyone. That’s why we created solutions that are practical and scalable. Our clear value propositions do not require a customer with a green heart, a windfall source of funding, or special government regulations. We focus on a common element across the globe – cutting operating costs.
Whether it’s about energy efficiency or employee productivity, all organizations have a fundamental interest in reducing costs while maintaining or increasing output. By ensuring our customers cut operating costs, we make it possible for every company to become sustainable.

How can people connect with you?
Find me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/drvincentchow/) or via Email [email protected] and visit our website at https://www.en-trak.com/

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

Benjamin Kwan, Co-Founder of TravelClef

Published

on

Making music to create a life for his family, Benjamin Kwan, started an online tuition portal and his music business grew from there.

What’s your story?
I am Benjamin and I’m the Co-Founder of TravelClef Group Pte Ltd, a travelling music school that conducts music classes in companies as well as team building with music programmes. We also run an online educational platform which matches private students to freelance music teachers. We also manufacture our own instruments. I started this company in 2011 when I was still a freshman at NUS, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

I was born to a lower income family, my father drove a taxi and was the sole breadwinner to a family of 7. I have always dreamed of becoming rich so that I could lessen the burden placed on my father and give my family a good life.

After working really hard in my first semester at NUS, my results didn’t reflect the hard work and effort I put in. At the same time, I was left with just $42 in my bank account and it suddenly dawned on me that if I were to graduate with mediocre results, I would probably end up with a mediocre salary as well. I knew I had to do something to gain control of my future.

During that summer break, I read a book “Internet Riches” by Scott Fox and I knew that the only way I could ever start my own business with my last $42 would be to start an online business. That was how our online tuition portal started and after taking 4 days to learn Photoshop and website building on my own, I started the business.

What excites you most about your industry?
Music itself is a constant form of excitement to me as I have always been an avid lover of music. As one of the world’s first travelling music schools, we are always very eager and excited to find innovative ways to a very traditional business model of a music teaching.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and I love the fact that despite our diversity in culture, there’s always a common language that we share, music.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hands down, SINGAPORE! Although we are currently in talks to expand to other regions within Asia, Singapore is the best place for business. I have had friends asking me if they should consider venturing into entrepreneurship in Singapore, my answer is always a big fat YES! There’s a low barrier of entry, and most importantly, the government is very supportive of entrepreneurship.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been blessed by many people and mentors who constantly give me great advice but right now, I would say the best piece of advice that I received would be from Dr Patrick Liew who said, “Work on the business, not in it.” This advice is constantly ringing in my head as I work towards scaling the business.

Who inspires you?
My dad. My dad has always been my inspiration in life, for the amount of sacrifices that he has made for the family and the love he has for us. He was the umbrella for all the storms that my family faced and we were always safe in his shelter. Although my dad passed away after a brief fight with colorectal cancer, the lessons that he imparted to me were very valuable as I build my own family and business.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You can not buy time, but you can spend money to save time! With this realisation, I was willing to allow myself to spend some money, in order to save more time. Like taking Grab/Uber to shuttle around instead of spending time travelling on public transport. While I spend more money on travelling, I save a lot more time! This doesn’t mean that I spend lavishly and extravagantly, I am still generally prudent with my money.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more time to spend with my family and especially my father. While it is important to focus our time to build our businesses, we should always try our best to allocate family time. Because as an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as “after I finish my work,” because our work is never finished. If our work finishes, the business is also finished. But our time with our family is always limited and no matter how much money and how many successes we achieve, we can never use it to trade back the time we have with our family.

How do you unwind?
I am a very simple man. I enjoy TV time with my wife and a simple dinner with my family and friends.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Batam, it’s close to Singapore and there’s really nothing much to do except for massages and a relaxing resort life. If I travel to other countries for shopping or sightseeing, I am constantly thinking of business and how I can possibly expand to the country I am visiting. But while relaxing at the beach or at a massage, I tend to allow myself to drift into emptiness and just clear my mind of any thoughts.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Work The System, by Sam Carpenter. This book teaches entrepreneurs the importance of creating systems and how to leverage on systems to improve productivity and create more time.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you are looking for a team building programme that your colleagues will enjoy and your bosses will be happy with, you have to consider our programmes at TravelClef! While our programmes are guaranteed fun and engaging, it is also equipped with many team building deliverables and organizational skills.

How can people connect with you?
My email is [email protected] and I am very active on Facebook as well!
https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.christian.kwan

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

Continue Reading

Callum Connects

Nadia Al Sheikh, Founder & CEO of Flenco & Deal’n

Published

on

Nadia Al Sheikh has created a business module which incorporates philanthropy and business to empower others, and herself, she’s called her business Deal’n.

What’s your story?
My story is mirrored in my work. Flenco and our Singaporean eco skin care brand, “Flen” combines Dead Sea minerals from the lowest point of earth with Chinese medicine, which represents the wisdom and mystics of the east and these things represent my journey. I’m a single mother rediscovering my identity at a low point in life. Throughout my journey, determination, flexibility and assertiveness are the pillars of innovation. Thus Deal’n was born after years of groundwork in volunteering with various NGO’s and pursuing my masters degree. Transforming a vision, into a module that incorporates philanthropy and business, with tools to empower others and empower myself!

What excites you most about your industry?
The endless opportunities for improvement, innovation, creativity, free thinking which is mastered through interaction with other players in the market and customers creating a virtual place for brainstorming and the exchange of ideas. An evolving industry that challenges each and every person to use their skills, talents, expertise and utilise all their abilities to claim a slice of the pie.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia and specifically Singapore are my second home. It’s my spiritual and business safe haven that provides fair opportunities for everyone to succeed. If I was back in the Middle East as a single mother, I’m pretty sure my struggle would have been much longer and more difficult, however, it wouldn’t have stopped me from achieving my dreams. Singapore specifically empowered me professionally and Asia spiritually in redefining who I am as a person and understanding myself better.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, although it’s a very tough and competitive market for entrepreneurs to start a business, it provides them with support and motivation through grants, competitions and subsidising the cost of exhibiting or promotional events to promote their business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Success is measured by achieving your own personal goals and dreams and not what others think you should achieve.

Who inspires you?
Those who go unnoticed. From senior citizens, cleaning tables at food courts regardless of their wealth of knowledge and experience to single mothers, who are fighting everyday to overcome the social stigma and manage taking care of their children while earning an income. The amazing people who give their lives to start an NGO to empower others asking for nothing in return except the success of their beneficiaries, the humble members of our community that work in silence changing lives not for the spotlight but for their belief in making the world a better place.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
To step onto the balcony! In order to evaluate situations and understand people’s motivations from different perspectives and even to understand ourselves better we all need to step onto the balcony and become observers rather than participants. It gives you the power to see life through a variety of lenses.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d be wiser with my decisions, evaluate situations from different perspectives and believe in myself and my capabilities. That all came with experience and the ups and downs throughout my journey so I guess, to be who I am today I would have accepted the rough times and embraced them because they were my best teachers. So I wouldn’t undo the past but I am changing my future.

How do you unwind?
Meditation, exercising, listening to music, reading a book and a walk in the botanical gardens.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Maldives, I love the peace and harmony in the simplicity of what it offers; beautiful beaches and wonderful people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Wisdom Of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Shameless plug for your business:
Deal’n provides opportunities for all members of the community to utilize their skills, talents, expertise, capabilities and abilities in various ways, aiming at empowering all users to become productive members of their community. Using the services of other users for all to grow and benefit, interact with each other through the Deal’n community, thus enhancing their self esteem, level of confidence and as a result, a more empathetic and happier community!

How can people connect with you?
Through my FB page Nadousheh, my email [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@nadiaalsheikh

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

Continue Reading

Trending