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27 Singaporean Entrepreneurs Win Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards 2016

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Twenty-seven prominent entrepreneurs and business leaders from Singapore were named awardees of the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards 2016 at a glittering gala dinner at Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel.

Over 300 attendees were present at the by-invitation only event, comprising of industry leaders, leading entrepreneurs and dignitaries including Mr. Seah Kian Peng, Member of Parliament, His Excellency Mr. Nimal Weeraratne, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Singapore, Mr. Victorio Mario M Dimagiba, Jr., Consul General of the Philippines, Tan Sri Dr. Fong Chan Onn, Chairman of Enterprise Asia, and Dato’ William Ng, President of Enterprise Asia.

The Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards, or APEA, is a regional recognition program organized by Enterprise Asia, the region’s foremost association and think-tank for entrepreneurship. The Awards are presented to a handful of entrepreneurs across Asia Pacific each year, with award ceremonies held in over twelve countries every year.

The Awards are often compared to the Olympics for the stringent entry criteria and highly competitive judging parameters. Nominations of the Awards itself is by invitation, either by past and current awardees, a supporting trade association or the executive committee of Enterprise Asia. Nominees are then subjected to a series of rigorous tests, including financial verification by an appointed audit firm and a compulsory physical site audit and interview, culminating in a secret balloting process by Enterprise Asia’s executive committee.

Awardees are expected to be torchbearers of entrepreneurship and business leaders in their representing industries of respective countries, and adhere to a strict standard of personal and business ethics.

“We can say with certainty that the recipients of the APEA are like none others. Not only do they have to prove their entrepreneurial skills and experience in one of the toughest contests in the world, they also subject themselves to a pledge to uphold the highest standards of entrepreneurship, which includes allegiance to the two founding pillars of Enterprise Asia, namely Investment in People and Responsible Entrepreneurship”, says Dato’ William Ng, President of Enterprise Asia.

Recipients join over a thousand other alumni from across Asia Pacific, including Indonesia’s Ciputra, Chairul Tanjung and Mochtar Riady, Singapore’s Sam Goi and Yao Hsiao-Tung, Malaysia’s Teh Hong Piow and Yeoh Tiong Lay, Hong Kong’s Lui Che-woo and Lawrence Ho, China’s Jiang Xipei, Thailand’s Rit Thirakomen and India’s Adi Godrej, Rahul Bajaj and Brijmohan Lall Munjal.

Mr Joselito D. Campos, Jr. of Del Monte Pacific, who was named Entrepreneur Of The Year, said, “I am very honoured to be bestowed the APEA in recognition of our efforts in entrepreneurship and nation building. To harvest good fruit, we need to sow good seed and nurture it.”

“Receiving the APEA award is a recognition of our past efforts; a sign for trying even harder in the future”, said Mr Su Chung Jye, Executive Chairman, Regal International Group Limited.

“APEA lights the path to a healthy entrepreneurial spirit in Asia”, shared by Dr Jau- Fei Chen, Founder of E.Excel International Group.

“To take the company to another level, you need a bold vision, an ambition or even a dream. The dream has to be big and exciting enough and requires your full commitment. Then you will put your whole heart into achieving it”, said Dr Andy Adhiwana, Group CEO of Auric Pacific Group Limited.

“Success is not final. For continued success, a successful company must innovate everyday”, said Ms Shalini Kamal Sharma, Group MD of Formula One Furniche Pte Ltd.

The recipients in Singapore were selected from among 100 shortlisted candidates, ranging from talented young entrepreneurs to experienced industrialists.

Ng explained, “The APEA is aimed at promoting entrepreneurship. Beyond recognizing the efforts of these entrepreneurs, we hope to encourage them to continue taking their businesses to the next level, and in the process, providing more job opportunities to the people in the region, and help to drive the economy forward”.

RECIPIENT LIST OF ASIA PACIFIC ENTREPRENEURSHIP AWARDS 2016 SINGAPORE:

Consumer Goods

  • Dr. Andy Adhiwana, Group CEO, Auric Pacific Group Limited

Education & Training

  • Dr. Jau-Fei Chen, Founder, E.Excel International Group
  • David Kwee, Chief Executive Director, Training Vision Institute Pte Ltd
  • Png Bee Hin, Chief Executive Officer/ Founder, LDR Technology Pte Ltd

Engineering

  • Eric Phua, Managing Director, TEE International Limited

Financial Services

  • Dr. Tan Chong Koay, Founder/CEO/Chief Strategist, Pheim Asset Management (Asia) Pte Ltd
  • Andrew Au, Founder & CEO, AG Delta Pte Ltd

Food & Beverage

  • Entrepreneur Of The Year
    Joselito D. Campos, Jr., Chief Executive Officer/ Managing Director, Del Monte Pacific Limited
  • Aillyn Ang, Director, 320 Below Pte Ltd

Healthcare & Pharmaceutical

  • Anuj Khosla, Founder/ Chief Strategy Officer, KK Labs Pte Ltd

Hospitality, Food Service & Tourism Industry

  • Arun Madhok, Chief Executive Officer, Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre

Industrial & Commercial Products

  • Shalini Kamal Sharma, Group Managing Director, Formula One Furniche Pte Ltd
  • Philip Lee Tze Yong, Chief Executive Officer/ Managing Director, RAM SMAG Lifting Technologies Pte Ltd
  • Kenny Liu ZhenQi, Managing Director, The Super Group

IT. Internet & Telecommunications

  • Johnny Huang Shih Chia, Group MD, MAKA GPS Technologies Pte Ltd
  • Shashank Dixit, Chief Executive Officer, Deskera Holdings Ltd

Media & Entertainment

  • Giulio Dorrucci, Founder and Group CEO, PGK Media Group Pte Ltd Oil & Gas
  • Jonathan Lee, Managing Director, McPEC Marine and Offshore Engineering Pte Ltd

Professional & Business Services

  • Teo Jin Lee, Managing Director, ODE Consulting Pte Ltd
  • Ravi Arumugam, Chief Executive Officer & Managing Partner, RT LLP & RT Group of Companies

Property Development

  • Su Chung Jye, Chief Executive Officer/ Founder/ Executive Chairman, Regal International Group Limited
  • Dato’ Colin Tan, Group Managing Director, Hatten International Pte Ltd

Retail

  • Dr. Michael Tien, Founder & Chairman, Atlas Sound & Vision Pte Ltd

Trading & Wholesaling

  • Shu Setogawa, Director, MTG Pacific Pte Ltd
  • Doris Wee Hui Cheen, Chief Executive Officer, Wendell Trading Company
  • Peh Yeng Yok, Chairman, Yok Impex Pte Ltd

Transportation & Logistic

  • Danny Lo, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Watt Wah Petroleum Haulage Pte Ltd

Callum Connects

Andrew Schorr, Founder of Grata

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Taking a different route throughout his life, Andrew Schorr ended up in China and started several businesses.

What’s your story?
I moved to China after I graduated from college in 2004. English teaching was the easiest way to get there, so I looked on a map and picked a small town in Hubei, because it looked to be more or less in the middle of China. I was the only foreigner there.

Back then, everything was about the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, so I moved to the capital after my year of teaching. Pretty soon after arriving, I met the co-founder for all three of my companies. We decided to start a company together the first day we met. He has now moved back to the US and builds flight software at SpaceX.

Our first company, an online city guide, was re-purposed into our second company, GuestOps, a web concierge platform. We sold GuestOps to most of the major international hotel brands in China and still operate it. The genesis of our latest company, Grata came from looking at the intersection of hotels and WeChat in 2012, when WeChat was just starting to blow up. Grata expanded from hotels into a live-agent customer service console.

What excites you most about your industry?
Our thesis with Grata has always been that what is happening with WeChat in China is the future of messaging platforms globally, and as an international team building on WeChat, we would be well-placed to capitalize on that trend. It’s taken longer than we expected for the industry (and us, for that matter) to get there, but finally, we’re starting to see messaging as a platform to get better traction in other markets.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve always been a bit of a contrarian. I grew up in Texas, where all my friends studied Spanish in school. I studied German for no reason in particular. I took a similar path in college: Chinese and Japanese seemed like languages that not a lot of people who look like me studied. I was one of only two students in my third-year Chinese class.

Concur conference in San Francisco, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. (Photo by Paul Sakuma, Paul Sakuma Photography) www.paulsakuma.com

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Shanghai. I should live there, but Beijing has been home for so long. I take the night train down to Shanghai every two-three weeks to meet with clients. Domestic flights are way too unreliable here.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t plan too far ahead; otherwise, you plan yourself out of good opportunities.

Who inspires you?
Has anyone said “Elon Musk” yet? Barack Obama would be another.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The gravitational waves recently detected from neutron stars colliding, were so subtle as to only affect the distance from earth to our closest star, Alpha Centauri (4.24 light years away) by the width of a human hair. Perhaps in another life or in the future, I’ll be an astronomer, but a telescope doesn’t do me much good in Beijing.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
When I give advice to students looking to get into entrepreneurship, I advise them to work for a post-Series A startup first and learn from a company that’s already doing things well. I learnt everything on my own, which is slower and you pay for your own education. If you work for a startup that’s small in the beginning, you risk learning bad habits.

How do you unwind?
I Hash! The Hash is a drinking club with a running problem. The Hash attracts good people from all walks of life and doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a great way to meet fun-loving people all over the world. It’s also how I met my co-founder, our first lawyer, and my girlfriend.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Pulau Perhentian, Malaysia. A fantastic beach and where I first learned to scuba dive.

Everyone in business should read this book:
For business in China, Tim Clissold’s, Mr. China.

Shameless plug for your business:
Grata does WeChat contact centers for many top-tier brands in luxury retail, travel, financial services and hospitality. We started developing on WeChat before they even had an open platform. Grata provides the most value for large enterprises with complex routing and content demands for their contact centers.

How can people connect with you?
Check out www.grata.co or email me: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
My personal handle is @andrew_schorr and we tweet about messaging from the company handle @grata_co.

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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Callum Connects

Benjamin Kwan, Co-Founder of TravelClef

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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

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