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What’s your story?
I’ve always had a knack for building things, even though I would often permanently break them in the process. I was interested in subjects for which there were no classes, and it was upsetting that I could not earn school credit for the areas in which I excelled. Despite that, I still did well in school but it led me to realize the difference between education and learning. Everybody loves to learn and they do so in their own unique ways. In university, I was exposed to a more self-directed, liberal pedagogy. I also met the “right kind of crazy” people, who, like me, were inspired to re-design learning experiences to make them delightful and meaningful. Right after graduating from university, we co-founded Codomo, an education technology startup. We build products that catalyze innovation and learning.
What excites you most about your industry?
We’re not just competing human to human anymore, we’re competing with machines too. In the next 10 years, automation may render 40 to 60% of jobs worldwide obsolete. So how does one remain relevant in the next 10 years? Moreover, how do we equip the next generation with future-ready skills? These are very important questions for us to answer. And, at Comodo, we’re tackling these questions through our workshops and the products we are building that engage complex problem-solving skills, design thinking, computational thinking, and creativity.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a son of Singapore! I was born and raised here and have been based here all my life.
Favorite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! It is by far the only country I know of where one can set up a company within half a day! Not just that, but there are many grants which the government makes available to encourage and support entrepreneurs. The private equity and venture capital market is vibrant for tech entrepreneurs looking to raise seed funding or a series round to grow their business. Singapore is a dense and well-connected city. It’s easy to get around even if you’ve just moved here.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t postpone happiness. We all have goals and aspirations but our happiness should never be at the mercy of us hitting those goals. Happiness and contentment is a choice. The only perfect time to be happy is now. Happiness puts you in a peak state and will catapult you to not just hit, but to power through the goals in your head.
Who inspires you?
My parents. People like me look to self-help gurus for wisdom but fail to recognize the priceless wisdom that’s available to us on a daily basis. No masterclasses, no audiobooks, just pure unabridged life experiences that we can tap into if we just make an effort to ask, listen, and observe. Being a good listener is a skill!
What have you just learned recently that blew you away?
After working from home for 3 months, I’ve learned the importance of all the small things that we take for granted on a daily basis. I’ve learned the power of replacing our expectations for gratitude with respect to our overall productivity and mental health.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would take more risks and say “no” more often.
How do you unwind?
I’ve been training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the past 3 years. Music was my first love, and I play drums in a semi-professional Heavy Metal band by the name of Bloodstone. I got into powerlifting while in college and eventually Olympic lifting last year. Gyms have been closed for the past 3 months, so I’ve begun training with Bulgarian Bags. They are 100% brutal, and comply with 100% social distancing!
I also have daily meditation, journaling, and breathwork practice. I highly recommend Wim Hof’s breathwork exercises to anyone who is reading this.
Favorite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali, because it has the perfect blend of spiritual retreats, nature, beaches, and craft beer (I’m a homebrewer). There is a massive vegan movement there which is also a big plus for me.
Everyone in business should read this book:
One book for practical advice and another to live your life by:
- “Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth,” by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares.
- “The Surrender Experiment: My Journey into Life’s Perfection,” by Michael Alan Singer.
Shameless plug for your business:
Potato Pirates is the most carbo-loaded fun you can have while learning computer science without computers. Check out our games on www.potatopirates.game We’re releasing an app for our first game sometime this summer!
We just launched our newest product, Rolljak, a digital ideation and innovation management platform. It’s a gamified rapid ideation tool to engage, collaborate, and innovate with your team or audience. Check it out at www.rolljak.com.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 1000 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 and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’, and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.