Invite Alexander to Bring the Bar to Your Party!
What’s your story?
I am the Danish son of an entrepreneur. I first ventured to Canada for University and then made my way to China for adventure, where I set up a Chinese subsidiary for a young Danish IT company that sold hardware logistics services. Eventually, I founded my own company called LAIBA Beverages, Asia’s first luxury handcrafted bottled cocktail brand.
What excites you most about your industry?
The people. The alcohol and hospitality industries attract people from all over the world with the common connection of loving people and human interaction. I’ve come to love the characters I’ve met in this industry and enjoy the benefits of making many of them my friends. Traveling to beach resorts or going to rooftop bars has been quite a dramatic change from meeting with the IT managers of large corporations (no offense IT guys).
What’s your connection to Asia?
Originally? Nothing. But, after traveling throughout the region, I grew fascinated with Asia. All of it. At first, I did an exchange in Hong Kong, where I also visited Shanghai for a week. Then, I did a summer program in Shanghai for a month, and after I graduated, I was determined to return to Asia, specifically Shanghai. I have now been living in Shanghai and traveling across Asia for the past 7 years.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
For business, I would argue Shanghai is the best (clearly, no bias). The scale of the city, combined with the amount of foreign business people, the amount of capital flowing around, and the number of startups as well as big businesses, makes Shanghai a truly unique city in which to conduct business. I love it.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
If you have no control over it, don’t let it bother you. I think someone once told me that… or maybe it’s just my own life philosophy. In any case, I genuinely don’t get upset by things that are out of my hands, but, I also don’t ignore it. I act according to the circumstances. When the global hospitality industry gets decimated by a pandemic, you don’t complain, you get to work and look for opportunities. That’s what we have done and it’s opened up a whole new world for us.
Who inspires you?
My father. I have been watching and learning from him since I was a baby. Oftentimes, for the better, but sometimes for the worse. Perhaps I notice his characteristics in myself, a little too much.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve been reminded how fragile our world economy can be. While some people will see this as a hard time to be an entrepreneur, I do think it may also be the best time. It’s rough right now, but innovating now will pay off later.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I’ve been very passionate about what I do for many years now. I am happy with where my career has taken me and with the prospects that lie ahead. I would have liked to achieve double what I have, in half the time, but who wouldn’t?
How do you unwind?
Number one is spending time (and traveling, if possible) with my girlfriend of five years, working out (crossfit/golf/football) or reading. I am also very social and enjoy unwinding by being together with good friends.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
A Villa trip to Thailand is nice. I usually go with a close group of friends or other couples. We enjoy massages in the villa, chef cooked feasts, and amazing conversations into the night.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It… and Why the Rest Don’t,” by Verne Harnish
“Principles,” by Ray Dalio
“The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers,” by Ben Horowitz
Shameless plug for your business:
We bring the bar to you, whenever and wherever!
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ 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 and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.