Alvin Chan is fascinated by the human brain. He is channeling this fascination into his businesses Brandtology and Neeuro.
What’s your story?
I’m a data scientist by training and obtained my PhD specialising in artificial intelligence. I started my career in Scotland almost 20 years ago, focused on the development of neural network technology, that involved understanding users’ search results and their online behaviour. Over the years, my specialisation brought me into different exciting industries with the fundamental objective of making sense of data and how it can be leveraged to gain insights. These ranged from computer security in the defence industry to intelligence with social media data where I co-founded a company in 2008, called “Brandtology” in Singapore, that was fully acquired by iSentia, headquartered in Sydney, Australia.
Today, my passion and interests still lie with artificial intelligence and how, with data we can make things intelligent, make us more productive and create technological advancements.
In my latest pursuit as a CEO, I co-founded a company, “Neeuro;” a brain technology platform for digital brain health and education tech that helps children to seniors optimize their brains’ potential with the use of neurotechnology and gamification.
I’m fascinated with “big data” that we carry around in our heads, such as “brain waves” and how we gather insights to understand ourselves better in order to help ourselves.
What excites you most about your industry?
Our brains! We are working towards unlocking the vast mysteries of our brains. What happens to our brains when we are performing different tasks? How does it affect us on both a short term and long term basis?
The brain has the ability to change throughout its life and this is known as neuroplasticity. It has the capability to reorganise itself, modify/form connections between brain cells. Without this ability, it would not be able to develop from infancy through to adulthood or even recover from a brain injury.
We are creating technology and programmes to do just that, to keep our brains fit and healthy.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a Singaporean but I’ve lived in Scotland for 7 years. I’m back in Singapore now with my Scottish wife!
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore! It’s the gateway to Asia, with a stable government, safe and diverse community. It’s very easy to set up a business in Singapore and there is very good support for start-ups and SMEs.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“You may not have the best of everything, but make the most of everything that comes your way.”
Who inspires you?
Steve Jobs with his famous quote, “people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It’s a constant journey of exploration and learning. Most importantly, I have learnt how important it is to be open to listening to others and taking on constructive feedback.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I don’t think I would do anything differently. We learn and we become who we are, because of our past experiences and decisions.
How do you unwind?
I cook and make it a point to think about interesting dishes to make, whilst having a few glasses of wine at the same time. This helps take my mind off work.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It could be Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand, as long as it’s in a scenic, rural area by the beach or forest, where I can just unwind by taking it all in and experiencing nature.
Everyone in business should read this book:
I honestly haven’t read a book in ages.
Shameless plug for your business:
Neeuro is a brain technology platform for digital brain health and education tech that helps children to seniors optimize their brains’ potential with the use of neurotechnology and gamification.
With over 3.5 years of hardcore research and development, we have created an EEG headband for consumers to be able to understand their own mental states. (EEG means electroencephalogram, that tracks and records brain wave patterns). Our EEG headband, “SenzeBand”, provides users with real-time feedback on their mental states like: (a) attention, (b) relaxation and (c) mental workload. So, while you are performing any mental tasks you can actually see what’s happening with your brain.
Paired together with our “SenzeBand”, we have different applications that have been developed to solve different challenges that we face in today’s society. For the ageing seniors, we are lowering their risk of dementia through our cognitive training solution that encompases playing specialised games that target different cognitive functions like attention, memory, spatial skills, decision making and cognitive flexibility. You even control objects in our games with your mind without touching the screen!
For children, we develop their cognitive abilities especially when they are young, to ensure they have the right foundations to be able to learn and study better. In addition, our solution for children, helps improve those with ADHD and ADD.
All our work is proven with clinical trials and evidence. This is only the beginning, and we are pushing ahead helping people with stress, anxiety, chronic pain and even those that have suffered from a stroke.
How can people connect with you?
On Linkedin at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alvinchantw/
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’.