Alwin Ng has a background in finance and technology. In 2017, he started a techology comapany, SmartB, and is now offering his services in an all-in-one (ERP) software for SMEs in Asia.
What’s your story?
My first business was a mini “grocer” in my bedroom during A-levels (boarding school). I graduated with mechanical engineering (Imperial College London), qualified as an accountant (CIMA), was fire-fighting the sub-prime crisis in Barclays Bank in London before I made £1million (revenue) selling iPhones to Dubai and Hong Kong.
I’m a trained NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) and Hypnotherapy coach, and I own a trading psychology blog (author of 4 books and 1 online academy). In July 2017, I started a tech company to help other companies grow through the use of technology.
What excites you most about your industry?
Technology is going to change how business in Asia is done. Many people will lose their jobs but many new jobs will be created along the way. These are known facts.
However, in my humble opinion, I strongly believe that the rich culture in Asia will remain even with the technological advancements. This is especially true as many Asians businesses are done through relationships.
So how can technology integrate within the Asian culture? Developed countries like the United States and Europe are trying to penetrate into Asia yet, without the Asian upbringing, they are just foreigners.
Personally, this will very likely be solved by Asians who have seen both sides of the coin and have returned, like me. And that’s what excites me.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia but spent 11 years in the United Kingdom before returning in September 2012. Throughout the 11 years, I would regularly return to Malaysia/Asia to stay in touch with the changes.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
For now, Kuala Lumpur. It’s my first stop after returning from the United Kingdom.
However, it’s also a growing hub with a load of opportunities. Returning home every year (while living in the UK), I got a glimpse of how it has evolved. Living in the United Kingdom also meant that I can see patterns of where this city is heading in the next 10 years.
Once we can identify patterns, we just need to fine tune our foresight. And once it’s perfected, the rest of Asia could potentially just be a duplication of it.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
There’s a Cantonese saying which says “one should ride the buffalo as they search for the horse”.
As always, Chinese proverbs often have multiple meanings. For me, this means, some of you will know what you want and some of you will not. Whether you know it or not, never stop looking for the next best. And you’ll never really know what is better until you get there. So instead of not doing anything, just take advantage of the available options while searching for the better ones.
Who inspires you?
My Dad. He was born in Southern China and moved to Malaysia when he was 6 years old. This was during the communist era. My grandfather was always working outstation and my grandmother fell ill very early on. Hence, he had to work his way through life. Started with nothing, my Dad is not a self-made businessman.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
As someone who meditates regularly, I realised that human beings can be much more intuitive than they realised. When one is very intuitive, they can co-create with the universe.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I probably won’t change anything. I am what I am because of the experiences I’ve had.
How do you unwind?
I watch anime (a Japanese television animation) and I meditate.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Janda Baik, Pahang.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson
Shameless plug for your business:
SmartB is an inventory solution provider to help your business become smarter through the use of technology. SmartB tracks your inventory records from desktop to any portable devices. Thus, making it a true end-to-end solution. Whether you are in the consignment, manufacturing or retail sector, having the business data that you need will accelerate your business.
And that’s just the beginning . How about your sales, purchase and accounting records? Wouldn’t it be great to have all these automated for you as a one stop solution?
Lastly, we don’t just track your records, but we aim to reconcile your Financial Balance Sheet to your inventory records.
How can people connect with you?
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’.