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Bonnie Li, Founder of Events Artisan

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Bonnie Li uses her experience in anthropology and interest in exploring human interactions to run her business, Events Artisan, a luxury wedding planning company.

What’s your story?
I am Bonnie, named after the song “My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean” by my sister, as it was one of her favourite songs from kindergarten. Being an anthropologist born in Hong Kong and having studied in the United Kingdom, I have a fond interest in exploring human interactions and cultural differences. I have always enjoyed organising get-togethers, where I find joy and excitement in applying customised details to escalate the specialness of an event. After graduation I became the lead planner at a luxury wedding planning company, and later founded Events Artisan, using my expertise and experience to create intimate celebrations, whilst enjoying the time flexibility of being self-employed.
 
What excites you most about your industry?
Seeing tears of joy in my client’s eyes. I truly believe that anyone can make someone cry, but it takes something unique to make one shed tears of joy. Whether it is a large scale wedding or an intimate birthday celebration, it touches me most not when the decoration is picture-perfect, nor when all vendors are on time. What excites me the most, is that because of the planner’s passionate effort, the client is able to be hands-off and immerse in the emotions brought together by everyone at the event.
 
What’s your connection to Asia?
Being an event planning specialist based in Hong Kong and experienced in destination weddings across Asia, I have established a network of hotels and suppliers in Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand, and more. Having being to boarding school in Brighton, I also have friends in different parts of Asia, including but not limited to Taiwan, Korea, India, Singapore and Malaysia. Fluent in English, Cantonese and Mandarin, one of my favourite things to do is to travel around and constantly look for inspirations from all around the world to further heighten my creativity.

Photo 2 Photo 3
 
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
No doubt, it would have to be Hong Kong!
1. Efficiency – Hong Kong people love speed. Being a person who loves deadlines, I rejoice in getting things done in a timely manner. It is also because of this speedy culture that makes organising a wedding from scratch in a 3-week timeframe possible!

2. Reachable Distances – Everything in Hong Kong makes efficient use of space. It took me some time to get used to the limited space we have here, but it also means that any place, person or material can be reached within an hour from the CBD.
 
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Stay focussed. If you are persistent, you will get it.”
There will be different voices telling you what and how to do things. When filtering such information, don’t forget to stay focussed on why you decided to start up your own business, and what do you want to achieve from it. Through time I have accepted that only an entrepreneur can truly understand another entrepreneur and as such, some loved ones might not be able to understand your feelings and journey.
 
Who inspires you?
Jack Ma.
Having met him in person at a client’s wedding, Jack Ma is one of the most down-to-earth businessmen I have come across. He once said “Never give up. Today is hard, tomorrow will be worse, but the day after tomorrow will be sunshine.” He has a true rags-to-riches story but it did not come in a snap. The numerous rejections from school and career did not stop him in any way of dreaming bigger. Jack Ma is my inspiration to give my very best in whatever I do, and enjoy the rollercoaster journey that comes along. Whether I am considered successful or not, I plan to be humble and subtle, as this is how one gains the greatest respect from others.
 
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Flying frogs, flying lemurs, flying lizards, flying snakes, and even flying squirrels exist! I have just returned from holiday in Langkawi and stayed at a resort nestled in 10 million-year-old rainforest. We had the pleasure of exploring the rainforest after dark, and experienced the unique sounds and enigmatic animals. It definitely caught my breath knowing we have been co-living with these special creatures for this long!
 
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I am a strong believer that everything happens for a reason, therefore I rarely look back to see “what I should have done differently.”
Nevertheless, if there was something I could have told my younger self, it would have been to hire admin staff right from the beginning of my start-up. Being cost-conscious is one thing, whilst having someone to take such tasks off my hands in order to allow me to focus on business development is equally (if not more) important!
 
How do you unwind?
To me, exercising is highly effective to unwind. I don’t consider myself a sporty person, though my tanned skin often creates such illusion. Wakeboarding and swimming are my pick, and every now and then I go scuba diving, where I can simply focus my mind on breathing in and out, nothing else.
 
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Chiang Mai in Thailand.
Being in the northern part of Thailand, Chiang Mai has the great benefit of being sunny during the day and yet breezy at night. It is culturally significant and there are things to do for relaxation that suit everybody such as cooking class, lantern release, zip lining, night bazaar, spa and more. Being a Sagittarian, how can I not love a place full of adventures!
 
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Outwitting the Devil: The Secret to Freedom and Success” by Napoleon Hill.
This book taught me a good lesson on how fear, procrastination, anger and jealousy stop us from realizing our goals.

Shameless plug for your business:
Events Artisan is experienced in events that are both intimate (below 20 guests) and large-scale (1000 guests and more). Our business culture is efficient, straightforward and with an enviable eye coordination. Our goal is to take care of every detail, and make your event truly enjoyable, heartwarming and a day worth reliving in your head.

How can people connect with you?
For Business:
Email: [email protected]
Website: www.eventsartisan.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/eventsartisanhk

Personal:
Instagram: www.instagram.com/iambonnieli

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnects

Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia.  He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries.  He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence.  A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.

Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com

Callum Connects

Jonathan Oh, CEO & Co-founder of Supplycart

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Jonathan Oh’s enquiring mind and love for learning has led him on an entrepreneurial journey, with him starting Supplycart which helps businesses manage their offices better.

What’s your story?
I am a person that just can’t sit still. I was always intrigued by how the world spins and how people connect. Spending a lot of time outdoors, I had an affinity with exploring new paths, thus leading me to become a serial entrepreneur with experience in creating, operating and building new companies. I am a firm believer there is so much to learn in the world and I love talking to people about ideas, what they are passionate about and what drives them.
Starting off my career in the medical industry, I realised I had a flare to create something that mattered, something that impacted other people’s lives. After exiting my first company in 2014, I continued my journey with two other ventures with a purpose to look towards impacting businesses in the region together with like minded individuals, and here I am.

What excites you most about your industry?
Being able to part of the SME tech industry and seeing how technology is moving SMEs to go digital to improve workflows and efficiencies is an exciting space to be in. Users are consumers. More and more, they are familiarising themselves with using technology in their everyday lives. We foresee the SME space to be the next area where adopting new technology would become vital for any organisation to remain relevant. As I have dabbled in this industry for close to nine years now, I am really looking forward to working with more people in the business community to make a change.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Born in Malaysia, I had the opportunity to go abroad and I realised there was so much to do back home. Spending time in Melbourne, Australia for a couple of years and recently Silicon Valley, it has provided me with experiences and insights into the difference a multicultural community can make. It also made me aware that Asia is still a very culture driven economy, as each country has its unique differences. I believe that the time is right to be in Asia now. We are a growing economy and a lot of exciting stuff is happening in this region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Malaysia. I believe Malaysia is still a very attractive destination for business as it’s close to other neighbouring countries within the region and travelling between the countries is easy. There is also proper infrastructure in place, an affordable cost of living and a sizeable pool of talent. The government also has numerous initiatives for technology companies to apply for MSC status that permits companies to hire foreign companies without restrictions. Malaysia is the perfect launchpad to start growing businesses regionally. From a culture perspective, we are multicultural, which promotes diversity in business and language is never a barrier here.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“The difference between a businessman and an entrepreneur; one does a markup and the other creates value.”

Who inspires you?
I would say the people around me inspire me. I wouldn’t narrow it down to a particular person but lump it up with family, workmates, entrepreneurs and friends. From my eyes, everyone has a certain drive, a certain glow and strengths that sometimes they do not see, and that inspires me. I believe the journey to success is never alone, it’s with people.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Something recently that blew me away, made me realise, visually about how much time I have left. I was reading and stumbled upon the writer doing this. This might sound morbid but I drew a horizontal line and started plotting the year I was born all the way up to when I think I might go. It showed me that I have spent 25% of my life growing up, I am going to spend another 55% of my life working and the final 20%, maybe retirement. It got me remembering all the milestones I have achieved and to be thankful for and above all, how I want to spend the 55% of my life doing what matters the most.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I believe that I am exactly where I need to be because of the experiences I have had before. Thank god for the journey so far. It has been filled with ups and downs, new experiences and people along the way these have moulded me. I guess a small thing, if I had my time again, would be to pick up playing a musical instrument which I think still possible now. You are never too old to learn anything.

How do you unwind?
Unwinding for me would be spending time with my family and my two little boys. The little ones are such a bundle of joy. Reminding myself to have balance in terms of not missing the early years with them. Other than that, having coffee with other entrepreneurs, sharing ideas and learning from them is also another way I unwind.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
A term I would use would be “cuti cuti Malaysia.” This means heading to a local destination for some R&R to save on the cost of going on overseas to travel. Top of my the list would be heading to a farm or the jungle with clear river waters and a waterfall all to myself. Staying the night, out in the open under the stars, with a campfire and heading back to nature. The other option would be taking a boat to one of the furthest islands in Malaysia, just before the border of Indonesia, to get away from civilization.

Everyone in business should read this book:
I would actually recommend two books that everyone in business in the early years should read. ‘Founder’s Dilemma’ and ‘Start with Why.’ After being in a couple of businesses and many mistakes later, I came to realise the importance of starting it right. Both these books address the whole mind-set on what founders need to have from selecting who is it we start a business with to why are we starting the business. The business foundation is built from the founders and moving forward everything is built from there. Sometimes we are so into the business that we forget we need to be on the business as well. I would have definitely avoided a couple of bumps if I came across these much earlier on.

Shameless plug for your business:
Manage your office better, that’s our motto. We are always on the lookout to work with organisations, suppliers and partners in this field for partnerships and collaborations.
Supplycart is a B2B procurement platform addressing a need for a change in the way companies manage their office supplies, products and services. We enable suppliers and companies to adopt digital technology when selling and procuring for their business, resulting in a more efficient and productive workforce.
Supplycart provides an easy to use, convenient platform that streamlines the whole procurement process by allowing users to quickly order and reorder, receive instant quotations, obtain quick approvals from necessary approvers and fulfilment items are coordinated/planned to ensure a timely a speedy delivery.
Businesses can now focus on the more important matters in growing and sustaining their business while leaving managing the office to Supplycart. Our vision is to be the number 1 office platform for businesses across South East Asia. “Your office will never be the same again.”

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ohjonathan/
e : [email protected]
w : www.supplycart.my

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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Trung Nguyen, Founder & Managing Director of Advertising Vietnam

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Having initial success with his first start up in the ad industry, Trung Nguyen went on to start other ventures in the ad world in Vietnam. He now has the largest agency community in Vietnam.

What’s your story?
Three years ago I got my first job in the advertising industry. I worked for a local agency in town, and I fell in love with the creative industry. In June 2015, I founded Agency Life Community in Vietnam. It quickly became the most engaging community in the ad industry. The main content focuses on entertainment. After six months we had over 30,000 organic followers, now we have 120,000 followers.

Because the industry had been good to me, I decided I had to something for the industry to help the industry be better. So, I opened http://AdvertisingVietnam.com – a creative industry ad site which keeps advertising informative, creative and inspiring.

After more than a year in the ads industry in Vietnam, I figured the industry needed a better solution for the recruitment of good staff. Given I own the largest advertising community platform, why don’t I utilise Agency Life to help connect talent with ad agencies. So, I founded job site, AdJob.Asia in January 2017.

What excites you most about your industry?
The ad industry is a creative one with very passionate people who are always challenging themselves. The exciting part for creatives, in the morning they might be working on a baby brand and in the afternoon they are answering a beer brief. There is so much diversity. Every day is the new journey.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I am Vietnamese.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Thailand. The Thais are the kings of the creative industry in SEA. Thai ads are very smart and creative.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Do what you love.

Who inspires you?
My friend, mentor and partner Mr Nghi Nguyen, founder of BrandsVietnam.com. We started our businesses at a similar time. He doesn’t see us as a competitor but rather, he believes that we share the same passion and we are working to provide better knowledge for the ad community.
Mr Nghi also guided me a lot when I first opened the business. I am inspired by his vision to make our marketing industry better.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Our business is a startup company and as a founder I do everything from operations, business development, planning and strategy. However, this is not the good way grow our business. You have to share the workload – find a co-founder or hire a great employee to help share the workload. “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Quit my full time job sooner.
During the first year of running my business, I was still working as an ad manager for an agency. However I lacked focus at work due to the overload of work and it affected the company I used to work for. I strongly recommend people who have an idea to start their own business, quit their job early on and focus 100% on it from the get go!

How do you unwind?
Play with my cat.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I love to travel throughout all of Asia. I enjoy new places and meeting new people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Carpenter: A story about the greatest success strategies of all.

Shameless plug for your business:
AdvertisingVietnam.com is a site where you can quickly update yourself on the advertising news in Vietnam. We have 15,000 unique monthly readers who are professional people in the advertising and communications industries.

The Agency Life, https://www.facebook.com/agencylife is largest agency community in Vietnam. This is the right place for ad agencies to share their creative work.

AdJob.Asia now has more than 160 agencies in Vietnam who use our services. We are a leading recruitment service for the advertising industry in Vietnam.

How can people connect with you?
You can connect with me:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/trungnx26
Email: [email protected]
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/trungnx26/

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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