Looking to create a space to meet and gather business-minded people into the same locale, Casper Foo, started a co-working space which does just that.
What’s your story?
When you reach a certain point in your career, routine work while satisfying can become repetitive. This was the wall I reached after 8 years in the finance industry. In contrast, people who travel and work independently have always interested me and since I could not do it myself at this point of time. I felt like I could create a space in Malaysia where I could meet and gather business-minded people into the same locale. With this concept of attracting people of the same values, coming together and sharing ideas it resulted in the creation of Sandbox.
What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about the Co-Working Industry is the opportunity to meet new people who are on different stages of entrepreneurship. Many different types come in and out of a Co-Working Space on a monthly basis and their experiences and stories are all unique whether it is globally or locally. A relatively new model in Malaysia, it excites me to be able to change the industry of common spaces. While there are theatres and clubs for people who wish to pursue the arts, entrepreneurs who are fresh into the world of business do not have many places to go. As such by creating a chain or a hub, it is inspiring to create a place to facilitate their growth by constant evaluations of their ideas through meeting and communicating with other people who are on the same path or mind-set.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Malaysia and understand the nuances of business transactions and culture in South East Asia. I have also traveled around Asia in search of Co-Working Spaces that I could draw inspiration from in order to create one that would fit my ideals. Being able to travel around Asia has allowed me to understand the current trends and apply them to Sandbox in order to attract people from all around the region.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
While being slightly bias, I believe it’s definitely Kuala Lumpur. All the diversity in the city helps businesses understand the importance of cultural sensitivity, the cost of living is relatively lower allowing start-ups to live more comfortably and finally the technological advances. To quote a recent article from SME: Malaysia currently outranks many other Asian countries in Digital Maturity. With all these factors I believe you have everything set here to start your business.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Walk the road less travelled” – Robert Frost. Simply put when taking advice from anyone, make sure to know the background of the advisor and if you wish to go further beyond what you are being advised, it’s best not to take the advice at all. So don’t take my advice.
Who inspires you?
My father is a successful entrepreneur and motivational speaker; coming from a poor family where our family couldn’t even afford milk powder, he worked hard to the point where he could provide the things that our family has now and that’s a great inspiration. Other than that I get inspiration from different places such as books that I read at the time and occasionally quotes from Instagram which are surprisingly thought-provoking.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I still don’t understand the trend of bubble tea among youngsters nowadays. With so many bubble tea cups entering Sandbox as much as residents, our Co-Working Space has been seeing an increasing amount of bubble tea chains and their businesses expanding goes to show that your view of what is making sense may not be the same as others.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I wished I could have recognized and developed the talent surrounding me more. There are many skilled people that would have helped the overall process and I learnt from this. “The fire burns higher if everyone puts wood in it.” If I had properly utilized the talent on other things, I am sure Sandbox would be more enhanced and ahead of schedule than it already is.
How do you unwind?
Music is my love. Since I was young, I played many instruments and currently, I am focused on performing the French Horn. Joining Community Bands and Orchestras where I can mix with all types of musicians young and old while performing for a crowd is the best way for me to unwind.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan is my favourite holiday destination in Asia. Experiencing the food, the technology and the weather are always a joy and I would like the emphasise the weather since its always blazing hot in Malaysia.
Everyone in business should read this book:
I would definitely recommend “Good to Great” that I have recently finished. Focused on how companies are able to succeed in the long term, the book goes into detail about the “DNA” of an enterprise and what it takes to convert being average into being a giant. If you feel like your company or business has hit a wall in terms of value, this book could help push your organization to the next level.
Shameless plug for your business:
If you are at home reading this now and felt that you could be more productive, you are right. Co-Working Spaces are everything that you are looking for if you wish to validate your ideas with people that are on the same journey as you. Whether you are a company, a digital nomad or an individual who is working as a freelance, Sandbox is a community where working does not become a chore but becomes a way to share your stories with the people around you. If you live in Malaysia and need a space to feel pressured and inspired at the same time, check us out!
How can people connect with you?
Anyone can reach me through my email at [email protected].
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’.