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Chloe Lee, Founder of SensoryHub

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Born and bred in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Chloe Lee has always admired the entrepreneurial spirit since young and hopefully to become one when she grows up. Chloe has always been a path of self-discovery. Chloe dropped out from Monash University because she failed the same paper too many times. After dropping out from Monash, Chloe went to study food science and nutrition in University of South Australia.

After graduation, Chloe decided to return to Kuala Lumpur, as she felt that its easier to actually get involved in business in Malaysia rather than in Australia. Upon returning home, Chloe followed the conventional path and pursued her early career with a few big corporates and MNCs within the food ingredient industry.

She also took the opportunity to do a MBA part time as she wanted to equip herself with greater business knowledge. As time passed, Chloe felt ever drawn to the need to achieve her goal of pursuing a business. Eventually, she decided to get out of her comfort zone and started SensoryHub. Chloe shares with The Asian Entrepreneur the story behind SensoryHub.

In your own words what is SensoryHub?

SensoryHub is a scent solution provider in the premium scenting category. We provide scenting solution in the B2B business model. We connect your brand to target audience through scent. We help business to amplify a brand message through scent. We only offer scent that matches your brand identity. Smell is one of the most influential senses among human five senses.

In today’s business world, aside from quality products and good service level, there is a lot of focus on customer emotion and customer experience. Our system releases pleasant aroma into commercial area thus creating an emotional touch with customers. It is invisible after installation, as long as the air conditioner is turn on, our scent will diffuse from air conditioner ducting to cover the area. Size doesn’t matter, as we cover from an area as small as a lift to large area like a shopping mall.

How did you come up with the idea of SensoryHub?

I did not come up with the idea. The strategy was long adopted by many successful brands. It is also the latest frontier that stands out from traditional visual and audio commercial advertising. I feel that there is a gap in marketing and branding currently, whereby most of the advertisement is targeting our eyes and ears. What about our nose? It is very important senses too. Thus, I see an opportunity in this market as it does create values for many brands, hotels, car showroom, property sales gallery, entertainment venue.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up SensoryHub?

The company was co-founded by myself and my brother (Jayden Lee). Jayden is the one who encourage me to take action while I hesitate on this life changing event. To make this company viable, we needed lots of courage and support from family and friends. I forgot how many times we pitch the idea to someone, but in the end, we found 2 partners who has vast experience in business and very successful in life. Whenever I face any challenges, I can turn to my partners for advice and guidance. Having them makes me a wiser person and I owe them a big thank you. We are blessed that our team has a good diversity of background to drive the strategic growth of the company.

Besides, my late father is my biggest inspiration as he prepares us mentally. We are mentally prepared for the worst-case scenario, if we fail, we will take this as a learning curve and come back to be stronger in the future.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties during startup?

I guess most start up go through the same difficulties in terms of funding, getting customers, pitching the idea, dealing with supplier and the list goes on. We managed to overcome most of the challenges despite many ups and down. I suppose having the right attitude, a strong mindset and the right partnership help us through the difficult times.

One of the challenges we are still trying to overcome since start up is educating customers on the importance of scent branding. As scent branding is something that is intangible and difficult to measure, we are constantly looking for better way to educate customers on the power of scent branding and the values and benefit it can bring to their business.

How have you been developing SensoryHub since startup?

Since we began operation, we have been constantly improving on our product and services to our customers. We have a full range of scent system which covers from 35sq ft – 8000sq ft. For the scent, we have close to 100++ different types of pure oil in our library.

We are constantly looking for new product innovation in order to create the value we promised to our customers. We do not want to just meet expectation but to go beyond customer expectation. With this attitude, we have 99% conversion rate for those customers who took on our trial run service.

What kind of feedback did you get for SensoryHub so far?

Our customers are very happy and satisfied with our service. We get feedback like they feel very excited to go to work every day because they can’t wait to smell the scent. Some feedback that marketing with scent actually increase sales. We also have a sales gallery feedback that our scent kind of transform their business image. Staff of the sales gallery are perceived to be more professional and trust worthy.

Besides, we also received feedback that strive us to further improve. Some of our customers mentioned that they are unable to smell anything after sometime. We value these feedback and handle them carefully.

What is your strategy against your competition?

Every industry has its competition. For SensoryHub the competition is not strong as compared to others. Our products are position in the premium scenting category  and differentiated from air refresher and aroma therapy. At SensoryHub, we use 100% pure oil with superior quality. Our scent is designed to match your brand identity. It is manufactured according to the strictest IFRA guidelines.

If you google “Scent Marketing” or “Scent Branding” or “Sensory Branding” you will find a list of company in similar category. We make our names by sticking to our core values, 1) to deliver “WOW” through service, 2) to make a difference for our customers, 3) treating everyone with respect. Our front-line service team will always make customer satisfy, happy and keep them excited. Those are the simple strategy we use for survival.

Have you developed any industry insights that you could share?

Scent branding is a 14 billion industry in the global market. Many marketers and retailer smell the success of adopting this strategy to enhance brand experience. There is opportunity in the premium category as it is not about masking odor but it’s about value adding. We need constant scent innovation, keep up to consumer trends and understanding consumer behaviour on scent preference in order to stay relevant in the industry.

What is the future of the industry?

Definitely optimistic about the future of this industry. Our aim is to create sensory experience between brands and its target audience. Thus, we need to get creative and innovative in order to stay relevant. For example, we are working on ways to scent parcel since E-commerce is booming. How would you like if the moment you open your parcel with a whiff of pleasant aroma?

We will not limit ourselves to just scent. Another project in the pipeline is Music. Music is another sensory experience we would like to add on to our portfolio. We want to be the hub of providing sensory experience.

What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?

In my opinion, there is no clear answers as it really depends on nature of the business. I would say certain part of Asia is less establish in term of laws, regulation and intellectual property. However, if you wish to start a F&B business is relatively easy in Asia. So it really depends on nature of business.

What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?

Still very old school types of thinking. In my opinion, the Asian entrepreneur is the hard working with all the sweat and tears. They work long hours thus usually do not have work life balance. The western entrepreneur is the work smart, play hard types and they are more driven by systematic approach.

Having said so, I do see changes in the younger generation of Asian entrepreneur. As they are more expose to the world and a diversity of cultures, they tend to work smart. The younger generation have the global mindset which strive them a competitive edge. I do read a lot about second generation leading family business successfully and strive to bring business to the next level.

What is your definition of success?

I guess the definition of success changes as we reach certain level in life. For example, when I was 20 years old, my definition of success is to graduate from university and start a career. When I was 30 years, my definition of success is to start family planning as well as running successful businesses. When I am 40 years old, my definition of success is to be able to inspire others. Take a step back and be grateful for whatever I have achieved. When I am 50 years old, I would love to contribute as much I could to the society

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I love to create and build a business from scratch. That’s like my childhood dreams. I want to have financial freedom, time freedom and location freedom so I have more bonding time with my kids and being able to take care of my family. My next stage in life is to focus on contributing to society and anything I could do to the less privileged. I always believe to help yourself first so you get to help others in a more effective way.

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

Learning from mistakes and being able to pick up yourself after failure. Embrace change and adapt to changes. Having the right attitude and positive mindset.

Any parting words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there from your personal experience?

Everything started as nothing. You do not need to have big idea. As long as you have a dreams, take the courage to pursue it.

Connect

Website: www.sensoryhub.com

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/sensory-hub

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scentbranding.sensoryhub/

Callum Connects

Benjamin Kwan, Co-Founder of TravelClef

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Making music to create a life for his family, Benjamin Kwan, started an online tuition portal and his music business grew from there.

What’s your story?
I am Benjamin and I’m the Co-Founder of TravelClef Group Pte Ltd, a travelling music school that conducts music classes in companies as well as team building with music programmes. We also run an online educational platform which matches private students to freelance music teachers. We also manufacture our own instruments. I started this company in 2011 when I was still a freshman at NUS, majoring in Mechanical Engineering.

I was born to a lower income family, my father drove a taxi and was the sole breadwinner to a family of 7. I have always dreamed of becoming rich so that I could lessen the burden placed on my father and give my family a good life.

After working really hard in my first semester at NUS, my results didn’t reflect the hard work and effort I put in. At the same time, I was left with just $42 in my bank account and it suddenly dawned on me that if I were to graduate with mediocre results, I would probably end up with a mediocre salary as well. I knew I had to do something to gain control of my future.

During that summer break, I read a book “Internet Riches” by Scott Fox and I knew that the only way I could ever start my own business with my last $42 would be to start an online business. That was how our online tuition portal started and after taking 4 days to learn Photoshop and website building on my own, I started the business.

What excites you most about your industry?
Music itself is a constant form of excitement to me as I have always been an avid lover of music. As one of the world’s first travelling music schools, we are always very eager and excited to find innovative ways to a very traditional business model of a music teaching.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore and I love the fact that despite our diversity in culture, there’s always a common language that we share, music.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hands down, SINGAPORE! Although we are currently in talks to expand to other regions within Asia, Singapore is the best place for business. I have had friends asking me if they should consider venturing into entrepreneurship in Singapore, my answer is always a big fat YES! There’s a low barrier of entry, and most importantly, the government is very supportive of entrepreneurship.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I have been blessed by many people and mentors who constantly give me great advice but right now, I would say the best piece of advice that I received would be from Dr Patrick Liew who said, “Work on the business, not in it.” This advice is constantly ringing in my head as I work towards scaling the business.

Who inspires you?
My dad. My dad has always been my inspiration in life, for the amount of sacrifices that he has made for the family and the love he has for us. He was the umbrella for all the storms that my family faced and we were always safe in his shelter. Although my dad passed away after a brief fight with colorectal cancer, the lessons that he imparted to me were very valuable as I build my own family and business.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You can not buy time, but you can spend money to save time! With this realisation, I was willing to allow myself to spend some money, in order to save more time. Like taking Grab/Uber to shuttle around instead of spending time travelling on public transport. While I spend more money on travelling, I save a lot more time! This doesn’t mean that I spend lavishly and extravagantly, I am still generally prudent with my money.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have taken more time to spend with my family and especially my father. While it is important to focus our time to build our businesses, we should always try our best to allocate family time. Because as an entrepreneur, there is no such thing as “after I finish my work,” because our work is never finished. If our work finishes, the business is also finished. But our time with our family is always limited and no matter how much money and how many successes we achieve, we can never use it to trade back the time we have with our family.

How do you unwind?
I am a very simple man. I enjoy TV time with my wife and a simple dinner with my family and friends.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Batam, it’s close to Singapore and there’s really nothing much to do except for massages and a relaxing resort life. If I travel to other countries for shopping or sightseeing, I am constantly thinking of business and how I can possibly expand to the country I am visiting. But while relaxing at the beach or at a massage, I tend to allow myself to drift into emptiness and just clear my mind of any thoughts.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Work The System, by Sam Carpenter. This book teaches entrepreneurs the importance of creating systems and how to leverage on systems to improve productivity and create more time.

Shameless plug for your business:
If you are looking for a team building programme that your colleagues will enjoy and your bosses will be happy with, you have to consider our programmes at TravelClef! While our programmes are guaranteed fun and engaging, it is also equipped with many team building deliverables and organizational skills.

How can people connect with you?
My email is [email protected] and I am very active on Facebook as well!
https://www.facebook.com/benjamin.christian.kwan

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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Callum Connects

Nadia Al Sheikh, Founder & CEO of Flenco & Deal’n

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Nadia Al Sheikh has created a business module which incorporates philanthropy and business to empower others, and herself, she’s called her business Deal’n.

What’s your story?
My story is mirrored in my work. Flenco and our Singaporean eco skin care brand, “Flen” combines Dead Sea minerals from the lowest point of earth with Chinese medicine, which represents the wisdom and mystics of the east and these things represent my journey. I’m a single mother rediscovering my identity at a low point in life. Throughout my journey, determination, flexibility and assertiveness are the pillars of innovation. Thus Deal’n was born after years of groundwork in volunteering with various NGO’s and pursuing my masters degree. Transforming a vision, into a module that incorporates philanthropy and business, with tools to empower others and empower myself!

What excites you most about your industry?
The endless opportunities for improvement, innovation, creativity, free thinking which is mastered through interaction with other players in the market and customers creating a virtual place for brainstorming and the exchange of ideas. An evolving industry that challenges each and every person to use their skills, talents, expertise and utilise all their abilities to claim a slice of the pie.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia and specifically Singapore are my second home. It’s my spiritual and business safe haven that provides fair opportunities for everyone to succeed. If I was back in the Middle East as a single mother, I’m pretty sure my struggle would have been much longer and more difficult, however, it wouldn’t have stopped me from achieving my dreams. Singapore specifically empowered me professionally and Asia spiritually in redefining who I am as a person and understanding myself better.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, although it’s a very tough and competitive market for entrepreneurs to start a business, it provides them with support and motivation through grants, competitions and subsidising the cost of exhibiting or promotional events to promote their business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Success is measured by achieving your own personal goals and dreams and not what others think you should achieve.

Who inspires you?
Those who go unnoticed. From senior citizens, cleaning tables at food courts regardless of their wealth of knowledge and experience to single mothers, who are fighting everyday to overcome the social stigma and manage taking care of their children while earning an income. The amazing people who give their lives to start an NGO to empower others asking for nothing in return except the success of their beneficiaries, the humble members of our community that work in silence changing lives not for the spotlight but for their belief in making the world a better place.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
To step onto the balcony! In order to evaluate situations and understand people’s motivations from different perspectives and even to understand ourselves better we all need to step onto the balcony and become observers rather than participants. It gives you the power to see life through a variety of lenses.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’d be wiser with my decisions, evaluate situations from different perspectives and believe in myself and my capabilities. That all came with experience and the ups and downs throughout my journey so I guess, to be who I am today I would have accepted the rough times and embraced them because they were my best teachers. So I wouldn’t undo the past but I am changing my future.

How do you unwind?
Meditation, exercising, listening to music, reading a book and a walk in the botanical gardens.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Maldives, I love the peace and harmony in the simplicity of what it offers; beautiful beaches and wonderful people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The Wisdom Of Crowds by James Surowiecki

Shameless plug for your business:
Deal’n provides opportunities for all members of the community to utilize their skills, talents, expertise, capabilities and abilities in various ways, aiming at empowering all users to become productive members of their community. Using the services of other users for all to grow and benefit, interact with each other through the Deal’n community, thus enhancing their self esteem, level of confidence and as a result, a more empathetic and happier community!

How can people connect with you?
Through my FB page Nadousheh, my email [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@nadiaalsheikh

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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