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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

Jace Koh, Founder of U Ventures

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Jace Koh believes cash flow is the lifeblood of your business. Understanding it will enhance your ability to run and manage your business.

What’s your story?
My name is Jace Koh and I am the Founder of U Ventures. I’ve always been inclined towards investment and entrepreneurship. I’ve played a hand in starting businesses across these industries – professional services, cloud integration, software and music. I believe that succeeding in business is tough, but that’s what makes the rewards even sweeter.

What excites you most about your industry?
Everything excites me. These are my beliefs:

  • Why is accounting important?
    The accounting department is the heart. Cash flow is like blood stream, it pumps blood to various parts of the body like cash flow is pumped to various departments and/or functions in a business. It is vital to the life and death of the business.
  • Is accounting boring?
    Accountants are artists too. They paint the numbers the way they want them to be.
  • What makes a good accountant?
    A good accountant can tell you a story about the business by looking at the numbers.
  • Why is budgeting and projection important?
    Accountants are like fortune tellers, they can predict the numbers and if you wish to understand your business and make informed decisions, feel free to speak to our friendly consultants to secure a meeting.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore, and here’s where I want to be.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is my favourite city. We have great legal systems in place, good security and people with integrity. Most importantly, we have a government that fosters a good environment for doing business. I recently went for a cultural exchange programme in Hong Kong to learn more about their startups. I found out that the Hong Kong government generally only supports local business owners in terms of grants. They’ve recently been more lenient and changed the eligibility to include all businesses that have at least 50% local shareholding. But comparing that to Singapore, the government only requires a 30% local shareholding to obtain government support. In the early days of starting a business, all the support you can get is precious. It’s great that we have a government that understands that.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best time ever to plant a tree was 10 years ago as the tree would have grown so big to provide you with shelter and all. When is the next best time to plant a tree? It is today. Because in 10 years time, the tree would have grown big enough to provide you shelter and all.

Who inspires you?
Jack Ma. His journey to success is one of the most inspiring as it proves that with determination and great foresight, even the poorest can turn their lives around. I personally relate to his story a lot, and this is my favourite quote from him, “If you don’t give up, you still have a chance. Giving up is the greatest failure.”

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve faced multiple rejections throughout my business journey, and recently came across a fact on Jack Ma about how he was once rejected for 32 different jobs. It resonated very deeply and taught me the importance of tenacity, especially during tough times.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I live a life with no regrets. Everything I do, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, happy or sad, and regardless of outcome, it’s a lesson with something to take away.

How do you unwind?
I love to pamper myself through retail therapy and going for spas. I also make a conscious effort to take time off work to have a break outside to unwind as well as to uncloud my mind. This moment of reflection from time to time helps me see more clearly on how I can improve myself.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan! Good food with no language barriers and the people are great!

Everyone in business should read this book:
I don’t really read books. Mostly, I learn from my daily life and interactions with hundreds of other business owners. To me, people tell the most interesting stories.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re not just corporate secretaries, we’re “business doctors.”
U Ventures is a Xero certified advisory firm that goes beyond traditional accounting services to provide solutions for your business. You can reach us on our website: http://uventures.com.sg/

How can people connect with you?
Converse to connect. You can reach me via email at [email protected] or alternatively, on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jacekoh/

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

Ray Ferguson, Founder of Caber Partners

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Ray Ferguson left the banking world and returned to Asia to explore exciting fintech opportunities.

What’s your story?
I am the Founder of Caber Partners, a Singapore based MAS Licensed Fund Manager and Financial Advisor investing and working with companies focused exclusively on the intersection of finance and technology. I work specifically in the areas of payments, insurance, wealth management, alternative lending and blockchain.

I am also Chairman of Singapore Life which was founded last year. It is the first new local life company in Singapore. Concurrently, I chair Youtap a business which is creating a cashless e-money processing backbone providing real-time interoperable settlements of all consumer e-money payments to the merchants, e-money providers, retail and FMCG distribution groups, and banks across emerging markets.

My 30 year journey as a banker had its main leg with Standard Chartered Bank, where I held multiple country chief executive and regional leadership roles across four continents. I spent 6 years as Regional CEO, South East Asia and Chief Executive, Singapore. After Standard Chartered, I moved to Bank ABC, Bahrain and assumed the role of Group Chief Banking Officer where I took care of the group’s banking businesses worldwide.
Last year, I decided to step down after 3 years from my role with Bank ABC to return to Asia to pursue interesting and exciting opportunities that fintech disruption was providing.

What excites you most about your industry?
The sheer pace of technological innovation in the financial sector, and how it is up-ending the traditional models and traditional players. There are huge implications and benefits for efficiency, transparency and importantly financial inclusion which will drive growth in emerging markets.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I have lived in and worked in Asia for more than 30 years. I first came to Singapore in 1994 and today I am a proud Singapore citizen, and to me Singapore is home.

Its an invigorating environment. Asia is in the middle of an historic transformation. If it continues to follow its recent trajectory, by 2050 its per capita income could rise sixfold in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms to reach Europe’s levels today. It would make some 3 billion additional Asians affluent by current standards. By nearly doubling its share of global gross domestic product (GDP) to 52 percent by 2050, Asia would regain the dominant economic position it held some 300 years ago, before the industrial revolution. This is a big deal and I’m excited to be part of it!

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Singapore! Singapore is known for being a business-friendly country and it was crowned the best country in World Bank’s “Ease of Doing Business List” and ranks as the top 3 in the World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitive Index.” Singapore is an attractive hub, for both businesses and has a great community to live in.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Listen intently and you will know what you don’t know.

Who inspires you?
Nelson Mandela

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That the global mobile wallet market was valued at approximately USD 594 billion in 2016 and is expected to reach approximately USD 3,100 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of around 32% between 2017 and 2022.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have learnt to code.

How do you unwind?
Exercise, golf and sailing large catamarans.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket. Easy to reach, Thai people and service, breadth of choice of locations/accomodation and great sailing weather.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Good to Great – Jim Collins. It’s about how companies transition from being good companies to great companies, and how and why most companies fail to make the transition.

Shameless plug for your business:
Caber Partners team is uniquely connected with our networks and experience in fintech markets, investing and banking and business growth solutions throughout Asia and across the emerging world.

How can people connect with you?
Come connect with me through my LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/rayfergusonscb

Twitter handle?
Rayferguson888

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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