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Christopher Boseak, Founder of AdvaSchedule.com

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Today, The Asian Entrepreneur speaks to Christopher Boseak, the Founder of AdvaSchedule.com.

Tell us about yourself Christopher.

I am a Software Engineer and Entrepreneur. I have a beautiful wife and recently had a baby boy named Liam. I have 2 bachelor’s degrees, one in Computer Science and one in Business. I grew up in Michigan with entrepreneurial parents that had it in their blood to start a business. They have had every business you can think of from pet supplies, promotional supplies, antique brokers, real estate development, and the list goes on. Growing up, I constantly dabbled in being an entrepreneur but I never actually realized it or referred to myself as one. It wasn’t until I got into software that anything is possible and that I was going to be the guy to make that happen. I am an ideas guy, I keep a notebook with me that I constantly write ideas down in. I don’t plan to use every idea, mostly because some of them are pretty terrible, but I never want to lose an opportunity to create something great because I didn’t internalize the thought in the moment.

And, in your own words what do you do?

I am a Software Engineer and Entrepreneur.

What led you to your current business?

Anyone who knows me, knows that I write everything down and put everything on my google calendar. It was not always like this, there was a time when I was consistently late and forgetful. In my efforts to be more productive, I began creating task lists and adding reminders to my calendar. My issue was that I was spending so much time adding meetings to my calendar that it took away from actual work. Finally, I wrote software so that others could schedule meetings directly into my calendar. I initially wrote it for myself with the hopes that someone else would find it useful.

Could you walk us through your process of developing your business?

I followed a plan of developing the minimum viable product, one with the bare minimum needed to work, so that I could figure out if this was something people actually wanted. After I built a working version of the site, I had friends and family use it and used their feedback to drive the direction of the features. I have used this approach many times, the beauty of it is that it helps me move on from ideas that will not get traction.

Did you encounter any particular difficulties in the beginning?

Yes! One challenge that I faced in the beginning was sorting through the feedback from the beta testers. This sounds like a good problem to have but it became information overload. How do we know what features users actually want and which ones are just kind of “that would be cool” ideas? I overcame this by taking all of the data and having the users prioritize it for me. So instead of just asking “what features would you like?” We took the data from the beta tests and organized them into a feature voting system where the users would rank them based on timeframes of when they would like us to develop that feature. An example of this is that we kept hearing that users wanted the ability to customize calendars but when we sent it out in a voting system, almost every user said that this was a low priority.

What is your long term plan?

My long term plan is to build a suite of productivity solutions. I want to add value to people’s lives and help them achieve their goals. An example, I have an open inbox site in development that will allow users to send spam to our mailbox and retrieve it, the website is www.mailspire.com, the backend is built, we are just working on the user interface.

Could you share with us some industry insights?

The software industry is about finding a good balance between innovation and perfection. You have to find something that people will use that hasn’t already been done, or if it has been done that you can do better.

What are some important lessons you’ve learnt about entrepreneurship?

Entrepreneurship has taught me that failing is okay and that failing can take many forms. It is okay to fail because I learn so much in the experience. Sometimes failing is realizing that an idea you had is not practical and that you have to pivot into a new idea. Sometimes failing is having a business that does not turn a profit. It sets the tone, that all is okay as long as I am still moving forward.

Any tips for achieving success?

My tip for success is to pound the pavement and throw everything you have into your business. I often hear people say “I wish I would have thought of that first” but it’s not enough to be first, you have to work harder than everyone around you. One of my favorite quotes is by Mark Cuban and it goes “Work like there is someone working 24 hours a day to take it away from you.”

Connect

Website: http://advaschedule.com

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopher-boseak-816b3b57

Callum Connects

Benedict Heng, Founder of Mr. Farmer

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Benedict Heng is bringing back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your story?
I’m Ben from Mr. Farmer. Mr. Farmer is an online grocer dedicated to supplying the freshest produce to our customers. We believe in sustainable and ethical farming. Since a young age, I have always been an avid food lover (especially meats), developing a strong interest in all things delicious. That is why I ventured into the F&B industry, working as a junior cook for 3 years.

Midway through my career, I made a move to the finance industry to pursue monetary rewards. I dove into high-risk investments and I made lots of money from these investments. However, the good fortune did not last long and all these came crashing down when I suffered a tremendous loss. This coincided with the time that I had just started my own family and it was a huge blow to me both materially and mentally. It was this crash that made me realize that this life wasn’t for me. I went on a hiatus and eventually, it was only through the strong support from my family that I managed to tide over this tough episode.

I went back to help the family business and this was how Mr Farmer came about. My family has been in the food industry for many decades and one thing they noticed from years of experience is that sustainable farming practices are not as developed as in Europe. This is why through Mr Farmer, we hope that we can provide the best quality products to families out there who want the best ingredients for their loved ones.

What excites you most about your industry?
Delicious and wholesome food excites me. I believe food is a critical component of life and it brings people together. The opportunity to serve the community with fresh produce for a healthy life, that brings me joy.

I feel that there is still so much more we can do to improve the quality of food and bring it to the masses. One of the key components of ensuring greater quality of food is to support ethical and sustainable farming. Due to commercialization and urbanization, most farming practices these days are no longer the way they were in the old “kampong” times. Shortcuts are taken, standards are compromised, all in the name of profit. At Mr. Farmer, profit is important too but we want to focus on the concept of One Welfare – sustainable farming directly impacts our health. Our vision is to bring back the ‘kampong’ days of having the Ho Liao (good ingredients) for Ho Jiak (good tasting) food.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and raised in Singapore. I call Singapore my home as it’s where my family and close friends are. I also travel frequently to Malaysia and APAC for work.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It’s definitely Singapore. There is just so much this tiny city can offer! Singapore has been globally recognized for its top-notch business environment providing its residents with developed infrastructure, political stability and excellent connectivity. These factors have given us an outstanding support system for businesses to strive.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Surround yourself with people that inspire you, challenge you to rise higher, make you better and, keep them in your life.

Who inspires you?
I draw inspiration from my uncle, who is the head of both the family and business. He takes care of our family matters at home and manages hundreds of employees at work. Handling both the family and business side of things can be tricky, but he has shown me that success can be sustainable and done with a conscience. His guiding philosophy of handling business and family is simply, to have a big heart.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Even just one day of separation from the day the meat is slaughtered, makes a world of difference to its flavour.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I have come to learn that awareness is the beginning of everything. If I had my time again, I would have probably spent more time figuring out who I truly am and with that self-awareness, begun to lead my life with more purpose and meaning.

How do you unwind?
I like to spend my free time sipping white coffee at my favourite coffee place. I enjoy taking in the surrounding sights and letting my mind wander freely. It allows me to unwind and gain clarity at the same time. It also helps me organize my thoughts to prepare for the week ahead.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It would be Bangkok as the people there are genuinely friendly and hospitable. They say people are what defines the city and I couldn’t agree more with this. I also enjoy the ‘laid back’ vibe of Bangkok. Not to mention Bangkok has all the good food and awesome shopping choices too!

Everyone in business should read this book:
“Spin selling” by Neil Reckham. It’s an amazing book that teaches you a process designed to help you successfully sell your products and services to business buyers.

Shameless plug for your business:
We at Mr. Farmer have the best tasting meats in Singapore, do a blind test and you will know why it’s Michelin chefs’ preferred choice. Not only are we very confident about the taste, we are also proud to say that all our products are chemical, hormone and antibiotic free. We also focus a lot on supporting ethical and sustainable farming practices believing in the ‘One Welfare’ concept. Do check us out if you enjoy good quality food like us!

How can people connect with you?
[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’.

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

Zac Chua, Founder & CEO of The Kettle Gourmet

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Zac Chua’s popcorn business validated itself straight away and fast tracked him to the startup world. Zac now employs 11 people and shifts 500 bags of popcorn daily.

What’s your story?
It’s a crazy one. It was an accidental startup. If you think about it, no university graduate would ever dream of becoming a popcorn seller. We crashed our first tech event to validate our idea and it took off from there. I bought a logo for $7 from a designers marketplace, printed some cheap name cards, and built a 1 page landing page. Sales started pouring in and eventually, we were serving B2B clients (corporate pantries) and we have never looked back. Today we move about 500 bags daily, we have 11 employees and we are growing. Talk about a validation that worked in our favour.

What excites you most about your industry?
It’s food! Everybody loves food! In Singapore the F&B scene is brutally competitive and it spurs me on to fight and compete for market share and to prove to myself that I can do it. It keeps me going and I won’t stop until we become the market leader.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Singapore, and have traveled to most of Southeast Asia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! Even though Singapore has a high cost of living, the Government is actually very supportive of startups. They provide grants for us to tap into, and the technological infrastructure makes it possible for us to compete on a global scale. I believe if you can succeed in your business in Singapore, you can succeed in most of Southeast Asia.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
You only need to be right once, and the rest is history.

Who inspires you?
My father, who was a VC. In fact he was the one who gave me the best piece of advice which I shared above. Having one successful exit, he showed me that it’s okay to fail a million times – all it takes is just one time for you to win in business and in life.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The power of compounding.

  • Mary and John are the same age.
  • Mary saves $2k annually from the age of 19-25 – so she puts $14k into her portfolio
  • John saves $2k annually from the age of 26-65 – so he puts $80k into his portfolio, but 7 years after Mary.
  • If both are able to generate 10% per annum, who would have more at age 65?
  • John of course! But how much more?
  • Mary will have $944,641 whilst John will have $973,704
  • Think about it! Mary puts in only $14k but John delays for 7 years and puts in $80k.

CRAZY RIGHT!?!?

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing, my mistakes taught me how to become a better me. But if I really must choose, I’d say take more time to find the right business partner.

How do you unwind?
Poker, Mahjong and Dota 2.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Vietnam! Things are cheap, people are warm and friendly, and their coffee fills up my life. I would love to retire there if possible.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The richest man in Babylon

Shameless plug for your business:
We don’t need a plug. Just try our competitors and you’ll understand why!

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chuazongyou
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/zacchua

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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