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David Wong, Founder of Deemples

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David Wong set up a golf app, Deemples to connect golfers around the globe.

What’s your story?
Born in KL, went to the US to get a finance degree, started my sales career selling books door-to-door in the US, then food and then onto vacuum cleaners back in KL. The last 9 years was all about digital advertising media, from social media, to analytics technology, launching businesses across Asia Pacific based in KL, Beijing, Shanghai and Singapore.
Golf was the thing that made me look forward to every weekend, however getting around was never easy since I had to find people to play with.
It didn’t help that I was always moving countries, so there were never a permanent group of golfing friends. I needed a solution, so I decided to build something myself.
We built the Deemples Golf App and tested it in Malaysia and Singapore to much success. Golfers had finally found a solution to a common problem.

What excites you most about your industry?
It’s very hard to explain why golf is exciting to a non-golfer, but the most exciting thing about the golf industry is just being able to play it! That’s the main motivation that drives us to continue to help golfers play golf whenever and wherever they want to.
Aside from helping existing golfers, since only 1% of the population plays golf, sharing that joy of golf to non-golfers, enabling more people to pick up the sport also drives us everyday.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m born and raised in the Malaysian public schools. I speak English, Mandarin, Cantonese and Malay, which helped when I was based for 4 years in Beijing and Shanghai and 2 years in Singapore where I was in a regional role opening markets in Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Australia.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Shanghai in China. It has become the capital of the world in the last few years and the sheer size and opportunity within it eclipses many of the largest cities in the world, both for business and pleasure.
Both Shanghai and Beijing are often the national HQ for a lot of large corporations, but aside from these 2, other cities in China cannot be taken lightly as they’re the size of small countries!

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Don’t just think of making money, think of solving problems, this will drive you much farther than money, and in turn the money will come.” Ava Yu, entrepreneur and friend from Shanghai.

Who inspires you?
No specific person, but I do have a lot of people I admire, that have come from nothing but believed in something, worked hard at it, and made it happen, both as an entrepreneur or an employee.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That a big chunk of “e-commerce” in SEA is still done in a manual way. Most of the e-commerce that we hear about in the region is related to brands like Lazada, Redmart, Taobao, Shopee, and MatahariMall, where payments are done online through these retailers. However, in rural areas, “e-commerce” happens through Instagram, Whatsapp, Wechat and FB messenger and the cash transactions are done “offline.”
After some trust is established between buyer and seller through IM, the buyer will then go to a nearby ATM, deposit the cash into an account provided, take a picture of the bank-in slip, and then send it to the seller. While products are still marketed through online channels, transactions are taking place offline. Very “carousell!”

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I don’t think I would have done anything differently. I cherish all the experiences I’ve gone through, good/bad/stupid, to get me to where I am today.
Am I satisfied? No.
Could I have done better? Probably.
Have I always pushed myself? Yes.
What’s more important, is what I can do from here. There’s only so much brain bandwidth, so thinking about the past is useless when you can’t change it. I try to focus on what I can do today, and plan on what to do tomorrow.

How do you unwind?
Play golf! Aside from that, do a lot of other activities – wakeboarding, running, working out, swimming, going out to listen to some jazz performances, catching up on TV series.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Anywhere along the beach in Thailand. I love beaches, Thai food, Thai massages and Thai hospitality.

Everyone in business should read this book:
I rarely read books, I know I should read more but I rather just get summarised versions from articles. I’m very trashy when it comes to books, last 2 books read were Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend, both by Kevin Kwan. The former is currently being made into a movie, which I’m looking forward to watching.

Shameless plug for your business:
When business is up, celebrate with a golf game, when business is down, play some golf since there’s nothing to do. And if no one can play with you, just get on Deemples and find others to play with. For all you know you might meet your next business partner, next client, next supplier or next wife.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]
https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidwpy
https://www.facebook.com/davidwpy

Twitter handle?
@davidwpy

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

Denise Morris Kipnis, Founder & Principal of ChangeFlow Consulting

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Denise Mossis Kipnis’ curiosity in people and the world, lead her to set up ChangeFlow Consulting.

What’s your story?
I’m driven by curiosity. Having been the only one in a room who looks like me for most of my life, I developed a curiosity about who stays, who leaves and who thrives in minority/majority situations including when and how connection and collaboration happen. I was a systems thinker long before I knew what that was, always asking why and so what; and seeing the pieces, the whole, and the places in between. So helping people and organisations move through the complexity of transformation feels natural to me.

What excites you most about your industry?
I see change and inclusion as two sides of the same thing; I don’t practice one without the other. Some people see change as death, as loss, as exhausting. And it can be. But I see in the work I do as an opportunity for something new or hidden to emerge. When an organisation understands that it is first a group of people, who themselves represent and belong to groups of people, and it begins to tackle what it would mean to understand and learn from all that talent, all that diversity, to have them all working for and not against the organisation, to truly unleash all that their people have to offer; that’s magic.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Change and inclusion are personal values as well as professional strengths. For me, living and working outside of the States was a bold experiment to see whether any of the stuff I’d learned about change and inclusion would work outside of the US. My husband and I targeted Asia specifically: it would be the greatest contrast, culturally speaking, for me; and a unique career springboard for him.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Although I’ve practiced in other cities, I am biased towards Singapore. In some ways it’s what Los Angeles is to the rest of the United States, a microcosm of sorts. The regional/global nature of it means that so many different nationalities and cultures are represented. As a result of this mix, you never know what you might get. In some situations, cultural dynamics are obvious, sometimes subdued. The variability is compelling.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Never ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do yourself.” Michael Rouan.

Who inspires you?
Often it’s a “what” not a “who.” I can get inspiration from a passage in a book or a situation in a movie, as well as a turn of a phrase or watching people interact. I often make the biggest connections between the various threads I’m working on when I’m sitting in someone else’s event.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’m honestly not blown away by much. Instead, I’m struck how circular things can be: ideas often come back around with a slightly different twist and I watch the way it shakes things loose for people. I recently sat through a workshop on Self as Instrument, and despite being thoroughly versed already, I learned something. In preparing for a panel on design thinking, I unearthed a new language to describe things.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
You’ve caught me at a good time. I’m sitting in appreciation and gratitude for all my experiences, because I wouldn’t be who I was today if all that has happened, didn’t. And yet one thing comes to mind: It wasn’t until I redesigned my website two years ago (shout out to Brew Creative!) that I realised I hadn’t made explicit agreements with my past clients as to what I could share publicly about our engagement, or whether I could use their logos in my promotional materials. In my business, confidentiality is so important, and yet I need to be able to talk about the work as reputation and experience leads to the next success, and so on. It turned out a lot of the contacts I had known had left the organisations where the work was done, so they couldn’t help at that point. So the practice I’m carrying forward is to get those agreements up front, and to make sure my relationships in client systems are broad as well as deep.

How do you unwind?
Science fiction, puzzles, wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Home. I don’t travel to relax, I travel to learn and explore.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Built to Change, by Ed Lawler and Chris Worley. To my knowledge, it’s the first pivot from advising organisations away from stability and toward dynamism, from strategic planning to strategizing as an action verb; to blow up the traditions and rigidity that impede organisations from developing change capability.

Shameless plug for your business:
We’re taught that there are two kinds of people: those who see forests, and those who see trees. There is a third type, my type, and we see the ecosystem. Worms, climate, birds, the spaces in between. This is the perspective organisations need to be successful in solving complex problems and thriving in change.
ChangeFlow uniquely blends four disciplines (two of which are multi-disciplinary in themselves): organisation development, culture and inclusion, change management and project management.

How can people connect with you?
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChangeFlowConsulting/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dmorriskipnis/
LinkedIn Company page: https://www.linkedin.com/company/4862954/
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.changeflowconsulting.com

Twitter handle?
@ChangeFlow

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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Agnes Yee, Legal & Compliance Recruiter of Space Executive

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Agnes Yee started Space Executive in Singapore, which is a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies.

What’s your story?
After graduation, I joined a design media company as a Business Development Executive, during the era when ‘reading a magazine online’ was unheard of. I believe that laid the foundation for being unfazed by rejections.

I fell into recruitment pre-GFC and rode the highs and lows in the early years. A decade later, I decided to set up my own recruitment company, partly because I could. I’m acutely aware of the face that being an Asian female in Singapore is sometimes a privilege, and that many women in the world are living a very different existence.
Thereafter, we joined Space Executive as part of a merger. I am currently the Partner of Space Executive, a recruitment company focused specialist disciplines, including Legal, Finance, Digital, Sales and Marketing and Change. We also run Space Ventures, a venture capital business, which invests in seed and pre-series A businesses.

What excites you most about your industry?
On a daily basis, we’re influencing how one spends a third of their day. It is interesting how the Internet has transformed the industry, and I’m excited to see how we can harness technology to bring us to the next phase of this business.

The VC is an extension of applying our skills and experience in reading people. We very much invest in the people as much as the idea. Being a native Singaporean, it’s been exhilarating watching Southeast Asia becoming a hotbed of ideas; and young entrepreneurs simply daring to dream.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m a born and bred Singaporean. I love that I speak both English and Mandarin, grew up playing with Indian friends and eating Malay food.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore for the low barriers of entry to set up a business, but has to be China (and Hong Kong) for their hunger and constant innovation.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
青春不要留白 which translates to ‘Don’t waste your youth.’

Who inspires you?
Anyone who has gone against the grain.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
It wasn’t recent but reading the article on https://waitbutwhy.com/2015/12/the-tail-end.html never fails to blow my mind how little time we have left. Charting our lives in weeks, and realising I only have enough time left to enjoy 60 Christmas turkeys, read 300 books (all if I’m lucky); and mostly, I’m left with the last 5% of the time that I spend in-person with my parents.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I’m cognisant that every decision I made in life has brought me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change one thing. But I’d really like to have had more time to travel.

How do you unwind?
Exercise and wine.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Trekking any mountain in Asia. It brings us back to the most basic. To overcome elements of nature and our own mind.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, Simon Sinek

Shameless plug for your business:
Space Executive started in Singapore, a hub for businesses in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. We assist organisations in accessing a targeted and specialised, and often times transient talent pool.

Out of Singapore, we have recruited across 14 countries; and have embarked on our global expansion plans with offices in Hong Kong and London this year, and US, Japan and Europe in the following years.

Space Ventures provides funding, management and financial guidance to young businesses with original ideas. We have invested in peer to peer lending platforms, credit scoring, social media education, and other start-ups spanning diverse industries. We are always interested in hearing more about new ideas.

How can people connect with you?
https://www.linkedin.com/in/agnesyee/

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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