Dene’s Entertainment and Tech Crossover Experience Makes A Celebrity Connection
What’s your story?
I have spent 20 years working in technology companies – and I’m now using my experience of how to build compelling software products at scale to change an industry. Despite that most people think of me as a tech guy, I’ve always skirted around the edges of the Media & Entertainment businesses. The BBC was my client when I lived in London, I’ve spent time in LA helping the movie industry try to figure out digital distribution (no surprises – they still haven’t and it will take something like this global pandemic to force them to), and I have worked in a Media Agency. So while my CV says primarily software and tech, I have always been close to and fascinated by the Media & Entertainment industry
What excites you most about your industry?
Technology is exciting because it’s changing every part of our lives. Entertainment is interesting because we all indulge our desire to be entertained. Working at the intersection of these two industries is super cool as we can all relate to both of these industries as consumers.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I first came to Singapore about 30 years ago as a teenager on holiday and was fascinated by how exotic everything seemed. I have lived here for 10 years now, as an adult, and while Singapore has changed a lot, and I have become very comfortable in this environment, I still feel very excited about living in Asia. There is nowhere else I want to be.
Favorite city in Asia for business and why?
I love traveling to Tokyo, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Jakarta – but Kuala Lumpur has a special place in my heart. I love the people there, they are always so warm and friendly. And, it’s where I met my wife, that’s another reason it is special to me!
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I’ve received a lot of great business advice over the years, but one quote I stumbled across recently really resonates with me: “He who has a why to live for can bear almost anyhow.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche. It’s simple, and perfectly captures the mindset that an entrepreneur needs to have.
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by all of the people who are brave enough to give up their safe, well paying corporate jobs, to pursue a business idea they are passionate about.
What have you just learned recently that blew you away?
Today, 40% of all VC dollars in companies are spent on Google and Facebook ads. This seems crazy to me.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have moved to Asia earlier in my career. Starting with 4-5 years in Hong Kong, and then a couple of years in another Asian city like Bangkok or Jakarta, before moving to Singapore. I came to Singapore 10 years ago, and have loved every minute of it, but I would have loved to have had more time experiencing other Asian markets before I had kids. I think Singapore is the absolute best place to be, from a family perspective.
How do you unwind?
Hanging out in my local neighborhood, Sentosa, with friends and family.
Favorite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Anywhere in Thailand. Great food, people, and beaches.
Everyone in business should read this book
“The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers,” by Ben Horowitz
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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 and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’, and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.