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Evangeline Leong, Founder & Director of Kobe Global Technologies

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Evangeline Leong’s business, Kobe is ‘redefining marketing.’

What’s your story?
Upon graduating from University, I realised that my lifelong passion did not lie in my first career when I started out in a bank, despite the fame and glory of working in a bank. All along, the idea of marketing had always intrigued me. I recall, I would ask my manager when I was working part-time in F&B if I could redesign the menu because it didn’t look appealing enough. To my amazement, he allowed me to recreate the menu and I thoroughly enjoyed the process. I saw for myself the impact of the change in the design of the menu.
Then, I pursued my calling in this industry when I delved deep into serving clients from various verticals in an agency for 10 years where I started as an Executive, then slowly climbed my way up to one of the Chief Executives.
Armoured by the experiences I have had since then and after identifying a gap in the marketplace, I made the leap to start Kobe. Kobe’s ethos is to to meet the rising need of something more unconventional but still moving the hearts and ears of many in the industry.
The Chinese words, 口碑, read the same way — we’re named like this to connect better with SMEs.

What excites you most about your industry?
It is always my honour and privilege to be bringing out the WHYs of each founder’s business idea to its target audience. Essentially, marketing should not be about the product/service offered alone, but about marketing the reasons why the idea was birthed in the first place, and get people to buy that.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore, and I’m out-and-out Asian!

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore has given us a very good environment to kickstart our idea and it was relatively easy to receive the help we needed in the initial stages. There are also many similar minds in the field, from local and abroad, and thanks to the many platforms made available for easy networking to take place, it is easier for our idea to be heard, or for us to be connected to others’ ideas as well.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Passion should come from within you, and when it does, the people around you can sense it. Stay true to yourself with that in mind.

Who inspires you?
My team! We encourage an open environment to share and receive feedback, and this has allowed each of my team members to be comfortable in airing their views. Not only recognising their opinions is important, I am very grateful for their honest feedback as it provides a pivotal dimension to consider every decision we are making together, big or small. I am very comforted by the fact I have great support from my team. My dynamic team often leaves me astounded. We constantly challenge each other to be a better version of ourselves, work related or otherwise.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The A.R.T. model of brand communications (authentic, relevant, talkable). It’s conceptually very similar to how our platform matches brands and relevant influencers, which means we’re on the right track!

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Fail faster, learn faster, move faster.
Also, store 3 years’ worth of sleep before starting up!

How do you unwind?
I simply take off my shoes! My socks always have cute cartoons on them, like Mickey Mouse or Minions. When I’m feeling low I’ll let my feet “talk” to each other — and if I step on that poor Minion and they still feel alright – who am I to be upset?
Besides that, I love heading into Johor Bahru over the weekends for good food and relaxation with friends. Our team at Kobe gathers once every few weeks to play basketball or soccer too!

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I like Bangkok for the buzz and upbeat lifestyle, and it’s a place where I can still seek solace from the genuine warmth that the locals emit.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Simon Sinek’s Start with Why. It’s not just a good business / marketing book, it ties in with how we manage our own lives, both in and out of work, as well.

Shameless plug for your business:
Kobe is redefining marketing. If you’ve always believed that word-of-mouth and referrals are the way to go in building up your brand, we want to help you scale that up with our patent-pending technology.

How can people connect with you?
Via Linkedin: https://linkedin.com/in/evangelineleong

This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:

CallumConnectsCallum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.

Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com

Callum Connects

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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Callum Connects

Chrystie Dao-Szabo, Founder of iPayMy

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Chrystie Dao-Szabo founded iPaymy for Business – a secure and easy to use
platform enabling SMEs to pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today.

What’s your story?
I’m Chrystie Dao-Szabo, and I’ve worked as an international banker for over 22 years. During that time, I travelled through Asia, Australia and Europe, and everywhere I saw how my clients struggled with managing their finances and keeping cash around.

I wanted to use my experience to help them, but I also knew the solution they needed didn’t exist yet. This pushed me to give up on my secure career, and instead look into the innovative world of FinTech for an answer.

This is how I founded iPaymy – at its launch, a platform to help consumers pay their monthly expenses using their credit cards. We’ve grown a lot since, and today, iPaymy for Business is a platform that allows business owners to use their credit cards to pay for rent, salaries, invoices and taxes, freeing up their cash for business-critical operations.

What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about FinTech is it’s culture of constant disruption, thanks to cool and innovative products and services coming out every day.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born in Vietnam, grew up in Australia and worked in Asia, Europe and Australia. Being raised by traditional Vietnamese parents meant that deep down I was still an Asian at heart, so I have a strong connection with the region.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore of course. It’s easy to do business, English is the main language, and the infrastructures like public transportation are great. Also, the government supports local innovation in multiple ways, like giving grants for SMEs and FinTechs.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Keep giving, and one day you will receive.

Who inspires you?
My parents. My father had a successful business in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon in 1975. After the war, my father was sent to a re-education camp for three years, which meant my mum had to bring up two young kids – a 3-year-old, me and my 4-year old brother on her own.

In 1980, we all fled Vietnam on a boat and arrived in Sydney, Australia via refugee camps in Indonesia and Singapore. There, my parents had to start over with nothing to their names and only AUD 50 given to them by the Australian government.
They went on to build several businesses in Australia!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The number of young and smart people who have carved out successful careers by founding their own startups (or joining really cool ones). When I was starting out my career, doing any of these was not a viable option; it was either working for an accounting firm, an insurance company or a bank.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
If I were starting out my career now, I would choose the path of joining a startup as you get to learn so much about running a business and how to assemble a winning team.

How do you unwind?
I like travelling to a beach or a resort destination and just relaxing by the pool or beach. I also like to unwind after work with a glass of champagne or wine, and a bowl of truffle fries.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Thailand. I love the people and the spicy Thai food.

Everyone in business should read this book:
The E-Myth. It’s a book series that dismantles common myths about entrepreneurship in different industries.

Shameless plug for your business:
With iPaymy for Business, SMEs can pay rent, salaries, invoices, and even corporate tax using the credit cards they already have in their wallet today. SMEs love iPaymy because it works like a credit card, but pays like cash.

iPaymy’s secure and easy to use platform reliably delivers payments to vendors while freeing up cash and providing access to interest free credit. Forget the delays and aggravations that come with traditional SME financing options. Schedule recurring payments, manage invoices, set payment reminders, and monitor payment status all from one dashboard.

It’s never been easier for SMEs to meet monthly payment obligations while keeping cash available to fuel growth, bridge receivable gaps, and make immediate investment in the supplies, services, and expertise needed to drive a growing business forward.

How can people connect with you?
You can find me on LinkedIn or contact me by email.
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chrystiedaoszabo/
My email: [email protected]

Twitter handle?
https://twitter.com/ceedeees

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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