Joseph Ho tried network marketing and numerous other ideas before learning more about search engine optimization and founding E-Alchemists, a Digital Marketing Agency based in Singapore.
What’s your story?
I started my career as an IT specialist, however, after a few years of working, I decided to start a business. My venture was a network marketing business which collapsed in 2008. Eventually, I decided to go back into employment. I was working two different jobs, one in the day and one in the evening just to make ends meet.
During my wife’s first pregnancy, I began to learn more about search engine optimization, from there I started E-Alchemists, a Digital Marketing Agency based in Singapore. It mainly helps startups and small and medium businesses with their digital marketing solutions, such as web development and SEO. Eventually, I quit my job and started a new life.
What excites you most about your industry?
The thing that excites me the most about my industry is I am able to help SMEs scale their businesses through search engine optimization. It is very motivating when your client messages you about a new lead or improvement in sales. That’s when I know that the SEO strategy I did for them is working. There’s something very rewarding in knowing that you contributed to their success.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I am Singaporean and my family is based here. My kids are also studying in Singapore.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! I’m not saying that it doesn’t come without any challenges, but if you take a closer look, starting a business in Singapore is not only wise, it’s also quite easy. Being an economically advanced country, it offers equal amounts of opportunity and competition, which, I should say, are what we need as entrepreneurs.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
A mentor at a time told me this: “It’s not because it’s difficult, therefore we don’t dare. It is because we don’t dare, therefore it is difficult.” It’s definitely gotten me through rough times when I was caught between inaction and going for what I want.
Who inspires you?
There are a lot of people who inspire me—people whom I look up to, people whom I learn a lot from—every day, but ultimately, I draw the most inspiration from my wife who constantly pushes me to achieve our goals and to realise the next level of myself.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I watched the Great Hack on Netflix recently. What blew my mind is how they are able to use digital marketing in a massive scale to sway election results in a certain way, influencing voter decision, among so many others, by weaponising data.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would put in more time in a business that is related to the internet. Also before starting the business, I would first create the online audience to validate that the service or ideas was indeed in-demand.
How do you unwind?
I unwind by watching Netflix and doing search engine optimization experiments. I know it’s not usually what one does for a hobby but it feels good when you’re able to rank up a website using different strategies that had not been mentioned elsewhere.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
At the moment, it’s Taiwan. It’s relaxing and most importantly, it’s very kid-friendly.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. After reading this book, I had a massive shift in perspective that cleared up a lot of confusion I had about history and our strange modern life. I don’t recommend this only to entrepreneurs, but to everyone who is looking for a great read.
Shameless plug for your business:
E-Alchemists is a digital marketing agency in Singapore that helps startups and small and medium businesses with their digital marketing solutions. We offer a lot of different services from web development to search engine optimisation. If you want to know more, I highly recommend checking out what our past clients can say about us.
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 and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.