Victor is Empowering Communities to Maximize Their Contributions to Society
What’s your story?
I went to Beijing to pursue an MBA at Tsinghua university after working as an engineer for 10 years. The plan was simple: study, do internships, graduate and get a job in a big company. However, spending time in a bustling city, like Beijing, where old meets new, and mixing with entrepreneur-classmates, soon changed my perspective. In the political centre of China, there are no shortage of ambitious start-ups and mega projects created to solve major problems in the environment and society. Fairmarch, an online marketplace with a social mission, just made sense when I returned to Singapore.
What excites you most about your industry?
Businesses and consumers are beginning to prioritise social and environmental sustainability. Rising inequality, global warming and the free flow of information is accelerating the process. This has resulted in many innovative social enterprises attempting to address the world’s problems.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I grew up in Malaysia, studied and worked in Asia for most of my life. Calling Asia culturally diverse is an understatement, there is so much to discover and a lot of potential to grow.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore. Administrative processes are efficient and there is a lot of support from the government, along with trust and low crime rates. This translates into a good testing ground for ideas.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
It’s the simple things that we often forget, especially when we’re distracted in our daily routine. Being grateful and seeing things from another’s perspective are two examples.
Who inspires you?
Elon Musk. He proved that clean and efficient electric vehicles (EVs) were possible after countless failed projects by the big auto companies. His achievement accelerated the transition to clean transportation as global auto players released their own EVs. There’s also his impressive rocket start-up.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That the COVID-19 pandemic would reach its present scale and continue to worsen is a real wake-up call. It is always the poor that suffer the most in times like this.
On a more positive note, the world might be getting its first fusion power plant in 10 years. It will be clean, and have 3 times more output than current nuclear fission plants.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would do what I did in the past 3 years much earlier. The exposure in China and the experience in social entrepreneurship has taught me many things.
How do you unwind?
Exercise, science fiction, and jazz bar, not necessarily in that order.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Yunnan, because you’re literally in the clouds and they have good food. Just avoid the tourist traps.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Zero to One: Notes on Start-ups, or How to build the Future,” by Peter Thiel
Shameless plug for your business:
Fairmarch is an online marketplace for socially and environmentally responsible products. We work with social enterprises, charities and non-profits to bring their products or services to consumers and businesses.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ 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 of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’ and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.