What’s your story?

I was always a misfit – left-handed, disruptive in class, never got any homework done, could never stick to the matter at hand. I read loads of books and fell in love with the Internet early on. I sold t-shirts on Facebook, which expanded into a ‘proper’ business with registration and all. I wrote a blog that got moderately popular, which was how I got found and hired by the tech startup that I’ve been doing marketing at for the past 4 years.

What excites you most about your industry?

That it’s still not even 20% as large as its going to be. There are barely a billion people online right now, and there are 6 billion more to come – probably more. More and more people will sell things online, and that will open up all sorts of interesting new opportunities and challenges. We’ll see all sorts of interesting cultural exchanges and evolutions and it will be really cool.

What’s your connection to Asia?

I was born and raised in Singapore. My mother was too, while my dad moved here from India when he was a young boy. I’m fascinated by the re-emergence of Asia in a global context.

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Favourite city in Asia for business and why?

Singapore – it’s clean, safe and everything works. People used to complain that it was sterile and stodgy, but even that’s starting to change now. We’re developing more personality.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

I think mentors demonstrate and advise by example, rather than by saying a string of words. That said, if I had to pick one thing… it would probably be that – we inhabit the same universe as electrons and galaxies. Every event has a cause or set of causes, and if you don’t like something, you just need to investigate the cause-and-effect relationships around it in order to change it. There are no universal reasons for why things are the way they are – everything is changeable if you will it.

Who inspires you?

Elon Musk – why does our species only have one of him right now? Why don’t we have thousands of Elon Musks, Henry Fords, Da Vincis, and so on? I like that he didn’t choose to retire or take it easy after achieving more than what most people do.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?

I recently watched The Big Short, which was about the financial crisis of 2008, and it’s just so troubling and frustrating how entire industries are predicated on exploiting people. And how so many people refuse to think for themselves. Oh, also, Dubai imports camels from Australia.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?

I would’ve been much more intense about pursuing all my interests. I would’ve started writing much earlier, and been unapologetic about it. I would’ve learned to draw, despite being terrible at it. Same for cooking and working out.

How do you unwind?

I tend to just relax at home with my wife and two cats, watching funny videos on YouTube or Netflix. We just finished Bojack Horseman – it’s so good. Very raw and honest. I also write a lot, and I noodle around on my guitars.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?

I haven’t explored as much of Asia as I’d like, but I do have soft spots for Bangkok and Cebu. I like Bangkok’s street life, and I enjoyed Cebu’s ocean view. Southeast Asia is full of great places to relax. Anywhere with water, a good breeze and cheap beer.

Everyone in business should read this book:

High Output Management, by Andy Grove. Andy was the CEO of Intel, and it was really successful under his stewardship. He has a way of asking really simple, straightforward questions about real processes and following the implications all the way through.

Shameless plug for your business:

I’m with ReferralCandy – we help ecommerce stores get more business through automated customer referral programs. We handle everything from tracking the referrals and delivering the incentives, so retailers can focus on their core business. If you know anybody running an ecommerce business, tell them to hit me up!

How can people connect with you?

You can find me all over the web by searching “visakanv” – Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. etc.

Twitter handle?

Twitter: @visakanv

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.

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