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Xi-Wei Yeo, Director of Living Theories

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Yeo Xi-Wei is a trainer and concept designer, using gaming as a tool to enhance learning with his company, Living Theories.

What’s your story?
My name is Xi-Wei, and I run a company called Living Theories, with a team that designs gamified learning experiences for institutions and organizations. I’ve had a varied occupational background; I used to work in the food and beverage industry for a while, before transitioning to Singapore Airlines for a couple of years, prior to starting Living Theories.

I started Living Theories to engage our participants in a modern and innovative way, by customising experiential programmes to them. Taking our inspiration from modern games and shows, our programmes typically include cinematics, storylines, and game decks to enhance the learning experience of our participants.

What excites you most about your industry?
Learning is inherently organic, and there are infinite possibilities to how people learn, how they grow, and what they take away from different experiences. A person’s mindset and learning experience is unique, and very often a composition of personal life journeys, philosophies and beliefs. At Living Theories, we build upon this rather than restrict it, to allow freedom of choice and learning.

Gamification is the perfect tool for this; games offer infinite ways of manifesting outcomes and experiences for the individual, and being gamers ourselves, it makes it a lot more interesting to curate and design a brand new concept with different clients. Gamification is still relatively new in Singapore, and there’s a lot to learn and grow within the industry itself.

What’s your connection to Asia?
Born and bred. Don’t think I’d ever stop being fascinated by the myriad of cultures and perspectives that each region contains; it’s just like a saying we have in Singapore, “Same same, but different.”

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I’ve always loved Singapore for what it is, a safe haven for you to build something from scratch with good business regulations and government support. Singapore has its fair share of trials; high manpower and rental costs, and a local audience that is slightly more conservative in incubating new ideas. Together with this though, comes a thoroughly modern city that allows technological advancement in many industries, great business connections and networking, and a highly supportive community of fellow start-ups that keep each other going.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right!” This is a quote that my father used to drill into my brothers and I, from Henry Ford. It speaks truly and surely to the core of my beliefs, that at the end of the day, you’re the only one that can drive yourself forward. I’ve heard many say that they have good ideas they wished they implemented, or that they thought of a trending product before someone else did, but didn’t have the self-confidence at that time to follow through. There’s a tough lesson in there. Having the self-belief and confidence to take a leap of faith and ultimately, fail in order to succeed, is critical to our journeys.

Who inspires you?
I wish I could say it was a famous person who inspires me, but it’s really the people around me. My parents worked their socks off through different economic crises, while raising 3 boys with different personalities and ambitions. My brothers are other examples of people pursuing their own paths. Whys? My older brother gave up a solid career to pursue his true calling in church, while my younger brother is now an award-winning sommelier, having started from scratch. They are all inspirations to me (even though I don’t admit it to them very often), and are prime examples of pursuing radically different paths, but succeeding because they knew they could.

Lastly, my team at Living Theories inspires me the most. They gave up a lot, in different careers, to start this new venture with the same belief and mindset that we can be change-makers in an industry that we feel strongly about. They’re the ones who keep me going, creating new concepts, and fighting hard to establish a foothold.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That over the last 5 years, 5,000 teachers in Singapore have resigned. To me, teachers are a unique breed. They didn’t take up teaching as a ‘stepping stone’ in an industry, and most genuinely are there to help nurture and grow a new generation. To see huge numbers leaving is something that must be addressed, both by the Ministry, and by the local communities – schools, parents and even students. We all have a role to play here.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I wish I could say I’d have worked harder in school, but I’m not so sure. I would have taken the time to see more of the world, to experience more cultures, speak to more people, and start new projects.Too often are we comfortable in the bubble we live in, without actually understanding the world that lies just beyond this bubble.

I wish I had started projects or companies earlier. It gives me the cushion to fail more. I’m 29 now, and I wish I’d started at 25, to try and fail and try and fail and try and fail again before I get up and keep going.

How do you unwind?
A relaxing dinner and movie night with my girlfriend. We typically stuff our faces at a hawker centre, get excited over what desserts to bring home, mix up gin and tonics and watch movies or documentaries. I also play tennis and a tonne of games. More often than not, I suck at them (my friends will testify to this), but I keep experimenting with new methods, new ways of exploring new play-styles within the same characters or roles.

Aside from this, I’ve a little unwinding secret. As a prelude, food is my unwavering passion in life. So when I’m upset, depressed and just need a break, I have a $30 rule. I set myself a $30 budget to buy whatever I want in a nearby hawker centre, which can pretty much get you anything. It’s immensely liberating and uplifting, and I’m always at peace with the world after.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I’d go with Bali or Taiwan. The common denominator between the two is that the local populace are insanely friendly and easy-going, and the language barriers are not as pronounced. Bali is perfect for self-pampering and escaping the world for a bit, and Taipei is amazing for great food, bars and endless things to explore. I’ve barely scratched the surface of Taiwan’s culture, and I can’t wait to get started!

Everyone in business should read this book:
Start with Why, by Simon Sinek. That book has been my go-to since I heard his Ted-talk in 2009, and I rely on it to ensure that I know my path. The great thing about the book is that it doesn’t give you “quick tips to success”; there already are many books for that, but this book is really about you, your why, and how you build your business while keeping your personal why in mind. It’s a fundamental read, especially for decision-makers and startup founders.

Shameless plug for your business:
Living Theories was built by us, for you. We’re here to inspire, educate and reinvent the way you think. We design games, create exciting programmes, and work hand in hand with you to discover more about the world we live in. We assist teams to find their WHY, and through uniquely crafted games, allow you to understand each other, and yourself a lot better.

Despite being hardcore gamers, we take our work seriously: To create your customised experience, our team of academic researchers and designers will conduct landscape reviews, work with the client on their needs analysis, solution provision and post-programme data analysis.

Check out our Facebook page or our website, or email me and we’ll have a coffee together!

How can people connect with you?
Interested parties can look for us on LinkedIn and Facebook, or on our website at www.livingtheories.com.sg.

If you’re interested in finding out more about what we do, you could also just email me directly at [email protected], and the next coffee’s on me!

Social Media handle?
You can connect with me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/xiwei.yeo

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

Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings

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Malcolm Tan is an ICO/ITO and Cryptocurrency advisor. He sees this new era as similar to when the internet launched.

What’s your story?
I’m a lawyer entrepreneur who owns multiple businesses, and who is now stepping into the Initial Coin Offering/Initial Token Offering/Cryptocurrency space to be a thought leader, writer (How to ICO/ITO in Singapore – A Regulatory and Compliance Viewpoint on Initial Coin Offering and Initial Token Offering in Singapore), and advisor through Gravitas Holdings – an ICO Advisory company. We are also running our own ICO campaign called AEXON, and advising 2 other ICO’s on their projects.

What excites you most about your industry?
It is the start of a whole new paradigm, and it is like being at the start of the internet era all over again. We have a chance to influence and shape the industry over the next decade and beyond and lead the paradigm shift.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I’m Singaporean and most of my business revolves around the ASEAN region. Our new ICO advisory company specialises in Singaporean ICO’s and we are now building partnerships around the region as well. One of the core business offerings of our AEXON ICO/ITO is to open up co-working spaces around the region, with a target to open 25 outlets, and perhaps more thereafter.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, since it is my hometown and most of my business contacts originate from or are located in Singapore. It is also a very open and easy place to do business.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be careful of your clients – sometimes they can be your worst enemies. This is very true and you have to always be careful about whom you deal with. The closest people are the ones that you trust and sometimes they have other agendas or simply don’t tell you the truth or whole story and that can easily put one in a very disadvantageous position.

Who inspires you?
Leonardo Da Vinci as a polymath and genius and leader in many fields, and in today’s world, Elon Musk for being a polymath and risk taker and energetic business leader.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Early stage bitcoin investors would have made 1,000,000 times profit if they had held onto their bitcoins from the start to today – in the short space of 7 years.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Seek out good partnerships and networks from day one, and use the power of the group to grow and do things together, instead of being bogged down by operations and going it alone from start.

How do you unwind?
I hardly have any time for relaxation right now. I used to have very intense hobbies, chess when I was younger, bridge, bowling, some online real time strategy games and poker. All mentally stimulating games and requiring focus – I did all these at competitive levels and participated in national and international tournaments, winning multiple trophies, medals and awards in most of these fields.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Phuket – nature, resort life, beaches, good food and a vibrant crowd.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki

Shameless plug for your business:
Gravitas Holdings (Pte) Limited is the premier ICO Advisory company and we can do a full service for entrepreneurs, including legal and compliance, smart contracts and token creation, marketing and PR, and business advisory and white paper writing/planning.

How can people connect with you?
Write emails to [email protected], or [email protected]

Twitter handle?
@malcolmABM

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

William Chin, Founder of Mummy’s Market

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William Chin set up Mummy’s Market. Mummy’s Market is the uncontested platform connecting parents and retailers in Singapore.

What’s your story?
After National Service, I enjoyed a rousing start to my corporate career with successful stints at events and conventions companies such as IQPC, Hannover Fairs Australia and Lighthouse Independent Media in management roles, building my experience in conventions, trade fairs and events.

However, I hit a particularly bad streak of unemployment after that, facing difficulty finding jobs because according to recruiters, I was overqualified, yet too young. In fact, at one point I was struggling so badly with my family loans that I was sharing bowls of ramen with my girlfriend for our meals, to save costs.

My financial pressures eventually culminated in my forced venture into entrepreneurship where I had to strike out my own path with a brief stint in Expomal. However, this turned out to be my next break that fuelled my current success. It was there I built up Smartkids (another wildly successful baby and child fair) before it was bought out by a bigger company. Inspired by SmartKids, I started Mummy’s Market and eventually Baby’s Market, outperforming established names in the business to take its current place as market leader.

What excites you most about your industry?
Mummy’s Market is the industry leader in baby, kids, maternity and household with 80% market share and our clients – coupled with branding, advertising and exhibiting on Mummy’s Market platforms, we are seeing a 30-60% company growth year on year despite the downturn in the economy. With attendance of over 100k consumers per fair and serving 70-80% of pregnant mums, our actual business is in data, data collection and processing from consumer fairs.

I am excited about how big data analytics from Mummy’s Market can be applied at every stage of the retail process such as data segmentation – for retailers now when mums are giving birth to sending relevant content over. This will transform and innovate the industry of baby fairs and Mummy’s Market, with the huge amount of data we process from our fairs yearly, is the forerunner in this disruption. With this, we have transformed the DNA of how digital business has always been done. Global online marketplaces are burning cash quickly to achieve big data analytics, but not us.

Another testament to Mummy’s Market’s popularity is that huge marketplaces have been trying to pass off as Mummy’s Market. It shows that we are heading in the right direction and the most exciting part is, we are only at 10% of where we want to be – a platform where $1 billion gross market value products are transacted annually around Asia in a niche market.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore, and intend to stay in Singapore to build the Mummy’s Market brand.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore – if one can strategically become a leader in a small market like Singapore, its grounds to show that one’s business has an opportunity to grow further in larger countries.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“It is easy to become number 1 because the others can just copy and tweak to overtake you.
It is more difficult to STAY number 1, because you have no one to copy. You have to innovate.”

Who inspires you?
Steve Jobs – he transformed the digital age. Without the invention of smartphones, mobile computing and mobile advertising would never have grown. He changed the way businesses and consumers communicate. Without the introduction of iPhones, mobile applications would have never existed the way we are using them today.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
You no longer have to lick stamps to make it sticky.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I love my life and my family. And I love the platform Mummy’s Market has created to help businesses grow.

How do you unwind?
I play with my little 1 year old baby girl.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Taiwan – cool weather with beautiful mountains and lake scenery.

Everyone in business should read this book:
7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen Covey

Shameless plug for your business:
Mummy’s Market has established its reputation as not just Singapore’s but Southeast Asia’s largest baby fair:

  • Nearly S$100 million gross merchandise volume transacted on Mummy’s Market platforms annually
  • 800,000 visitors at its fairs yearly
  • 80% of all of Singapore’s baby product distributors in one convention
  • 15-20% year on year increase in sales volume at every baby fair since its inception

Apart from market dominance, Mummy’s Market also has the largest database of parents and the number 1 platform for MNCs and SMEs to reach out to this audience. From exhibitions, magazines, seminars to digital campaigns and roadshows. Mummy’s Market is the uncontested platform connecting parents and retailers in Singapore.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]
https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-chin-23910a9/

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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