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How ‘NOT GIVING IN’ to failures made the founder of Naturally Handmade a stronger woman

Addicted2Startup met up with Founder of  Naturally Handmade Miss Bavani Gopala Krishnan recently at the Penang Mini Makers Faire 2017. We at Addicted2startup are always inspired by people who had the courage to step up and take the initiative to start something new, be it a business or start a new talent and have the patience and determination to make it successful. Some of you reading this might smile, shrug and say “Its nothing. Anyone can do it”. Or you might just say, well ‘ I dont know why they dont dare do it’. Having interviewed so many people, 8 out of 10 people will excitingly tell you their dreams, ideas and what they want to do in the future. Only to end up, not starting it due to the millions of excuses they give to themselves.

‘EXECUTION’ is the key. An idea without execution will never see success. An idea with execution will at least have a chance at succeeding.

This is the story of Naturally Handmade.
Naturally Handmade was founded by Miss Bavani Gopala Krishnan who is also working full time as a Talent Aquisition manager in KL. She has previously worked in various Multi National Companies and have been venturing into different side businesses, among which was also to be a Chef. Her relentless spirit of not giving up to pursue her dreams

A2S: You mentioned to us at the start of this interview that Naturally Handmade isn’t your first business venture. In fact you mentioned at some point in time, you were also a chef in the food business then as a property agent and those ventures somehow didn’t turn out the way you expected it to be. Subsequently you started Naturally Handmade. Having go through the entire process of START, FAIL, RESTART, which all entrepreneurs would tell you, is the natural process of having a startup. How do you feel about failure and what advice do you have to the younger generation who wants to startup their own business but who are also afraid of failing.

Miss Bavani: I had my catering business before I worked as a Chef and I left my business when i was given the opportunity to be the Head Chef for another company. I sold all my catering equipment to the same company. They offered me profit sharing with minimal pay for a year. As I was banking a lot on the profit sharing, I was practically living on my savings ( due to my minimal wage) during my tenure as a head chef. After a year, the company went back on their word on profit sharing and things got ugly and I left the company.

Not giving up, I then ventured into the property market as a property agent. At that time the property market started to stagnate due to GST implementation, sales wasn’t doing well. I didn’t have much cash to roll, and decided to find a full time job. But early this year, I caught the entrepreneur bug again, and decided to get my hands busy on formulating DIY bath and body products for my self which involves formulating recipes (kinda like cooking). As get more immersed in this, I realized that the entire process of making your own soap was very therapeutic.
If there is one thing that I have learned over the years is that, if there is anything you want to do. If you are capable, do it yourself with your own skills, energy and time. The harder you work, the more success you will find. My advice to anyone who wants to startup is ” Don’t be afraid of failing. Failure is good as you get to learn from it. And every time you fall down, pick yourself up and strive to go higher”.

A2S: What inspired and made you start Naturally Handmade?

Miss Bavani: I started Naturally Homemade by wanting to cure my own sinus. I use hand sanitizers very often and I found the ones available commercially contain 90% alcohol which was very drying for my skin. One of the things I realized is that as Malaysians , we are exposed to Air Conditioning almost 60% of the time (working in offices) which makes our skin very dry. Therefore I went on to research natural ingredients which I could use to formulate my own moisturizing hand sanitizer.

A2S: What makes your product STANDOUT from the rest of the other handmade products in the market?

Miss Bavani: My Unique Selling Point (USP) is that I originally started by making skin products to treat my own skin problems. These products are delicately made with love and made one batch at a time. The ingredients are all natural, individually selected and formulated to give it, long lasting effective results.

A2S:  Let me start with the Malaysian market, as this is where you are currently based. Malaysians are a very price sensitive lot. As you are using premium ingredients, what are you currently doing to ward off competition that are using chemical based ingredients at a cheaper price?

Miss Bavani: In my opinion, it all starts with education and understanding the importance of using good quality products for your skin. I mean lets be honest, the reason we are using skin products is so that our skin looks better. So why not use the best for our skin? By slowly educating my customers on what ingredients are used, how they are being formulated, their uses and applications ( online and offline), I am able to convince and show them how good Naturally Handmade items are. Secondly it is about the target market that you are aiming for. There was once I setup shop in KL, and I realized a stall next to me was selling similar items for half my price. I was nervous at first, afraid I might not be able to sell anything. But surprisingly, I had my own set of crowd. Customers that came to me, told me that they realized the good quality of my products and hence, came to buy from me.
In order for my products price friendly, I produce them in smaller quantities, hence with the smaller packaging, the price is reduced to an affordable price. The beauty of it is that the packaging are all now, travel size and very convenient for people who are always on the go. Also because I am using concentrated Natural ingredients and are PARABEN FREE. Customers will only need to apply small quantities of the product for effective results, which is great because then the product lasts much longer.
**Naturally Handmade products are Paraben Free, the best storing conditions are without sunlight and moisture. Products are good to last for 6 months.

A2S: What do you foresee as a major challenge in the future for Naturally Homemade ?

Miss Bavani: Testing and Scalability

Testing: Currently all product testing and formulations are done in an external Dermatologist lab.  As there are so many different skin types out there, the next challenge is to be able to formulate and test products for a variety of Dry, Combination to Oily Skin and also Differentiate between Asian and European Skin as each skin type needs its own individual care and issues to address.

shea butter

The process of making body butter with luxurious mango butter, cocoa butter, Shea butter and a blend of moisturizing oils & essential oils.

Scalability: Currently I am still maintaining a full time day job, I do all my formulations and packing in my own home at night. Usually between 9-11pm, I am able to make between 25 to 50 small batches of products. When the demand increases, the challenge would be to find a bigger working space to store the products, formulate and pack it. The space would  also have to have good ventilation and properly kept (clean and hygienic) and also maybe we will need to look into a bottling machine and also mixer to assist in product consistency and also increase production. As production goes bigger, then there is also the challenge of quality control. Currently because I am formulating and packing it in small batches, I am able to control the consistency of the product.

A2S: As Naturally Handmade reaches the stage when you are looking to expand, then you will probably need to look at fine tuning SOP (Standard Operating Procedures) , QAQC ( Quality Checks) and maybe automation.

Miss Bavani: That is correct. My current worry is the quality of the products. When you hire someone to do the work, there is always the worry of how to maintain product quality. With skin care items, employees are able to cut corners by missing a formulation step or not mixing a certain ingredient just simply to complete the tasks within the certain working period. Most bosses or founders will only look at bottom line ( which is how many bottles produced in a time period). Once the product is bottled, and the texture and scent is the same, it will be difficult to check each bottles contents. Problem arises when the customer buys the product, applies it and after some time, the desired effects are not achieved. Therefore to complement the implementation of SOPs and QAQC checks into the production line, we need efficient supervision to ensure that these necessary steps are taken.

Aloe Vera Salve

Naturally Handmade’s Best Seller
Aloe Vera Salve – The combination of witch hazel, tea tree oil, eucalyptus and spearmint helps to heal cuts, wounds and insect bites. Tea tree oil is known for stimulating blood and keeps acne at bay. Eucalyptus does its share of protecting you from muscle pain, respiratory problems, exhaustion and list goes on. Spearmint is a natural antiseptic and is good for the brain. Witch hazel is an awesome alcohol replacement, helps to control oil and a popular acne treatment. All in all it still works great as a hand sanitizer. Even safe for pets.

A2S: Who is responsible for creating your logo, product designs and marketing material?

Miss Bavani: My husband created the Naturally Handmade’s logo. I laser printed and hand cut the stickers for each bottle. This makes sense as production is still small and i can save costs by doing it myself. ( Miss Bavani was still labeling her products at 1.30am for the SeeknKeep Event at Bangsar Shopping Center, while we were proofreading this article with her. She will then try to catch a few hours of sleep and then head over to the event).

A2S: How are you currently selling your items and what channels are you using to get your product out to the mass?

Miss Bavani:
Currently I am mostly selling our products via facebook and chat applications. It started off with friends knowing about my products and placing orders with me. Then through word of mouth, the news of this product spread and has helped me build my base clientele. I am also participating more at fairs like this to get the word out.

A2S: An observation that we would like to share, but we know maybe due to manpower limitations, this step hasn’t been implemented, is that your Social Media pages are not fully utilize to fully amplify your business and product presence. Most of the posts on Facebook, do not garner enough engagement from the public and also content are not posted up regularly. And I personally understand the issue at hand, because for our own hotel as well, we get stuck sometimes with what content we should post and whether it is relevant to the business. Most small startups that are mostly 1 man team or a 2 man team, would be looking for affordable and reliable one stop digital marketing services to handle all the marketing and Q&A sessions with the curious customers online.

 

Addicted2startup would like to sincerely thank Ms Bavani for stepping over the line to share with us, her valuable journey. It is our hope that we get to inspire others who are just waiting to start their own business journey but are still happy in their own comfort zone.  Addicted2startup is here to give you that extra push, guidance and network to get your business off the ground.

We would like to take this opportunity to grab hold of all your thoughts and ideas of what you would like us to ask in the future so that the questions are more relevant. Please join us on our Addicted2startup community as we discuss on different startup ideas.

 

Li Ka Shing (Richest Man In Hong Kong) teaches us how to buy a car and house in 5 years !

1. Buy lunch for people more important than you.

cambridge.nuvustudio(Photo from cambridge.nuvustudio.com

“Always remember to buy lunch for people who are more knowledgeable than you, richer than you or people who have helped you in your career. Make sure you do that every month. After one year, your circle of friends should have generated tremendous value for you. Your reputation, influence, and added value will be clearly recognized. You’ll also enhance your image of being kind and generous.”
Clearly the people who started the idea of “Startup Dinners and Lunches” adopted the similar principle.

2. Be hungry for knowledge
elon-musk-rocket

“When you buy the books, read them carefully and learn the lessons and strategies that are being taught in the book. For each book, after you read them, put them into your own language to tell the stories. Sharing with others can improve your credibility and enhance the affinity. ”

3. Learn to sell like a wolf
“It would be great to find a part-time sales job. Doing sales is challenging but it’s the fastest way for you to acquire the art of selling and this is a very deep skill that you will be able to use for the rest of your career. All successful entrepreneurs are good salespeople. They have the ability to sell their dream and visions. You’ll also meet many people that will be of value to you in the later part of your career. Once you’re in sales, you will also learn what sells and what doesn’t. Use the sensitivity of detecting market sentiments as a platform for running your business and in the identification of product winners in the future. “

4. Don’t wear clothes you can barely afford. Don’t show off, show UP!
“Try to buy minimal clothes and shoes. You can buy them all you want when you’re rich. Save your money and instead buy gifts for your loved ones and tell them your plans and your financial goals. Tell them why you are so thrifty. Tell them your efforts, direction and your dreams.”

5. Learn from others by offering to help them.
“Businessmen everywhere need help. Offer yourself to do part-time work for any kind of opportunity. This will help to hone your will and improve your skills. You will start to develop eloquence and soon, you’ll be closer to your financial goals.”

6. Start planning A.S.A.P.
“Life can be designed. Careers can be planned. Happiness can be prepared. You should start planning now. When you are poor, spend less time at home and more time outside. When you are rich, stay at home more and less outside. This is the art of living. When you are poor, spend money on others. When you’re rich, spend money on yourself. Many people are doing the opposite.”

7. Don’t let your ego rule you.
quote-of-the-billionaires-i-have-known-money-just-brings-out-the-basic-traits-in-them-if-they-were-warren-buffett-26793
“When you are poor, be good to others. Don’t be calculative. When you are rich, you must learn to let others be good to you. You have to learn to be good to yourself even more. When you are poor, you have to throw yourself out in the open and let people make good use of you. When you are rich, you have to conserve yourself well and not let people easily make use of you. These are the intricate ways of life that many people don’t understand.”

8. Don’t ever flash your wealth to others.
“When you are poor, spend money so that people can see it. When you are rich, don’t show off, but silently spend the money on yourself. When you are poor, you must be generous. When you are rich, you must not be seen as a spendthrift. Your life would have come full circle and reached its basics. There is tranquility at this stage.”

9. Discipline yourself and stay focused
“There is nothing wrong with being young. You don’t need to be afraid of being poor. You need to know how to invest in yourself and increase your wisdom and stature. You need to know what is important in life and what is worth investing in. You also need to know what you should avoid spending your money on. This is the essence of discipline. Try to avoid spending money on clothes but buy a selective number of items that have class. Try to eat out less. If you do go out to eat, make sure it’s for lunch or dinner and always foot the bill. When buying people dinner, make sure you buy dinner for people who have bigger dreams than you and who work harder than you.”

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Co – Working VS Free Wifi at Kopitiam ? Which is BIGGER, CHEAPER and BETTER?

Firstly, if you can get FAST FREE INTERNET for a cup of RM 1.20 coffee at the Kopitiam, please let me know. Most of the time the internet speed is crawling because there are so many cheap people out there. I admit I am one of them. However I would like to highlight that it isn’t about being cheap. Its about being Street Savvy. (Sounds so much better when i put a tech word in it) But in this article today, I wanted to highlight the potentials of working in a CO -Working Space. I still get so many people asking me what is a Co Working Space, What Can I do there, and Why should I work there? Once I am committed and I do not like it, is it like a contract that I sign and I am stuck for a year?

STORY OF CO WORKING

Coworking has taken off in the last few years as an alternative to working from home or at your own office.
Coworking or “co-working” is defined as any situation in which a person is working with two or more people in the same place.
This gave birth to “Co-working” spaces which spun off from high rental prices of properties in the US, especially the San Francisco Bay Area, which led to people looking to share offices. Startups with limited budgets and other companies who wanted to save on rental costs started to group together to share offices and work spaces.
A coworking space is a serviced space where it is filled with all the amenities that you need for an office space. A basic Co Working Space should have, high speed internet, comfortable work area, coffee, tea and pantry, event spaces and a physical address and phone number should they want to be contacted. (Usually these services are provided for people who are renting hot desks) Hot desks are services that you can rent either monthly or yearly, that comes with all the facilities mentioned above that allows you to work and operate your office from.
Coworking Spaces offers flexibility, networking opportunities, and for some, productivity benefits. Let’s take a look at how you can benefit from coworking.

  1. Flexibility and Costs
    As an individual, instead of having to buy coffee and work at Starbucks or order a packet of french fries just to use the free air conditioning and Wifi at McDonalds ( as most of us Asians do), and by the way Starbucks only allows 1 hour free internet access per order, which sucks. Co Working spaces are mostly open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Which means that you have the flexibility of working anytime, FAST WIFI and also free coffee and tea! And snacks too if they have it.
    Lets do the math.

table

** If you decide to hack the system, by bringing your own Starbucks container, bring your own tea bag and only asked for hot water and hop on a cheap internet package you managed to source or hack into someones nearby free internet. You still would be better off with the Co Working membership because it offers a chance to network with all the other “Smart and Cheap” fellas like you and me. Who knows? Maybe we can all come up with a Cheap, Good, and Valuable Startup?

However if you are a new startup with a limited budget. There are a few things that you might want to consider

  1. Rental costs for a work space.
  2. Most rental agreements are for 1 year minimal in Malaysia.
  3. Setting up costs of office equipment and facilities like internet, furniture and kitchen.

Overheads will just be one of the aspect that you need to consider. The other consideration is how to create a working environment that increases the productivity or any collaboration efforts which has the potential to grow your company faster. This is what Co Working Spaces offer.

87057407-87057503
Images from Scoopoint CO Working Space in Penang, Malaysia

2. HUMAN INTERACTION : Productivity, Networking and Collaboration
The main idea is that individual workers come together in a shared place to enjoy greater productivity and a sense of community.

Perhaps the most appealing aspect of coworking is the creative environment and the sense of community from like-minded professionals. As someone who’s worked from home for over a dozen years, I definitely sometimes feel like I’m missing out on the camaraderie others experience when they have a regular office to go to and coworkers to bond with–even from simple acts like greeting each other at the start of the day or sharing a coffee break.

Another benefit of coworking is the potential for networking. The people that you meet at a coworking space could be looking for your kind of work and/or they could be great resources down the road.

Distractions and Downsides of Coworking
co hoots
Co-Hoots – Collaborative Work Space in Pheonix, USA

co3CO3  Social Office in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

startup business people group working everyday job  at modern of

TheLaunchFactory  Not your average coworking, shared office space in Charlotte, NC. We aim to enhance productivity and creativity through technology and collaboration.

The main skill to master when working in a Co Working Space is DISCIPLINE. Modern Co Working Spaces which offer a mix of fun facilities like swimming pools, slides, pool tables and a whole lot of ‘Stress Relief’ options are exceptionally dangerous to work in. It is easy to fall prey to join in any invitation to go chill out and forget your tasks at hand.

Coworking exposes you to the same kinds of distractions as you would when working at an office: Interruptions from others, noise, and less privacy. I’m the type of person who gets too distracted by others to work at my best, so coworking is only something I do when things at home are too noisy and distracting (such as during home renovations).

Before you commit to coworking, consider your personality and work style. To try some of these Co Working Spaces out, check out them out during the free Co Working Day

free-coworking-space-SEPT-slider-minimized-700x376

If you want to give it a try, check out websites wework and also coworker.com

If you are in Asia, you might want to check the top 5 Co Working Spaces to work. We are currently compiling the information on them.

Inspiring stories from the Makers Faire 2017 Penang

Over the weekend Addicted2Startup visited the Penang Mini Maker Faire 2017 held at Hin Bus Depot in Penang, and we were amazed with the wide variety of the products offered by the booths. From Robotics to Hand Taught Custom Made Baby Gear to Home Brewed Kefir and many more.

This event was organised by Rent A Space which is a startup that allows people to rent spaces for events. I’ll be sure to catch hold of Joel Lim the Co- Founder to share more on this Startup.

rent a space

The entire space was filled with art and the landscape was family oriented. Set in the middle of Penang’s central business district is a hip urban art and venue space. The Hin Bus Depot is sprawling creative hub with over 15 galleries, cafes, bars, workshops and boutiques.

lawn

Built in 1947 to house and maintain the blue buses of the Hin Bus Company, the art-deco designed depot had its heyday in the 70’s and is the most stylish bus depot in Penang.

With a maximum capacity of 1000 people for cocktail style parties and 600 people for banquet style dinners, the Hin Bus Depot makes for a dramatically chic stage for hosting soirees, dinners and parties.

The contemporary venue also makes for a unique meetings space. Set a boardroom-style meeting in the Gallery, surrounded by outstanding art works by some of the best Malaysian contemporary artist.

Or style your own meeting-in-the-park at Hin Bus Depot’s Lawn and take breaks skateboarding at the mini ramp or bust out some yoga moves by surrounded by the funky street art display at the Lawn.

Originally we wanted to combine the interviews of these 3 amazing products into 1 article and then we thought, because they from entirely different industries, we decided to split them up to better highlight their stories.

These are the stories we wanted to highlight

STYLE

Mini Heroes makes custom baby gear,everything ranging from pram accessories to baby clothes. Mini Heroes was founded by Luciana who was originally from Brazil, has stayed in Australia and is currently now in Penang. The amazing thing we admire about her business is that she is self taught in sewing. She designs, and learned how to sew and craft these amazing products within a year and a half. Read more on how she keeps her entrepreneurship drive going.

STYLE-2

Naturally Home Made  was inspired by the Founders need to treat her own dry skin. The Founder of Naturally Home Made, Bavani shares with us on how to make your face as smooth as a babys bum.

pmf11

The Pharm Hut makes and sells their own organic Kefir. They have various flavours to choose from, Strawberry, Ginger, Passion Fruit and Original. Personally I love the Ginger as it gives a fiery spicy end to it. A secret tip. Choose the bottle with an older label for a harder kick. As this drink ferments longer, the gas and alcohol produced is au naturale.

We hope these stories will inspire you to have your own personal calling to creep out of your comfort zone and start something. For more information on the faire click PenangMakerFaire2017 

 

FREE WIFI in Penang ! A Digital Nomads Guide to Free Wifi on the Island

digital nomad

This picture is utter bullcrap. Firstly where’s the power socket? How long will the laptop battery last? Where on earth is the FREE WIFI ?

I am constantly in denial. Personally as a Penangite (Born and Bred in Penang), I do not consider my self “KIAMSIAP”, which is hokkien for STINGY. But having to pay RM 13 for a cup of latte at Starbucks just to use Free Wifi is a bit too much for me.

Cutting the story short. I was arguing with my parents as I was trying to get them to install a faster internet service at home. Streamyx 2GB at least. But after losing out to DAD who stubbornly wanted to keep his ASTRO instead of upgrading to a much faster UNIFI. I drove to Starbucks for free wifi. Took my laptop, found a seat and turned on the wifi and it said “Please ask our friendly staff for FREE WIFI’. I was pretty happy, with this at that time. So I went over to the counter and asked nicely for the free wifi code.  This conversation follows:

Me: Hi there, can I please have the WIFI code?

Barrista: Sorry Sir, you will need to purchase a drink for the free wifi code.

Me: Oh is that so. OK can I please have a tall latte ( Grumbling to myself at this moment)

Barrista: That will be RM 13 please.

Me: Here you go (Swearing at why my parents didn’t upgrade their WIFI services)

Goes back and log my phone on to free wifi. WIFI works just fine. Then I try to log my laptop on.

>>ERROR<<<

Me: Excuse me, I can’t seem to connect to my laptop.

Barrista: Oh sorry sir, its only 1 receipt for 1 device.

Me: No *itting me! So what am I supposed to do? You could have at least told me this. So what am I to do now?

Barrista: Sir you can order another cup of coffee.

**THIS IS 11pm now** So anyways. After bitching and moaning to the manager, I finally got a free code.

So I am writing this so that you can avoid this situation that I just went through. So the next time you are stuck in Penang, looking for free wifi.

Heres what you can do. Free Wi-Fi hotspots in Penang are easily found in restaurants, cafes, hotels, hospitals, and many more other locations. This is great for travellers of all kinds who need to access the internet in Penang.

Coffee shops & restaurants

Some cafes and restaurants have their wifi passwords written near the cashier or near the menu stand on the table. Mega chain coffee shops such as The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, PappaRich, and Old Town White Coffee are just some of the places that have free Wi-Fi hotspots. In fact, efforts by the state governments of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor have made it mandatory for food outlets in their respective municipalities to provide a free Wi-Fi connection to customers.  This service extends to eateries such as McDonalds, KFC, and most restaurants throughout the nation. Just pay for a drink and you’ll gain Internet privileges once again.

Government Initiatives

 

Screen Shot 2017-10-12 at 6.26.21 PM

 

Surprisingly the speed is really good. I logged on to the wireless Penang Free Wifi and I am using the service to write by blog. So to get my RM 13 back from Starbucks, I purposely am doing this without a drink on front of the counter.

IMG_5536

Sorry, they only give out free water when you ask for it over the counter. They took the flask away from the self service corner.

Heres a list of FREE WIFI places where you can get this similar service

The next challenge is to find a place with FREE WIFI and FREE WORKING PLUG POINTS!

Happy Working

#addicted2startup #freewifi

 

 

 

How I got tricked to join the Oil Field ! Thing’s your kids would be experiencing while working offshore!

Recently someone shared a tag on Facebook of a very old post of one of those drunk party nights (which I ‘honestly’ do not remember). Looking back to the day I started my first hostel, I was amazed it has already been 7 years now, converting a residential building to a double story commercial building, crafting hostel concepts, going on the streets of Georgetown shouting and banging drums to attract customers, all the way to being listed as the top 3 hostels in Penang. What a journey it has been.

Looking back now, I realised the big jump I made, defying the advice of my parents and my closest friends. You see, I graduated as a Chemical Engineer in a local university and my friends somehow managed to convince me that there were lines and lines of beautiful girls working in factories ( Very Innocent Back then), so I joined BOSCH as a Quality Engineer. (totally unrelated to my profession). But I managed to somehow convince the German General Manager then to hire me. I was earning RM 2XXX which was pretty good for a starting salary back in 2004. If I am not mistaken, the highest salary for engineers was RM 3XXX working in a SemiConductor company. After 6 months, of learning how to piss people off by finding fault in every single power tool, and realising that my friends taste in women were TOTALLY different from mine. (Apparently they must love older women, because I swear the women in the production line was double my age). I saw an advertisement for a position as a MUD ENGINEER. I didnt have a clue what the job was about, but I assumed it would be fun because I saw online of HOW MUCH FUN it was at Boryeong Mud Festival ! You know, I was already closing my eyes and imagining I was the lucky guy in the middle of this picture below.

trazy.com

But when I opened my eyes to reality, this was what I saw…..

oil rig2

Don’t get me wrong, I mean I still get to play and be covered with mud.

I rubbed my eyes and blinked for the longest time ever, then opened my eyes again …..

oil rig

Imagine being stuck with 150 of these hunky men on a boat in the middle of the ocean thats about 4 football fields big, having to WORK, SHOWER, SLEEP, REPEAT for 1 month.

So ladies? Any of you would like to join the oil field now?

Looking back, I have no regrets joining the oil field. In fact, it has thought me so many things that has helped me become a better person I am today. One of my closest friends from the oil field once told me that the Oil Rig is designed to have the most efficient systems around due to the Drilling Rig’s high operating costs and that it runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year Non-Stop.

While working on the Drilling Rigs, I have learned to be

  1. Independent and highly adaptable. Depending on the position and nature of your job, there are times when you will be working as a group and there are times when you are working alone for many hours (we call them Lone Workers). Each of us will have a designated task that we have to complete on time. While working in a team, majority of times your teammates will be come from various countries. Working as a team and overcoming the cultural differences is always a challenge. To ensure good communication, meetings and job debriefs are regularly inserted into our tasks (multilingual). We are trained to use a question and answer when confirming if they understand instructions. Instead of saying “Do you understand?”, we use “Could you please explain to me, what did I just say”. This way of repeating answers will solidify the persons understanding of the question.
  2. Most of the time, I am travelling alone. In most cases, you will have to arrange your own travel itinerary and also trouble shoot any problems along the way. This includes things like, what if you are late to the airport and miss your flight? (worse if it is international and has a connecting flight). Do you buy another ticket? Do you tell your boss? I remember spending so much extra time with my girlfriend one time that I missed my flight. I ended up taking a cramped mini van for 6 hours, sleeping in a whorehouse full of mirrors because all hotels were full, just to get to work. But ill leave that for another story.
  3. You are responsible for getting your ‘Drunk Ass’ to the helibase on time and in good ‘functioning’ condition. Normally the company will require you to fly to the city/port where the crew change will happen a day before the exchange. This is to ensure that you are ‘FULLY RESTED” and are not rushing to the helibase. Crew changes are when you come off the rig for your off days and your relief will take your place. Usually your relief will head to the rig first before you get on the return chopper. This is to avoid cases when your relief doesn’t turn up for work. In most cases if this happens, you will then have to stay back till the office sends you another relief.drunk people
    Drinking like its the last day on earth
    Nine out of ten times, the helicopter flight times are extremely early in the mornings (you will have to wake up at 3am for a 6am flight) and most Oil Rig Workers tend to go all out at the bars because they see it as their last night of freedom before being locked up dry on the rig. Rule of thumb for a green pass on the breathalyzers would be to allow yourself to rest 7 hours before flight time. Most drilling rigs nowadays have breathalyzers and urine tests for alcohol and drug abuse. I have seen cases where people turn up to the helibase either drunk or slightly tipsy, only to be barred completely from the drilling rig for good. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
  4. Packing your own bags for 1 month. Easy as it may sound, but there is actually a INTENSE technique to it. As each site is isolated, you will have to make sure you have all the essentials like spare contact lens, contact lens liquids, facial care items, tooth brush and any medication that you need, all packed into a carry size suit case.
  5. Planning and lookahead. As operations are constantly running so fast, the one thing you need to learn fast here is to always have “Backups, of Backups for the Backup”. What this means is that, for every piece of equipment or any plans that you have, you need to make sure that there is a PLAN B and PLAN C if PLAN A fails. By systematically planning this far ahead, it serves as perfect training for your mind to be alert and constantly aware of activities and “What Ifs” that can happen.  Examples of ‘What Ifs” that we constantly ask ourselves is “What if, the job doesn’t go as planned?” or “What happens if the supply boat is delayed due to weather, will we have sufficient food for the rig, and if so, how long can the food last?”.
  6. Not to be fussy about food. On offshore installations, the company provides 5 meals a day. So to all the mothers out there, do not worry about your son being skinny and underfed. Most likely if he doesn’t work out, he would end up obese!.  There are usually a healthy selection of vegetables, cereal, meat and carbohydrates. Some rigs have such good food, that it is almost like a restaurant.
  7. Sleep on a helicopter. Firstly, after being forced to wake up at 3am. I am then being cramped into a van for 1 hour then have to wait at the waiting room for another 2 hours before taking a gruelling 1-2 hour flight. On top of that all, if I am on the day shift, chances are I have to put slap my face hard to keep awake as I drag through the 12 hour shift. So I have trained myself to fall asleep in even the most awkward situations. sleep

After writing the list above, I do not regret about joining the oilfield at all.

In the next posting I was planning to give out the dirty secrets of Oil field workers. Things that we do not want our girlfriends or wives to know. Like this page and let me know if I should write the article.

6 questions to ask yourself before starting a business

Tired of your 9 to 5 job, and want to make a difference in your life. 6 questions to ask yourself before starting a business

Sitting in your cubicle constantly eyeing the clock on the wall, anxiously waiting for the hour hand to touch 5pm. Agonisingly the seconds tick by, and as you raise your hands to celebrate “ITS TIME TO GO HOME”!!! Only to realise it is just Monday and you have another 4 days of the work week to go. (provided you are lucky to work 5 days a week)

Getting frustrated you then surf around on the internet or check out Facebook to de-stress. You scroll and see your friends post up pictures of their own startups or their own products that they made at home and are trying to sell to their other friends. You see #success #happiness #rolex #new car. You feel lagiiii stress!!
You then excitedly tell your family (especially your mum or dad) about your friends success and what they are doing …..and your parents calmly pat you on the back and tell you “Don’t compare Son. You are successful in your own way”.

Each time I hear that (which I do a lot), I feel like slapping someone! or rather just KILL ME !

How much bullshit are you going to buy before you wake up and realise one day that you have wasted 30 years of your prime life?? Then whats the next plan? Withdraw your hard earned EPF only to also realise that the Government has used most of it to pay their bad debt??

IF YOU ARE AFRAID TO FAIL-4

Deep inside, a tiny voice tells you that you want to start something. Sell your own products. You want your own business. Something to call your own.

You find the 9-5 job is slowly killing you. You don’t know how or where to start. Don’t worry, you are not alone.

Jumping into the startup world to some, might seem like a leap of faith. Many are afraid, because all this while they have been shielded, sitting and working in their own comfort zone.

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The startup world is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, you might be completely convinced you have a million-dollar idea. On the other, you risk a great deal getting started, and there’s no guarantee you’ll succeed.

Addicted2startup recently caught up with the successful Khun Nataree. K Nataree is the founder of a popular make up line in Thailand. She graduated as a chartered accountant and after having worked with one of the Big 4. She decided to start her own make up brand of products. What made her quit her lucrative corporate job and take a leap in to the startup world?

“The biggest challenges was the uncertainty of not knowing which was the best decisions to make, and having to make decisions quickly,” K. Nataree told Addicted2startup. “In a corporate job there are plenty of red tape in place that dilute decision-making to the point that it’s more of a collective decision. Managing your own company, you need to take full responsibility for your decisions and learn how to optimise that decision process quickly.”

When weighing up whether or not to go all in, she asked herself these six questions:

1. What is my motivation for starting a business?

K Nataree constantly stops herself multiple times during the week to ask herself why she wants to start the business in the first place. If you simply hate your job, or you’re following a trend, it probably won’t survive.

“Is it an industry you love and are passionate about?” she said. “Is there a big problem you’re so frustrated about, that you can’t wait to create a solution for it? That sounds like a business worth starting.”

2. Am I solving a problem?
K Nataree’s hometown is in Chonburi, far from the city. As a student, she found it hard to find affordable and reliable make up for students. If you haven’t already noticed, Thai Girls adore make up. They pride themselves in dressing up and looking good for every occasion.

K.Nataree experienced the similar issue when she moved to Chiang Mai to further her studies. And it wasn’t just her that was having the problem. Further investigation proved that most of the girls came from moderate families and they didn’t have access to reliable and affordable products.

“At this point, I knew it was the issue I’ll be addressing as it has massive potential, I know people who feel this issue regularly and knew technology could provide a scalable solution.”

3. Was I willing to sacrifice my lifestyle?

It’s a big decision to give up a high-paying job to follow your entrepreneurial idea. K Nataree left her well-paid job that gave her a comfortable life. It was really important that she understood the ultimate goal that she was trying to achieve before going on board with potential changes to her lifestyle.

K. Nataree says you should ask yourself what kind of life you would be comfortable with.

4. Is your family and friends supportive?
There are the good days and there are the challenging days. This is part of the entrepreneurial life. When the times get tough, you will need people to support you. People who believe in you and never doubt you. Ensure that you surround yourself with people like that and whom can really give you positive and non-judgemental opinions.

 

5. How much savings do I need?

K. Nataree believed strongly in creating her own brand without external funding. Without giving out equity or seeking funds, she was able to control the pace and direction of the company. This method requires a lot of self decipline as, without funding, and external pressure and monitoring, the founder is left to dictate and set her individual bench marks and deadlines.
It is always a good idea to have additional funds to fall back on. Addicted2startup would suggest doing up a rough calculation of how much cost it is to run the operation, and have enough savings for at least 1 year in advance should something go wrong. It’s unlikely you’ll start making money straight away, so if you have the chance to save up some money beforehand, then take it.

 

6. Am I in the right ecosystem?

K Nataree says it’s important you get to know the industry and make contacts by going to lots of startup events. After all, nothing is more valuable than hearing the experiences of other people. This can help you work out whether you’re in the right location to create a community.

“A good question to ask is whether you’re in the right city to ‘launch’ your product,” she said. “For example, we’re in the Beauty Line, so a presence in Bangkok, the Capital of Thailand is important for our growth.” Our goods can be easily distributed through out the Kingdom.

We would like to hear more of your thoughts and opinions. Kindly write to us using our contact page.

Thank you for reading and we wish you all the best in your business adventures.

 

 

5 Tips on How to Build Your Startup’s Brand From Scratch

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Branding is a key differentiator and a major reason why some startups are successful while others are not. Good branding is at the heart of any good business, but most of the branding advice you’ll find online or in person is about making sure that your brand remains consistent in your marketing efforts, or gets improved, if it’s already established. What happens if you’re just starting out, trying to build a business from scratch? Startups need to connect with people and get them to buy into their yet-to-be-proven solution.

Here are five things startups should do to differentiate themselves effectively with branding.

1. Identify your target market.

The first step to branding your startup is gaining a complete understanding of your target market. Who are you trying to reach? Think about who you want to experience your brand.

Once you’ve determined your target audience, everything in your branding should connect back to it. In short, your ideal customers should become part of your startup’s identity—after all, you can’t succeed without them.

A failure to connect with your target market will lead to long-term failure; therefore, it’s important to constantly receive feedback to determine how your customers perceive your brand and product.
Survey your early customers with questions such as:

  • How would you describe our product to a friend?
  • Tell us how you’d feel if you were no longer able to use our product.
  • How can we improve our product to better meet your needs?

Your goal should be building passionate customers who will share their experience with others, and that comes from correctly identifying your target market.

2. Study your competitors’ brands.

Next, start evaluating your competitors’ brands. You can learn a lot about marketing in your industry just by studying these previously established entries. What do their logos look like? How are they different from one another? How do they talk to your shared customer base? It’s important that you not take any of these qualities and copy them for your brand. Instead, look at the motivations behind these choices, and use the qualities themselves for the next step of your process.
If you don’t understudy your market and competition, then your venture has already failed. Here are three reasons why you should study your competitors:

  • You’ll be prepared- You will know what you are up against. By studying your competitors you have an idea of what the obstacles and challenges would be and can plan ahead on how to overcome them should the situation arise. One resourceful way is to improve and improvise on ideas and concepts from your competitors.

  • You don’t have to start from scratch- Finding outlets that are willing to work with you and distribute your product/service is one of the most tasking, time-consuming and completely necessary parts of building a business. That’s why it makes sense to study what the competition is doing so you can improve on that, especially in the area of market research and reach.

  • What works for them, ‘MIGHT’ work for you- In some cases, by studying the competitors’ websites, social media posts and existing ad campaigns you’ll be able to see what they do, what works for them, what doesn’t and what you can improve on or do better than them. There are also quite a few digital, automated tools that you can use if you don’t want to do the job yourself. One amazing free web based tool Addicted2Startup.com uses for its social media advertisements is Canva. You can easily sign up, choose the layout, add the pictures and text and your ready to share.

3. Being unique and selling your story

Identify how to differentiate your brand from the competition. It could stem from your business plan in general: One example is if you have a price advantage over your competition, you would want to emphasize that in your branding. Otherwise, find a way to make yourself stand out. Are most of the other brands more traditional or more conservative? You could inject some fun, add some technological twist to it. (i.e Websites, Viral Video). Are the other brands elitist and pretentious? Shoot for something more down to earth.

Thailand creates very creative advertisements and this is one of them.

 

 

Once you have established your brand, you have to sell your story. A major challenge you will face as part of the startup phase is people may not instantly recognize who you are or what you do.
Building your story not only helps you focus on your company identity and culture, but it’s a memorable way for your clients and customers to identify with your brand on a more personal level. Sell an experience before selling a product.

A company that applies this very well is Soaplab Malaysia. Addicted2Startup wanted to highlight the great work they have done by telling the story behind their startup, their company vision and following constantly through with their marketing campaign.

I specialise in guiding startup Entrepreneurs to create their own handmade skin care product by teaching formulation to create the best premium product right in your own Home.
I also have been in Business line for close to 10 years now (few different businesses) and know the ups and downs when it comes to business. Ive lost close to few hundred thousands of dollars during this time and im here to guide you so that you avoid the mistakes I did.

 

SoapLabMalaysia builds its social media following by creating useful content. i.e online soap making classes, personalised formulations and detailed explanations between the difference of lotions, cream, body butters and more.

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Successful branding is closely tied to a successful story, and by using that story as a jumping off point, you add to your own credibility.

 

4. Good Design Matters

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How your product looks and is being marketed are very important in branding your startup. When it comes to visual branding, fonts, colors, logos, etc. all contribute to your image and purpose. An example is when you go to a shop, and you have 2 similar products to choose from. Both with similar content, however 1 of them looks visually appealing, colourful and has all great packaging while the other comes in cheap finishing. Which would you choose?

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Controversy aside, we have to admit that the Mast Brothers really did an excellent job in using great design to visually tell their story and sell their bean to bar craft chocolates.

When applied correctly, these elements can quickly define and communicate the mood and values you want to give your target audience.

Images are easy to share across social media platforms and can offer a first impression of your company. Make sure your visual output is a reflection of your target market and story.

5. Maximize Your Visibility

Once you have created a unique visual and verbal story—now it’s time to leverage assets across digital channels and integrate your marketing campaigns.

The goal is to reach your target market through a coordinated messages across multiple channels. Target marketing to your user demographics, which sounds obvious, but it’s necessary. An example would be, if you are selling durian products, chances are you would want to target the Asian market as opposed to the Western crowd. One marketing strategy that was recently applied by a durian stall in Penang, was that this durian seller tied up with a virtual coin/points company, which enabled you to buy your durians using your coins/points. This was a big hit with the Chinese tourists as they came in bus loads after shopping at this virtual mall. The idea was simple, Chinese loved durians, they were shopping in a virtual mall using points, so why don’t my stall accept virtual points.

Attack your social media outlets simultaneously and use them as a way to reinforce your brand; think about “share-ability”. We talked about using visuals to reinforce your brand, and moments captured in photos are some of the easiest moments for customers to share.

 

We at Addicted2Startup would love to hear your startup stories. Kindly send us your stories or let us know who you want featured here.

Good luck and all the best in your ventures.

How one woman created this amazing Jewellery Brand from scratch

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Peek&Boo designs, produces and sells bespoke handmade jewellery both online and offline, and actively participates in domestic and international trade fairs.

The ethos at Peek & Boo is to help make a difference around the world by using their wonderfully cute jewellery inspired by Nature to raise awareness in hopes of encouraging new consumers to help against environmental issues. To make their  message go deeper than just visually crafted timeless cute jewellery. Peek&Boo will be donating 10% of the profits to their charitable partners, your purchase does not just help awareness of environmental issues, it helps the people who are on the front lines trying to make our world a better place.

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We managed to have asit down with Kaze Ng the Founder of Peek&Boo as she shares the secrets that makes her entrepreneurial hunger growl;


A2S: What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in your life? How did the idea for your business come about?
KAZE: This was back a few years when I was studying in Germany, and every one was so conscious about going green and saving the planet. It was a culture shock compared to back home in Malaysia, although we were slowly progressing to the Green Concept and idea but it wasn’t so widely accepted. And as a student abroad, I was also struggling with expenses which got me thinking, “Why don’t I use the skills I have to make some money in order to make a change and help others to create Environmental and Civic awareness”.
One of the key trades as an entrepreneur is that you need to be resourceful. By observing my surroundings and experiences from my travels, I was able to assimilate this with my background in Jewellery and Design to create PeeknBoo.

A2S: When you first started, how or what did you do, to get the word out for Peek&Boo? Could you share with us on where you got your funding to start your own project?
KAZE: It was a DO or DIE situation for me, when I decided to take on this project. Initially when I first launched Peek&Boo, I decided to put the project on Kickstarter to crowd fund and promote the brand. Adopting a simple “pay and promote’ strategy, I withdrew all my savings to buy myself a marketing package from a US company to help me market the campaign. But the package was a complete failure. I did not manage to pull a single customer from it. Having only 30 days to promote and I was already broke, it was a stressful period for me. By the time I had 15 days left and only 20% goal achieved, I was mentally broken down as I had no idea what to do. No money for marketing. Knowing that I can’t give up, I went and start doing what I ‘think’ I can do ( at that moment ). I went on Instagram and start liking every single picture that are related to my post ( nature / wildlife picture ) , I started sending them a private message promoting my Kickstarter. I did that on Instagram, also in Pinterest , Facebook , Twitter. I spent countless hours every day doing that and even Email and private messaging the companies. Slowly but surely, I saw some progress, as the 15 days slowly pass, my % of funding slowly increase. And in the final dash for the finish line, the very last 2 days, a company found my campaign, they like my idea on how the concept of my brand is , they funded 80% of my campaign with nothing in return. This was how I got Peek&Boo started.

A2S: What would your 3 best advice you would give to newbies who wanted to start their own business?
KAZE: If I had to sum it up, it would be

  1. Make sure you have done extensive research to ensure that your product and concept is unique. Its a ‘Dog eat Dog world” out there. So make sure you are able to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  2. “Cheong” ! Which means ATTACK or GO FORWARD! in native Hokkien. If you are constantly on the go and moving forward, I believe you will always see progress. If you stay put however, then you would never move.
  3. Do not be afraid to make mistakes. You make a mistake, you learn from it and then you move on. You will become stronger with time.

Beauty!

A2S: What have been some of your failures and what did you do to overcome them?
KAZE: One of the things that I have learnt in the course of starting up a business, is to ensure that you have a strong product concept. Some people start a business by thinking that the only ingredients you need is just money and product. I have learnt that without a concept, I was unable to sell as there wasn’t a valid selling point.
Just to elaborate more on product concept. Product concept is the understanding of the dynamics of the product in order to showcase the best qualities and maximum features of the product. Marketers spend a lot of time and research in order to target their attended audience.
A2S: How did you manage to address this problem?
KAZE: Picking the right mentors and brainstorming with them always works for me. Finding the right people who has similar entrepreneurial experience and learning their mistakes and how they managed to overcome these hurdles have helped me with my own.

A2S: How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
KAZE: NEVER. That is why it is so important to ensure that your initial idea is valid and you have done all your homework on the back ground and scalability of the idea. Once I start, I will tell my self ‘My idea will always work”!!

ONCE I START A PROJECT, I ALWAYS TELL MY SELF THAT MY IDEA WILL ALWAYS WORK

A2S: How many hours do you work a day on average? And what are your tips on staying productive and efficient? Because being busy and productive are 2 very different things that people often get confused with.
KAZE: I have my full time job from 9am til 6.30pm. I tend to work on my own brand after dinner which is 7.30pm til late ( usually til 11-1am). On weekends, i work 7-9 hours on my own brand. I try to give myself a day off per week and a weekend off per month just to reward myself for working hard. I go to the gym, swimming and morning hike. I believe working out and maintaining a healthy diet helps give me better focus.
To keep track of my productivity and efficiency, for every task, I will set a specific deadline to complete it.

A2S: Jewellery is a very niche and specialised product. Could you share where you get your inspiration and ideas for your designs from?
KAZE: Haha, ideas pop out after coffee, but most of the time I have some sketch on what I want to do. like if I know I am going to Japan, I would search on places I want to go (reference places : cafe , wholesale place , textile area ), the meaning of Japanese symbols, so when I am there, I take photos of it and then brainstorms my way to my collection.

A2S: Protecting Peek&Boo as a brand and its designs would or course be your utmost concern. In this modern world of technology where information is shared so freely, as a designer yourself, do you have to deal with copyright and infringement or ideas/designs?
KAZE: Copyright and patenting costs a lot. This is one of the challenges you will face as an Entrepreneur.  Even if you have a written agreement with your retailer (pertaining to copyright issues) and somehow the designs are copied. Both of you would have to go to court, and go through a lengthy legal process which takes time and money. And maybe at the end of the day, the compensation isn’t enough to cover the legal fees. You need to ask yourself if you are ready to go through this. For now, I just have to continue innovating Peek&Boo’s designs and hope no one copies them.

A2S: When you first launched your product and while you were trying to make your first sale, what are the hurdles both emotionally and physically did you encounter and how did you overcome them?
KAZE:I was mentally and emotionally prepared for the hardship of starting up a brand that nobody knew about. When I first started, different days had different problems that needed different solutions. There were some days that I had a handful of sales, and some days I didn’t have even one. I didn’t allow this to make me sad or pull me down or give up. For every sale I made, I reminded myself how lucky I was, and that I was doing something correct. I just had to continue doing what I was doing. Keep on pushing forward.

A2S: What are the top 3 must have marketing app that you would recommend ?
KAZE: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram

  • Facebook – By far is the largest social media platform on the internet, Facebook boasts more than 700 million active monthly users. If you’re looking to reach the masses, this is the best place to start. It’s also the most credible platform. Any healthy and established business has a Facebook page, and a lack of one is a warning sign to potential customers.
  • Pinterest- Pinterest is of supreme value for many businesses. It’s the fastest growing social media platform and is particularly conducive to startups with physical products.
  • Instagram- You have a blog–great. You tweet your posts, and you update your Facebook page–that’s great too. But Instagram lets you brand like nowhere else. Only 123 of the Fortune 500 companies have adopted Instagram, and plenty of startups too are guilty of not using Instagram as a core part of their content marketing strategy.

While corporate Instagram adoption may not be overwhelming just yet, big companies are learning quickly from more marketing-savvy peers. Check out the growth in the chart below. This is the number of Fortune 500 companies using Instagram between December 2010 and August 2013.

Why are they betting on Instagram? Well, if you want to put a piece of content in front of someone, 40% of people will respond better to visual information than plain text.

A2S: As an entrepreneur you would have your share of ups and downs. When you are feeling down and out, as some of us normally do. How do you dig into the extra energy and keep yourself motivated?
KAZE: Failure is not an option for me. The margins for error is so small, that I need to be really precise in my execution. I take great pride in my planning and detail in my products. This is exceptionally true, when designing and producing Jewellery Pieces. As each piece is small and delicate, and needs to be produced with care. We cannot afford any mistakes especially in the moulding stage. (When the master mould for each design is created. Otherwise all the subsequent products will have defects).
Traveling works best for me. Being in a different environement helps to distress me, and by experiencing various sights and ideas, I am able to refresh myself with new concepts. Each time I come back from travelling, I have so many new ideas that I would want to start.  

Peek&Boo was also recently featured on Taiwans lifestyle magazine JUKSY.

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All her items are made with plenty of care and love. Below are some of her processes while making the beautiful pieces.

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Finished moulds of her products
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Voila!! Our finished products!
chicken
Did you know…..
Roosters were very important in people’s daily lives in ancient times. They were not only treated as food, like today, but in ancient times people regarded them as a mascot since they ate harmful insects.
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D E T A I L
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Dimensions: 8mm x 8mm
Metal: Brass with 925 Sterling Silver needle
Enamel
**limited pieces
bull terrier
Did you know…..
Bull Terriers love attention and do not do well being left alone for long periods of time?
The lifespan of an average Bull Terrier is 10 to 12 years, but sometimes longer?
————————————-
D E T A I L
————————————-
Metal: Brass
Plating : 24k Yellow Gold
Material : Enamel
Size : Adjustable from S – L
*If you have a certain size you want me to adjust, please drop me a message.

You are able to shop for Peek & Boo items direct from their website www.ipeekyouboo.com
( also available in Etsy, Dawanda and Pinkoi )

We at Addicted2startup.com would like to wish Kaze all the best in her ventures and may she be successful in bringing Peek&Boo to the international jewellery scene.
Like us, share and follow us for more inspiring stories. Do tell us what you want to hear or if you have an inspiring story to share. We would love to hear from you.

 

 

Who you associate with, shapes who you are!

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Stop and observe if this statement is true. Hence the saying ‘Birds of a feather, flock together’. Sure, we all want to hang out with true and successful people, but often we get confused with FAKE people who have different Mal-intentions. So now the question becomes, how do we differentiate the FAKE from the REAL people?

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Here are a few characteristics you can learn to spot them

1) When you run into someone you haven’t seen in a long time and before you part they say, “Let’s do brunch!” or “Let’s get drinks sometime,” that person is probably fake. Instead of automatically agreeing you should really just say, “Hmm. I don’t think so.” Because practically no one who says “let’s do brunch” or “let’s get drinks” means it.

2) They’ll be friends with you, party with you and drink with you on the weekends. But when you need help with something boring and chore-like, such as moving into your elevator-less fourth floor apartment in the middle of August, they’re nowhere to be found. Watch.

3) If someone suddenly and magically disappears into thin air right when you need them most, that betch is fake. Don’t even bother sending them an email or a text message in all caps — those things carry no weight whatsoever, because fake people love to ignore situations where feelings get involved.

4) When you take a leap of faith and tell a person how you really feel and they tell you they feel the same way but actually they don’t seem like it and nothing changes.

5) If a person claims to never get mad or upset about things then they’re fake. Why? Because fake people have zero emotions. Real people get mad and upset and feel passion or get pissed off, and nobody is 100% happy and smiling all the time.

6) If a person is perpetually unavailable, or you constantly feel like they’re ignoring you, you’re probably right and that person is fake. You’re all, “Trollop I KNOW you got my text because iMessage says that shit was “Delivered.” Probably the most hurtful thing about unavailable, fake people, something we should all keep in mind, is that they are available, just not to us.

7) If a person talks about you behind your back. Of course, if you’re talking to them face-to-face it’s hard to know that they’re talking about you specifically. But if they spend a lot of time gossiping to you about other people, it’s not a coincidence.

8) If a person is hot and cold towards you for any reason. Friends are there for you no matter what, not depending on the context and what you’re doing or whether they’re bored that day and look to you to keep entertained.

9) If a person NEVER invites you to hang out, or either they always come up with fabulous excuses about why they can’t hang out. If they make plans with you and conveniently cancel at the last minute that person is fake, and they are probably with the person they always make themselves available for.

10) Fake people try to please everyone and work hard to be all things to all people. But if you’re busy trying to please everyone, doesn’t that mean you’re being fake to somebody? Thankfully we have a name for that — leading people on.

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Stay true to yourself !

How this man successfully made Airport Lounges accessible to everyone

Rewind back 10 years ago, I could still remember lounging my carry-on bags in the airport trying to look for a place to rest, while waiting for my plane. Plastic chairs that had those weird curved bottom seats that prevented weary people from lying down and sleeping on the chairs, crowded walkways, faulty or insufficient plug points to charge your electronic devices, expensive and crappy Airport food to ‘ON OFF WIFI’ signals.

I used to stare in hope through the glass panels into the air port lounges that one day I too, could be able to enter, sit down on the comfy sofas, sip my latte, read the papers and relax.

NOW I CAN and SO DO YOU!

The Plaza Premium Lounge provides this privilege to all passengers regardless of travel class and airline they fly, at a fee.

Founder Song Hoi See started the first Plaza lounge at Kuala Lumpur International Airport and at Hong Kong International Airport where the company has its headquarters in 1998, and he has since expanded the business worldwide to airports in India, the Middle East, Canada and soon the UK at London Heathrow and Australia at Sydney Kingsford-Smith International Airport.

Image Courtesy of Plaza Premium Lounge
(Credit to Plaza Premium Lounge)

Through his initiative and vision, Mr Song has broken the stereotype that airport lounges are for premium travellers only.

Aspire: Tell us a little about your vision of the airport lounge business when you first started. What made you think this would be a growing business when generally airlines prefer to manage their own lounges?

Song: The creation of my concept of airport pay-in lounges stemmed from my bad personal experience at the airport. Many years back when I worked for an American bank, I enjoyed travel perks such as limousine service, business class flights and use of airline lounges. When I left the bank to start my own business, I flew economy class and started comparing the experiences. At one point, I found myself ‘stealing’ electricity from airport sockets to charge my laptop, always dreading the long and dreary transit time. Then I thought to myself, how nice would it be if I had the option of enjoying lounge access, and the more I travelled the more I saw a pressing need for this facility. When the opportunity presented itself, I shared my idea with the world. Today, we design, build, operate and manage lounges, with the goal of enhancing the airport experience.

Song: I’m not sure if airlines enjoy managing their own lounges! Airlines operate a transportation business and I imagine they would much appreciate someone else taking the burden of managing a lounge off their shoulders. That’s where we come into the equation. We’re specialists, creating not only a lounge space that is comfortable, efficient and tailored, but also a product that raises the bar for airport lounge standards – today, lounges aren’t just about chips and nuts, it’s a facility cum service that improves the travel experience.

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Aspire: You have expanded the business beyond Kuala Lumpur where you set up your first Plaza Premium Lounge – to airports in Singapore, Hong Kong and China in what looks initially like an Asian phenomenon. How has this changed with your business expanding to Canada, the Middle East and soon the UK and Australia?

Song: We’re very happy with the response the concept has received. We are a leader in the business, developing and evolving this concept for 15 years, longer then anyone else in the industry. Initially, a lot of people asked, ‘Why do we need another lounge when the airlines already have a lounge?’ But you must understand that the majority of travellers fly economy class; that is not to say that they would not appreciate an enhanced airport experience. While we have seen year on year an increase of travel numbers globally, travellers in the past had come to accept as a fact that airport experiences were to be dreaded. It’s all part of the package, but they have wizened up to realising that it doesn’t have to be like that. There has a major shift in the quality of services in airports in the past few years on a global scale. Airports can see that an airport lounge can by and large improve the airport service quality, which will in turn encourage more people to fly through these airports. The environment is dynamic and very exciting. This is why I love this industry and what I do.

Song: As the concept became more popular and airport authorities began to see how it could add value to the airport’s facilities, it opened up opportunities for us to expand our business beyond Asia. You can say the concept has global applications.

Aspire: Which is your best selling lounge and why?

Song: I couldn’t tell you which one is the most bestselling lounge as it’s like picking favourites among children. The circumstance for each lounge is different; remember that each lounge is carefully designed to tailor to the needs of the travellers who come through the airports where they are located. We take everything into account, everything ranging from types of travellers, their cultures, transit time, flight times… the list goes on and on. It is important that we’re detailed and meticulous in our research.

Song: We have recently opened three lounges, one in Bangalore, Hong Kong and Vancouver. They boast what we call the 5th generation lounges, where we introduced a new lounge design and boosted the concept of interactivity, creating touch points and interactive opportunities for our guests and team members. Sometimes travelling can be very lonely, with no one to speak to in the span of 12 hours or more, so we find ways to change that experience for travellers. We even introduced made-to-order dishes, so the food is fresh. There are local dishes that our guests can try the food one last time before they fly out. By the way, at each of these lounges, we have also introduced a fantastic signature dish. Building a lounge is not a difficult task, but how to sustain consistent quality of service by a dedicated team is the challenge.

Aspire: At the height of the economic crisis in 2009/2010, airlines were doing badly and continue to suffer from the slow recovery in air travel, in particular premium travel. You would expect this to have a negative impact on your business, yet your brand thrives and expands. What is it that holds up your business in good and bad times?

Song: It is true that the economic crisis heavily affected everyone across almost every industry. However, we must look far and into the long term. At that time, in spite of concerns from HR, I decided not to lay off a single person in our team. I made sure the team stayed focus on refining and defining the lounge product, strengthening the service, facility and ambience that we provide to keep us standing strong. I have a fantastic team and I’m very proud of them. We have developed an operating culture by which we pride ourselves to provide the best lounge service.

Song: We saw a change in travel patterns, that while some travellers may have reduced their travelling budget, they in turn opted for lounge use to complement their revised travelling habits. We are able to help travellers to maintain a certain level of comfort at the airport.

Aspire: Who are your competitors and what makes your facility different from others?

Song: There are some isolated lounge operators, but we are not so concerned about the competition as we know that we have developed a strong brand supported by the economies of scale, an excellent training system and a dynamic management team focusing on providing a quality of service that is world-class. In fact a lot of people have asked me about competition from airlines, but I see this as a misconception as airlines in fact complement our lounge services and vice versa. We work with many airlines to take care of their first and business class passengers, and we also manage the airline lounges of our airline partners. Being specialists in the field, they are happy to leave the management in our hands. In Hong Kong, we manage the airline lounges of Cathay Pacific (The Bridge), Thai Airways, Air France/KLM, United Airlines, and we continue to lead and grow this leg of the business internationally.

Aspire: Give us your take on the outlook vis-à-vis new, emerging trends in air travel.

Song: I see the growth of the middle class, especially in China and India, and with this, the demand for travel will grow in tandem. In the past two years alone, this market has grown exponentially, and has in fact shifted the travel trend beyond many people’s expectations. I believe it will continue to do so in the years to come. The Brookings Institution predicts that by 2030, the middle class will grow to 4.9 billion from its current figure of about 1.9 billion, and the bulk of it will be from China. In Asia alone there are 46 low-cost carriers. I believe this number will continue to grow and there will be more low-cost carrier terminals.

Song: Airlines will also begin to form closer alliances, and perhaps we’ll also see larger mergers. This is a dynamic environment and the aviation business will move rapidly forward as the economy recovers worldwide. All this can only be good news for Plaza.

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THE world largest independent airport lounge network Plaza Premium Lounge was awarded “World’s Best Independent Airport Lounge” accolade from Skytrax at the 2017 World Airline Awards at the Paris Air Show.

Plaza Premium Lounge reaps a harvest of hard work in 2017 as its Hong Kong, Brisbane, London Heathrow Terminal 2 (T2) and Vancouver lounges are ranked the world’s 10 best independent airport lounges by millions of travellers.

This is the second time in a row that it has racked up a string of recognitions bestowed by Skytrax, with Plaza Premium Lounge in London Heathrow T2 and Hong Kong having clinched two of the world’s top three positions together, reflecting their exceptional lounge facilities and service standards.

Mr. Song hoped that his story of developing Plaza Premium Lounge, the Group’s flagship business pillar, could inspire young entrepreneurs to have confidence in themselves in moving a local business concept successfully into the world arena. Our younger generation should continue to have faith in entrepreneurship and innovation. Following his example, it was possible to start with nothing, as long as they have a unique idea, courage, perseverance and passion.

Mr. Song highlighted that the accolade was a testament to the company and very much attributed to the dedication of his team. Plaza Premium Lounge would not have been what it is today without our colleagues’ full support and faith in sharing his vision.

Since 1998, Plaza Premium Lounge has evolved substantially into Plaza Premium Group, a global service brand offering premium airport services, with over 3,500 employees in more than 130 locations across 35 international airports, serving over 7 million passengers around the world annually.

Plaza Premium Group provides Premium Airport Services in more than 150 locations across the world, serving more than 12 million passengers annually.

Apart from airport transit hotel, airport meet-and-greet service, as well as airport dining businesses, the group also owns Plaza Premium Lounge, which runs the world’s largest independent airport lounge network.

 Article courtesy of AspireAviation

Buying your first property

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore” Mark Twain

When people ask me about how i started out in the hostel/hotel industry, one popular question that always pops up is, “When is the right time to buy property?”
The ideal answer is “When its cheap”! Of course if life was that perfect, we wouldn’t have to hustle so hard.
There are many factors/aspects that you need to study before you come to a conclusion of weather it is the right time to buy. Try answering these questions;

  1. Home, Investment or Business ? Will the property you are buying be a home? Are you planning to rent it out? Are you planning to sit and wait, and sell it when the price is right? Or are you planning to develop it into a business?
  2. Cash Flow 1. What is your commitment level? Is your family expecting a baby? How many kids do you have? Is your wife working? Have you got money saved up for emergency days? i.e Hospital, Children’s Education, etc.
  3. Cash Flow 2. How much cash do you have now? If you are taking a loan, are you able to service the loan amount in the future, should the economy go to recession, and you lose your job? (Sorry to bring this up, but this is one of the worst case scenarios that I see happen to most people nowadays.

The answers above are more of gauging how ready you are financially. Then we need to move on to the “RIGHT TIME to buy”. Here’s my own personal check list.

  1. What type of property are you planning to buy? Landed Property, *Multi-home, High-rise, or Land?
  2. Check around the city and nearby areas of how many types of similar development are there? What are their occupancy levels like? Are they all sold out, rented out? What are their selling/rental prices?
    **If there are similar developments around, that are left empty, then chances are there is over-saturation. This will lead to competition of prices, so you may possibly score a deal.
    **If they are rented out, are they rented out monthly or daily? If a market has a high daily rental rate, then this location enjoys high business/tourist volumes. Then this is a good location to buy.
  3. Situation of the countries economy. When the countries economy is good, everybody has money, and therefore most likely all the good buys will all be taken. This is a good time to sell your property if you have any. If the economy is going into recession, chances are that most people will also be jobless and have less disposable income. If you have strong financial background, then this is the time to buy.

*Multi-home is a term that they use in the US, where you buy up a building or a home, and you split it into many rooms, allowing you to rent them out as separate entities. 

Before we continue, do understand that, buying a property as a HOME isn’t the same as buying a property as an investment. When people buy a home, the primary reason is for providing shelter. One of the most basic factors that makes an investment an investment is your ability to control the timing of your ownership. That means that you can buy it and sell it at times and under circumstances that are likely to maximize your investment return. We can think of traditional investments, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds — even rental real estate — as providing this ability.
Since your house is your personal residence, you will have little control over the purchase and sale from an investment perspective. You’ll purchase the house when it is needed for shelter purposes, and sell it only when it no longer serves that purpose, and it’s time to move on.
The lack of control over the timing of buying and selling a house had a major negative effect on houses as investments during the financial meltdown. Many people bought houses at the top of the market because that was the time that they needed a home for their families. But still others were stuck having to sell after the market collapse, due to a negative change in their own personal financial situations.
That forced them to buy high, and sell low. That’s not unusual when it comes to residences, and largely disqualifies a house as an investment.

Making money from buying and selling? “Flipping”

Flipping is defined as “Profits from flipping real estate come from either buying low and selling high (often in a rapidly rising market), or buying a house that needs repair and fixing it up before reselling it for a profit (“fix and flip”)”


My first Property
My story starts something like this. Coming out fresh from University, I landed my first job working as an Engineer in a Factory. My first pay was around RM 2800 (750 USD) a month. I came from a middle class family. Dad worked as a Valuer, and Mum was a housewife. I thought that my dad being a land valuer, would have trained me or imparted his knowledge of property investing to me. Sadly this did not happen.
I lived with my parents to save rent, as many of us would do. However things started getting expensive when i had a girlfriend, and we started staying at hotels. (Yeah, we were enjoying their breakfast buffets*). My parents place only had nasi lemak.

My monthly expenses soared. Obviously i couldn’t cope. So i decided to buy a house. Fortunately for me, the house prices was still very stagnant at that time. So i bought my first beach-view property for RM 180k.

Before we all get too excited on what happens in this Sub Sale, Beach View, 890 ft2 Resort Condominium. Lets take a moment to discuss this. I will be taking property prices in Penang, Malaysia as a reference point because this was where i started off. So i bought the property in 2006 ( 180k) and then in 2015 the price went up to 500k (Economy Peaked). This property saw a 177% increase in 10 years. Meaning to say, around 17.7% per year. Of course this all Capital Appreciation. If I sold it off right now, i wouldnt get Property Tax by the government because I have already held it for over 5years. Read also: RPGT will hurt your pocket.
It is now 2017. Malaysia’s Economy is suffering from many  factors aside from the Global Economical Slowdown. The last i checked the asking price for my Sub Sale, Beach View, 890 ft2 Resort Condominium is priced at 400k. Last recent transaction is 370k.
But then again, remember what i said before, a home is not an investment!
This is a good example of why a home isn’t an Investment. Right now, the market value of my Beach View home is lower than the peaked price. If it was an investment, i would only sell it at a high price. Now what if I am facing some financial difficulties, and i needed to scale down. I would have to be forced to sell off this property even though the price is low.
Therefore A HOME IS NOT AN INVESTMENT.

So lets do a quick recap of what we have discussed today. Double check this checklist, before you proceed to buy your FIRST PROPERTY, or ANY PROPERTY for that matter.

1. Get Finances in Order
This one seems obvious, but it can be more complicated than you think. Prepare for unexpected circumstances that might occur. Examples include

  • Sudden shift in bank interest rates
  • Economical downturn leading to retrenchment
  • Maintenance fees and personal maintenance of the property

For this reason, it is important to have financial stability and a low interest loan.

If you are buying a rental property, financial stability is ensuring you can afford the payments on a house without the rental income. You may not always have renters, and when you don’t, the bank still expects you to make payments on the house. Finally, remember that when you run a rental property business, you are not running a home; you’re running a business. Therefore, it’s wise to have an account separate from your business dealings for your spending related to the care of your income property.

2. Understand the Market
The real estate market is one of the most malleable markets in the country. It is influenced by a number of factors, like the economy, supply and demand of housing or even political decisions.

A better understanding of the market will enable you to gauge the proper times to identify selling and rental prices.

Things you can control, and things you can’t

You’ve no doubt heard the terms “buyer’s market” or “seller’s market.” If you’re house hunting, you want to be on the right side of that equation — in a buyer’s market. Prices are reasonable, there are lots of choices within your budget and financing is a breeze. The Goldilocks Zone. Don’t wait for it. That’s a rare combination of circumstances.

It’s more likely you’ll be house hunting in a “hot market.” Imagine walking into an open house. It’s a great home well within your budget, it’s in your ideal neighborhood — and it’s crammed with more than a dozen other couples, offers already on the table. This happens in a seller’s market.

If you do decide to wade into a hot market, here are some tips for staying sane:

  • Be patient. It’s likely you won’t be able to buy the first home you fall in love with. But hang in there; a perfect opportunity may be just around the corner.
  • You’ll probably have to pay quite a bit more than the list price. Keep that in mind when checking out neighborhoods that you think might be in your price range.
  • Remember, a hot market is often determined by the market segment. In some areas it might be suburban single-family homes; in others it could be urban one-bedroom condos.

A real estate agent can help guide you in learning the ins and outs of your market.

Just how strong is your market?

You can take the pulse of your local market right now and see where it stands. With some inside info, you’ll be able to make a smart decision about whether to buy.

One way to gauge the pulse of your market is to take a look at the local homes-for-sale inventory statistics. The National Association of Realtors publishes a monthly report detailing how many homes are for sale in the top 300 U.S. cities, how long they’ve been on the market and the median asking prices. This listing report allows you to compare your market to the national average and is ranked by volume of searches — a good clue to the level of homebuying interest in your area.

You’ll also get insight about where prices are headed in your city, whether homes are selling quickly or the market is soft and just how tight inventory may be. Useful stuff. Median list price information is eye-opening all by itself.

Investigate comparable sales

Popular real estate websites such as Zillow and Redfin offer rough estimates of individual property values. And getting help from a real estate agent can really ease the process.

An agent can provide you with a comparative market analysis so you can feel comfortable that any offer you make is competitive and reasonable. These comparable neighborhood sales — “comps,” as they’re called — show the value of similar houses in the area, either recently sold, currently listed or whose listings have expired. That can be extremely helpful in fine-tuning your budget and ultimately in making an initial offer.

By researching a property’s last sale — local property tax assessors have databases of such transactions — you can get a rough estimate of the current price of a home. The Federal Housing Finance Agency offers a House Price Calculator that does just that. When you input the last purchase price and date, the tool will provide an estimated value of the home today, based on the average appreciation rate of all homes in an area. It’s a fairly rough estimate, though, because it doesn’t take into consideration the property’s actual condition, improvements that have been made or the state of the local real estate market.

Knowledge is power in a home search

Knowing your local housing market is a basic first step in getting a home you’ll love — and can afford — without overpaying or missing an opportunity. It’s even more critical if you’re moving to a new city and need help in learning the lay of the land. If you’ve done a little recon, you’ll be almost ready to get to some serious house hunting.

3. Begin with the Right Property
Almost every prospect requires that you start out low and work your way up, and real estate investments are no different. It’s important to begin with a solid property before finding a challenge.

Some of their tips include:

  • “Buy a property that you love.”
  • “Skip the prize properties.”
  • “Buy as a personal residence and change to rental.”
  • “Buy properties in good shape.”

Each of these options are excellent suggestions for those joining the business. Once you’ve mastered the simpler income properties, you can move on to another challenge, such as flipping a dilapidated property.

4. Caring for the Property
Whether you are deciding to turn it into a short term or long term rental property, these are the pointers that you need to look out for. We also address the current trend of renting out property on AirBnB. There are many criteria’s you will need to consider. It is your responsibility to collect rent, keep the books, file taxes, screen tenants, handle maintenance, work out the insurance plans, write the contracts, and more. Many feel that they’re up to the challenge and try to handle the work themselves.
With long term rental, there isn’t much of a hassle as you only collect rent every months end. For short term rentals additional factors need to be addressed.

  • Communication with the guest prior to staying and ensuring that they find the place
  • Check in/out of guest
  • Emergencies that would occur during the duration of the stay
  • Cleaning of the unit
  • Theft of items from the unit
  • Fire
  • Damage of items in the house

For others, the task is daunting to say the least. If that sounds like you, you’ll probably want to look into hiring a property management company. A property management company can cost anywhere from 5-10 percent of a month’s rent, which decreases your return, but can be well worth the investment.
**it is worth noting that some property managements do not allow short term rentals.

5. Screen Tenants Properly
Once you have sorted out the basics, it is time to rent out the property. Do not be tempted to just rent out to the first person that comes up. Be patient and screen through your possible tenants to ensure that they are reputable people, willing to care for your property and also

 

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