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.

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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.

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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.

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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 

 

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.

 

 

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!
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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?
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D E T A I L
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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

5 Things your team needs from you as a Leader

Leadership is a lot more simple than we think. Don’t over complicate it.

Leadership is, of course, subjective. But its foundation stems from one thing: the ability of an individual to establish a following among other individuals or teams.

Every leader has his or her own style and strategy. While it can be difficult to become a great leader and to achieve great things, practicing great leadership, is actually quite easy. There is a tendency to over complicate or overthink what leadership is, but actually, leadership can be very simple.  I have worked with teams all over the world, from dozens of cultures, and from different generations, Baby Boomers to Millennials, and I have found that if you provide these four simple things your team will appreciate you, follow you, and achieve great results.

1. Clear direction

This is the leader’s number one job. If you don’t do anything else, you absolutely must give clear direction to your team. Let them know what the goals and objectives are. Too often there is a lack of clarity, which can lead to confusion, misalignment, frustration, and disengagement.

Clarity, confidence and courage “A leader is someone who has the clarity to know the right things to do, the confidence to know when she’s wrong, and the courage to do the right things even when they’re hard.” – Darcy Eikenberg, founder, RedCapeRevolution.com

2. Support

“Leadership is serving the people that work for you by giving them the tools they need to succeed”. When you set a team up to be successful, most of them will grab the opportunity with both hands and become successful. Leadership is about serving your team, not about being served by them. This doesn’t mean doing the job for them; it means providing the right environment, and then being there to help, if needed.
Your workers should be looking forward to the customer and not backwards, over their shoulders, at you. It also means genuine praise for what goes well and leading by taking responsibility early and immediately if things go bad.

3. Solving problems

Being the solution to problems “Leadership is the ability to see a problem and be the solution. So many people are willing to talk about problems or can even empathize, but not many can see the problem or challenge and rise to it. It takes a leader to truly see a problem as a challenge and want to drive toward it.” – Andrea Walker-Leidy, owner, Walker Publicity Consulting

4. Space

Give the team the space to get on with the work. Provide support, but don’t micromanage them. Micromanagement is not only frustrating and demotivating, but it can also lead to mistakes, as it can put your team under unnecessary stress. Micromanagement is not good for your team, and it’s not good for you, either, because no one wants to work for a micromanager. If that becomes your reputation, then the best staff will look to work elsewhere, and it will give you both recruitment and retention issues. It’s OK to check up on the team, to see how they are doing and what you can do to help, but it has to be within reason.

5. Praise

Positive feedback, in my experience, is key to building a great team that achieves amazing things. I am always surprised by how resistant many managers and leaders are to giving praise, You need to create a culture of recognition, and it starts by recognizing effort. No one is successful immediately, so you should look to give people positive feedback for trying, for being willing to give things a go. What gets recognized gets repeated, and we want people to repeat the effort, because that is what it is going to lead them to success. If you wait for your team to achieve success before you praise them, then you could be waiting a long time.

If you want to become a better leader, or you want your team to achieve better results, providing these four simple ingredients will go a long way toward motivating and inspiring your team and boosting their efforts.

Leadership is a lot more simple than we think. Don’t over complicate it.

Credit picture: Muhammad Zameer

Does life really begin at 40? Thing’s i realized when i was 39 years old..

Does life really begin at 40? What do i have to do, to get what i want?

There’s a famous saying “Life begins at 40”. Some people believe that this is the middle point in life where you really should have explored life to the maximum. Others will tell you that the last 39 years before was just “research”. I am sure plenty of people have their own bucket lists to fulfill before turning 40.

I googled out the items to do online and this is what i found

  1. Shower naked in a water fall – Im pretty sure i have done it at somepoint when i was still a little boy.
  2. Backpack around the world with my partner – Immerse in the unspeakable intimacy that forms from traveling with just one person you love. Embrace it, and seize the adventure, uncertainty, and excitement of everything to come.
  3. Starting something that lasts – Weather its a business, nonprofit, community or product. It should be something that could hold your legacy even after you leave. Something people would remember you when you are not around.
  4. Finding someone to mentor – Having someone look up to is an incredible feeling. Someone you can pass your wisdom to.
  5. Visit a different religious culture – We are blessed to be in a multicultural country. But probably this statement means to explore other different religious around the world. Probably visiting the tribes of South America ?
  6. Write a letter to your future self – Give it some thought of what you would want to tell your future self?

These are all great things that one should experience, and i am sure there are many more. We only have one life, hence go out and live it to the fullest.

Couple

(Photo Credit : DialAflight)|

Sitting down on a wooden swing surrounded by strawberry bushes in the quiet mountains of Chiang Mai, Thailand. I begin to contemplate on my own life.

I discovered that trying to pause in life is much harder than trying to be busy.

  1. What i thought was important , was not that important
  2. Life is happening now. If opportunity doesn’t knock on your door, build your own door! “Life happens when you are busy making plans for it”. You should embrace what life has to offer in the present and not wait for the future before we start to ‘LIVE’
  3. Expanding and exploring our talent
    Ignoring or under utilizing your talent is a waste. I learnt learnt many lessons during my time of unemployment and one of the greatest one is to never limit my talent to the job description or other people say you can do or can’t do. There are limitless opportunities waiting for you, so take a bold step and venture out of your comfort zone.
  4. You always have a choice
    How many times have you heard people giving the excuse ” I didn’t have a choice” ?
    “I am already married with children. I have a responsibility and cannot afford to take the risks”. The question is not whether we have a choice, but whether we are willing to grab the opportunities that life has presented to us. We need to train our minds to distinguish between positive and negative information, and hopefully the right choice will get the better of us.
    One of the key factors for me personally, that contribute to the choices i make is finances. When i changed my perception that money was a tool and not my end goal in life, my eyes opened to many more opportunities in life.
  5. Going out of your comfort zone
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    Credit: Alphacoders

    This was an extremely difficult decision for me as I value comfort. I don’t think I’m alone in this. People like to be comfortable. They enjoy the familiar. Even when the familiar is far from optimal (even horrible), people still resist change.
    Seeking comfort, however natural it is, will never enable growth. How would you feel if you were able to merge what you love with your work and make it your lifestyle? Just think of how great and fulfilling that would be.

  6. Doing what you are passionate about
    “If you have an idea that might work in an area that you’re not passionate about, instead think about ways that you could apply it to a sector that does excite you,” he says “Look at your idea from a different perspective, and you might be surprised by the results.” Richard Branson.
  7. Remember nothing is permanent
    Everything is impermanent. “Bad times will come but they are not here to stay. Things will get better”. Always remember that no matter what you do, you are not stuck. Keep things in perspective. Mistakes are only learning experiences. Everything serves to teach you something. Whatever choice you make will be the right choice for that moment.
  8. Opportunities are waiting

Stephen C Hogan advised “most people miss great opportunities because of the misperception of time. Don’t wait! The time will never be just right.”  We think we have all the time in the world to do the things we would love to do, so we put them off until the perfect time.  Opportunities are waiting right now, and if you package your passion, you will be able to embrace them sooner rather than later. You may think you do not have the time or resources to embrace these new opportunities – not true. The problem is a lack of priorities – not focusing on the things we want the most in life and making them part of our daily goals and tasks.

“Decide what you want, and then act as if it were impossible to fail.” – Brian Tracy

Now that I have crossed the great threshold of forty, my perception on life begins at forty has changed.  I realize there is no perfect age to accomplish any goal. If I had the chance to advise my younger self, I would tell her to discover and explore the potency of her passion on a daily basis.

I will encourage her to maximise every opportunity that comes her way.  I will also teach her how to be aware of the dominant components of her passion, so she matches them to the right opportunities when they appear. Life is right now, right here – make the most of it.