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EIA 057 How Professor Laurie Underwood is Working in and with China Post Covid?

Laurie Underwood
Laurie Underwood

Laurie Underwood is an American professor, author and consultant specializing in cross-cultural business communications

She has studied worked and lived in Shanghai since 2002

Together with Prof Juan Fernandez at CEIBS, she has co-authored China CEO (2006), China Entrepreneur  (2009) and most recently China CEO II (2020). The audio book was released in June 2021. Book links below.

After around 10 years of work in Corporate Communications (most recently as Communications Director Asia Pacific for Air Liquide) she got her doctorate finished in 2019 and switched to consulting and teaching. She is a senior consultant with Sino Associates, focusing on intercultural business communications and crisis communications, and she teaches at several business schools including NYU Shanghai, University of Aberdeen, SKEMA and EmLyon.

Today, she speaks with us about the realities of working in China post covid, working with China if you cannot travel there because of covid, and more generally sharing advice from China CEOs on the challenges and opportunities of doing business with China today.

As well as

  • The answer to the most Northern City in the USA
  • Laurie’s career journey
  • Moving to China and reasons for staying
  • Career transitions and motivation for the changes
  • The origins of China CEO and China CEO II, 
  • The differences in the people performing the role of CEO in China
  • A hint at how they became CEOs
  • The routes to becoming a CEO
  • The personality traits that a CEO should have to not fail in China
  • How someone can fail at being a CEO in China
  • Laurie’s perspective on Westerners recently trying to move to live and work in China
  • The speed of change and the changes that have taken place
  • The freedom to reinvent yourself
  • What does the word “culture” mean to Laurie?
  • What do the different generations think about Career, Work and Entrepreneurship 
  • How Laurie’s classmates careers have changed
  • The recent need for Laurie’s knowledge and experience
  • Laurie explains why she isn’t a CEO
  • What she has learned from CEOs, and as a professor and consultant

so now without further delay let’s begin


EIA 052 Scientist to Entrepreneur

Moses Katanga
Moses Kakanga

Moses Kakanga was born by Lake Victoria in the old capital Entebbe, Uganda where he attended school before moving to the capital Kampala Makerere University, the oldest university in eastern and central Africa. Where he graduating with a degree in biomedical laboratory technology.

Moses then went on to work for an infectious disease Institute for three years before returning to study for a Masters degree in structural molecular biology, which culminated with study at Birkbeck College University London. He then returned home and continued with his previous employer for another four years. He then decided on another round of graduate study finding a scholarship on the Singapore international graduate award. And move to Singapore to pursue a PhD in biochemistry.

From young Moses wanted to work in the medical field as a scientist. He was surrounded by several role models. His father was a practice in physician for 40 years and is still practising although semi retired. His mum is a nurse and many of aunts are nurses and growing up in a hospital community he saw he was exposed to many other role models in the medical profession. Initially he wanted to go to medical school but didn’t get the points before settling on biomedical laboratory science.

When he looks back he looks back Moses attributes his success to working hard, which was based on his desire to attend medical school and in Uganda like most countries required the highest grades and to be top of your class.

Moses believes he’s achieved everything he’s wanted academically. Initially he wanted to remain in academia and become a professor then after doing his Phd and living in Singapore he came to the realisation he wasn’t suited for a career in academia saying “If you wanna be in academia in the Western World you have to publish well. The pre-requisites are very stiff.”

It wasn’t the challenge of academia as his previous employer wanted him back, offering him a position in the USA for two years. But he realised he wanted to have a career in Bio-med Innovation  and create devices for unmet clinical needs.

Moses grew up in the 90s in Entebbe before leaving in 2004 to go to the capital, Kampala to study at the  Makerere University, which was a former College of the University of London and after independence it was handed over to the government of Uganda. It has the oldest medical school in Uganda. The medical school is ranked highly internationally is one of the top five in Africa.

During the time he studied there a lot of international students from Kenya and Tanzania

Moses then received a commonwealth scholarship and was attached to a scientist in Uganda. However the final six months were finished at Birkbeck, University of London while still attached to a Scientist in Uganda. He wasn’t lonely in London as he had cousins there and had a pleasant time.

Missing out on the scholarship didn’t feel so bad because Moses was young at 17 and his dad was a bit scared about sending him alone to Hungary where he would also needed to learn a new language as well as the fact that he was already going to university in Uganda.

Looking back at the time going it may have seemed like a missed opportunity but the other opportunities that have presented themselves have more than made-up for it.

The desire to develop by a medical devices arose during his Phd studies as he worked on Biosensors for screening anti-cancer drugs and his interest shifted to a desire on innovation, drug or devices development.

Moses feel that by remaining in academia he would not be able to accomplish as much due to the rigid and competitive career development.

The challenge he sees for a scientist entering the world of entrepreneurship, are a lack of business skills, which for example may be business model development, customer development, market access.

This lake is something that can be overcome by hiring a person with these business skills. Scientists can still learn the business side but it will take a little bit longer for a person that come from academia.

Currently  Moses is working with a CEO who is also a technical and scientific person and who also has developed the skills to handle the business side. He does get involved to a small degree. But his focus is primarily on the science and technology.

This is reflected in his title of Chief Science and Technology Officer (CTO).

Moses sees himself continuing in the role of technology building as his focus is on the science and being in charge of running clinical trails in order to bring them to the market.

Moses has always looked up to his father as a role model. A man “who set a high bar”. Next came his father’s boss who was a woman that came from a family of five doctors. He always looked up to them. He found these role models stimulated his interest in having a career in the medical field. The professor that supervised him On his PhD has also acted as a role model in ensuring that he completed his PhD and graduated.

As Moses enters the world of entrepreneurship new role models are beginning to appear one of which is Sir Richard Branson. Who Moses admires in the way he built his business from scratch. Through reading his books he has discovered that Sir Richard Branson started out with a lot of challenges in school but then found his niche and has built a number of businesses and has become a very successful business man. His methods have been cautious, unaggressive and without putting other people out of business. He also has integrity and consciousness. Although  Moses is in medical field he plans to follow Sir  Richard Branson on the business side.

A few days after our meeting Moses will be taking part in an event as the moderator with the title, “From Scientist to Entrepreneurial Scientist: The Creation of BioTech Companies”. The purpose of the event is to help motivate early stage start-ups in the field of biotech and med tech. And get mentorship and advice from experienced biotech founders who will share their experience on the transition of being a scientist, scientist entrepreneurs, starting their own companies from research in the lab. The main premise for young start-ups to get more added information and guidance from established scientist.

Three scientists are from the National University of Singapore, Duke NUS will share how they built their companies that was spun off from the University. The audience will come from a broad spectrum of Singapore, which will include academia and start-up biotech companies. A 127 people registered have registered so far. But Moses is being cautious and expects a turnout of 50 to 60% for the event.

Registration and entry is free via the website in collaboration.

SGInnovate is a government organisation that helps to develop tech ecosystems in Singapore. SGInnovate supports DeepTech entrepreneurs and start-ups develop their ideas into a marketable products and also helps them to fund raise.

27 Deep Tech can be a confusing term which is used for ideas that take a lot of time to develop for example developing a robot that requires patents and many of iterations in order to get to the final product. Another example is developing a medical device that requires development of a prototype, do prototype testing and looking for trials. The gestation period takes a long time. This is how Deep Tech is commonly defined. The time to develop a DeepTech product can be two years or three years or longer.

There is further ambiguity as it can also include AI algorithms used for imaging of cancer cells as it can uses AI for diagnostics methods.

There is a constant need for development in the Bio-Tech and Medi-Tech field. A constant need for new drugs and medical devices particularly in areas connected to the ageing population in Asia. As well as devices for mobility, which is also a growing field. Due to Asia’s ageing population so there will be an increasing need for biotech and med tech products.

If you consider the US in the Bay Area where, biotech and med tech is really big and you will see a lot of investors. In that the ecosystem in the US is well developed. While in Asia it has recently started growing and is predicted to grow bigger .

Moses reasons for starting a business in Singapore are that it is small country where everything is close. He completed his PhD at the innovation hub called One North, where there are universities with research centres and start-ups in the same facility. Also gave access to many people on different tracks due to their close proximity. The final piece into doing this venture is being able to get into an incubator that gives support in building the company.

At present the company consists of a CEO and Moses who is the CTO as it has only existed for eight months. They are still raising money and expect to hire a specialist in the medical device regulatory area in the second quarter of next year in order to facilitate the launch of the product into the different markets.

The first market to enter will be Europe where they are working with a number of hospitals on clinical trials and expect to get the CE mark. After that will expand in to Asia and the USA.

This order is chosen as buyer certification procedures are a little bit easier in Europe than getting an FDA. So like most medical companies in the world they tend to start off with Europe to get a CE mark because it’s a little shorter than the FDA. From there a move into Asia is fairly straight forward if you have a CE or FDA.

For the African market the company has to examine the reimbursement systems to determine who will be able to pay and may be considered later on after some revenues have been gained.

So the important first step is to prove the product is viable then once proved to raise finance and show that it works and then you can look up expanding into other markets.

The product is a device that was patented by his CEO to treat a genetic disease that causes bulging of an eye. It is inserted to reshapes a patients eye

It is a genetic disease and while it is not a common it does affect 15 million people worldwide particularly in Asia and the Middle East.

In the near future the priorities of the company are to raise money, build the start-up through clinical trials then bringing the device to the market and growing the business in to being a leading company in the ophthalmology space.

Faced with the low success rate of startups Moses takes the same approach he applied to his PhD where you go give your all to a project if it doesn’t work out you move on.

Since being involved with the startup Moses has had to gain new areas of knowledge. Taking a certificate in medical device regulations and importantly for a startup writing and designing investor pitch decks. In order to communicate the business to potential investors and containing, the business model, market, team and representing a snapshot of your business ant its idea.

37 As part of an incubator Moses was exposed to people that had a great deal of business experience who offer guidance on various aspects of business. Since his focus is on the technology side of the startup he’s not required to do much direct pitching and he doesn’t desire or see his role changing from being the back room CTO. Currently Moses is not looking to expand his role because as a scientist his interest is in the science behind the products not in the business side.

There is alway risk associated with a startup and Moses is confident that the project will be successful. Moses’s states “the co-founder and CEO holds the patent for the product and has been working on this project for more than two years. As well as being a scientist himself the CEO also has developed the necessary business skills to take the project forward.”, over those two years.

For those that wish to follow in his footsteps Moses offers the following advice, “Work hard, work hard” Moses says he has always worked hard his whole life.  He’s a person that thinks luck has played a part in his life since in various examples in his academic life luck has been there but it’s always a result of hard work. At secondary school He was always in the labs. He advises reading because many opportunities have come his way through reading books and papers. The missed opportunity to go to medical school in Hungary came from a newspaper article. During his undergrad I was able to apply for a scholarship which also came from a newspaper. His Masters he also received a scholarship through recommendation by a friend. Finally the PhD research opportunity in Singapore came from reading a journal. So summarising, it’s hard work with a little bit of luck but more hard work.

We thank Moses very much for this brief conversation on what it takes to go from scientist to entrepreneur and will keep in touch and we expect to keep in touch.

EIA 052 From Scientist to Entrepreneur was introduced by Andy Kerr of St James Wealth Management the company sponsoring “Scientist to Entrepreneurial Scientist: The Creation of BioTech Companies”


EIA 051 The Beginners View on Podcasting

Ann Morgan is new to the world podcast production and joins Graham Brown the founder of Asia Tech Podcast and myself in our latest conversation recorded in the Asia Tech Podcast studio for the Ask Me Anything Podcast, where we discuss podcasting with a focus on Ann’s questions as she navigates the world of podcasting from a complete beginner.

“Because funnily enough I know there’s a lot, we’ve talked about a lot about confidence and just getting on with things and for me actually doing the podcasts is a step, and I’m not saying it’s not scary, finding your voice and becoming natural at it and just making improvements

Anne’s passion is growing as she develops her project and works out who and where her audience is, and with the launch phase approaching the excitement is increasing for us both all.

““You’ve literally gone Live, or you’ve started to go live. Would you… Do you think you have to do a pre, some kind of pre-thing? Do you have to be on every single social media… What’s a simple way of doing it?”

Even though Anne has a non-technical background she has in our view comfortably reached the publish stage of her podcast production journey and constructed her website.

You can contact Anne on Linkedin and her website at

As well as

  • Ann describing her journey towards being a podcast producer from nowhere to recording four episodes, one hour in the studio with four colleagues on a roundtable
  • Publishing your podcast and the next step
  • After recording the podcast, the first thing, then what do you do? The editing and the process of making it live.
  • Choosing where to publish iTunes, Spotify, the next two Google, Stitcher
  • Including music in the podcast, Royalty free or buy, outsource or commission starting out at a low price or even free and the pitfalls.
  • Free music source websites as well as get a family member to create
  • Professional production can be low cost or costly, see fiverr
  • But do you need music at all just go straight into the intro, DIY approach, or use a voice over professional again see fiverr
  • Can someone not like your podcast because there is no music?
  • Domain naming your podcast, How to choose and where do I put my podcast. Server, Soundcloud, Blubrry, Possible problems, Free, Paid options, stepped options.
  • Where to put show-notes and integration with website
  • Audio file hosting. Taking the paid option with SoundCloud, Blubrry or the free one stop option for example with Anchor which is free, but has the potential pitfall of who owns the content.
  • Designing your Cover Art: The fiverr option the low price option, the restrictions and potential pitfalls
  • Publishing on Sound Cloud and iTunes followed by how do you attract an audience and who to hustle and how.
  • The confusion of subscribe and how to overcome it.
  • What are the platform algorithms doing and how to give the podcast a boost to reach escape velocity and get reviews
  • Should you launch 1, 3 or more podcasts, publish regularly or irregularly?
  • Different approaches to podcasting: Experimenting or putting out your podcast for business reasons
  • The effect on media of noise in the content world and the need to hustle.
  • The importance of producing something that is good, but remember it has to appeal to a specific audience that is interested.
  • How to make it easy for your friends and guests to share the podcast with the example of a ATP’s live card.
  • Brief explanation of getting onto SoundCloud without a website
  • The ATP’s live card, creating a template and where to get the guests picture
  • The challenge that appears after recording: the editing.
  • Eliminating excuses to not publish and overcoming the loneliness of editing
  • Preparing for the conversation it helps with editing.
  • What happens during the conversation the challenges and how to overcome
  • How to decide when to stop the editing process.
  • What to do with Ums and Ahs.
  • Annes choice of editing software
  • Summarising: The fact that Ann’s gone from zero to completing several recordings, which will soon be publish
  • Finally sharing the links to Anne’s podcast and website







EIA 050 Why You Should Podcast

Graham Brown is the founder of Asia Tech Podcast. This is our second one on one conversation and was recorded in the ATP studio for the Ask Me Anything Podcast, where we discuss podcasting with a focus on Asia along with the wider personal aspects of podcasting.

“Now a podcast is personal as you say. So really, I think this is a mistake people make this come to this they try and focus podcast on a very specific subject area, which is fine. However that may change over time, and it probably will like any human being you’re going to evolve and find new interests and so on.”

Graham is very passionate about podcasting and warning that this is revealed in the language he uses to express what he is doing with Asia Tech Podcast and podcasting in general.

As well as:

  • Graham’s podcasting series and conversations with other podcasters.
  • Some of the specific issues with podcasting in China, for example the blocking of Google web services.
  • Learning how to use web services outside of China.
  • Cooperation between podcasters by sharing podcasts.
  • Listener questions
  • The growing interest in podcasting in Asia, which likes Europe and the USA.
  • The show stopper question, what should I broadcast about? and how most people get it wrong.
  • The importance of telling your personal story that enables growth.
  • Evolution ending a podcast series and starting a new podcast with the story that you really want to tell
  • The host enabling the continuity of the podcast and dropping clues to their own personal experiences.
  • The difference between a podcast host and the traditional interviewer.
  • The listener eavesdropping on a conversation and building a relationship of trust with the host.
  • Breaking away from the traditional interview with Asia Tech Podcast’s Camp fire like podcast ‘the Grind’.
  • The audience as the third person in a conversation.
  • The difference between private conversations of the past and public conversations and its dangers.
  • Being able to witness peoples views changing and allowing people to grow.
  • The repercussions of Elon Musk smoking marijuana on the Joe Rogan show, changes in language and leaving in swearing and the ‘ums and ahs.
  • Errors during the podcasting recording process.
  • The individuality of each podcasters working in different ways.
  • The belief that everyone should have a podcast to tell part of the story.
  • Using the tools available to market yourself.
  • FEAR, the reason why people don’t market themselves in the way they should.
  • Podcasting as a way of bringing your thoughts together.
  • All you have to do is step up. You don’t need 1 million downloads. You just need to reach the people you need to reach.
  • The interest in how to podcast? Start off with your friends and asked the question, what should we podcast about?
  • The next question how long should a podcast be?
  • The different types of audience, just for, information, entertainment and edutainment.
  • The podcaster’s journey of improvement.
  • What’s a good length to start off with?
  • If people can find the time to binge watch Game of Thrones, why should you worry about producing a 3 hour podcast on your topic of interest and ignore the advice to keep it around 10 minutes.
  • The listener is in control and can pause the podcast.
  • Is the flexibility of podcasting up to the imagination of the podcasters?
  • The world before social media and the change it brought about, for example hijacking the heart.
  • Audio formats fight back against social media.
  • Did TV start the process of desocialisation or did it bring us together?
  • Mass broadcast TV losing its social currency versus video on demand.
  • Podcasting using the Starbucks model to reconnect people.
  • Increased understanding with audio and video communication.
  • Human to human hormonal response.
  • Turning humans to machines and the missing soul in AI.
  • Podcasting as a way of getting your thoughts together, germinating crystallising ideas.
  • An explanation of phatic communication.
  • The listener thinking through the conversation as it unfolds, agree or disagree.
  • Acknowledging that we could be wrong and in a years time we may have moved on.


Graham Brown on


EIA 049 Give the Unheard Entrepreneur a Voice

Graham Brown is the founder of Asia Tech Podcast. In this conversation Graham tells us about his journey from an AI graduate in the 90’s, when there was no demand, becoming an entrepreneur in several industries, going into semi-retirement to travel the world, before being lured back to the world of entrepreneurship in Singapore.

“If you were into music they were all made by Japanese companies and you had a stereo at home, which was Japanese and you watched it on a Japanese TV, and we learned about Japanese cars, samurai and ninja. Wow! This world just blew me away and I wanted to be part of that and I looked at where I grew up and just wanted to get out.”

The failures that often accompany entrepreneurs before the overnight success.

“We went from people playing like 10 to 15,000 dollars to speak, to be on a conference, to sponsor it, to be on that. To like the next week nothing. Crickets! just wants right to be on that they like the next week nothing crickets sorry. That completely went belly-up. So he has a wild ride. That was the second business”

This is the first time that Graham has appeared as a guest and the conversation was recorded in the studio of Asia Tech Podcast, where I also appear as a guest host.

So now without further delay lets begin.

As well as:

  • The first radio style interview in 2002 with an employee of Hewlett-Packard who later became the founder of Angry Birds.
  • The break into marketing, founding a property company, a telecom company.
  • How the switch between different Industries is an essentials part of peoples lives.
  • His life in Japan in the 1990s, returning to the UK and determined to start business even with no connections in entrepreneurship.
  • The big break to start his own business, a phone number in the newspaper and making 120 calls a day selling Financial Services
  • The lessons learned from working in a tough environment
  • Are you joining a cult? Overcoming the disheartening response from the people around him.
  • Silence and the quest for self-improvement.
  • The type of person that ended up in Japan in the 1990s
  • Why Graham idolised Japan and a graduate in AI 20 years too early, so go teach English in Japan just as the bubble bursts
  • 2 years in Japan
  • Returning to the UK after two years in the late 90s as the UK economy picks up.
  • The rumours of people walking out of university and picking up good jobs in the city.
  • Unable to get that job in the city so taking the job selling Finance in the city as a stepping stone
  • The first business building computers with his best mate and a marketing strategy based on what he’d learned in finance making hundreds of calls a day.
  • Building Computers the business fails after a year and his friends returns to a job
  • Graham left with the debt but determined to go as an entrepreneur with the debt paid off 10 years later.
  • The second business 1997-98 organizing meet-ups in pubs on the internet, meeting people on ICQ.
  • Reasons why around 2000 people started getting interested.
  • How confusion led to conferences appearances in the USA and opportunities with CNBC on the topic of Mobile and WAP commanding fees of $10–$15,00 to speak on a conference panels and then the following.
  • The effect of the Dot Com crises.
  • The third business the firs and only at the time to research “mobile phone usage with young people”
  • Rejection by Nokia but accepted by Disney, MTV, Intel, European Union, United Nations and the published UN report “Children and Mobile Phones”. (
  • The reasons why this business was a success why he got out with as much cash as possible, where he put the cash and selling the business to his partner and then sitting down with his wife and explaining what he wanted to do next.
  • A father selling ancient Japanese Scrolls around the world and why his wife understood the entrepreneurial world.
  • 2012 semi-retirement so let’s travel the world. First stop New Zealand, then Fiji, Hawaii, California, Florida, Cypress and back to London. Flew out the next day without even telling his mother to the Canary Islands.
  • Eventually settling in Lanzarote with blue skies, white houses, palm trees and a passion for Iron Man was ignited.
  • How his non Spanish speaking wife enrolled their son in a none English speaking local Spanish school.
  • 2 years in Lanzarote, iron Man and slow Internet connection next stop Japan, Island of Okinawa.
  • Wanted to get his son to learn Japanese.
  • 49 minutes
  • The difficulties of living on the Island of Okinawa, which led to a quick exit to Mainland Japan
  • On to Kugune makaigan and the bronze budda, and the surfing capital of Japan near Mount Fuji for two years. Leading back into the world of entrepreneurship by doing favours and keeping busy.
  • Brief dabble in the podcast world with Founder FM, which later evolved into ATP and the need to go to where the action was as there were few startups,
  • Now in a financially self-sufficient state the first thought in his mind was semi-retirement to Thailand, Phuket before he was turned-off this.
  • The next thought was the idea of Singapore, which he put to his family, which would require full commitment.
  • The questions of what makes him happy, the struggle and doing something or the life in?
  • The link between the excitement of making a full commitment that involves financial risk, burning bridges, risk, not trundling along, with the pain of Iron man.
  • Taking on a leadership role in pulling together podcasters in Asia.
  • The drive that comes out of proving the doubters and the voices telling you it can’t be done wrong
  • The pain of the teenage years creating the fighter and the motivator of producing of amazing things.
  • Graham’s vision for ATP in five years being the MTV of the startup ecosystem in the same way it changed the music industry for black music artists such as Michael Jackson and hip-hop.
  • The aim to bring amazing stories of people that are not recognised.
  • How to convince entrepreneurs to become self-promoters and reach out to VC’s and investors through story.
  • His belief that pitch contests are the wrong way to get entrepreneurs to tell the world what they do.
  • Give the unheard entrepreneur a voice
  • How do entrepreneurs startup, hire and connect with fellow podcast hosts.



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Feed Camp 2018: John Cheng, Aaron Wong and Wynne Peh

EIA 048 Feed Camp 2018 Part 2

John Cheng, Aaron Wong and Wynne Peh are three participants of Feed Camp 2018 and we find out the background to their participation

The issue and what if a solution is not found stated by John from Cheng Yew Heng Candy Factory.

            “… even in FEED Camp 2018 which is really about feeding, you know a very big 9 billion population in 2050, where if we don’t come up solution right now, when we reach that stage, you know, food as a resource can be seen as a tool for war.”

Innovative ideas based on waste from Aaron Wong from SinFooTech

            “ Because I mean what we’re trying to do is that we’re taking a waste by-product and turning them into Innovative consumer products that never been seen before and they have a fair bit of commercial value as well…”

And top secrets under development from Wynne Peh also with Cheng Yew Heng Candy Factory

            “We have right now before the new office and the new labs comes up in Q1 next year. So I think we were doing good with kombucha but it’s all secret right now. We can’t reveal too much of it.”

This conversation was part 2 of a four part series published on the AsiaTech Podcast platform where I am also a guest host.

So now without further delay lets begin.

As well as:

  • John: States his role as director of Cheng Yew Heng Candy Factory a very traditional family business modernising and the creation of Innovate360
  • Aaron: States the benefit of SinFooTech being part of the Innovate 360 initiative to develop new startups that develop new foods.
  • Aaron: The creation of a new Soya alcoholic named Sachi from soya waste.
  • John: scouting for individuals and startups to join the Innovate360 program during the FEED Camp 2018
  • Wynne: states her role supporting John and Innovate360 as they move into uncharted territories in Singapores food industry
  • Wynne: Innovate360 and the creation Singapores first incubator facilities focused on food in order to produce a more sustainable food ecosystem, is the focus of FEED Camp 2018
  • John: The uncharted territory that Feed Camp 2018 will explore
  • John : adds his grand father starting the Cheng Yew Heng Candy Factory’s history in 1947 making Chinese candies and preserved fruits, trading their own raw materials in the 1990s to now being one of the bigger players in Asia in sugar, rice and flour
  • John: Along with automation and maintaining the traditional sugar based products
  • John: The Jewels was initiative started in the last 2 years ago that transformed a very traditional rock into something young and trendy
  • John: How he was called from a career in the banking industry back to the family business where he found himself as a young manager having to modernise the business
  • John: The challenges of changing processes, building trust with the employees in order to move the company in a new direction with his brothers
  • John: Entering the business with a vision to put in place systems, raise productivity, attract younger talent, talk about succession, and grow the business
  • Aaron: The gratitude towards John in passing on his fantastic experience as a mentor and partner to help develop SinFooTech as a startup in the food industry
  • Aaron: his journey from a brief corporate background in the aviation industry before joining SinFooTech was only a matter of time as his parents were entrepreneurs
  • Aaron: Why food entrepreneurship should not be overlooked
  • Aaron: Overcoming the biases associated with using waste to produce new forms of food, which are nutritious and tasty.
  • Aaron: Producing alcoholic beverages from waste soya
  • Aaron: Going from producing food in the laboratory to factory production with the help of Innovate360
  • John: How he through Innovate360 will use the new factory facilities to be the foundation of taking new foods from the laboratory to commercial production as a one-stop-shop solution for startups who are looking to scale-up.
  • John: The depth of the food startup industry in Singapore, which includes six startups at Innovate 360 since May this year and recognition as an incubator in Singapore that can support startups with funding from the government grants through Innovate360.
  • John: Innovate360 working with startups in nutrition (Eatobe) and clean meat (Shiok Meats).
  • Wynne: Hinting at things to come with the startup involved with Kombucha (Kombynation),
  • John: Building a sustainable food innovation ecosystem for startups with the partners PlatformE, FocusTechVenture as well as Temasek Poly
  • Wynne: The role she occupies, which is to find people, startups and organisations that want to get involved with innovation in the food industry and the completion posed from the hype around FinTech, banking, finance etc
  • John: Remembering that the core is food and while crypto is all the rage at the moment you can’t eat Tech
  • Aaron: How he and SinfooTech became involved with Innovate360 ecosystem created by the government agency Enterprise Singapore (ESG)
  • John: Innovate360 as an Accredited Mentor Partner, AMP that can access startup applications for a certain grants for startups that might be more scalable have better market response. The role of Enterprise Singapore (ES)
  • John: Strange or surprising sources of foods that require previous preconceptions to be ignored
  • John: Involvement in vertical farms
  • John: The need for FEED Camp 2018 being the projected 9 billion population in 2050, and the potential for war
  • John: The talk about sustainability and the need for preserving what we have right now, making it more efficient, vertical farming, urban farming, to ensure that there is enough food
  • John: Developments needed in automation in farming to ensure future generations have enough food
  • John: One of the primary motivations being the scarcity in Singapore of land that requires lots of food has to be imported and the potential threat to the food supply chain and the priority being placed on initiative like the FEED Camp 2018, which is about looking at the future
  • John: The dates the FEED Camp 2018 takes place 8th to 10th November
  • John: The first of its kind food boot camp that it’s planned to inspire people, wannabe entrepreneurs and companies to look at food issues and take the first steps to find solutions
  • Aaron: ultimately food and Maslow’s hierarchy is obviously at the base FEED Camp 2018 is a fantastic opportunity for corporates for startups, for SMEs to come together, bounce ideas off each other to tackle the issue of food shortages as well as food security
  • Wynne: meet people with a passion for food firstly and second new ideas that we can help them to incubate or to grow further into business actually that is sustainable
  • John: FEED Camp 2018 is an opportunity to disrupt, ideate and develop. A participant or entrepreneur can consider develop a business in the food industry
  • John: The opportunity for corporates to see how they can innovate and disrupt their own businesses. Bring about change and hopefully do something that can impact positively future generations.
  • The existence of the opportunity to include entrepreneurs with no background in food to participate at the FEED Camp 2018




EIA 047 The Passionate Coach Training Leaders

Glenn van Zutphen
Glenn van Zutphen

Glenn van Zutphen is the founder of VanMedia Group a company he founded over twelve years ago and based on his knowledge of over twenty-five years as an international journalist. The mission he chose is to guide thought leaders to significantly shape their organisation and industry by creating and communicating provocative & memorable messages across digital and traditional channels for news media interviews, conferences, and TED Talks.

Now due to the rise of social media and the rise of social selling the need for entrepreneurs to get to grips with what is happening is on the rise.

            Literally anybody can buy these days with just a few hundred dollars, maybe a little bit more depending on the type of gear you get, and then put together a podcast like this or any kind of a news story and upload it whether it’s on your own website or on Stitcher or on any number of podcast hosting sites.

In comparison in the past being an entrepreneur or business executive was a lot simpler and easier. Now the ability to communicate credibly both personally and professionally is exponentially increasing as social selling becomes more demanding.

            Generally speaking, executives don’t like to see themselves on TV, or hear themselves on the radio, or they don’t really like this idea of exposing themselves externally to whatever… whatever audience it is. So from that perspective there was a bit of hesitation on most peoples… you know the reaction.

In this conversation, which was recorded at the 1880 Members Club in Singapore we get a brief insight into the thoughts of one of the top media professional in Asia.


As well as:

  • Glenn van Zutphen’s journey from a graduate in media studies in the USA to Singapore:
  • Why and how the self confessed news junky at heart decided to step away from daily journalism and build a business of his own:
  • How much do you need to put together a podcast or news story and upload it to a website:
  • Which is more important interviewing skills or being curious?:
  • Why the process of developing a podcast requires understanding the need to figure out first, what is the voice of the podcast:
  • The requirements to become a credible source:
  • Understanding that fake news has taken on a new importance:
  • Facing the challenges of leaving a stable job to create a media company and taking a long hard look and asking the hard personal questions:
  • Running a business successfully takes longer than the 6 months it takes to getting started:
  • Using the network to reach out and let everyone know what you are in business:
  • Who has the budget to give you business large companies or SMEs
  • Training to overcome the fear of appearing in front of a camera and understanding why executives should do it:
  • The complete novice to strong communicator in 8 hours:
  • Why should an executive should have hands-on with Social Selling:
  • The arrival of the Smart Asian Leaders communicating globally in their own style:
  • Communication style: one size doesn’t fit all:
  • Personal reflections on what makes journalism and passing on the skills enjoyable:
  • The first step in the personal coaching process:
  • What needs to be achieved, how many, what are the issues?:
  • The age we live in and the communication noise, watch, read, listen and using your voice to become clear, concise, confident, hopefully even captivating:
  • A personal experience of not managing information overload well:
  • A solution to managing rabbit hole of information overload:
  • Relaxing with the family and disconnecting from the digital world:



Glenn van Zutphen on LinkedIn



EIA 046 Feed Camp 2018 Part 1

Virginia Cha and Patricia Lim
Virginia Cha and Patricia Lim


Virginia Cha and Petrina Lim discuss Feed Camp 2018. Virginia Cha, professor-in-residence at Platform E and Petrina Lim, Head for the Centre for Applied Nutrition at Temasek Polytechnic. Feed Camp 2018 is an initiative orgainsed at PlatformE in which Virginia and Petrina are key participants.

The issue as thought out by Virginia.

            “Wondering out loud, you know we’re going to be something like 9.7 billion people on this earth very soon in the next 20-30 years…”

And technical guidance from Patrina

            “So that’s targeting the food manufacturing sector, also the food service sectors as well, and trying to encourage this environment of healthier eating for the people…”

This conversation is part 1 of a four part series published on the AsiaTech Podcast platform where I am now a guest host.

As well as:

  • A look at innovation and entrepreneurship in the food industry.
  • Feed camp 2018 the first step to make Singapore the food start-up.
  • The need for a paradigm shift in food production in the way food is delivered, made, and the way waste is dealt with.
  • Virginia Cha’s role as the former entrepreneur professor in residence at Platform E we’ll help to create a framework to stimulate innovative thinking for prototypes and products at Feed Camp 2018
  • Patrina Lim’s role is as the technical expert and sees her role as being a nutritionist and food scientist from the Temasek Polytechnic is to develop meals and food manufacture systems that will provide healthy eating for Singaporeans hobby of eating
  • The different types of collaboration international and domestic.
  • The benefits Feed Camp 2018 will bring to create an ecosystem at Platform E.
  • The Feed Camp / Boot Camp held on a Thursday night, Friday night and all day Saturday to bring new concepts of food and the experience.
  • What Hershey recent acquisition of pirate brands means to the food industry.
  • Feed camp 2018 idea for conceptual prototypes and people in the food science space meet the needs of an increase of vegetarians in Asia by 140% and the interest in China.
  • Patrina’s passion as a nutritionist and food scientist to see the creation new food from inception to the shelf to satisfy the future needs of people and solve the major food issues.
  • Patrina’s participation in a recent conference on food with industry partners manufacturers, restaurateurs that examined potential new food sources.
  • Who is involved in making new plant-protein based foods tasty and where demand is coming from and the effects on the food industry.
  • Who’s mind needs to be changed and the challenges
  • Local examples of Singaporean startups that are leading the way.
  • The NDA that stops the mention of the major food company that will attend to find out what are the innovations and experience what is happening.
  • Patrina’s experience of working with large companies verses startups, where each excels and are there any preferences.
  • Find out the importance that Platform E and Singapore places on food innovation and the plans for April 2019.
  • The qualifications that Singapore; the abundance of F&B outlets, described as foodie nation and a trusted brand.
  • How a future motivated Singapore involved in the food production with Government support with provide new initiatives in food.
  • Involved in the Feed Camp 2018 ecosystem are PlatformE, Temasek Polytechnic, Innovation360 and FocusTech Ventures

Links to the FEED Camp 2018 joint initiative by

Platform E, Temasek PolytechnicInnovate360 and Focustech Ventures

EIA 045 The Urgent Need for Clean Drinking Water

Jeroen van Overbeek
Jeroen van Overbeek

Jeroen van Overbeek is the founder of Social Impakt a social impact enterprise. Previously he spent over twenty years working in manufacturing in Europe and Asia. He then decided he wanted to change track and switch to making a social impact. The mission he chose was to bring clean water to South East Asia specifically Bali in Indonesia.

Now, due to natural disasters in the area he finds that as a social entrepreneur the need for his product has increased drastically along with an expansion of volumes and the area where his product is needed

            “A problem which is 3, 4 times the magnitude of the Bali issue, because there’s about half a million people, close to half a million who have no roof right now and that will last for a while, They are reconstructing now.”

Being an entrepreneur in normal times is difficult enough but in an environment where nature is unforgiving the stresses are greater.

            “Try to get more sleep. You trying to get as fit as you can in the conditions. Just give you and example, because of the Lombok earthquake I scaled my business 30 times in the period of two weeks.”

In this conversation we get a brief insight into the world of the social entrepreneur at the sharp edge where nature is unforgiving.

As well as:

  • The journey to Bali to become a social entrepreneur starting from a career and experience in general management in manufacturing, food, pharma, selling products B2B internationally leading to a final role handling 3.5 million and overseeing a thousand people.
  • The formation of reasons behind the change in wanting to start a business based on his experience, knowledge and a desire to return to Asia and work on something with a social value
  • The first ventures which were starting two companies in 2013, one a peer to peer lending micro-finance social enterprise and the other supplying clean water to rural communities
  • The emotions and challenges of going from corporate to social impact from a regular salary to no salary and the challenge of living off savings with the goal of reducing the mortality rate of children by providing clean water.
  • And so to Indonesia where finding the right, safe, affordable product with local production facilities that provide an effective clean water solution to the people of Indonesia was important.
  • The benefits of attending the Social Enterprise World Forum in Edinburgh, Scotland with 1500 hundred other social entrepreneurs enabling Jeroen to make connections, exchange ideas, and gain happiness with the knowledge that the social impact community is doing good work all over the world.
  • Witnessing corporates and social enterprises working together to expand the social impact ecosystem though procurement through a diverse community of delegates from all over the world interested in developing the social enterprise ecosystem.
  • Including innovative initiatives at getting marginalised people and ex-prisoners back into the workforce.
  • The event helped to overcome the loneliness of being a social impact entrepreneur that specifically offered the opportunity for future cooperation and collaborations with like minded entrepreneurs working on clean water provision in the future.
  • Facing the practical reality of frequent recent disasters in the region. The first being the eruption of Mount Agung, which saw his company supply 1200 units in a three month period, the second the Lombok earthquake in August and then the third and most recent Tsunami in Sulawesi.
  • Working-out the cost of supplying the product during a disaster with balancing being a for profit company with social entrepreneur that tackles environmental social problems of access to clean water which require that company costs are covered. Compounded by a personal responsibility to reduce margins further and to supply with the help of donations.
  • Sourcing donations from private people, organisations, friends, family and crowd funding pages.
  • At this stage selling the filters for four and a half years a typical day before the disasters consisted of the proof of concept phase by making sure the product could be accepted, used and paid for by people living in Karangasem one of the poorest remote areas in Bali. This was achieved with a local colleague for two years by meeting with the heads of the villages, the woman of the villages and others and others to introduce and sell the product.
  • The process of education of the local population about what the product is, how it works, and to trust it is safe and was achieved by meeting with the influencers, which included Hindu religious leaders and eventually provided income for a local network of 30-35 women resellers.
  • The expansion into southern Bali, which had a greater population in towns and cities for example Denpasar and Ubud and the effect of recent disaster on Jeroen and the business leading to the need to set up a new team of 5 volunteers, a new storage in Mataram in Lombok with volunteers. And realising that the operations and storage was the main challenge taking about one week.
  • Mention of a planned visit to Lombok to check on what’s going on in the camps, monitor the filters and how they are being used.
  • Learning that the success of the operation is built on setting up a system that provides who wants, who can, who has paid for the filters, who can pick it up, where the filters are going and tracking where they are.
  • Understanding the cost of being a one man operation on a physical and personal level comes in the form of your own life, time but this a choice that is consciously made and requires the discipline to try to get more sleep, keep as fit as you can in spite of the conditions. While a the same time meeting the incredible feat to scale the business thirty times in a period of two weeks.
  • The toll on physical health that it takes as well as the required effort to get sleep also requires not to work too hard and also to keep the weekend free and to continue personal physical activities like running and a passion for dancing.
  • The benefits of having a good supplier located manufacturing the filters in Bandung , West Java which is a city about 2 hours East of Jakarta and transported overland by truck to either Bali or Lombok
  • The ease in the ramping up of production was enabled by Nazava, a ten year old company’s experience of previous disasters. Nazava met the challenge of drastically increased demand in a matter of days and produced a pleasure that working with the supplier that is ready to support and meet the demand for the product when disaster strikes.
  • Local government or Government support is vital when disasters strike and while Jeroen and Social Impakt carry out work with the support of public and private donations government help coming in the form infrastructure by getting water to the camps is critical step.
  • In the case of the most recent disaster in Sulawesi Jeroen and Social Impakt may be working with the Health Department and are currently looking at options to provide a valuable service.




Email: Jeroen van Overbeek

Linkedin Jeroen van Overbeek