Never one to be constrained by convention, Alex Ng has created Singapore’s first unstaffed store, powered by AI.
What’s your story?
Since I was young, I have had the habit of choosing less popular or niche decisions. For example, instead of playing computer games during my secondary school days, I found more enjoyment in selling IT products on eBay which I bought at heavily discounted prices from IT shops that were closing down. In 2013, I made the big decision to give up 2 majors in order to complete the final year of my bachelor degree under the student exchange program in Beijing, a “less attractive” destination back in those days.
Looking back, I am very grateful for the different types of experiences I have gained as well as the people I have crossed paths with over all these years.
What excites you most about your industry?
The rise of e-commerce has been accelerated by the global pandemic which has impacted traditional ‘brick and mortar’ businesses hard; an increasing number of products are being commoditised as they are easily available online. This has forced the retail industry to focus on customer’s experience as part of the future of retail. As the first unmanned store powered by AI technology in Singapore where customers can experience seamless checkout, we are excited to be part of the transformation journey in Singapore’s Smart Nation initiatives.
What is your connection to Asia?
I was born and have lived in Singapore for most of my life. I have been very fortunate to have the opportunities to travel to other cities in Asia for studies, work and leisure.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore is my favourite city in Asia for business. The country is renowned for being safe and reliable; and the Singapore government has been providing strong support to local businesses including startups.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Law of Attraction – You attract what your thoughts are focused on. I experienced the difference in my life after I started to focus on positive thoughts including changing perspectives when I’m faced with challenges. I am happier since and have been very thankful for all events that have happened as well as the people that I have met.
Who inspires you?
Mr Chan Heng Fai – my chairman whom I had the opportunity to work closely with, under his guidance shortly after graduating from university.
“You can do it better because you have never done it before.” was a philosophy that he shared that enlightened me. Instead of being held-back by fear of having no experience, I have the added advantage of being open-minded to learning various best practices and being able to think out of the box swiftly to manage different situations that may arise.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The power of 1% – Small, palatable and achievable by most, imagine the exponential effect for our business if we can increase revenue by 1% and reduce cost by 1%.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have sought for a business mentor at the start of my entrepreneurship journey as it would have helped to shorten my learning curve and also to provide a third-party opinion to aid in decision making.
In addition, I would also have joined entrepreneur communities such as EOA earlier as entrepreneurship can be quite a lonely journey. The community provides a platform for sharing different experiences, best practices and brainstorming of ideas which are very essential.
How do you unwind?
Meditation; Sweat it out by cycling or running.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan! I have been to Japan only once when I was a kid. I can still vividly remember the superb food and culture!
Everyone in business should read this book:
I would recommend “Who Moved My Cheese?”. Change is a constant that we cannot stop where we have to continuously adapt and adjust to achieve what we want in our life. Even though it’s a simple book to read, I find the key takeaway is applicable for business as well as other aspects in our lives.
Shameless plug for your business:
Pick & GO is Singapore’s first AI unmanned store where you can shop 24/7 seamlessly with no cashier, no queue, just walk out to complete payment within seconds!
With Pick & GO, we empower you with the freedom to finally spend more time doing things you love!
How can people connect with you?
Feel free to connect with me at [email protected]
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To hear how entrepreneurs around the world overcome their challenges, search your favourite podcast platform for ‘CallumConnects‘ to hear a 5-minute daily breakdown.
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built, and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder and CEO of MBH Corporation PLC. He is the author of three best-selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’, ‘Agglomerate’, and ‘Entrepreneurial Investing’.
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