Benson’s business OWNRIDES targets travellers, looking to book an online driver in different countries.
What’s your story?
I was going to enter the semiconducting industry after I graduated my Masters. At the time, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, anxious about the future, the semiconductor industry was probably the safest shot I had, from my parents’ point of view. It’s weird to say, but I kind of felt like there was a voice inside my head telling me to pick a more challenging path. So I ended up joining a series of start-up companies in Taiwan and now I’m starting my own venture.
What excites you most about your industry?
Travelling is an industry that is constantly growing each year, with more people travelling and more types of problems occurring.
People tend to ask us about what makes us think we can survive in this already crowded industry? There’s always a better solution that can reduce the effort, time and money people spend on travelling. Our goal is finding that unsatisfied group of people and solving their problem.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Through my previous company Migme, I have met some of the greatest people, including my co-founder Steve Sng, who is a serial entrepreneur and has lot of connections in both Singapore and Malaysia. As for me, I was born and raised in Taiwan, so I’m pretty familiar with the culture and people here.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It’s tough for me to answering this question, since I have stayed in Taiwan for most of the time. It’s definitely not the best place to do a start-up regarding the investors, environment and the eco-system. However, I do see a lot of people try very hard to make it a better place. Nowadays, an entrepreneur can start a company with a service like Stripe Atlas so easily. I think it definitely reduces barriers between countries.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Everything in this universe is ‘impermanent.’” (Buddhism word). This basically means everything you can think of is a continuous change of condition, your thoughts, business, life, everything. This gives me inner peace and strength to overthrow or relearn my existing knowledge.
Who inspires you?
I’ve always been inspired by the people around me, my supervisor and colleague, my friends, my co-founder and more importantly by books.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Something from the Tim Ferriss show with guest Derek Sivers when Tim asks Derek, “What are your morning rituals?”
“I don’t have them. There is nothing I do every day outside of eating and writing.” Derek answered.
This simple answer shocked me and kept me pondering for a long time. I started to realize, I spend too much time looking up at successful people and trying to be like them. They are just passionate about what they’re doing. The way they do things is merely one of the many ways they find most effective.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would rethink the way I learnt at school. I would tell my teenage me, this learning is not passively stuffing knowledge into the brain, it’s about actively thinking and experimenting.
How do you unwind?
Travelling and meditation.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan’s rural places, such as Kiyosato, Kusatsu and Aomori. My family and I have been to Japan dozens of times. I especially like the historical temples and shrines. They chill me the most. Many of them have been there for hundreds of years. It makes me pause and think why am clinging onto some thoughts so desperately?
Everyone in business should read this book:
Tools of Titan by Tim Ferriss. “I am not the expert. I’m the experimenter… ”, he wrote in the preface. This tool book is the fastest way for me to get a glimpse of brilliant minds and how they see through things. If you find anything or get advice that may be useful, don’t believe it at once, experiment with it.
Shameless plug for your business:
OWNRIDES is an online driver booking platform for tourists. With a few simple steps, tourists can find and book a highly recommended private driver who drives safely, speaks the same language and charges a fair price.
If you are not a package tour type person, we have good news for you too! With our customized tour feature, just tell us the places you want to go and we will find the most optimal route with the shortest distance and lowest price for you.
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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