Darren Chua is on a quest to enable individuals of all levels to be rewarded for their photography through his business Markedshot.
What’s your story?
I am an average kid from NUS majoring in Computer Engineering. Always wanted to be an entrepreneur but didn’t want to rush things.
During my 3rd year in college, I embarked on a NUS Overseas College program where I spent 1 year interning and studying in Shanghai. I was extremely fortunate to meet 2 of the most important people in my life, Brendon and Kim McQueen. They were my bosses and mentors from my internship company. I interned at Curves, a 30 minute fitness center for women only, a franchise brand from the USA. What’s a computer engineer doing at a gym for women, I hear you ask? Well, I wanted to put myself in a country that I knew little of and an industry that I knew nothing about. This turned out to be the best decision I made and maybe best decision of my life.
I was exposed to every aspect of the business, from logistics to manufacturing to growing new markets. It was an experience like no other. I continued being part of Curves way pass my internship until my graduation from NUS.
My time at Curves enabled me to be all rounded in terms of business, technology, marketing and almost all other aspects of the business.
As, I was always passionate about harnessing technology to improve business processes, I went on to be an IT consultant for a local Singaporean ERP company. I had a great time learning and helping traditional businesses adopt technology and using ERP systems to automate their workflow. As my role was to analyse and propose the best approach to any project, this allowed me access and insights into every intricate part of my client’s business. Every client offered something new to learn and allowed me to apply my knowledge and deliver results.
I love filmmaking and photography as well. I took on freelance video and development projects on the side and collaborated with a few friends from college to help them out with their work.
That was when I caught the startup flu again. I never wanted to rush entrepreneurship for the sake of doing it. I always knew the moment would present itself in the future. My buddy and now co-founder, Nur Iman Izam from NUS started a discussion regarding a platform for photography. We decided to go ahead and launch a MVP on the appstore. Users grew to a thousand in a month and we decided to launch on Android and a web version. We hit 10 thousand users in less than 3 months from launch which got us really excited.
I quit my fulltime job, decided to give my startup a 100% of my resources and I never looked back since.
Currently, I am on my quest to enable individuals of all levels to be rewarded for their photography action through Markedshot.
What excites you most about your industry?
Almost everybody owns a smartphone, why not earn some money or rewards for the photos that you’re taking?
Everyone is uploading photos and contents about their daily life. What they eat, where they go brands they love, things they buy.
We know brands would die for data and contents that are organically created by their customers.
Our mission is to enable brands to market the voices of their happy customers.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I love Asia. Being born in Singapore, I am fortunate to have friends of different races, religions and from different countries. It is that very diversity that makes Asia a really special continent where every country or city is unique in its own ways.
For any brand that wants to expand in Asia, it would have to harness content to be local, authentic and relatable to users in the respective countries.
That’s where we want to help brands expand across Asian countries.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
It would have to be Taipei.
During my days at Curves, I was often in Taiwan as that is our biggest market. It is a country that retains historical ties with China and yet is very much influenced by the Japanese culture. Working with the locals has been really eye-opening. I find Taiwanese people extremely hardworking and intelligent and it’s always a pleasure to be working with a Taiwanese team.
My startup is currently also part of AppWorks, the biggest accelerator in Taiwan. My experience there has been awesome and very rewarding.
Last but not least, my wife is Taiwanese as well.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be sincere, be honest and walk the talk.
I think we are remembered not by the things one said, but often by the things one did.
Being sincere and having a no BS policy has not only helped me in my startup journey but also forged great friendships within a very short period.
Who inspires you?
My biggest inspiration comes from my Curves mentors, Brendon and Kim McQueen.
They taught me countless lessons that are applicable in life as well as business.
I learnt what it takes to be a good businessman, son to my parents, husband to my wife and also parent to my future kids.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
The beauty of life is that we never stop learning. I am constantly learning from my everyday experiences and through meeting people from different backgrounds.
As I recently got married, I learnt to enjoy and cherish the “now” moments and to pay attention to the little things that matter to my partner.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would strive to be a film director or a chef.
Being born in Singapore, there wasn’t much emphasis given to the arts. We were encouraged to be engineers, doctors or accountants at a young age.
What would the world be without music, art and film?
How do you unwind?
Putting my phone and tech gadgets away. (means my wife locking them away)
Going on movie dates and nature walks with my wife.
Family time is important as well.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
The beaches are great, food is great and people are amazingly friendly.
Hence the name, Land of Smiles.
Everyone in business should read this book:
How to Win Friends and Influence People
Having great interpersonal skills might be the tipping point.
Humans are by nature social animals.
Shameless plug for your business:
Markedshot is a crowdsourcing platform for businesses to acquire user-generated content directly from thousands of photographers or their fans and customers.
How can people connect with you?
If you love linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/darren2424/
If you love to stalk: https://www.facebook.com/darren2424
If you love stickers: Line id: darren2424
Or just the old fashion email: [email protected]
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.
Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>