Find the Perfect Work or Meeting Space in the BOOQED Digital Marketplace
What’s your story?
I’m co-founder and CEO of BOOQED, a digital platform that seeks to redefine the way businesses find and use space. BOOQED was very personal for me; I started the company as a reaction to the difficulties I had during my travels in finding suitable places to work or meet that didn’t involve a noisy hotel lobby or cafe.
What excites you most about your industry?
Real estate is the largest asset class in the world – worth more than all stocks and bonds combined – yet it has been one of the last to adopt technology. The industry is at an early stage in the innovation cycle. We have an opportunity to make a huge impact to shape how people find and use commercial space.
What’s your connection to Asia?
My family is originally from Hong Kong, and as a kid, I visited the city frequently. Coming from Canada, it was a big change, and candidly, I can’t say I enjoyed those visits: the heat, humidity, and the crowds. I stopped visiting for several years, and when I came to Hong Kong again, I saw the city through new eyes; the vibrancy and energy was amazing. I knew then that this was where I wanted to work.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong. I’ve lived and worked in a number of cities around the world, and few cities compare to Hong Kong in terms of ease of doing business, location and opportunities. I love the energy and fast pace — there’s a deal in every conversation.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
From the Japanese proverb “Nanakorobi yaoki,” which means: “Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”
Who inspires you?
I get inspired by people who refuse to be handicapped by their own limitations, such as Nick Vujicic. Nick was born without arms or legs, yet he has led a fuller life than many able-bodied people. He’s a published author, a skydiver and even plays golf.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Hong Kong has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus outbreak. In the midst of all this, I’ve been blown away by the number of people I’ve met in the community who are trying to make a difference — large and small — whether it’s organizing and donating surgical masks to the elderly or food vouchers to street cleaners, or through small everyday acts of kindness, such as sharing home-baked goods with taxi drivers. This, in a city where people often put their own interests first.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Learn more languages. I grew up in Canada at a time when it wasn’t really ‘cool’ to learn Mandarin. It’s ironic that in the past several years, I’ve spent so much time doing business in China.
How do you unwind?
Nothing helps me more than a good workout session. I’m very antisocial when I work out because it’s my thinking time. I also look forward to good food with great company.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I’m not really a beach person, but I love beach holidays. Go figure. So, top of my list would probably be Palawan in the Philippines or Ko Samui in Thailand.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“Play Bigger: How Rebels and Innovators Create New Categories and Dominate Markets,” by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead and Kevin Maney. A recommended read for anyone in a start-up trying to figure out how to beat the competition (hint: it’s not about beating the competition but creating the market itself).
Shameless plug for your business:
BOOQED is a digital marketplace enabling tenants and landlords to easily find or monetize, short-term unused business spaces. If you’re looking for a short-term place to meet or work in Hong Kong, Singapore, Shenzhen or any one of our 6 other cities in Asia, give us a call.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connects’ series of more than 500 interviews
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’.