Mr. Eng Poo Yang’s passion for graphic design and IT lead him to start his own business, Appvantage.
What’s your story?
I got into this business purely for my passion for graphic design and IT. At that time, pre-internet days in Singapore, there were not many jobs available that allowed me to combine my passion and my skills. Hence I decided to start my own multimedia design company right after I graduated with 2 other classmates. Starting a business was never easy, especially with different partners; we went through a few mergers and acquisitions and I eventually started Appvantage on my own in 2011 focusing on mobile solutions for the automotive industry.
What excites you most about your industry?
The automotive industry is undergoing big changes as consumers are transporting from place to place, using many new and cost effective options such as car sharing, uber/grab, short term leasing or usage on demand. Car brands are also trying to sell their cars directly to consumers. This means, car brands, dealerships, finance and insurance companies have to change their business products and offerings accordingly.
What’s your connection to Asia?
We serve businesses across 22 countries with offices in Singapore, Myanmar, China, Australia and the United Kingdom. The majority of our work is in Asia where we’ve localised each solution for the local market needs.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
We have branches in Beijing and Chengdu in China and Yangon in Myanmar. There are huge hurdles to overcome and different administration loops to unravel to setup offices in these markets. It took us about 3-6 months just to get started. I can easily say that Singapore is still one my favourite places to do business because of its infrastructure, taxation, government support, diverse population and transparency in regulations. The foreign talent pool is relatively big even though it comes with a price.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
I came across a TED talk – ‘Grit: The power of passion and perseverance’ by Angela. I couldn’t agree more with what she talks about which makes me believe strongly that there are no shortcuts to success. One needs to cultivate tenacity and create a roadmap of their own.
Jack Ma also mentioned that, “A leader should have higher grit and tenacity, and be able to endure what employees can’t.”
Who inspires you?
Leonardo Da Vinci, he was way ahead of his time in terms of his philosophy, design, creativity and invention. He would design and think outside the box using science and technology to innovate. It’s not just his talent that I admire but more his dedication and drive for his craft and work.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
An IT head in a global insurance company recently said, “It is proven that the effect of texting while driving is the same if you are drink driving.” It’s really a resounding reminder for all drivers using mobiles in cars.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have built up my business faster and further. Learning from my past mistakes and lessons, I would have focussed on making things work more quickly, going lean and focussing on the MVP (Most Viable Product).
How do you unwind?
I like to do sports like jogging and swimming and I enjoy watching movies and dining at new restaurants.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bangkok, it offers good food, affordable costs, great golfing and it has a wide range of hospitality options.
Everyone in business should read this book:
7 habits of highly effective people by Stephen R. Covey. I am a believer of working smart so I read it time and time again and always learn something.
Shameless plug for your business:
Appvantage is a new leader in the delivery of innovative digital solutions to the auto finance industry. Contact us today to understand how we can make change work for you and your clients.
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ 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 of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.