Julien Rio has found a niche in the marketing world in setting up and helping companies exhibit at trade shows.
What’s your story?
I have been working in marketing for a decade. It gave me the opportunity to try multiple industries (electronics, logistics, hospitality, health, toys, etc.) and participate in countless trade shows around the world. I felt the pain of organising a booth, capturing leads and following-up which ultimately lead me to take the plunge to build my own startup focusing on helping companies exhibit at trade shows.
What excites you most about your industry?
The business/events industry is incredible. It has been around forever and brings people together. You couldn’t imagine any other place where prospect naturally comes with both the time and interest to listen to what you have to say.
The real challenge is that this industry doesn’t change easily. People have forged habits and changing habits is always one of the most difficult tasks for a startup.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Asia is my home. I arrived here ten years ago. I built my family here, I built my career here, I have a network here and I have a company here.
Asia encourages entrepreneurship and values people willing to take risks to succeed.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong, definitely.
When I first came to Asia I wanted to live in Tokyo for it’s unique culture. But the truth is that Hong Kong really is the heart of Asia. It connects with all major Asian cities, it is the gateway to China, everyone speaks English and it is the largest platform for international trade shows in Asia.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“If you are not sure that what you do has an impact, stop doing it and observe the outcome.” I received this piece of advice a few years ago and I now share it around.
Especially in marketing, so many people prepare reports that no-one ever reads because “we’ve always done things that way.” Habits are your worst enemy in business. If you do things because of habits, because someone has told you to, without really understanding the impact, you are wasting your time.
Who inspires you?
Shing Chow, the founder of Lalamove, inspires me a lot.
He has a very unique story (from Hong Kong to Stanford, to professional poker player, to company founder) and a dream he pursues at all costs.
Generally speaking, I find inspiration in everyone around me. There is always something to learn from others.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Politics. A few months ago, we had Brexit. A month ago, Trump got elected. Last week, the French president decided to give up the race to presidency in 2017.
Politics are a great indicator of society: no-one seemed to be able to predict any of these events, yet collectively we made it happen.
To me this shows people are looking for things to change. People want innovation. People want to be offered new opportunities beyond the world of politics. That is our jobs, as entrepreneurs, to understand it and build a new world together.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have been much more hardworking back in school, I would have learnt more coding, learnt a third language and I would have built my network earlier.
You never know what skill set you will need a year from now, so you shouldn’t neglect building new skills when the opportunity arises.
How do you unwind?
It is controversial whether this sentence was pronounced by Confucius, but it really summarises my thoughts: “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”
I love what I do and I don’t really need to unwind. The first thing I do when I open my eyes is check my emails and that’s also the last thing I do before sleeping. I deeply enjoy what I do and therefore it doesn’t feel like a burden I need to put down every now and then.
However I do need to spend time with my family and there can’t be any business during those precious moments.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
It is difficult to say because I tend to try new places each time – there are so many incredible things to see in the world, why would you want to return to the same place over and over again?
But if I had to recommend one spot, it would probably be Langkawi where I spent some of my most relaxing time lately.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“The New Rules of Marketing & PR” by David Meerman Scott. It may not really be up-to-date anymore, but this book completely changed my vision of business. It somehow lead me to try new things and think differently.
Shameless plug for your business:
myfairtool is a unique platform helping exhibitors find success at trade shows.
It was built to solve all the various pain-points every company exhibiting at business events face: Planning thoroughly, promoting the booth, managing appointments, capturing leads quickly, following-up efficiently and tracking results.
On average, we reduce the amount of work required to follow-up with visitors by 92% and we increase business outcomes.
How can people connect with 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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