Kenneth believes people should have a better understanding of the source of their food.
What’s your story?
I grew up in a family where we emphasize the quality of the source of the food. We believe that the starting quality of the food source will determine the end result. “Good source, good food.” I finally got to experience what that meant when I was living in Australia. It taught me about the value of food quality. Firstly, it starts with healthy farming practices where chickens aren’t caged or injected with growth hormones and pesticides aren’t used on vegetables. Generally, in Australia, I realised that the quality of food is much higher. That is mainly due to the local agriculture (direct from their local farmers). Quality food is what everybody needs. It is not a “want.”
It should be a culture whereby quality food should be accessible and people should know where and how their food comes from. Not surprising, people have much less information on where their food comes from as compared to where their smartphones are designed and manufactured from. Consumers should be educated on the food they consume as it empowers them to make healthier decisions for their future.
What excites you most about your industry?
I love food. Food is a universal language and everybody loves to eat good food. What excites me the most is being able to communicate with the farmer farmer or the beekeeper who grew / made your food. This is something really, really new and food traceability allows you to chat with the food creator and ask them questions about their harvest. Our team has come across merchants from farmers, pastry chefs to beekeepers. To understand more, our team actually went down personally to a farm, tasted their products (freshly plucked from the crops) and witnessed honey being taken from a beehive. This is something behind the scenes which many people and businesses have never experienced.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Previously, I held the position of Regional Director at Dragon Brand Bird’s Nest for almost four years. That gave me a better insight into the Asian market and culture as I frequently traveled and communicated with business associates in countries such as Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and Cambodia.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore and Taiwan. Growing up in Singapore, I love Singapore’s multi-cultural settings and the convenience of getting food, catching transport and the banking facilities. Establishing a business in Singapore just take seconds. It is convenient to manoeuvre around this city. For Taiwan, the customer service and innovation in marketing is astonishing. You can find creative packaging designs. In Asia, Taiwan is considered a place for art and design.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Nothing comes easy and the harder we work, the luckier we get. It is only the grittiest person who will survive as a successful entrepreneur. Whenever I am met with setbacks, I will always remind myself of this.
Who inspires you?
Elon Musk. He went against all odds to create and lead what he believed in – SpaceX and Tesla. It is not easy to take criticism and rejections. It takes a lot of courage to move on or recover from criticism and rejections.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Mobile payments are coming to Singapore. This will create a greater opportunity for Sproutfore’s platform and optimise our QR code system. This is a huge leap for the Singapore payment system and I’m definitely looking forward to that.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Nothing. I would still choose what I have chosen. I don’t regret a single decision I made or the business that I choose to be in. We never know for sure what the perfect outcome is. I am a hard believer in, ‘you will only see things when you start it and you will never see them when you wait for that perfect moment.’ This is a hard truth. You will never see a clear and perfect path for your ideal business because there isn’t any. The market changes faster than you plan. We have to act on it first and learn from our mistakes and improve progressively.
How do you unwind?
Thinking of unwinding is a bad habit for entrepreneurs.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Japan during winter. I love cold weather probably because it is pretty humid and hot throughout the year in Singapore. Nice food, nice place to shop and travel. My most memorable place is Universal Studios especially the Harry Potter Village, it is really amazing and Disney Sea Japan!
Everyone in business should read this book:
Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
Art of Thinking Clearly by Rolf Dobelli
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
How to take charge of your life by Richard Bandler
Shameless plug for your business:
We make good quality food accessible for everyone. We make a good quality food more affordable by giving our customers a promotion code and loyalty points to offset their purchases. At the same time, consumers will be able to get more information and be more aware of the food they purchase. The hope is, it will raise the standard of food quality in Singapore as well as South East Asia.
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’.