Kevon’s Audience Engagement Platform Facilitates Highly Interactive Experiences
What’s your story?
I began creating websites when I was 13 years old. Because of that, I knew early on technology would play a key role in my life and career.
But my passion is not only in technology. I’m always fascinated by the way humans learn, connect, and interact on a deeper level. And that’s why, after working as a Software Engineer, I spent 4 years running First Code Academy with my business partner to bring coding knowledge to kids.
Fast forward to now, I am running an engagement technology company, called Toasty, that facilitates highly interactive experiences and real human connections at virtual events, workshops, and meetings. It was originally designed for offline settings, but the recent Coronavirus pandemic has pushed us to expand to virtual settings.
What excites you most about your industry?
Human interactions are core to our lives and work, and I’m super excited about the massive potential to enable and unlock better human interactions and experiences with technology that blends in seamlessly.
Think about how we interact with each other during company training, workshops, team meetings, and social networking events. There is so much room to create a better, meaningful experience for participants.
During the COVID-19 period, people crave this kind of interactive and intimate experience, that is usually offline, and we’re providing a platform to recreate interaction virtually, so people can stay sane and connected.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I lived in Singapore as a toddler and grew up in Hong Kong. Although I spent 7 years in Boston for boarding school and college, I had always seen Asia as my home, so I returned to develop my career in Singapore and Hong Kong. I’m a big fan of Southeast Asia, especially the cuisine!
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong is definitely top of the list because it is so easy to set things up and get a business rolling. For a technology company like Toasty, that focuses on product development, and has worldwide users, keeping the administrative things easy and simple helps to accelerate our growth.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“If you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backwards.” There is no between.
I’m a big fan of the Growth Mindset. I believe that we should all be thriving on challenges and see growth opportunities in them. I see everything as a learning opportunity. And that’s why, throughout my career, I never minded handling the lowest level of responsibilities, because I knew they would be essential know-how for me to become a CEO one day.
Who inspires you?
People who are genuinely helpful and supportive. Business, at the end of the day, is about collaboration and creating value. Success cannot be done by one person. It is achieved by a team of people. For this reason, I’m passionate about creating technology that brings people together in a meaningful way.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Timing in business is super important. We were growing steadily, as a company, before Coronavirus hit. Because of the virus, everyone is now looking for virtual engagement tools, which has drawn increased attention to our company. I have learned to always focus on business opportunities that are in high demand, and to have an adaptable mindset in this ever changing world.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
When I was a kid, I didn’t understand the importance of reading and writing. I barely spent any extra time on them other than school work. After kicking off my career, I realized that reading and writing are essentially your communication skills, and are fundamental to success in life.
How do you unwind?
To be very honest, by watching Modern Family! It is short, quick-paced, and hilarious. They never fail to put me in a good mood.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. It has everything you need for relaxation such as amazing food, spa, bars, and it gives you that peace of mind you need to unwind.
Everyone in business should read this book:
“The Mom Test: How to Talk to Customers and Learn If Your Business is a Good Idea When Everyone is Lying to You,” by Rob Fitzpatrick. It is a book about doing user research and interviews. If you don’t know how to properly talk to your users, you’ll never create a product that people want.
Shameless plug for your business:
Businesses are moving toward virtual platforms these days. It is nice to be able to run an event, or host a presentation or a meeting online, but most platforms out there are not designed around getting every participant involved, engaged, and collaborating with each other.
Toasty is an audience engagement platform for events and workshops that facilitates highly interactive experiences and real human connections. The host can easily form every participant into small groups and customize the Toasty activities to facilitate interactions and conversations within each group. The result is an engaging experience for the entire audience, at events, workshops, team meetings, group discussions, and more. Find us online: https://toasty.ai/
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’.