What’s your story?
I’ve always been interested in fashion since being a young teenager. My father was running a brick and mortar shop in my hometown, where I started working at a young age so I was in a way fed up with both fashion and entrepreneurship. Back then I was not really planning a career in the fashion industry so i did a Master Degree in International Relations at the same time. The studies brought me to Bangkok and that caught my attention and I saw a world of opportunities.
What excites you most about your industry?
Well, fashion in itself has always been an interesting business. Combine that with an untapped e-commerce market, and you have a beautiful recipe that will keep you excited. Things are moving really fast, new startups within the fashion & beauty industry are being launched almost every month, and this has without doubt caught the attention of potential investors. This whole thing about being part of something new which is about to kick off is kind of dream coming true.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve been living in Bangkok for the last 5 years running WearYouWant since Q3 2011. I’ve always been attracted to Asia since I started to travel here in my early twenties. I did one semester as an exchange student in Bangkok, and I guess that was the spark which later resulted in moving here permanently.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Definitely Bangkok. Bangkok is the most centralized capital in the world gathering more or less all business in Thailand in 1 big boiling city. The market has a decent size, Thai’s are relatively keen on new technology and to try out new things. I also believe Thailand is considered one of the most important markets in SEA for investors giving you access to funding to scale your business. Finally, attracting foreign employees/expats is much easier when based in Bangkok compared to Manilla or Ho Chi Minh – Bangkok just has that thing.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
When making your first budget for your new startup divide your expected GMV with 2 and multiply your expenses with 10. I actually didn’t listen, but I’m sure I will for my next startup – learning by doing the hard way:)
Who inspires you?
I’m so fortunate to meet a lot of interesting people everyday due to WearYouWant. So to be honest, I’m inspired by other entrepreneurs, by people who works hard and has passion for what they do and I’m inspired by people who I can learn from. The daily inspiration is like a fix for me, and it makes me wanna achieve more whether it’s increasing the company’s GMV or running those 5km faster.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That some scientist say jogging extend your life by 6-10 years, but running at higher intensity has no impact on your age when compared to people doing no exercise at all. I sometimes choose to believe in what makes sense to me, and not necessarily what “experts” say.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Listen to the advice I was given:) Well, I would probably have thought too much about numbers and competitors and then perhaps not launched WearYouWant with my Co-Founder. We have learnt some things the hard way, but honestly speaking, that has taught us a lot and brought us to where we are today. Real entrepreneurs must be willing to take risks that no other want to do.
How do you unwind?
I try to keep myself as active as time allows it. I do cardio and weightlifting several times every week and would love to squeeze in some Thai boxing as well. In general I get more energy when hitting the gym often, and it gives me a much more positive can-do attitude at work as well. Besides that a good book on a beautiful beach does well for me too.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Koh Kood in Thailand has that perfect combo of beautiful beaches, relatively untouched nature (getting hard to find), and that laid back atmosphere. For recharging your batteries, it’s definitely recommendable.
Everyone in business should read this book:
I had it recommended by one of our investors. If your business growth needs funding from VC’s it’s a must-read. “Venture Deals” by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson
Shameless plug for your business:
WearYouWant is a business relying on several partners via a B2B2C business model. In this kind of setup you control much less than in a typical B2C setup, and therefore you have to be better at creating, maintaining and evolving partnerships with everything from logistic companies to fashion distributors. It might look like a much leaner business, but you have to run faster when it comes to optimizing all these elements.
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing has started, built, bought and sold half a dozen businesses in a range of industries across two continents. He is the owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 11 countries and he is also the CEO of Entrevo Asia, a company that runs 40 week Growth Accelerator programs.
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