From an entrepreneurial Australian family, Steve Levar was always going to run his own business. From Australia he has grown his horse racing business into Asia and diversified.
What’s your story?
I grew up in Perth, Western Australia in an entrepreneurial family, so I always knew I wanted to run my own business one day.
Sports has been a central part of my life as far back as I can remember, I became Australia’s youngest professional sports broadcaster at the tender age of 14, when I started commentating horse racing and athletics. In 2000, I got asked to run the TV department of Singapore’s $500 million state-of-the-art Turf Club at Kranji, and also became their chief racing broadcaster and television presenter on CCTV and Super Sports TV.
In 2006, I purchased a local racing magazine called the ‘Racing Guide’ that came with a staff of four, and a couple of old DOS databases. I completely restructured the whole business, and grew it to more than 20 staff in Singapore, whilst also expanding into Malaysia, and other markets. Today we are more than just a publishing company; we focus on technology, data and consultancy services for horse racing customers all over the world
What excites you most about your industry?
It’s fun, exciting and global. Horse racing has been around for centuries, it’s even known as the ‘sport of kings’. I love what I do and I am completely passionate about the industry. There is not one day I wake up and think to myself, I don’t want to go to work.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I’ve been in Singapore since 2000 and met my Eurasian wife Christine Amour-Levar here. Together with our children, we’ve made Singapore our home. We all enjoy living in this fantastic modern city-state.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Clearly, Singapore. It’s clean, safe and an ideal base for an entrepreneur.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
One of my best friends and mentors, who is also a very successful entrepreneur, once told me “Keep innovating your business and come up with new ideas to grow it every year.”
Who inspires you?
I admire my parents’ strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit. They’ve inspired me to work extremely hard and to become successful.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Eight out of ten entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. A whopping 80% crash and burn.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have travelled and explored the world more when I was younger and had more time.
How do you unwind?
Cooking relaxes me and I enjoy preparing dishes for my family and friends. I also enjoy a single malt Japanese whisky on occasion, accompanied by a flavourful Cuban cigar.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I would have to say the Philippines, where my wife has a large family and many friends. Filipinos are one of the warmest and most welcoming people in the world.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson.
Shameless plug for your business:
iRaceMedia is the leading horse racing company in South-East Asia. We operate internationally and provide horse racing publishing consultancy, data translation, smartphone applications and distribution services to business partners in Europe, Africa, Australia and across the Asia Pacific region.
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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