Playing keyboards – from the piano to the computer… With his new venture, Toby is now empowering people to communicate!
What’s your story?
I play keyboards. First piano, and now computer. I began my entrepreneurial journey by building a lighting company in Germany, then co-founded an e-commerce company in New Zealand and a software company in India. Most recently, I launched a social Internet of Things (IoT) company, Unified Inbox, in Singapore.
What excites you most about your industry?
What excites me most about the IoT industry is that it’s still being defined and its projected size is huge. Tapping software, hardware and services, I see the IoT as not just being the next generation of the Internet, but the catalyst for an explosion in artificial intelligence.
The missing piece is what Unified Inbox provides – communications. One example; manufacturers currently have users download a different app for every device, but we’re already suffering from app fatigue. Unified Inbox allows people to simply communicate – person to person, human to machine and soon, machine to machine.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I have always been obsessed with Asia and its history. I remember reading books growing up about the magical lands of the East.
After moving to New Zealand, I remember falling in love with Thailand on my first trip there, only to fall in love again with India, then China and then Southeast Asia.
Beyond the personal, Asia represents the single biggest economy and the biggest potential for growth in our lifetime. In 2016, you cannot have a successful global business if you’re not successful in Asia.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore. It’s not just convenient, reliable and accessible, it’s like stepping into the future.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
The best two pieces of advice I received are:
“You always meet people twice.” This helps me to always take a long-term view and focus on creating harmony and sustainable relationships.
“You don’t always know why you meet someone.” Just because you don’t know the purpose when you first meet someone, does not mean there isn’t a purpose. With reflection and patience, the purpose will eventually reveal itself to you.
While these can sound philosophical, I’m only able to do many of the things I’m doing now because I really care about practising #1 and reflecting on #2.
Who inspires you?
I find myself being inspired both when and where I least expect it and after becoming very close with people over a long period of time.
I also get great inspiration from classical music and nature itself. But the most memorable inspirations come to me when I am able to clear my mind and still my thoughts.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Realism shapes truth, and truth triggers fantasy.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would focus on doing just one thing at a time. Like many people of my generation, I find myself in a world of constant multitasking, deeply affecting our ability to think and live. If I knew then what I know now, I would prepare myself better for that.
How do you unwind?
I unwind through meditation, nature and music, in that order.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
My favorite Asian destination would have to be India because she always forces me to “let go.”
Everyone in business should read this book:
That depends on whether you’re a freelancer, an aspiring entrepreneur, the owner of a small business or climbing an organizational ladder. In my case I found Ben Horowitz’s “The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers” intriguing.
Shameless plug for your business:
Unified Inbox’s UnificationEngine™ (http://unificationengine.com) enables apps and devices to simply communicate with users on the communications channels they already use. It solves developers and device makers’ burning problem of easier, faster and cheaper integration of all incoming and outgoing communications into their breakthrough IoT products and services.
UnificationEngine™ powers our first SaaS app, social media governance, compliance and publishing tool Outbox Pro (http://outbox.pro), which provides a complete, cloud-based communications solution allowing any group of people to publish social media content with centralized approval, tracking and control.
Unified Inbox’s global solutions empower people to simply communicate.
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.
Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>
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Get his free ‘Asia Snapshot’ report from www.callumlaing.com