Zal is pretty sure he is heading in the right direction now with his latest start-up.
What’s your story?
My partner and I are onto our second startup together. We started this company after we were running a small Singapore business and saw some of the struggles that small businesses face when dealing with trying to get business from the web. So we thought we would start this company to help solve those problems for small business.
My partner and I have been best friends since we were 12 and started our first start up 7 years ago in Bangalore India. Taking the lessons we learned from that startup and the mistakes we made, we are sure we are heading in the right direction with this one.
What excites you most about your industry?
Our focus is on helping B2B businesses connect to their online prospects as soon as possible to help them boost their conversion rates. The internet is becoming more important for all kinds of businesses to generate their leads from, not just B2C companies. Currently 30-50% of B2B customers give their business to the first company that responds to them. So speed of response is something that is vital to a business’ survival. As the web grows more important we will be in a good position to take advantage of that.
What’s your connection to Asia?
The company is based in Singapore with an office in Bangalore. Both my partners and I are of Indian descent and have spent most of our lives in Asia. I left Australia and he left the UK where we had jobs in large corporates, to come back to Asia and build our business here.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Has to be Singapore. The ease of ability to conduct business with the straightforward nature of the people there make it a fantastic place to do business. Even factors such as tax, money remittance and general rule of law. To be fair we do not have much experience with many other cities as with web businesses much is handled online. But we probably learned more lessons trying to manage the more complicated terrain in Bangalore.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Hire for attitude not the aptitude
Who inspires you?
Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Dalai Lama and my father.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
That Facebook ads are inaccurate in terms of how many clicks they send to your site. Most of these leads come with a 0 second bounce rate and are purely clickbait from other websites or apps. This means the real amount a company pays for their leads from Facebook is much higher than the amount that Facebook claims it sends to you and the cost per click is really deceptive. Especially when you compare it to Google, although Google seems like it is more expensive per click, the reality is they are both quite competitive.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have tried to start a business while I was in university. In no other time in your life do you have so much free time and opportunity to try things and fail with minimal consequences.
How do you unwind?
I spend a lot of time with my friends, many of whom are also entrepreneurs this helps to inspire and motivate. I also make sure that I meditate every day. I find it has an amazing way of showing me what is really important in my day.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
The two cities in Asia I spend the most holiday time in is either Bangkok or Bali. I love bangkok for it’s fast paced life and that the city has so much to offer. As for Bali it is hard to explain, something about that island makes me feel relaxed, the minute I land there.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Startupland – The Story of Zendesk – Fantastic to see the struggle of a business before it turns into a success and they talk specifically about how they do it. For any tech startup there are lessons they should learn.
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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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