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Archives July 2018

Dr Chua Cheng Yu - Veritas Aesthetics

Bringing out the best self of his patients

 

In our latest interview, we spoke to Dr Chua Cheng-Yu, founder of Veritas Medical Aesthetics to find out his story on building a plastic surgery practice and his thoughts on the aesthetics industry.

Share with us what Veritas Medical Aesthetics does.

We are a doctor-led clinic that helps women look better using medical prescriptions and technology. MOH guidelines bind us so we can’t make outlandish claims and promises like non-medical entities. But every procedure here is proven, backed by medical science and administered by a certified doctor. Some of the more mainstream treatments we provide include botox and thread lifts.

Where did you practice before starting Veritas Medical Aesthetics?

I’ve been a doctor for almost ten years now at a few different places – a public hospital and a few private clinics that I’d prefer not to name.

Dr Chua Cheng Yu - Veritas Aesthetics

Why did you pick aesthetics/plastic surgery as your specialisation?

Aesthetics is a unique industry within the medical scene. Think about this: if you were going for heart surgery, and were offered the choice between a tried and tested method that was 50 years old, versus a new surgical technique that was invented last year, which will you pick? Chances are you’d choose the age-old technology. However, the reverse is true for aesthetics! Rather than being “tested and proven”, old methods are often seen as “outdated”! The patient mindset in this scene forces medical aesthetics and doctors within it to advance at breakneck speeds.

I spend much of my time reading and researching on the latest news in the medical scene, so this is probably the only industry that I wouldn’t get bored in!

Dr Chua Cheng Yu - Veritas Aesthetics

Why did you choose to start your aesthetic business than working in a public or private healthcare institution?

During my days as an employee, I learned that being a good doctor often means you’re also a lousy businessman. I was disillusioned for a while as my work made me break my ethical code as a doctor. I felt I could be doing more for the patients. In the end, the only choice left was to start my practice where I have full control over the treatment protocols.

It might not be the most profitable approach, but I believe that doctors must always stick to the ethos of doing your best for the patient, even if it’s counterproductive for business. That’s where the name Veritas Medical comes from. It means “truth” in Latin.

What were the reactions of your loved ones when you told them that you were going to venture out on your own?

I wouldn’t say I had unwavering support from family and friends. It’s never easy venturing out. People told me how hard it is to start a clinic and it’s not worth it to give up the substantial salary doctors are paid as employees in the private practice. But there’s a lot more to being a doctor than pay alone.

What were the initial challenges you faced when starting up?

I’ve been in the scene for quite some time, and have trained many other doctors before. Hence, reputation wasn’t much of an issue. My past experiences being the primary doctor at other clinics also meant I knew enough about operations to set it up right first time. Reaching out to the public and getting them to understand our difference, however, was much more challenging. I knew I had something unique to show the world, but I didn’t know how to get them to notice.

After all, doctors are wired in a way that makes us pretty poor businesspeople and PR failures (I don’t even have an IG account yet!). I tried a few outreach agencies too, but all of them gave very disappointing results.

How did you overcome the challenges?

I would say I got lucky with getting the right team together. The support of old patients (part of the team too!) acting as my advertising mouthpieces and entrusting their friends and family members to my knowledge and hands. The support of my crew who believed in my vision and made sacrifices from their routine to help me tirelessly build this.

Last but not least, the support of a close advisor, without whom I definitely would not have handled the business aspects of running a clinic as smoothly! I am grateful and blessed.

How is the aesthetic industry doing in the past few years and where do you think it would be in the next five years?

The industry has been getting more and more saturated. There is an oversupply of doctors in Singapore now, and more people are getting lured into starting their aesthetic clinic. But I think the 2000-2015 heydays are long over now. New doctors will probably struggle to catch up to the established names. Much like what happened in the dental scene, where large clinics bought up small ones and formed groups, we will likely see a consolidation phase for aesthetics within 5-10 years.

Dr Chua Cheng Yu - Veritas Aesthetics

Are you seeing more Singaporeans or foreigners? Why do you think so?

Singaporeans are still the main crowd, although I do get 10-15% foreigners. These aren’t all the wealthy foreigners too. I’ve seen domestic helpers and work permit holders here as well. Aesthetics is a very affordable industry with a mass market appeal.

However, I do hear of specific very high-end clinics that charge very high prices, targeting the affluent Chinese crowd. For the most part, though, aesthetics is affordable enough for the everyday person in Singapore.

What are the three most common treatments sought at Veritas Medical Aesthetics?

Botox and fillers are the bread and butter. Lasers are also up there as a good laser setup is exceptionally complex, and you can’t get it outside of a clinic. I probably overspent on my laser setup, having nine different lasers when most clinics bring no more than 2-3! I’m glad it worked out for my patients, and they’re enjoying the results.

What is your advice for people seeking aesthetic changes?

One of the biggest indicators that a procedure has gone well is when the face looks untouched. If it’s subtle enough to go unnoticed, it’s okay. Don’t try to change your features too much to look like someone else. Instead, try to look healthy, youthful and full of energy. That’s my approach towards aesthetics. I want patients to walk out feeling like their best self, instead of someone else.

Have you ever thought of giving up and going back to working in a health care institution? If no, why not and what kept you going?

I enjoy every single day of my work in medical aesthetics, even when I was only working as a paid employee in the private sector. Seeing happy faces every day has to be the best part of my work, and that joy multiplied when I started my clinic. Giving up never crossed my mind.

We understand that you are into fine arts, you play guitar, piano and saxophone leisurely, you are a photography enthusiast, and you regularly volunteer as a doctor to migrant workers. Not to mention, you also do research. How do you manage to squeeze out so much time for everything?

To be honest, the clinic has been keeping me very busy, so other aspects of my life are taking a back seat. As with everything, to excel in one area, sacrifices have to be made in another. I can only try to balance my life out as best I can.

Lastly, what’s your advice for medical practitioners who are thinking of starting their practice?

The most important advice I can give is that good doctors make poor businesspeople and vice-versa. Don’t lose the good heart you have as a doctor just because you’re running a business. Many doctors have this belief that they know everything better just because we graduated as the elite from the education system. That’s the furthest from the truth you can get in the real world. It’s important to find good help and assemble a team of various talents.

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Marcus S Tan | entree.sg

Catering a co-working space for entrepreneurs with tight purse strings

 

Marcus S Tan is the co-founder of The Carrot Patch, a co-working space which was recently named the official workspace partner for The Hungry Lab Asia, a global online platform created to help startups, future leaders and entrepreneurs.

He is also the Chief Executive Officer of AIQ, a visual recognition technology company based in Singapore.

We caught up with him to find out more on how he got everything started and how his two ventures complement each other, and more.

Here’s Marcus’ story.

“It is never too late or too old to start your own business or pursue your dreams and ideas.”

What were you doing before starting your entrepreneurship journey?

I previously held leadership roles at companies such as SpotX, Smaato, Blackberry, Nokia, Travelocity and MediaCorp before coming onboard as the CEO of AIQ. I co-founded The Carrot Patch with one of the Board of Directors.

The Carrot Patch was born from a eureka moment from the brilliant AIQ team who came up with the idea of having a co-working space from an AI-centric parent company. My aim is to target local young start-ups and student entrepreneurs who either belong to the alumnus or who are currently studying in polytechnic or university.

When was The Carrot Patch established and why use the name The Carrot Patch than something more relatable to co-working and office rental?

The Carrot Patch was officially launched on 16 November 2017. The carrot is versatile, nutritious and signifies vibrancy. The three are important elements for businesses to succeed.

What inspired you to start a co-working space?

After identifying Apex@Henderson as the ideal office location, the AIQ team decided to convert a portion of the office space into a co-working space to start a vibrant community for entrepreneurs and start-ups to come together to work and exchange ideas with one another.

We also curated a team of successful businessmen who had agreed to offer their expertise to offer business advice and ideas to help these young start-ups. Through this, I hope to cultivate a large pool of local start-ups, help uncover local talent as well as provide a community and industry support for the new players in the field.

Co-working Space is the new trend in Singapore providing a vibrant environment that supports their young business ventures with a comfortable workspace, but with rental costs that are flexible and affordable, to assist them in getting their creative juices and their commercial minds going. Most of the co-working spaces in Singapore are located within the Central Business District (CBD). The Carrot Patch wants to extend a similar vibrant working space that caters to budding student entrepreneurs with a more wallet-friendly rates at a location within the city-fringe area.

 

 

 

What were the initial challenges you faced when putting your plans into action?

We understand the needs of tech start-ups, as we are also one of them. Thus, we took a long while to experiment our niche offering as well as search for the right type of start-ups to join our community in building a vibrant ecosystem.

How did you overcome those challenges?

We worked on targeting AI-related and tech-curious companies, as we focused on establishing a tech-centric ecosystem. Another of our initiatives in overcoming our initial challenges was our successful efforts in reaching out and offering co-working service and advice to budding start-ups initiated by students or alumnus of polytechnics and universities.

We offer city-fringe rates which are considered the “in between” of the price rates offered by our competitors, hence a viable option for students who are at the initial phase of their business venture.

On top of that, our partnerships with industry practitioners such as The Hungry Lab Asia allowed us to offer advisory services at no additional cost, thus creating a win-win solution for all parties. These factors combine to form a vibrant ecosystem which contribute to The Carrot Patch’s unique selling point.

What sets The Carrot Patch apart from other competitions?

Here at The Carrot Patch, we live by our motto of “Cultivating a Smart Community”. Our co-working space is unique in that we are open to maximising our space to accommodate a diverse group of people. Ranging from industry veterans to student entrepreneurs, we provide one of the most supportive environments for communication and exchange of ideas to boost one another’s role in the creative and commercial industries.

What’s your vision for The Carrot Patch in the next five years?

Here at The Carrot Patch, we have set the stage for young start-ups and innovators to build a vibrant start-ups scene in conjunction with Singapore’s initiatives in gearing towards being a Smart Nation. Coupled with our partnership with The Hungry Lab Asia, we hope to jointly nurture and promote entrepreneurships within the Local Students’ community and the technology space as a whole.

Recently, The Carrot Patch has been named the official workspace partner for The Hungry Lab Asia. What’s the partnership about and what does it mean for the start-ups and businesses in Singapore and the region?

We’re most glad and privileged to have The Hungry Lab Asia to partner with us. The partnership is about creating an innovative and conducive environment for entrepreneurs and start-ups in Asia. It simply translates to opportunities for the honing and development of skills in the rising tech industry, i.e. blockchain, deep learning, visual commerce (v-commerce), mobile commerce (m-commerce) etc., as we strive to foster fruitful working relationships between the student entrepreneurs and some of the top-notch businesses and enterprises.

WeWork has been on an acquisition spree of co-working spaces. If more prominent players like them come knocking with an offer while you are still building up The Carrot Patch, what would you do?

In effort to grow our brand presence, we are open to explore possible opportunities with international brands to bring our business to greater heights, so long as we continue to keep our prices reasonable in providing co-working spaces at wallet-friendly prices for budding entrepreneurs and young start-ups to have a conducive environment to work in, as we are located within the city-fringe area providing an alternative choice of co-working space that is as appealing but just outside the CBD.

We understand that you also run AIQ, a visual recognition technology company founded in 2014. Can you share with us more about AIQ?

AIQ is a visual recognition technology company based in Singapore and established in 2014. AIQ’s proprietary Visual Recognition Technology (VRT) is powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and allows for instantaneous processing of ‘live’ images and videos, even if only a portion (30%) of the image or video is captured.

 

How does AIQ’s Visual Recognition Technology (VRT) work and how can it apply to businesses?

With just three simple steps “Point, Capture and Interact”, our visual recognition technology will scan and interact with the particular image or video. Businesses can tap on the functions of offline-to-online (O2O) to better engage their target audience. Our technology can be used as a tool for brands to link their offline collaterals such as prints and out-of-home media (OOH) to their online media. This can be used as a call-for-action marketing tool to generate leads and drive conversions.

The following are examples of how our VRT can be applied to various industries:

RETAIL

Video consumption is in trend, a tool that has become very useful in processing vast amounts of information. A picture speaks a thousand words, and visuals have the power of urging the impulse to purchase. With visual commerce being the next big thing, AIQ’s visual recognition technology allows retailers to engage consumers through quick and effortless decision-making processes. This will ultimately translate to increased lead conversions.

EVENT

Have your visitors enthralled amidst an immersive experience at your event showcase. With the freedom of scanning any image or booth within the comforts of the entire event space to retrieve information, AIQ’s visual recognition technology is innovative and interactive.

ENTERTAINMENT

With AIQ’s visual recognition technology, consumers can simply point their phones at billboards, posters or videos to scan and instantly register themselves for exclusive quizzes and lucky draw contests, or to unlock prizes.

ADVERTISING

With a simple scan of their offline collaterals, marketers can promptly link their posters, out-of-home (OOH) billboards and other print collaterals to their product videos, reviews and even their full inventory to boost cross-selling across all platforms digital and physical.

Traditional forms of media comprising OOH, magazines and newspapers are facing a downward trend of advertising dollars, and that is why we are the “white label solution” aiming to be the engine for the “new growth” for traditional media owners. We are here to bridge the gap by allowing consumers to scan and utilise these print collaterals to be transported to the brand’s interactive online platforms using our visual interactive technology.

We would like to become the kick-starter of the green initiative whereby we assist our brands in their printing costs, reducing print copies while maximising the use of scanning and allowing customers to be transported to an interactive online media, eg. e-flyers, e-information kiosk link-up. What’s more, businesses will get to monitor visual analytics to analyse the effectiveness of their ad placements by adopting our visual technology.

Do AIQ and The Carrot Patch complement each other? How?

AIQ strives to nurture the tech scene in Singapore. Being a start-up itself, AIQ has had its experiences which serve as relevant pointers that can pinpoint the direction for entrepreneurs and start-ups in nurturing their businesses. We act as an advisor to them, rendering support through our expertise in AI.

Meanwhile, the budding entrepreneurs in AI and tech can be given opportunities to work with AIQ to further contribute to the offerings of the company. The collaboration is summed up as a win-win situation for both AIQ and the community at The Carrot Patch, providing a multiple-pronged approach to tap on each other’s talents and resources.

What’s your advice to Singaporeans who hope to become an entrepreneur one day?

To the budding entrepreneurs out there, go all the way out to pursue your dreams and do not fear any failures. It is all right to fail upon your many business ventures and be successful in at least one. It is never too late or too old to start your own business or pursue your dreams and ideas.

There are also many intrapreneurs within organisations and companies who are willing to help grow the business or even start a new product. Such enterprising spirit should be recognised and cultivated!


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