STAR Award winner Premium Water Co Ltd and Emerging category award winner Shenzhen Carku Technology Co Ltd are both shining examples of entrepreneurs successfully seeking overseas markets to expand their businesses.
Premium Water Co Ltd, which provides its customers with natural mineral water from the base of Mt Fuji - the symbol of Japan, is the proud winner of the STAR Award at the One Asia Awards 2015. Yohei Hagio is the chief executive officer and the founder of FLC Group and six other groups, including Premium Water Co Ltd.
He started FLC Group in 2004. Today, the consolidated sales of the FLC Group total around 10 billion yen (S$120 million) and its employees number over 400.
"We have the most effective sales promotions in Japan so far. Firstly, to enhance our sales, we searched for companies which have production techniques, and cooperated with them. That actually led us to be successful both in sales and production," says Mr Hagio.
Although business has grown considerably, he says that complete business success has yet to come as the company is now ready to start launching its products worldwide. The past achievements have been brought about by business partners sharing the same goals he has.
In Mr Hagio's view, an essential quality for an entrepreneur to be successful is "something like having gratitude towards circumstances and all things that actually happened".
"I believe, based on my past experiences, that being humble and decent is the key to accomplishing goals."
He adds: "Remembering my journey as an entrepreneur, there might have been some difficulties, yet at that time, I made a desperate effort to conquer them; therefore, I didn't regard them as difficulties. I dare say my toughest experience is to fight the loneliness I feel since my responsibility to sustain my staff's livelihoods was crucial. Yet, they are always there for me, that is why I can still run my business."
Mr Hagio says that after winning the One Asia Award the number of people who are interested in the company has increased. "I take it as a sign of infinite possibilities. In fact, that award actually filled us - staff and executives including me - with great pride. It's the very thing for us."
Shenzhen Carku Technology
Cloud Lei, chairman of Shenzhen Carku Technology Pte Ltd, says the company has "achieved rapid growth throughout the last three years".
"Every year our turnover increased by 800 per cent. And all of these achievements are due to our insistence on innovation and quality. Because our core patented technology is reliable and of high quality, we have a remarkable performance on the company's development path."
In his view, three qualities are essential to be a successful entrepreneur. The first one is innovativeness, which includes the innovative management of organisation, strategy and product. The second one is the comprehensive outlook of the whole organisation which means proper allocation of resources according to the priority and importance of the task. The third one is implementation capacity. It includes the execution and cohesion of the key management team towards a common vision of the company, he says.
Asked about the difficulties he faced in his journey as an entrepreneur and how he overcame them, he says: "I believe every entrepreneur faces challenges when he starts his business. It is the same for me. The initial difficulty or challenge I faced was financial. I did not have enough money to start my business. Therefore I borrowed from my friend and sold my house.
"Gradually when my business was on track, technical issues to maintain the sustainability of the product was our main concern. Due to the lack of technical talent, we chose to consult external professionals. Now, we are still facing these issues of talent management - to attract, develop and retain the most valuable talents in the workforce."
Winning the One Asia Award will help him to grow his business. "It is an honour to receive the One Asia Award because it is recognition not only in China but also in other Asian countries. For the last few years, 90 per cent of our revenue comes from overseas orders especially America. And I believe, after this award, our brand, our products and quality will be more reliable for the international customers."
As for the benefits of participating in entrepreneurship-promoting awards such as the One Asia Awards, Mr Lei says: "Participation gives our staff detailed insights and motivate us to improve all aspects of our products and organisational management. Winning the award is a worldwide recognition of our company and our brand."
His advice to budding entrepreneurs is to be focused on their project. "We must know what to do and what not to do. Maximise the advantages and minimise the unnecessary investment," says Mr Lei.