2014年8月12日 星期二

Nest chief hunts for golden eggs/ Simon Squibb

Nest chief hunts for golden eggs
Published on Thursday, 28 Jul 2011
Venture hunter Simon Squibb says it is crucial to surround himself with the right people.
Photo: May Tse
Born and educated in Cambridge, Simon Squibb is now building a nest in Hong Kong. The analogy is not of the domestic variety (although he’s doing that, too). Instead, it’s a corporate nest – a collection of businesses and brands that he hopes to nurture and grow into beautiful and profitable birds. With his background in marketing and branding, initially with hotels in London and latterly with companies in Hong Kong and Bangkok, Squibb is in an enviable position to launch his own corporate flock. He swaps e-mails en route to Los Angeles.

How did you end up in HK?
I worked for five-star hotels for the first six years of my career [in London], before moving to Hong Kong in 1997. I was offered a job here and was attracted by the experience and career potential of living on the doorstep of China. I worked for about six months in Hong Kong before being asked to head up and establish an office in Thailand. I then spent about two years in Bangkok before returning to Hong Kong in 2000 and deciding to set up my first company called Fluid Design, now one of Hong Kong’s leading creative agencies. In 2010, Fluid was awarded ‘HK’s Creative Agency of the Year’ by Marketing Magazine. Nine years later, I set up my second venture, Nest Investments, which now owns nine companies in Hong Kong.

How many people did you employ when you launched Fluid, and how many do you employ now, including indirectly through Nest?
Three people when we launched 10 years ago. Now, within the NEST network, we employ over 120 people in Hong Kong.

Do you invest both cash and other resources through Nest? If so, what types of resources?
We invest cash and resources into companies we believe in. Resources-wise, we offer everything from legal and accounting knowledge and support to branding and marketing strategy – full 360-degree support to ensure business success.

What specific investments have you made? What types of venture or business are these companies involved in?
We have recently invested in a delivery business called Porterhouse Wines and Porterhouse.com.hk as we believe e-commerce is going to grow in Asia in the next 10 years and that people love the convenience of home delivery of great products, combined with an easy-to-use shopping experience. We have also invested in print magazines, such as Foodie andLoft, so we are not restricted by any one category. We see a future in print as well as online and think it is the combination of unique businesses that makes us distinct as they can work together and cover all bases.

What were the initial challenges and lessons learned?  
Oh, so many! I am still learning and that’s what I love about what I do. But the main lessons are never to give up, always believe in your ideas and follow through, and I think it is very important to surround yourself with the right people and never settle for anything less than the best in your organisation.

Was it difficult to attract the right talent?  
Yes, especially for Fluid. But once we were established, it got easier and talent would seek us out.  Finding motivated, honest, smart and loyal people is hard in any country, but once you know what you’re looking for, Hong Kong is actually one of the few places where  many people want to be entrepreneurs, so for Nest it has not been that hard  to find the right people to help us.

What are your main reasons for setting up Nest?  
First of all, I have established the network and experience in Asia over the past 14 years to make such an idea possible. Also, I have met a lot of talented people in Hong Kong with great ideas who needed help to get their businesses off the ground, so there is a big need for what Nest can do. I felt that with my extensive business knowledge in Asia, linked with my brand and marketing experience, I could help these budding entrepreneurs succeed.
So Nest was born and our vision is not only to support  Hong Kong entrepreneurs  to build successful  companies, but also to establish some passionate and powerful Hong Kong brands that can one day be exported around the world. 
Much like what American brands and entrepreneurs have done with businesses such as Starbucks or Apple, or even recently with Facebook or LinkedIn, we want Hong Kong and entrepreneurs here to be known as global success stories. And Nest is doing its bit to make that view of Hong Kong and its entrepreneurs a reality.

Do you think Hong Kong’s young people can become big players?
Yes, and we are putting our time and money where our mouth is, investing millions in savvy entrepreneurs with ideas that have global potential.

What are your guiding principles regarding entrepreneurship and management?
Honesty and integrity and working hard are at the core of all our businesses and brands.

What would you advise budding entrepreneurs?
You live once so go for it. Don’t be scared to fail. Don’t ever give up!

2014年8月10日 星期日

Drawing room concepts /鄭相賢(Tony Cheng)


(綜合報道)  凡事親力親為,對工作充滿熱誠,是創業家成功的基本條件。本地飲食集團Drawing Room Concepts創辦人鄭相賢(Tony Cheng)坦言,想真正成功,單靠熱誠及努力還不足夠,建立可靠團隊,以及有美滿家庭作後盾,事業才可更上一層樓。
  出身富裕的八十後鄭相賢(Tony Cheng),祖父及父親兩代經營鋼鐵生意,給予他良好成長環境,以及創業空間。Tony年輕有夢,相信不靠父蔭也可打出一片天,十四歲那年看過英國名廚Jamie Oliver食譜,試製一道烤雞,從此愛上烹飪。為實現開餐廳夢想,大學畢業後到投資銀行工作三年,成功賺取第一桶金(約二百萬元),即獨自到意大利羅馬餐館學師,餐廳只包食宿,沒有工資,卻教曉他終身受用的意大利廚藝。他回港後,創辦飲食集團Drawing Room Concepts,首家餐廳The Drawing Room請來名廚Roland坐鎮,Tony由會計、採購、下廚甚至洗碗都親力親為,終於帶來驚喜成績,餐廳同年獲得米芝蓮一星評級。他信心滿滿,陸續開設了星馬菜館海南少爺、歐陸餐廳酒吧Ammo、法國餐廳Le Salon,以及早前開業的西班牙菜館Isono & Vasco。
  飲食事業看似一帆風順,原來期間也遭受挫折。Tony開辦The Drawing Room獲得成功,認為照辦煮碗,請來重量級廚師,便可令星馬菜館海南少爺獲得佳績。可惜做生意如談情說愛,付出不一定有收穫。儘管Tony對餐館大廚推心置腹,對方卻馬虎了事,還密謀另起爐灶,令他大失所望。打擊接踵而來,曾有旗下餐廳經理無理解僱三位廚師,Tony發現後將其中一位廚師調職,對方良心發現,道出經理串謀他們,計畫向勞工處申請索償,瓜分賠償金。經一事長一智,Tony現在招請員工,都進行詳細面試,清楚了解求職者背景,才會聘用。他每星期定期與各家餐廳經理開會,了解樓面、廚房運作及客人評價,以改善管理,例如法國餐廳Le Salon早前轉型,易名為Moments,主打西式Comfort Food,設計開揚和增加沙發軟墊,客人大為受落,生意轉好,這都歸功員工的建議。
  Tony不時到餐廳突擊試菜,曾發現有初級廚師為節省煮麵工夫,沒瀝乾麵條,便下湯烹煮,令味道變淡,這都因為缺乏工作熱誠所致。「我愛飲食業,希望員工也對烹飪充滿熱誠,我經常叫他們試菜,明白美食樂趣,才能了解客人需要。」Tony不時相約員工踢波,打成一片,足球更成為他與Isono & Vasco意大利及西班牙籍廚師工作以外的共同語言。他坦言,要創業成功,除努力不懈及擁有工作熱誠外,還要建立一個可靠團隊,「這幾年我做到了,帶來很大滿足感。」

2014年8月4日 星期一

HMV闢舞台Cafe覓新路 ,HMVideal行政總裁黃雅芬


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明報記者 錢瑋琪