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Lessons From a Tech Titan: “It’s all about relationships ”

With Abhii Dabas




It’s all about relationships — This is something that I have learnt over the years. A good product or a service is of course essential for your success. But relationships are probably the most important things that one should work on. A good, healthy relationship with your team, clients and consumers improves the quality of your products and services and makes business much more enjoyable and meaningful.


As part of my sereis on “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that seem copied from science fiction, I had the pleasure of interviewing Abhii Dabas, CEO of Quay Technologies Pte Ltd (also known as Webpuppies Digital), a leading Singaporean Web Development Company of over 18 years specializing in providing 360-degree Digital Solutions.

Currently, Abhii is working on a blockchain technological project called Project Raisin, which has in-built monetary policy mechanisms to regulate the supply of the cryptocurrency and introduces crowdfunding and crowd-commerce to help individuals and businesses thrive globally.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always been focused on making a positive impact during my career. I need to feel inspired and passionate about what I am doing and that is what has defined my career trajectory. About 2 years ago, while I was successfully running Webpuppies, an 18-year-old digital services company in Singapore, I started feeling that although we were building technological products every day, we were not exactly solving more substantial real-world problems.

Our company is multicultural, working with people across different regions. An interaction with postgraduate students from China, India and Malaysia interning with us at the time proved to be that inspiring moment. Through interactions and meetings, everyone realized that the problems they faced back in their home countries were universal, in the areas of economic inequality and lack of funding specifically for businesses and consumers. That was where we all decided to tackle the universal problem of poor access to funding, especially in the developing world. That’s where the journey to our Blockchain project began.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

My career is full of interesting stories. But there is a common theme to many of these stories. From walking into a radio station and offering to work for free due to my desire to build connections and relate to people in a personalized medium, and eventually landing a primetime radio show within 7 days, to acquiring businesses without enough capital, it has always been a story of pushing my boundaries, continuously challenging myself to acquire new skills and adapting to completely new environments.

Can you tell us about the “Bleeding edge” technological breakthroughs that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

We are currently working on Project Raisin, a globally-oriented project powered by Blockchain. It’s the first-of-its-kind Blockchain with in-built monetary policy mechanisms to regulate the supply of the cryptocurrency, distinguishing it from cryptocurrencies that often rapidly fluctuate in value.

The project is designed to help people across the world. One of the key components of the project is the blockchain-powered crowdfunding, crowdlending and crowd-commerce platform. Crowdfunding traditionally works well for startups and social causes, but not for existing businesses. Our Blockchain technology helps existing businesses by allowing people to generate their own virtual currencies which powers the loyalty programs of businesses, which works in a similar way to airline miles, ensuring continued support of businesses by consumers, and making funding accessible for every business and consumer. The funding gap for individuals and small businesses is huge, and Project Raisin is committed to bridging this gap and helping millions of individuals and small businesses across the world.

How do you think this might change the world?

One of the most pressing issues of our time is economic inequality. Project Raisin is working to eliminate this inequality by rewarding work not wealth. The project strives to achieve a new-age meritocratic economy by introducing crowdfunding and crowd-commerce, to help individuals and small businesses overcome the challenges posed by globalization and automation.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

I have always been very conscious of the risks any technology could pose. After working in the technology sector for many years, I have come to conclude that we must use technology to solve the problems created by technology. We are unable to turn back the clock and dissociate ourselves from technology. What we can do is ensure that any product we build solves real world problems and is as humanized as possible.

One of the things that fascinates me the most about Blockchain technology is that it requires people around the world to sustain the community while providing immense benefits across sectors. We must, however, ensure that enough attention is paid to the security aspects of the peripheral Blockchain services like exchanges and wallets, as more and more people begin to hold their wealth in wallets and may risk of losing all those savings in an instant. Our blockchain project is taking these aspects of cybersecurity very seriously, working on ways to strengthen the cybersecurity of Project Raisin, and creating more jobs for those in the cybersecurity community.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

While I started working on Project Raisin, there were still a lot of unanswered questions. I knew what we were working on was a transformational business that would change the world. The sheer scale of it was daunting though, and that started to affect the pace we were building the technology. On a business trip to Jakarta, I interacted with some college students studying entrepreneurship. They were very curious about the project. The more details I shared with them, the more enthusiastic they sounded. They weren’t skeptical and didn’t immediately point out the massive challenges that lay ahead. They sounded inspired and kept asking me how they could be a part of the project.

That was the moment I realized that I can’t limit myself and the project should not solely be bound by what is do-able in the short-term, but should be defined by what is the most impactful in the long-term. With the right effort and innovation, the possibilities can be endless.
 
 What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

We must continue to ensure that our technology and platforms are robust. We must also continue to be agile, considering the ever-changing regulatory environment. Most importantly, we must successfully build a huge cross-border community of people who believe in the project and what it stands for and work together with us to change the world. 
 
 What have you been doing to publicize this idea? Have you been using any innovative marketing strategies?

We have been focusing on content marketing. Since Blockchain technology is still relatively new and not widely understood by all, our marketing efforts have focused on educating people about the technology and the need-gap.

More importantly, it is not merely about the technology. It is more about how Project Raisin can work together with everyone globally to build a community and improve the lives of millions of people and businesses. We have an exciting marketing calendar with events, media interactions and social media campaigns lined up. 
 
 None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There have been a lot of people along the way who have been inspiring and supportive. If I had to pick one, I would say it was my high school dramatics teacher. He was an Englishman who had not watched television in 35 years, was a walking encyclopedia, taught me a lot of things but nothing as important as questioning the status quo.

The interesting part was that he set me on a journey to unlearn things that were socially conditioned in me, such as being averse to taking risks- mostly due to the fear of failure. That led me to be a lot more creative and adventurous and played a huge part in my entrepreneurial journey.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have had to work really hard to achieve whatever I have in my life. There were many times when things did not seem fair. I have failed dozens of times, but I realized that that was the best way to learn. I look back and feel very grateful for the journey so far.

However, it has also prompted me to make sure that any organization I run is meritocratic and democratic. Every person is encouraged to express their views freely, take on projects that may fail, and find meaning and purpose in their work. Beyond the workplace, I take every opportunity to mentor students and support startups in multiple ways.

Currently, I am an advisor to several startups. In addition, I am currently working with the Singaporean government to set-up a non-profit to build an ecosystem of entrepreneurs from fresh graduates. Often, fresh graduates aspiring to be entrepreneurs begin with rosy expectations about entrepreneurship, not fully comprehending how many startups or entrepreneurs fail, at least in the initial stages, and once they fail, they become demotivated and stop trying. We are working to encourage them and instill the spirit of perseverance in these aspiring entrepreneurs by providing them support on multiple fronts, such as assisting them with business plans, recruitment, marketing strategies and customer acquisition.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. You can’t do everything on your own — It took me a long time to realize that I can’t possibly do everything on my own. When you’re passionate about something and you feel that others wouldn’t understand, you tend to go on a mission to try to get everything done yourself.

A better approach is to invite as many people to listen, discuss, critique your ideas and approaches. It can help refine your approach and find some great allies. Some (or a lot) of people wouldn’t share your enthusiasm. But the ones who do will be invaluable.

2. Everyone on your team can be transformed — In some of my earlier ventures, I would often be disappointed when some of my team members did not feel as motivated or driven. I would try really hard to explain things from my point-of-view but it wouldn’t work. It took me many years to learn the art of motivating people in different ways.

One of the most important aspects of being a leader is to be compassionate and understand what drives your team mates. If you can then find a way to align their interests with the company’s interests: The effect can be transformational.

3. It’s all about relationships — This is something that I have learnt over the years. A good product or a service is of course essential for your success. But relationships are probably the most important things that one should work on. A good, healthy relationship with your team, clients and consumers improves the quality of your products and services and makes business much more enjoyable and meaningful.

4. The process is more important than the result — Year after year, I used to set goals for myself. I would achieve some of them and would fail at others. But this conditioning of results defining our happiness is exhausting. And every time I’d achieve my goals, I’d set my sights on a bigger goal. What made it easier for me to change my approach and focus on enjoying the process was the fact that I would only be working on businesses and projects that I was passionate about. And I started celebrating the fact that I was fortunate enough to be working on ventures that meant so much to me. Once I started enjoying the process, the energy rubbed off on people around me and the results improved as well.

5. Know and clearly communicate what your organization stands for — Things changed dramatically for me when I started defining and communicating what each of my organizations stood for.

By this, I don’t mean the vision and mission statements. It’s not about sales targets, market dominance or regional expansion. It’s the value system of the organization — how the organization is different from other organizations culturally, what every individual can expect from the organization and what role every individual can play in achieving and maintaining these high standards. This brings people together and gives everyone a common goal that is bigger than themselves.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I say this a few hundred times every week. “There is no place for inequality in our future.” With the kind of technological progress that we’ve made and wealth that we’ve created over the last few decades, we must not accept the huge inequality that exists in the world today. We must stay committed to eradicating this inequality. And we can do this in many different ways. The first step would be to acknowledge that it’s a huge problem and that we must do everything we can about it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“The best is yet to come” This is something I truly believe in — as an individual, an entrepreneur, and a global citizen. Having this belief helps you through the challenging phases as an entrepreneur. My outlook for the world, in general, is very optimistic as well. Sometimes, we can get cynical based on the negative news flow around us. But I feel this is the best time to be alive and things are only going to get better.

Some very well known VCs read this column. If you had 60 seconds to make a pitch to a VC, what would you say? He or she might just see this if we tag them :-)

This project is a winner. It provides the most advanced technology, real-world use-case, solves the problem of the difficulty of blockchain mass adoption and has great nobility. If you invest in this project, not only will you get an excellent return-on-investment, but you will gain immense fulfilment knowing you are associated with a project that could potentially improve the lives of millions, possibly billions, of people across the globe.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Follow Project Raisin at https://rasn.io to understand more about our Blockchain project and how you could be a part of it to contribute to the effort to eradicate economic inequality.

For any enquiries, please email to Project Raisin’s Public Relations and Digital Marketing Associate, Genice Gan, at [email protected].

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