About Annie Nguyen

Profile Summary

  • 10+ years of experience in Senior Strategic Business Development and Client Management
  • Experience in consulting and influencing senior client leaders and decision makers including C-level
  • 5+ years of experience in Entrepreneurship, Leadership and Team Management
  • Highly driven and motivated in accelerating revenue growth, building effective client relationships, and executing high impact scalable partner projects
  • Market Expansion Lead with a strong commercial strategy and business development acumen in Southeast Asia in Technology Innovation, Digital advertising, Ad Tech, Ecommerce / Marketplaces / Retail / Brands, Online Travel, Digital Payment / Fintech space for Web and Mobile
  • Strong market and industry knowledge, competitive landscape, provide thought leadership, Go To Market strategy, strategic planning and market intelligence
  • Passionate for building, growing, coaching, and mentoring a high-performance team
  • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/annienguyen188/
  • Current position: Market Expansion Business Development Lead, Strategic Tier 1 Clients, SEA, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines at Criteo Singapore 
    • Market Expansion, Business Development, Senior Sales and Key Account Management, Leadership, Strategic Partnership, Strategy and Market Intelligence, Go To Market Strategy, Project Management                          
    • Lead Market Expansion strategy for SEA (annual target of $30M), strong focus and market expertise in 3 countries Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, drive sales for top strategic prospects and existing clients
    • Manage a successful large regional business portfolio with P&L responsibility across 6 countries in SEA, lead account planning and quarterly business performance reviews – Lazada SEA, Qoo10 SEA, Agoda SEA, Sendo VN, Tiki VN, Vietjet Air VN, JD Central TH, Kaidee TH, 11Street TH, dtac TH, Globe PH
    • Lead generation, drive accelerated sales growth, close deals with top strategic digital payment prospects (e-wallet apps / digital banking apps) – TrueMoney TH, Kasikorn Bank TH, Siam Commercial Bank TH, Momo VN, Mynt PH, Gobear SEA (SG, TH, HK)
    • Lead strategic partnerships with Lazada across 6 countries in SEA – SG, ID, TH, VN, MY, PH including co-marketing solutions with global brands (Samsung, Oppo, P&G, Apple, Adidas, Loreal, Estee Lauder, Huawei, Lenovo, Nike, Nestle) and agencies (iProspect/Dentsu, Performics/Starcom, Group M, OMD)
    • Partner with Lazada in regional office and 6 local countries to organize workshops to brands on co-marketing solutions to drive traffic, revenue, and conversions to brands’ official stores on Lazada website
    • Lead Go To Market strategy for Criteo Reseller Program by working with top strategic marketplaces to launch and scale their seller advertising solutions (PR launch, training event for top 500-1000 sellers)
    • Project lead for Criteo Reseller Program (Merchant Program) in Southeast Asia, report to Managing Director, SEA, TW, HK and work directly with Global Product Director
    • Strategic Planning and Market Intelligence, lead strategy and innovation projects in collaboration with stakeholders across the business to realize Criteo E-Commerce Marketing Ecosystem vision
    • Strong ad tech industry experience in online acquiring sales with strong partner relationships, manage C-suite relationships (CEO, CMO, Marketing Director, Revenue Director, Head of Marketing, Head of Digital, Ecommerce Director, Head of Seller Marketplace), across diversified client portfolios – marketplace, financial institution, banking, mobile payment, app, brand, retail, travel, telco, new verticals
    • Strong command of ecommerce service product suites (dynamic retargeting, customer acquisition, app retargeting, app installs, custom audience match, co-marketing with brands, merchant reseller program)
  • Past position: Regional Account Manager, Google Hotel Ads, Digital Advertising and Metasearch at Google Asia Pacific, Singapore
    • Google Hotel Ads, Digital Advertising and Metasearch, Client Management
    • Manage Tier 1 ad account partners who are the largest OTAs in APAC (annual target of $40M) with a proactive, strategic approach focusing on optimizing partners’ business – Agoda, Expedia Group (Wotif, Lastminute.com), HotelsCombined, Ctrip, Rakuten Travel, Jalan
    • Help Tier 1 partners scale and accelerate revenue growth through removing roadblocks, unlocking potential, analyzing and optimizing advertising performance, implementing automated bidding strategies, maximized conversions
    • Provide thought leadership in online travel industry, organize events, workshops, and seminars to hotel industry leaders
    • Lead Market Expansion and Operational Excellence – Feed optimization, conversion maximization, new product feature adoption, API enhancements, data/price accuracy monitoring, audience targeting
  • Past position: Managing Director and Co-Founder at Amas Hub
    • Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Team Management, General Management                                 
    • I co-founded Amas Hub (http://amashub.com/), the software start-up company that focuses on developing enterprise mobile apps and providing cloud-based B2B SaaS to F&B businesses in SG, MY, VN
    • Grow a high-performing team of digital marketing executives, website designers, graphic designers in VN
    • Build a track record of growing new sales and business through client management, and help F&B businesses to operate more efficiently, save manpower costs, and increase productivity
    • Amas Hub offered customized product solutions: Interactive iPad menu, iPad POS system, POS-Payment system integration, Self-ordering kiosk, Mobile ordering, Inventory Management, Kitchen Display System, Sales reports, Social network integration, Customer loyalty program, Customer feedback form, Customized graphics, Multilingual support
    • Achievement: eOrder Solution has been listed under IDA pre-qualified package solution (2015); POS system has been listed under SRING pre-qualified integrated solution (2016)
  • Education
    • Singapore Management University, Master of Business Administration (MBA)Jun 2017 – Dec 2018
      • Part-time Program, GMAT = 690
      • Awarded SMU Global Awareness Scholarship (merit based scholarship)
      • Waseda University Exchange Program, Tokyo, Japan
    • Singapore Management University, Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Honors, Double majors in Finance and Marketing, Aug 2005 – Dec 2008
  • » Few random things
  • Favorite TV series: Black Mirror, Game of Thrones, Westworld, Silicon Valley
  • Favorite activities: Travel, Yoga, and Board Games (Monopoly Deal Card, Bang! The Bullet, Blokus, Tokaido, Ticket To Ride, Giza, Uno)
  • Favorite travel destination: Queenstown, New Zealand as well as Oslo and “Norway in a Nutshell” (Bergen-Voss by train, Voss-Gudvangen by bus, Gudvangen-Flam by Fjord cruise, Flam-Myrdal by The Flam Railway, Myrdal-Oslo by Train, sunset watching in Oslo, Norway) – Absolutely a fantastic DIY journey to see Norway’s most beautiful and spectacular fjord scenery!
  • Languages other than English: Vietnamese (native), Mandarin (beginner level)
  • Fun things that I’ve done: I created a community on Facebook for those who love jewelry named Jewelry Lovers (@jewelryloversaj). Within 2 months (10 Jan 2013 – 11 Mar 2013), I achieved 10k “likes”. I also used to sell woman handbags on the street in Vietnam during high school’s school holiday.
  • My personal websites: https://anniepedia.wordpress.com/ ; http://www.amashub.com/

Annie photo - big


Vietnam Toastmasters Club                                                                                                                        Singapore

President                                                                                                                                          Jun 2011 – Present

  • President of English public speaking club for Vietnamese working professionals in Singapore


Asian Women Leadership Summit                                                                                                              Singapore


Young Women’s Leadership Connection                                                                                                    Singapore

Mentorship Program                                                                                                                       Apr 2018 – Present


Tech In Asia                                                                                                                                Singapore, Philippines


Seamless Asia                                                                                             Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines

Future of Payments, E-commerce and Retail


RetailEx Asian                                                                                                                                                  Thailand


FUTR (Millenial 20/20)                                                                                                                                 Singapore


Web In Travel                                                                                                                                                 Singapore


Inter Nations                                                                                                                                                  Singapore


8 questions to ask myself everyday


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I discover this Grid Diary app which I can input 8 questions to ask myself everyday. And so far, I’m happy with the 8 questions that I have compiled. Hope that I can make it a habit by writing my notes everyday!

8 Questions To Ask Myself Everyday & Good Habits That I Want To Build:

  1. What new word did I learn today? –> Build My Vocabulary
  2. What new thing/skill did I learn today? –> Knowledge, Skills
  3. What is one thing that I must accomplish today? Do I have my end goals in mind? What risk will I take to achieve my goal? –> Goal, Aspiration, Calculated Risk
  4. What am I curious about right now? –> Curiosity
  5. What am I excited to do next? What am I looking forward to? –> Excitement
  6. What did I fail today? What mistakes should I learn from? What bad habits can I avoid? –> Learning From Failure, Discipline
  7. What problem did I solve today? What did I achieve? –> Reflection, Problem Solving, Achievement
  8. What fun activities that I do today? What am I grateful for? Have I made someone smile today? –> Joy, Gratitude, Giving

Some extracts from my Grid Diary – 26 Feb 2017:

What new word did I learn today?

Nepotism: the practice of those with power to favor relatives and friends, especially by giving them jobs

What new thing/skill did I learn today?

  • Permanent beta
    • Companies fell when they got too comfortable, when they took success for granted, when they didn’t take new competition seriously, and when they were too slow or unable to adapt to relentless change. Ex: Auto industry (Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Chrysler).
    • To be on top of the competition, companies should stay nimble and iterate, always in the test phase, and have the “permanent beta” mindset. Ex: Silicon Valley tech companies (Google, Facebook, Netflix).
    • For individuals, “permanent beta is a lifelong commitment to continuous personal growth. Keeping your career in permanent beta forces you to acknowledge that you have bugs, that there’s new development to do on yourself, that you will need to adapt and evolve”, quoted from: “The start up of you” by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha.
  • “A competitive edge emerges when you combine different skills, experiences, and connections.”

What fun activities that I do today?

  • I had some time for myself to go for facial treatment and shopping. I also tried 4 Fingers Crispy Chicken at West Gate for the first time. The queue was shorter yesterday but the waiting time for the food was still long. I ordered chicken drumstick rice set. The taste was ok, but I still preferred Bon Chon chicken that I tried in Bangkok though.
  • 2 things that I can learn from 4 Fingers:
    • Staff can hand over to customers a card which has a QR code to enter lucky draw to win prizes. This will entice the customers to download 4 Fingers app.
    • 4 Fingers differentiate with other fast food brands by advertising that they use fresh chicken that delivered to their stores everyday, and they print this statement on tissue papers to raise brand awareness.

Sum-up stories of the big tech giants (Oct 2016) – Apple vs. Microsoft / Macbook Pro vs. Surface Studio


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Apple vs. Microsoft / Macbooks Pro vs. Surface Studio

  • Apple is stalling for time with its new Macbook Pro laptops sporting the same design we’ve seen for years, but with the addition of a new touchscreen Touch Bar that doubles as a Touch ID fingerprint sensor.
    • But why include a small touch strip why you have an entire real touchscreen? Why can’t Apple build a better Mac? Well, the replacement for the Mac is already here. It’s called the iPhone. Launching a touchscreen Mac now could confuse the market.
    • After Microsoft launched Surface Studio, Apple is no longer the darling of the tech world it once was. Many believe that Microsoft soared and Apple bored.
  • Microsoft is resurgent when launching Surface Studio desktop PC which Business Insider’s Steve Kovach commented that “the studio isn’t a computer. It’s an entirely new computing category, a sort of desktop-tablet hybrid that already has people excited.”
    • Microsoft out-innovated Apple and inspired people with the Surface Studio’s sharp, super-thin screen, smart design and innovative click wheel. It’s a 28-inch touchscreen device that moves from a vertical display down to the perfect angle for an artistic drafting board. However, with the cheapest Surface Studio featuring a $2,999 price tag, this is not a system that many people would consider as an impulse purchase.
    • Microsoft also launched Paint 3D app. You can take photos within the app and turn them into 3D objects. The app also allows you to draw or doodle in 3D and export print ready files for your 3D printer.
  • The real game now, then, is whether Microsoft can use the Surface hype to bring Windows back to growth, before Apple sorts out the existential crisis with its platforms and starts pushing its computers forward again.

Now, let’s watch the inspirational video from Microsoft: Introducing Microsoft Surface Studio:

Pokemon Go and The Travel Industry – How Travel Industry Players Thrive in the Pokemon Go World


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Is Pokemon Go a fad?

Pokemon Go is a game based on augmented reality (by Niantic) where players use their smartphone camera to walk around the street finding and catching Pokemon. Since its launch, the game already has more daily active users than Twitter.


For the past 4 days since Pokemon Go was launched in Singapore, this has been the scene that I saw at my neighbourhood:

  • Small groups of teenagers go around catching Pokemon
  • A few couples (like me and my husband) get excited when seeing a new Pokemon appearing on the smart phone’s screen
  • 2 aunties show each other how to play Pokemon Go
  • Boys and gals, men and women, in different age range, keep looking at their screen while walking, sometimes stop to collect PokeBalls at nearby Poker Stops or throw PokeBalls to those creatures to catch them
  • Many people get around a nearby ‘gym’, not to exercise, but to get in the fight with other players to win the ‘gym owner’ spot

I saw the similar scenes on the street, on the train, on the bus, at the shopping centers, literally everywhere. This is the first time that a game has attracted so many people, at the same place and the same time. I look around and I see people focus on the same thing as I do. You can say that social media such as Facebook doesn’t interest elderly people. But I can say that Pokemon Go fascinates the old aunties and uncles near my house, who normally just sit idly at the public bench. They now walk around and try catching Pokemon, with a beam of excitement in their eyes, instead of the boredom of nothing to do. To them, Pokemon Go is a hobby, like gardening (since they have to catch worms – aka Weedle, play with plants – aka Bellsprout, Weepinbell and Oddish, catch bugs – aka Pinsir), or like bird watching (since they can watch birds – aka Pidgey, Pidgeotto, Spearow, and Dodrio), or like fishing (since they can catch or watch fish – aka Goldeen, or crabs – aka Paras and Krabby, or seahorses – aka Horsea, Seadra, or turtles – aka Squirtle).

I guess, moving forward, I could add a few other hobbies, such as gardening, bird watching, or fishing, into my resume. We all will become interesting individuals.

Since I saw this game change the life style of these aunties and uncles so much, making them more active and stay away from the sedentary lifestyle, I make a bet that Pokemon Go isn’t a fad. It will be a norm. And more of Pokemon Go-like activities will enter our life. Good or bad for us, let’s time answer. But I’m sure it’s definitely good for business owners, who know how to take advantage of this new phenomenon.

As travel industry is my passion, let’s talk about how Pokemon Go influence the way we travel and how travel industry players could take advantage of Pokemon Go.

Travel industry in a Pokemon Go world

There are 3 recent examples which showcase that the travel industry players react very fast to tap on the Pokemon Go trend, with many more to follow.

1.Hotel groups launch Pokemon Go friendly hotels to attract more guests (Australia)

Mantra Group launched the world’s first Pokemon Go-friendly hotels in Sydney and Melbourne, encouraging fans to ‘Pokestop By Our Bar’ with free Pokemon Go Lures to increase their chances of catching one of the virtual pocket monsters. The hotel rooms are also decorated with different Pokemon Go creatures.


2.Tourism Boards launch Pokemon Go movie to boost tourism (Switzerland)

Basel is the third largest city in Switzerland. Basel Tourism teamed up with marketing agency Fadeout to present a “reverse” Pokemon Go video, which has become viral with nearly 65m views on Facebook. Now people are the ones being hunted in a twist on the global gaming craze.

Targeting young people, Basel Tourism told the BBC the video was showing off the city’s attractions, such as “the beautiful Old Town, the river Rhine and its bridges”. Watch the fun video here


3.Shopping Malls turn on Pokemon Go Lures to lure in tourists and shoppers (Singapore)

ION Orchard, one of the most prominent shopping malls in Singapore is set to turn into a Pokemon hot spot. Lures in the game are designed to attract a large number of Pokemon to a said location. ION Orchard said it will release ‘hundreds’ of Pokemon Go Lures at the mall from Aug 6-21. Players can also participate in photo contest on social media (Facebook and Instagram) to win shopping vouchers.

The below is the hundreds of Lures appearing on my screen when I’m at Ion Orchard this morning:


To the travel industry players, I encourage you to jump in fast and tap on this new phenomenon because it will benefit you. My suggestion to business owners: Follow your audience.

How to become a Pokemon Go master

After 4 days, here is my Pokemon Go collection so far (Caught 40 in Pokedex):


Here is my advice to Pokemon Go players :

  • Do not play Pokemon Go during office hours, or else you might risk losing your job
  • Beware of your surroundings (cars, traffic, holes, abyss) when playing the game
  • Do not play the game when you need to take care of a small baby or toddles (all your attention need to be on the baby)
  • Go to places where there are free Pokemon Lures (such as Ion Orchard)
  • Watch Pokemon Go tips before playing the game, they will help you play your games better. Here are some tips

Now, walk around and enjoy the game. Remember to bring your power bank as this game will take a lot of your phone juice.

Last but not least, today 9 August is Singapore’s 51st birthday. Happy birthday Singapore!

Check out my LinkedIn post here.

National Day Fireworks

Lucas’s Bilingual Journey – Lucas learns Vietnamese


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I wanted to note down these small stories about Lucas (my 2-and-a-half-years-old son) so that I can remember all of these precious memories about my baby when he’s still little.

When Lucas was born, both I and my husband wanted to teach him both Vietnamese (his mother tongue – both of us are Vietnamese) and English. We live in Singapore so the main communication language is English. We have a full-time helper who is a Filipino who takes care of Lucas when we are both working. During the first 1 year, his first few words were English: papa, mama, baby, mummy, daddy, broccoli, milk, water, sleep, fish, apple, etc. because my helper, whom he spent most of the time with, speaks English to him. So I would say the first language that Lucas spoke was English. During the first one year, we spoke to him in both English and Vietnamese. One thing that we insisted on teaching him first is all numbers in Vietnamese. He was able to count 1-100 in both Vietnamese and English. However, because both of us speak to him in both languages, he pick up faster when we speak to him in English than in Vietnamese. Here came my challenge: How to raise him so that he can be equally fluent in both languages. Especially, I wanted him to speak Vietnamese like a Vietnamese. However, this is not an easy thing to do, something that you can just let it be and it will be naturally. It must be done with conscious effort.

1 year ago, I bought a book by Mr Lee Kuan Yew: “My Lifelong Challenge: Singapore’s Bilingual Journey”. In his book, Mr Lee insisted that his children must know Chinese though English was the language of administration and international communication and the main working language in Singapore. Not only for his children but this was the mindset that he set for the whole country: To be bilingual, one should know at least 2 languages: English and one’s mother tongue. Why did he insist one must know his mother tongue when today English is spoken around the world, parents can choose the easier way for their children by making them learning just one language? Because he believes language transmits values. Learning the mother tongue language means imbibing the core items of history, tradition, value, heritage, and culture. Because he believes one must have the self-confidence and self-respect knowing one’s root. And one can only do that if one can speak one’s mother tongue. Mastering both English and the mother tongue language requires tremendous effort, especially from the parents. I think what Mr Lee said applies to the context of Singaporean and Vietnamese’s who born in Singapore, like Lucas: Study English well, but never forget that you are not an Englishman and will never be. You must know your mother tongue, and your roots, because this is what defines who you are.

So after reading his book, I determined that I will make it happen for Lucas. Both I and my husband speak to Lucas in Vietnamese 100%. We teach him Vietnamese words and teach him how to answer us in Vietnamese. His Vietnamese picks up fast. During the recent Chinese New Year, we went back to Vietnam for 2 weeks. This time, my helper went back to Philippine so she didn’t accompany us to go back to Vietnam.  During these 2 weeks, Lucas met up with his grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins and everyone spoke to him in Vietnamese 100%. After he came back, his Vietnamese improved tremendously. Both I and my husband have continued to speak to him in Vietnamese, no more English, and recently I observed that he was able to switch between the 2 languages naturally and effortlessly.

Here are some examples:

Lucas (wake up in the morning): Mẹ ơi, 1 cái vớ đâu?
Mom: À chắc nó rớt đâu đó á con
Lucas: Mẹ ơi thay tã
Mom: Ừa con ra kêu auntie Gina thay tã cho con, với kiếm 1 chiếc vớ nữa
Lucas (open the door to find my helper): Auntie Gina, change diaper.
Lucas (when my helper come to him): Auntie Gina, socks, 1 piece of socks

Lucas (see the small flashlight): Mẹ ơi, cái gì vậy?
Mom: À, cái đèn pin đồ chơi á con
My helper: Baby, what is that?
Lucas: Auntie Gina, new toy

Lucas (play a game with Mommy by choosing a vehicle in a book): Mẹ thích cái nào?
Mom (point to the car): À, mẹ thích car, tiếng Việt là xe hơi á
Mom: Còn con thích cái nào?
Lucas (point to the bicycle): Baby thích cái này, bicycle, tiếng Việt là xe đạp

Lucas (when Mommy comes back from work and Lucas is greeting at the door): Mẹ ơi con yêu mẹ lắm. Hun mẹ 1 cái. (meaning, Mommy I love you so much. I want to kiss you)
Mom: Ừa mẹ yêu con lắm. Cho mẹ hun 1 cái. (meaning, Mommy also love you so much. Let me kiss you)
Lucas: (Tự xoay đầu qua 1 Bên cho mẹ hun thêm) Bên này nữa. (meaning, this side) (turn his head to the other side so that Mommy can kiss the other side)
(Tự ngả đầu qua bên kia) Bên này nữa (meaning this side) (turn his head to this side so mommy can kiss again, and so on, he keep turning…)

And here are my 2 favorite examples:

Once in a long while, Lucas’s earholes are getting dirty so I have to clean for him. But because I scare he will move, so I told my husband to turn on the TV for 5 mins so that he can sit still. Yesterday I just did for him, Today, he told me:

Lucas: Mẹ ơi Ngứa lỗ tai. (Mommy, ears are itchy)

I talk to my husband that I just clean his earholes yesterday, how can today he feel itchy again. We shouldn’t clean it too often.

Then the next moment, we know what is the real reason:

Lucas: Mẹ ơi Ngứa lỗ tai. 5 phút ti vi. (Mommy, ears are itchy. 5 mins TV)

And now when I’m writing this.

Lucas (talk to my helper): Baby’s so cute.

Lucas (turn to Mom): Mẹ ơi baby đẹp. (meaning, Lucas is handsome)

So I admit: Having a baby is a greatest joy that one can have. Believe me!

More stories on Lucas’s bilingual journey to come, and this is fun to do.

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Never eat alone


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Remember that love, reciprocity an knowledge are not like bank accounts that grow smaller as you use them. Creativity begets more creativity, money begets more money, knowledge begets more knowledge, more friends beget more friends, success begets even more success. Most important, giving begets giving.

Wherever you are in life right now, and whatever you know, is a result of ideas, experiences, and people you have interacted with in your life, whether in person, through books and music, email, or culture. There is no score to keep when abundance leads to even more abundance. So make a decision that from this day forward you will start making the contacts and accumulating the knowledge, experiences and people to help you achieve your goals” – Keith Ferrazzi (Never Eat Alone)


It has never been easy for me to really enjoy any networking event. It’s just an occasion to exchange name card more or less. Exhibitions & conferences are a bit better, at least I learn new stuff from the speakers. Getting to know more people & making new friends never crossed my mind as a critical factor to success. But after finishing this book, Keith Ferrazzi (Never Eat Alone), I learn that I was a fool. Let me tell you 3 stories of mine:

1. A friend that changed my education life

When I was in final year of high school, Duy, my high school buddy convinced me to apply to NUS. I even didn’t know what NUS is back then and I totally did not have any plan to study abroad. But since he insisted that I just try my luck, I just followed him. And it turned out to be the best decision that I have ever made in my life. It gave me the opportunity to study abroad, to have access to a totally new world, open up my mind and to be who I am today.

2. A friend that changed my career life

4 years ago, I got an invitation from a friend to a local tech event, and I decided to go just for the free food and beer. During the break, the organiser introduced a few geeks to come on stage to show off their latest apps and the crowd cheered them up. It was a fantastic night. There was lightning striking through my head that night when I saw the demos, and I told myself “Those apps they developed are quite simple but really cool, and I can do it too, I should make one”. I went home with that idea and I started to do experiments, side projects, taught myself developing iOS app, in my own time after work & during weekends. Soon after, I quitted my job and founded my own company AMAS HUB Pte Ltd to develop mobile apps.

3. A friend that changed my love life

I have a friend that we went to primary school together, we barely meet during high school, and we only keep in touch online for years through Yahoo Messenger. One day, she told me about another classmate that also studying in Singapore and suggested both of us to meet. Who could tell that primary classmate reunion brought me the love of my life, we get married 3 years after that serendipity.

I really can’t imagine how my life would be if I did not follow my friend that day to submit the NUS application, or did not go to that tech event, or did not have those time killing chitchat with my friend. The network was there all the time, it connected me to opportunities. Of course it was my effort to work it out, but without that connection, it would be totally different. And I realised that I made a lot good friends, from whom I learned a lot. Those are friends from school, university, colleagues, bosses, friends from Toastmasters clubs, Founder Institute, VN 2020….

I devote to myself to actively grow my circles of friends & participate in social events, which I had neglected recently. This would be one of the resolutions for me this year.

And I would recommend this book to all of you, friends. This book will teach you how to get prepared to be a good networker, to be interesting in your conversation, to make friends more efficiently and make use of your network to get to success. After all, I know that you don’t want to eat alone and you should never eat alone.


Steve Pham


3 Travel Tech Trends to Watch in 2016 – #3-Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)


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#3 – Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

Following the first two travel tech trends to watch in 2016 which are #1-Automatic Check-in and #2-Keyless Entry, Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are the third trend which has the potential to change the way travel suppliers interact with consumers. “People are valuing experiences more than things,” says Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing officer of MasterCard. The credit-card company is discussing how it might use virtual-reality technology to give customers insights into places they would like to visit and hotels where they could stay. According to Amadeus’s report “From Chaos to Collaboration”, this could be the third generation of travel experience, in which you discover the familiar destinations in a new and non-traditional way.


AR vs. VR

Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes computer graphics on the wearer’s view of reality. AR is based on Context Aware Computing. For an AR user, the real world and the virtual objects coexist on the same view. AR is a mixture of real life and virtual reality.

Virtual Reality (VR) is a technology that fills the user’s field of vision with an entirely artificial view. VR user will be fully immersed into an artificial (animated) environment.  User’s view in VR is different from the real environment. Game playing spaces are commonly VR space.

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What to watch

  • AR – In Jul 2014, Luxury tour operator Destinology spent two months working with Google to produce StreetView guides to 40 of the hotels it markets, and Best Western hotels announced it would be spending $2m on capturing 360-degree images of 2,200 of its properties for a similar project.
  • AR – The most successful and interesting example of AR is the stand-alone smartphone application Yelp, which added AR view to provide an augmented view to its users. Yelp mobile app published crowd-sourced reviews about local businesses from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and salons.
  • VR – In Sep 2014, Marriott launched an immersive 4-D virtual reality travel experience in which guest wear a pair of Oculus Rift spectacles before being virtually transported to other destinations and other Marriott hotels such as Hawaii, London and San Francisco.

Watch this video – A Virtual Honeymoon to London and Hawaii #GetTeleported by Marriott Hotels here:

Watch the Behind the Scenes video here:

Technology Providers

  • Samsung started shipping a new version of its headset. The new $100 Oculus-powered Samsung Gear VR opens for preorders in the US. Its price tag of around $100 could give it broad appeal. (Nov 10, 2015)
  • Google already offered a $5 virtual-reality viewer, Cardboard, in which a user’s smartphone provides the screen. Google’s Cardboard camera app makes anyone a VR photographer. (Dec 3, 2015)
  • In early 2016 Sony and HTC will release more expensive offerings aimed at video gamers, as will virtual reality pioneer Oculus, which was bought by Facebook for $2 billion in 2014.
  • In Dec 2015, MIT also did an interesting research on Reality Editor App which lets you reprogram the world with Augmented Reality.

Watch the video by MIT here:


  • A recent article by The Economist titled “Ready, Headset, Go” had the tagline: “New VR headsets are being launched, but the technology’s appeal is uncertain.” (Nov 21, 2015). The main concern is that the headset often makes users dizzy. The sound and pictures are pretty good, but the technology is not yet fully able to replicate the sense of touch, even though most equipment-makers offer some sort of touchpad that lets users grab and release objects. Users do not have a sense of their own presence, or their friends’, when they wear headsets.


My thoughts

As a consumer, I welcome these technological innovations by travel suppliers. Technology will help to enrich our travel experience. Imagine how amazing it would be if the travel suppliers (hotels, airlines, car rentals, etc.) adopted “service anticipating” technology. Service anticipating means they are able to anticipate our problem in advance and eliminate all hassle before it surface or offer us a solution right away. It also means they are able anticipate our needs and offer us the right information and the right service at the right time when we need it the most. Technology will definitely enrich our travel experience.

Check out my posts on the other 2 trends:

#1-Automatic Check-in: Click here

#2-Keyless Entry: Click here

Published on my LinkedIn Profile

3 Travel Tech Trends to Watch in 2016 – #2-Keyless Entry


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After travelling for a long day, the last thing that you want to do is to wait in a long line to check into the hotel. When you finally reach the front desk, it seems like the hotel staff has to key in millions of keystrokes in the computer before finally handing you your room key.

To hotel, longer front desk wait times impact guest satisfaction. This will change in 2016, with the help of mobile technology. One of the 3 travel tech trends to watch in 2016 would be keyless entry, in which you can use your smartphone app to bypass the check-in counter and unlock your hotel room. You can also use the hotel mobile app to personalize your stay experience.

Starwood Apple Watch keyless

#2 – Keyless Entry

What to watch

  • Keyless hotel room entry is Starwood’s path into your smartphone. (Jul 14, 2015)
    • After launching its Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Keyless solution at select properties (Aloft Beijing; Aloft Cancun; Aloft Cupertino; Aloft Harlem; W Doha; W Hollywood; W Hong Kong; W New York-Downtown; W Singapore; and Element Times Square), the company is now installing SPG Keyless in 30,000 doors at all of its 150 global W, Aloft and Element hotels.
    • Available to guests who book directly through Starwood channels, such as its website and mobile app. Keyless also works via the Apple Watch.
  • Hilton will let hotel guests use their smartphones as their room keys. (Aug 11, 2015)
    • Available in Q1 2016 to all members of Hilton’s loyalty program (Hilton HHonors) who book through the hotel’s mobile app, websites or call centers
    • The app will open doors for 170,000 rooms at 250 US properties within the Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, Conrad Hotels & Resorts and Canopy by Hilton brands.
    • In 2016, Hilton plans to expand the keyless entry technology across 11 of its brands globally.
  • Marriott plans to install doors that you can unlock with your phone, let customers log into their Netflix accounts from their room TVs, and may also offer wireless charging. (Jul 9, 2015)
    • On a side note, Marriott also acquired Starwood in Nov 2016, creating the world’s largest hotel company. Combined company will have 1.1 million rooms in more than 5,500 hotels with a total of 30 leading brands.
  • Carlson Rezidor experiences keyless entry through its new lifestyle brand – Radisson Red. (Nov 11, 2015)
    • The brand appeals to tech-savvy guests with an ageless millennial mindset by offering a non-traditional stay experience. They are looking at no front desk, mobile check-in, and keyless entry so that staff are multifunctional and have the ability to interact with guests and customers in a very free-flowing setting.
    • 4 Radisson Red hotels will open in The Americas in 2016.
  • IHG rolls out mobile check-in/check-out and will soon offer keyless room entry (Jun 24, 2015). Mobile room key technology is still in the “testing” phase for the brand, but that may arrive soon.
  • For Hyatt, mobile room keys are something that the hotel is pursuing and they’re currently testing a number of solutions. (Mar 27, 2015)

Check out this video by Starwood for SPG Keyless Entry

How it works

  • Customers book their stays through the hotel’s apps or sites or call centers, input when they are arriving in the mobile app, and get a notification via their iOS, Android, and Windows phone (in some cases Apple Watch app) when their room is ready.
  • Instead of checking in and getting their keys, guests receive a code that will allow them to unlock their room.
  • Guests then use the Bluetooth technology inside the smartphone to unlock the doors by pressing the virtual “unlock” button on the app and putting their phone next to the panel of the door.
  • Guests can also print an additional plastic key card (in case their phones are running out of juice) through a hotel kiosk based on a code generated from their phone without having to wait for someone at the front desk.
  • Other services: Guests can order food from the mobile app from their room, at the pool and in the bar. Guests can also text their needs to the staff as opposed to making a call or visiting the concierge.
    • For example, Starwood has adopted “state aware” technology, so that it knows where you are when it is sending you a promotion. Before your stay, it can push relevant tourist sites near your hotel or a map with directions to your hotel. During your stay, Starwood can offer dining and other promotions that you can use at the hotel. And post-stay, it can send you feedback surveys, ask you to check in on social media, or offer promotions for your next trip.

Starwood keyless

-Source: Starwood-


  • Increase hotel revenue – Drive direct booking to brand.com rather than online travel sites
  • Personalized experience – Empower guests to customize their stay via the app by requesting amenities such as extra pillows, extra towels, snacks, drinks, etc.
  • Better control – Digital check-in helps hotels manage their inventory because customers can tell the hotel when they are arriving, helps housekeeping schedule room cleanings for the day, while the texting app let employees accept many requests at the same time
  • Increase overall guest satisfaction, engagement and brand loyalty


  • Security of the new keyless system
    • Dustin Bomar, VP of digital acquisition at Hilton: “We prioritize guest and property safety above all else. The locks and mobile keys are designed to be equally secure as traditional room keys. Mobile keys are sent to the guest’s phone over the internet using (Advanced Encryption Standard) encryption and cryptographic hash functions. These mobile keys are specific to a user’s mobile phone and guestroom. They cannot be used on any other mobile phone and cannot be used to access any other guestroom.”
    • Chris Holdren, senior VP of global and digital at Starwood Preferred Guest: “We have been working in close collaboration with our lock manufacturer … and have developed a software and hardware solution that is safe, reliable and design-forward, and just as secure as today’s key card. The software is a highly secure, two-part key system. … It requires users to enter a personal password along with an additional temporary code that is sent directly to their mobile phone.”
  • Integration with the tradition system
    • Dustin Bomar, VP of digital acquisition for Hilton: “Our solution will allow traditional keycards to continue to work alongside the mobile-enabled doors. The change isn’t likely to be too jarring for traditionalists, considering conversion plans usually provide for locks that work with both key cards and mobile devices. Therefore, if a guest’s phone battery dies, he loses his phone or just doesn’t care for technology, he can still get into the room.”

Who are the technology vendors?

  • Assa Abloy Hospitality, a subsidiary of Assa Abloy, a Swedish lock manufacturer, currently has tens of thousands of mobile-access-operated hotel locks installed worldwide.
  • Kaba, a Swiss lock and security provider is shipping locks with mobile-entry options to hotels in advance of their being ready to implement the technology.
  • Technology to use: Aside Bluetooth which is the most popular at the moment, these providers also use RFID and NFC to operate the door mechanisms.

Is it expensive for hotel?

Yes, it is. The implementation cost could be $150-240 per door unit. However, over time, this cost is expected to go down.

The Mariott key making kiosk

-The Marriott key-making kiosk-

My thoughts

In this arena, Starwood is definitely in the front line, followed by Hilton. Marriott is number 3, but as they have just acquired Starwood, the giant hotel company Marriott-Starwood would be the leader in this keyless room entry technology. Carlson Rezidor, IHG, and Hyatt are still running behind. While Carlson Rezidor takes a new approach by positioning a separate lifestyle brand to implement this new experience, IHG and Hyatt are both still in the testing phase. Hotels need to pay close attention on the security aspect of this technology. Just one security issue could affect guest’s confidence to adopt the service. Nevertheless, 2016 would be the year in which all major hotel chains will put their efforts and investment in keyless entry. As a consumer, I would definitely love to see this go mainstream. Even if my phone is out of battery, I still can print an additional plastic key card at the hotel kiosk.

What about you, will you welcome this?

Check out my posts on the other 2 trends:

#1 – Automatic Check-inClick here

#3 – Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): Click here


Published on my LinkedIn Profile


3 Travel Tech Trends to Watch in 2016 – #1-Automatic Check-in


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Travel for so many of us is to experience new destinations, open our mind and get inspired. Travel is a time to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate; or to get business done. Either for leisure or for business, travel should be seamless.

However, in reality, there are many pain points confronting the travelers such as the pain of delay, lost luggage, or the unwelcome, time-consuming queues. Technology is changing the way people travel. Technology can be deployed to overcome these challenges and improve the experience of travel.

travel around the world

The following 3 technologies will be hot topics in travel in 2016:

#1 – Automatic Check-in

What to watch

Two days ago there was an interesting article about “The first man to board a plane just by waving his hand” (published by Max Plenke on Mic on Jan 8, 2016). Andreas Sjöström, a Stockholm-based technology consultant, recently boarded a SAS flight by waving his hand at the electronic gate. He did that by using an NFC chip implanted in his hand as his boarding pass. Sjöström is certainly not the first person to have an NFC implant, but he is probably one of the first travelers to pass through Stockholm Arlanda airport, through security, at the lounge, and finally through the gate to the aircraft, using only the chip in his hand.

Watch Andreas Sjöström‘s Youtube video here: Board a flight with an NFC implant

How it works

  • His NFC chip contains his Scandinavian Airlines EuroBonus member ID, and since the airport has NFC readers all the way from security to the gate, he was able to gain access just by pressing his hand to a scanner instead of using a boarding pass or passport.
  • A near-field communication chip can communicate with an NFC-reading device to transmit information. In this case, a scanner was able to pick up the information stored in the chip, which is usually a little capsule about the size of a grain of rice.
  • The chip Sjöström uses is an xNT implant from an American company called Dangerous Things, which produces bio-hacking and citizen science equipment.


  • According to Sjöström, this could be huge for the future of air travel, or anything else that would normally need personal information. “The biggest surprise was the feeling of being able to identify myself without anything other than my body. I didn’t have to pull out anything. It gave me a new sensation, sort of a pre-notion of what it will be like in the future when we don’t have to reach out with physical objects to accomplish things.”
  • Sjöström’s experiment was part of Scandinavian Airlines’ attempt to further innovate its customer experience, beyond its current program that uses NFC-capable stickers to hold a flyer’s vital information.


  • Regulators and Operators – According to a report by Amadeus “From chaos to collaboration”, fears for national security, increased in recent years by new terrorist threats, are likely to make governments and regulators cautious about any interference with border controls. Amadeus believes that automated identity management systems are more likely to be adopted to confirm and manage boarding of vehicles (trains, planes and buses) than for cross-border transfers.

My thought

Sjöström had the implant injected into his hand through a large needle and he was bleeding! This would be scary for some of us, including myself. And my question would be that after the implant, if I don’t want the chip anymore, how easy to take it out?

I would be more comfortable with my travel identification documents (passports, tickets, and boarding pass) to be stored in an external device (for example, my phone) rather than to be implanted directly into my body. In case of the phone running out of juice, “attaching” my ID to the “cloud” would be the most flexible and easy-to-use method, provided that security is in place to address the safety of personal data.

An NFC implant would be more popular if it was a painless process. I hope with the development of technology, this can be achieved and more people will be more willing to experiment it.

Automatic check in gates at the airport terminal

Automatic check in gates at the airport terminal

Check out the next 2 trends:

#2 – Keyless Entry: Click here

#3 – Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR): Click here

Published on my LinkedIn profile

Elon Musk – a real life iron man


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I just finished the book Elon Musk, Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future, it’s the best biography I have ever read.



He is a real life iron man, even Robert Downey Jr (who stars the Iron Man series) have come to meet Elon on March 2007, take a tour around SpaceX facility and get inspiration from Elon’s character. “My mind is not easily blown, but this place and this guy were amazing”, Downey said. To Downey, the SpaceX facility looked like a giant, exotic hardware store. Enthusiastic employees were zipping about, fiddling with an assortment of machines. When he returned to the Iron Man production office, Downey asked to place a Tesla Roadster in Tony Stark’s workshop. On a superficial level, this would symbolise that Stark was so cool and connected that he could get a Roadster before it even went on sale. On a deeper level, the car was to be placed as the nearest object to Stark’s desk so that it formed something of a bond between the actor, the character, and Musk. “After meeting Elon and making him real to me, I felt like having his presence in the workshop”. Downey said. “They became contemporaries. Elon was someone Tony probably hung out with and partied with or more likely when on some weird jungle trek together to drink concoctions with the shamans”.


SpaceX Headquarter


Tesla Roaster


Musk’s first company is Zip2, a web software company providing business directories and maps to media companies and local e-commerce merchants (acquired by Compaq for US$307 million in cash and US$34 million in stock options in February 1999. Musk received 7% or US$22 million from the sale). In March 1999, Musk co-founded X.com, an online financial services and e-mail payment company, with US$10 million from the sale of Zip2. One year later, the company merged with Confinity,which had a money transfer service called PayPal. In October 2002, PayPal was acquired by eBay for US$1.5 billion in stock, of which US$165 million was given to Musk.

Right now Musk is running 3 disruptive companies in 3 different fields and each of which has sent shock waves throughout American business and industry:

SpaceX (founded on June 2002), SpaceX  mission is To enable the space flight capabilities necessary to make human life multi-planetary. SpaceX builds space rocket & spacecraft in order to transport cargo and human into space. His goal is to reduce the cost of human spaceflight by a factor of 10. SpaceX’s competitors are Boeing, Lockheet Martin, others rockets companies in Russia, China & India

Tesla Motors (founded July 2003 by Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning, Musk led the Series A round of investment in February 2004, joining Tesla’s board of directors as its chairman and assume leadership on 2008 as CEO and product architect, positions he still holds today). Tesla Motors designs and manufactures premium electric vehicles, and wants to be the biggest car makers in the world (it just reach 500,000 cars per year production benchmark), head to head compete with BMW, Fords, GM,…

SolarCity (co-founded on 2006 with his cousins Lyndon and Peter Rive). SolarCity designs, finances, and installs solar power systems in U.S. SolarCity is one of the rare successful solar energy panel company that survived 2008 crisis, went public and making profit in this solar energy business.

Personal Life

Work-life balance doesn’t exist in his dictionary, “He has been working sixteen hours a day every day for years. He gets more done than eleven people working together”. As his ex-wife, Justine, put it, “He does what he wants, and he is relentless about it. It’s Elon’s world, and the rest of us live in it”. Musk divorced Justine in 2008, they have 6 children (all boys), 1 died at few month age, 1 twins and 1 triplets. Then Musk married, divorced, remarried and then divorced the actress Talulah Riley. He’s looking for a girlfriend right now, but he only can afford to spend 5-10 hours a week for dating.

After reading this book, I really admire his vision & life mission, to build a future where human can colonise other planets, make launching rocket and bring human to other planet could be easily done everyday. To build a future with flying cars, super high speed tube (he called it Hyperloop), which he has plan to build a super high speed tube to carry human & even cars from one city to another city at 600km/h). To build a cleaner future with solar energy to replace the fossil fuel. That is a future that you now could only see in science fiction movie. But it will become possible if we have more people like Elon Musk.


Steve Pham