Quality Time Lab Co-Founder: Women in Asia Can Create Impressive Startups [INTERVIEW]

Vanessa Tan
7:30 pm on Nov 5, 2012

We have written much about female entrepreneurs in the region and how it is often not embraced in Asian society. But there are actually many female entrepreneurs rising up to the challenge, and excelling in their roles.

Meri Rosich is the co-founder and CEO of Singapore-based startup Quality Time Lab (formerly known as Splaype) [1], which makes a platform for families to stay connected online together. A self-confessed fan of Captain Janeway from Star Trek, Meri tells us how her corporate experience prior to starting up has shaped her thinking, and how her gender has put her in a slightly more advantageous stead over her male counterparts.

How did you get started in this industry?

Meri: I am an inventor at heart, trained in innovation in my native Barcelona with a PhD in 3D technology history, and later an MBA focused on innovation from the London Business School. I started working in internet startups right after university. I was doing research for my PhD and learned to code and create websites to organize my research, and this took me to some of the top startups in news, e-commerce, and social portals. Later I launched my [own and it] was a lot of fun.

Is Quality Time Lab your first startup? I understand prior to starting up, you had an impressive corporate career. How did that corporate experience help in your startup today?

Meri: Quality Time Lab is my third startup, after a design studio in Barcelona and a technology consultancy in London. After my MBA, I joined American Express in London, Hong Kong, and Singapore, where I learned about payments, and mergers and acquisitions. Amex is a wonderful organization, truly focused on work-life balance, and employee satisfaction. My role had a reduced schedule, virtual and flexi-work, and that inspired me to help others achieve quality time in their lives.

Do you think your gender has played a role in helping you gain an advantage over your male counterparts?

Meri: Being a woman has helped me see the world in a different perspective and that [itself] is an advantage. Women today in the startup world are starting to find solutions for problems related to family and children because of their first-hand experiences. And [mothers] are the primary buyers so there is huge potential for women in technology. At the same time, women should be treated equally and evaluated based on their skills and performance. Gender equality still does not happen today in most countries around the world. Even in the most advanced you can still find underlying discrimination. There has been dramatic progress over the past 50 years, and I hope it will continue to improve.

Do you have any female role model that you look up to?

Meri: I follow [a lot] of female role models such as Sheryl Sandberg [Facebook’s COO] and have learned from excellent leaders at Amex. But I confess my favorite female role model is the fictional character Captain Janeway from Star Trek Voyager. She is determined, value-driven and fair – a true role model for women.

Do you have any advice for fellow female entrepreneurs? Would you encourage them to embark on entrepreneurship or a corporate career first?

Meri: The skills you learn in the entrepreneurial and the corporate worlds are transferable. You must know your industry and competitors inside out, work well with people, be able to sell at all levels, and have a core knowledge of technology. It doesn’t matter where you start, work hard to expand skills, and always think big because everything is possible.

Anything else to add?

Meri: We hear a lot about startups and their technical founders. But, guess what? Some of the most hip and interesting startups in Silicon Valley are founded and led by women who are not engineers, and women in Asia should know it is possible, and dare to think big.

This is part of Tech in Asia’s series on female entrepreneurship.

  1. A previous version of this article mistakenly referred to the service by its former name of Splaype.  ↩
(And yes, we're serious about ethics and transparency. More information here.)

  • Merri

    Good read. How do u pronounce Splaype btw? I saw someone on Twitter asking the same question too

  • Goh

    What a talented lady. All the best for Splaype.

  • Soh Kim

    One question that you missed, Vanessa. Nonetheless yes still good read. As a female entrepreneur, it is especially hard to balance between family/children. I wonder if Meri is married and if she faces pressure from family. if yes, how have she handle and balance it. thank you.

  • http://www.techinasia.com Vanessa Tan

    @Merri: Thank you for your comment and apologies, my bad. It is now called Quality Time Lab instead of Splaype.

    @Goh: Yes :)

    @Soh Kim: Thank you for your comment and yes, fantastic question. Meri is married and is in fact a mother of two. She created Quality Time Lab based on her video-conferencing experience with her children. You can read more about her startup here: http://www.techinasia.com/splaype/. I guess Meri will be the best person to share how she handles and balances between family and work, and we will address your comment soon. Thanks!

  • http://www.qualitytimelab.com Meri

    Thanks for the great question Soh Kim!! I am a firm believer in work-life balance. But it does not come naturally, you have to make a conscious decision to achieve work-life balance in the same way you make the conscious decision to run a marathon, you plan, train and measure progress. When I finished my MBA most for my colleagues went for investment banking, but I knew I wanted to start a family, so I applied to positions in the top 100 most admired companies, and Amex had great policies to support women. I am now married and have a 5 year old boy and a 2 year old daughter, and I have been able to spend a lot of time with them. If you know what you want, make a conscious decision to go for it. Work-life balance is achievable as long as you know what your ideal balance is.

  • Peggy

    still, there’s only 24 hours. what happens to the children when both mom and dad go to work?

  • http://www.curiouscore.com Daylon

    Something tells me this is going to be a pretty awesome series.

    Vanessa, this might help: http://www.facebook.com/secretwb

  • Peter K.

    Yea Go Meri! Nice interview!

  • http://www.liveandworkinchina.com Galina

    Thank you for the article, gals! Love the website design of “Quality Time Lab”!
    I’m glad to have found you. Is there an incubator for female entrepreneurs in Asia?

  • http://is.gd/CLRSRi Eakes

    How does blogging/setting up a blog help a small to meduim size business grow?

  • http://www.techinasia.com Vanessa Tan

    @Daylon: Thank you for the encouragement :) I missed the event last night though, but will definitely keep myself updated with that :)

    @Peter: :)

    @Galina: Thanks! Not that I know of at the moment though. But do let us know if you come across any! :)

  • http://www.qualitytimelab.com Meri

    Thanks everyone:

    @Galina: Thanks for the comment on the website design !!

    “@Peggy – what happens to the children when both mom and dad go to work?” – I am lucky to have a proper office at home for the business. Our 4 bedroom unit has an unusual distribution and one large room was perfect as office. So Kids go to school and when they come back I am home. Like most parents we take turns to go our for events or for business trips. One trick is to share a Google calendar with all the kids activities and business events to be able to plan ahead. And if we are away we Skype a lot !!

  • Peggy

    Oh i see. Lucky you then. Tough for office goers. Thanks for the reply anyway. good luck

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