Living in Singapore.. The Real Thing

Johan M Karlstedt’s company, QXSystems provides software for virtual working communities and is built on the QXS philosophy about building success in individuals, groups and organizations, developed also by the interesting Finnish businessman. 
With a background in engineering, Johan founded his first company in Finland, Coolex® Oy, a successful air-conditioning and cooling equipment manufacturer. After selling his company in 1998, Johan and his family relocated to the United States for several years before moving to Singapore a year ago.
“Everything you see about the US on TV is true,” says Johan, “The drugs, the shootings, the corruption, the attitudes…you can’t really be highly productive there.”
In 2005, the family had enough and decided that perhaps it would be best to leave the US and head to Asia for some exploration, one of the reasons being that Johan was also developing software with his partners in India. He noted that many of his friends kept talking about Singapore and how organized and nice it was. There were also many horror stories about the state being clinical and how one could get thrown into jail for chewing gum so it was a place he had mixed feelings about.
Their first impression of Asia was Bangkok where they stayed for a month, then Singapore. The family had their doubts about Singapore; it was the rainy season. The darkness and gloom was anything but inviting. It was two weeks before the weather improved and the family explored the rest of sunny Singapore, falling in love with the country. They subsequently postponed their Hong Kong trip and stayed in Singapore for several months.
“What I discovered and love about Singapore is that unlike the United States, you don’t have to constantly keep watching your children,” says Johan, “It’s not because I don’t trust my children, I did not trust the people.”
“It took a while for my children to get used to the freedom,” adds Johan, “My wife Liisa and I actually had to tell them to ‘Go out! Do something on your own!’”
From January to March 2006, the Karlstedts returned to the United States, packed everything up and moved to Singapore permanently.

Formulating Work and Life
Johan’s main line of work involves him creating international online working communities, allowing for workspace mobility that defies physical limitations of an office. His company, QXSystems founded by Johan in 1998 aims to introduce the concept of working virtually, literally.
As Johan explained, the knowledge age with the use of the Internet would be the next revolutionary era after the agricultural and industrial periods. The basis of his theory of the online epoch is founded on the US’s success with the invention of the steam engine in Europe and the subsequent innovations such as steam trains and railroads. No longer was the sea an obstacle nor the only choice in delivering products, other variables and people. The option of land transportation was undoubtedly a turning point in the growth of America. At each rest stop, cities were built and the communities grew into the present state of America.
In a similar fashion, the Internet is helping to bring communities together, the only difference being that while the railroad network was able to bring American communities together, the Internet is bringing the world together as one large community.
This can be seen true in the success of online communities such as YouTube and MySpace, where people from all over the world gather together online to communicate. According to Alexa Internet – a subsidiary off that provides information on web traffic, MySpace is currently the world’s fourth most popular English-language website and the sixth most popular website in any language.
WorkACE is QXSystem’s software that enables the creation of a virtual working environment. The software development started in 2000 with Johan examining existing software. Most of them were developed based on the assumption that the company’s staff physically works in only one location.
The software developed by QXSystems is highly innovative. Information is organized into virtual structures translating the physical working environment into a highly efficient virtual format.
As an example of virtual living, Johan’s four children though staying in Singapore, are being schooled in a US school. It seems that one does not necessarily have to be in a particular set location to work or study in it.
Although having such a great innovation on hand, Johan has slight difficulty introducing this concept to Asia, especially Singapore. The biggest difference between the Americans and Singaporeans, as noted by Johan is that Singaporeans are not risk-takers the way Americans are; an attribute that works great for them.
“Americans understand that you have to lose a couple of times before you win. Singaporeans are so afraid of losing that they don’t win.” He says, “It’s a pity because Singaporeans have so much potential but they want to play safe.
Johan also adds that both him and 40% of Americans work from home, a fact that most of the Singaporeans he has met with are uncomfortable with.
“When Singaporeans ask me where I work from and I say home, they are often confused.” he laughs.

A Blueprint of the Future
Johan believes that the virtual working environment will create a surge in the professional world within a couple of years. He also feels that the coming internet work era holds tremendous amount of opportunities for Singapore. With the Internet, who needs the physical size of the US?
A comprehensive Software-as-a-Service version for SME’s will launch early this year at QXSystems also aims to donate USD 100 million to charitable organizations worldwide in the form of free soft wear and hosting services. This will be a tremendous boost to the efficiency of these organizations helping them to deliver more aid to where it is needed.
At the end of the day, even with the skepticism he has faced in Singapore about his work, Johan can’t complain much about life here.
“I am actually planning to become a Permanent Resident here,” beams Johan, “Really, you Singaporeans do not know how lucky you are!”

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

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