Diane Younes, Founder & CEO of Sponge

Diane started an on-demand and on-location beauty service which also do multiple events including fashion shows and photo shoots.

What’s your story?
I was born in France to Lebanese and German parents. I grew up in London, and have lived in New York, Montreal and now Hong Kong. I have two law degrees, one American and one Canadian. I began my career as a New York lawyer in Banking & Finance, then launched and now run a successful technology startup in Hong Kong called Sponge.

I have served as a speaker at numerous events, including at the SCMP’s Game Changers, at BNY Mellon, at KPMG and at The French Chamber of Commerce. I also write for the South China Morning Post.

What excites you most about your industry?
How fast it’s evolving. There’s no rulebook – it keeps me on my toes.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I moved to Hong Kong in April 2016 because I wanted to wake up every day, open my eyes and see something completely different after having spent nine years in New York.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Hong Kong is a small place. You can start a company and test the idea, and know pretty quickly if you’re onto something good because of how small it is.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Make mistakes. It means you’re doing something – which is better than doing nothing.

Who inspires you?
My parents. They are and forever will be, my go-tos for any business-related questions.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
How fast AI is evolving and entering mainstream markets, such as the hotel industry (e.g., facial recognition for hotel check-ins).

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Absolutely nothing.

How do you unwind?
I lift heavy weights to music with a great beat. Traveling is also the best form of therapy.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali. The sunsets, the food and the people.

Everyone in business should read this book:
‘Shoe Dog, A Memoir by the Creator of Nike’ by Phil Knight

Shameless plug for your business:
Sponge is Hong Kong’s on-demand and on-location beauty service. Clients can book makeup artists, hair stylists and eyelash technicians to their home, office, hotel, event – anywhere! – in just a few clicks on our website. We have been featured in Hong Kong Tatler, Hashtag Legend, Cosmopolitan Magazine, Sassy Hong Kong, Tech in Asia and Lifestyle Asia just to name a few. Our sponsors are Amika and Benefit Cosmetics. We’ve partnered with multiple brands including Sephora, Uber, ZALORA, Yeechoo, PURE Fitness & PURE Yoga, and REISS. We also do multiple events including fashion shows and photo shoots.

How can people connect with you?

Social Media handle?
Instagram: @gosponge

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

About The EnterpriseZone Writing Team

Shining A Light on the Small Business World and highlighting Entrepreneurial Investing Opportunities.

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