10 Updates
Plane Ticket Journals - Capitalism Takes Flight: Keith Huang
Photo Credit: Forbes Business

Plane Ticket Journals - Capitalism Takes Flight: Keith Huang

Feb 24 2014, 9:04pm CST | by

The Plane Ticket Journals is a series that will focus on professionals age 30 and under that have taken a step to change their lives with the purchase of a plane ticket to somewhere else. The Plane...

Filed under: news


21 weeks ago

Plane Ticket Journals - Capitalism Takes Flight: Keith Huang

Feb 24 2014, 9:04pm CST | by

The Plane Ticket Journals is a series that will focus on professionals age 30 and under that have taken a step to change their lives with the purchase of a plane ticket to somewhere else. The Plane Ticket Journals is not about billionaires, fund managers or world leaders, but people in a transitional moment who are willing to make bold moves and take the risks to be the next billionaires, fund managers or world leaders.

Keith Huang was living the American Dream his parents envisioned for him when they brought him to the United States from China at the age of 7. He grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, from that young age through the end of his university studies with a biochemistry degree from Louisiana State University. Mr. Huang then went on to a career in the pharmaceuticals industry working for Fortune 500 pharmaceutical companies during four and a half years trying to climb the corporate ladder. In the last two years, his desire for something more, his interest in emerging markets investments and a Christmas party led him to start a currency exchange (FX) business in Mongolia, almost start a real estate fund in Mongolia, start a tire business in Mongolia’s desert, start an FX business in China and plan for a wealth management business in China.


Now 30, married and the father of one, he has no second thoughts about leaving behind his career in pharmaceuticals. His childhood drives him to strive for greater success. Mr. Huang says his father was a member of the educated elite in China and once the general manager at an SOE agricultural plant in his early childhood. Mr. Huang’s irreverence comes through when he explains his family left China after his father was sacked from his position for “not wooing those above him.”

His family went through the challenges of immigrating to the United States initially for his father to pursue a Ph.D., an academic career and their American Dream. His father needed to borrow money from family just to buy the plane ticket to the U.S. and Mr. Huang’s family struggled to get by throughout his childhood. In the American house Mr. Huang grew up in, he observed his father’s diligence and pride as well as the caution his parents took on with age. His father’s efforts to attain a Ph.D. were successful but he did not fulfill his dream of becoming a professor.

At one time when times were tough, his father went to the welfare office to get food stamps . When his father looked around at the other people waiting in line, “he saw the class of the people around him that were getting food stamps and he didn’t want to be associated with that.” His father left the line and walked out of the office to look for work instead of waiting to qualify for a handout. Academia did not adequately pay the bills, so Mr. Huang’s father ultimately shifted to the private sector and became a bio-statistical programmer working for pharmaceutical corporations.

The biggest role that my parents played in my choice to become an entrepreneur was seeing all the missed opportunities that my father had but did not capitalize on. After all the sacrifices and hardships my parents endured, I know if I don’t improve from what they achieved, then I would certainly live into old age with deep regrets.

While Mr. Huang enjoys watching mixed martial arts and basketball, his primary hobbies these days are “reading and communicating with successful entrepreneurs and investors about economics, investing and business.” He admires entrepreneurs such as Alibaba’s Jack Ma who “are self-made billionaires that have great morals and principles, and persevered.” The morals Mr. Huang admires include honesty and transparency that breeds relationship loyalty. Mr. Huang shows his own interest in the failures that lead to success when he points out that Jack Ma failed for 10 years before he founded Alibaba.

When Mr. Huang explains his career path in pharmaceuticals, it sounds as though he was on an easy path to a comfortable middle class American life. When asked if that life still holds some allure he responds:

You feel that your life is constrained. Your entire life, all these nice things you have is dependent on these jobs. Any downturn in the economy and you’re just a number. When that happens, I’ve seen people get desperate and I said to myself, this is no way to live. I don’t want someone to have that kind of power over me.


Mr. Huang promised himself early in his career that if he wasn’t on an executive track in pharmaceuticals by the age of 30, he would make a go of being an entrepreneur. In his mid 20s, he became interested in emerging markets. In doing so he came across information suggesting Mongolia, a hot market in 2010, could be the next big thing with a large amount of natural resources on China’s doorstep.  At a Christmas Party in Philadelphia in 2011, he met the CEO of FX Primus Limited , a foreign exchange trading platform company that started in 2009. FX Primus was looking to build on the success they had in Singapore and Malaysia. Mr. Huang suggested Mongolia as a place to expand.

From that conversation, Mr. Huang bought his plane tickets, going to Mongolia in February 2012 to do a due diligence study and relocating in April 2012 to open an FX Primus franchise in the country under the name Chiron LLC. During his 16 months in Mongolia, he learned how to start a business from scratch, recruit employees and acquire customers. As he cut his teeth and proved his worth to FX Primus management, the decision was made that “1% more of the market share in China would be better than having 100% of the market in Mongolia” with its population of only 3 million people.

Looking back on why he made the move and where he chose to go first, Mr. Huang says:

I was inspired by the stories from Mongolia I had been reading and hearing. I just thought it was the perfect opportunity. It seemed like a free world where you could start from scratch as an entrepreneur. That was quite naïve of me at the time without realizing how things really worked in frontier economies.

Mr. Huang’s on the ground experience in Mongolia also included two other ventures in addition to the FX Primus business. At one point, he looked into starting a real estate investment fund and went to Singapore to raise funds for it before determining the market timing was not right. He also assessed a need to improve the supply chain for tires in the burgeoning mining industry of Mongolia’s Gobi Desert. With the tire company he learned many execution issues that can challenge the success of a good idea. Although the tire company continues operations and may still turn the corner, Mr. Huang is counting it currently as part of the tuition one pays on the educational path to successful entrepreneurship.


Terry Thompson, President and CEO of FX Primus says:

When we met in December 2012 Keith had done a lot of due diligence and had a clear vision about the business prospects in Mongolia. He convinced us, we believed in him and he did very well there.

Last year, Keith came to us with a clear and concise plan how to build the FX Primus brand in China. We knew we needed to expand our presence in China for a long time. We thought he did such a great job in Mongolia, we wanted him to replicate that in China.

Today based in Shanghai Mr. Huang is working to build the FX Primus brand in China as FX Primus’ Managing Director of East Asia. Moving from Mongolia where he cut his teeth to China was a rapid process of scaling up business. Mr. Huang notes in his first month working in China, the deposits he accrued at his FX Primus operation there exceeded deposits he had from sixteen months in Mongolia, and he was told by many that he did “really well” in Mongolia.

Mario Singh, FX Primus’ Director of Training and Education says of Mr. Huang:

I am very impressed with his drive and leadership. The important task of setting up our entire China presence in Shanghai was given to him and he has delivered outstanding results. As a company, we strive to be world-class in all that we do and having Keith on board makes our journey that much easier and brighter.

Mr. Huang still visits his parents and younger brother in California where they relocated to when he was at LSU. When he speaks about his brother, 8 years his junior, Mr. Huang’s attitude toward self-determination is clear:

He works in tech and immediately jumped into business development. I am a role model to him and he has been watching and learning from my endeavors. He will not be going for a Master’s, Ph.D. or MBA. He understands that the world is changing so fast these days that we cannot afford to lose time on developmental opportunities and ventures.


Mr. Huang prefers Giorgio Armani and Theory. To relax, he enjoys H. Upmann aged Cuban cigars and triple cask 16-year Balvenie single malt scotch. Currently in the market for a watch that Asian business associates will recognize, he is leaning toward purchasing a Rolex Daytona despite the allure of Patek Philippe. When visiting California he collects red wine such as Opus One that carries with it a premium value and name recognition prestige in China.

Mr. Huang is interested in what matters to other successful people as his next plan is to begin a wealth management company in China. He sees great opportunities in the Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities of China whose population has size and wealth greater than most countries. Where he sees an opportunity is that many Chinese people still prefer investing in real estate, fixed income and assets they can see in their bank account or feel and touch such as gold. Mr. Huang believes that these investments are becoming more saturated in China. Thus his next business idea is based on marketing, educating and selling overseas wealth management products to this population in need of new investment avenues.


Mr. Huang says he has always believed he “has what it takes to succeed” and knew he was different from his colleagues in corporate America. After several years in pharmaceuticals “accepting all challenges and additional work for the team it was actually corporate politics that was my tipping point.” The sensation of feeling stuck due to imposing corporate politics inspired Mr. Huang to be in charge of his own destiny. During his pharmaceutical career, his ascent up the corporate ladder lagged his drive. Early on, it was an indicator he may have to change companies or be stuck in middle management. In the end, it was the indicator he needed to make a jump to his entrepreneurial pursuits. While he’s quick to note, “I’m not rich yet,” he adds “I did learn a lot in Mongolia” and “I want to make enough of an impact” to join the billionaires club. As opposed to his prior career track in pharmaceuticals, when he falls short at entrepreneurship, he knows he is one effort closer to this success.

If you know someone who merits consideration for a Plane Ticket Journal please send an e-mail to me at planeticket@mail.com

Source: Forbes Business


7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat was told t ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia


7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken into by robbe ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia


7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by t ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia


7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minister, Datuk Ser ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia


7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the southern states last month. ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia


7 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million in comp ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia


7 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia


7 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involvin ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia


7 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar Scheme 201 ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia


7 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Skyway (Kidex) ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia


Don't miss ...


<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Bangladeshi plane catches fire at Nepal airport, passengers safe
Kathmandu, July 28 (IANS) A Bangladeshi aircraft caught fire while landing at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) Monday afternoon, officials said.
Shift work can worsen asthma, pneumonia
London, July 28 (IANS) A research has found that drugs widely used to treat lung diseases like asthma or pneumonia work better with the body clock.
Decoded: What triggers sexual arousal in you
New York, July 28 (IANS) Know why just looking at an attractive face stimulates sexual arousal? Well, it takes two to tango!
Turn your selfie into emoji with this app
New York, July 28 (IANS) Tired of seeing the same yellow-faced smileys? In an age of selfies, how can emojis be far behind?

Latest from the Network

31 killed in Iraq violence
Baghdad, July 28 (IANS) At least 31 people were killed and 20 others wounded in the latest violent attacks and conflicts in Iraq, police source said Monday. Police patrols Monday found 14 unidentified bodies - 11 men...
Read more on Politics Balla
Narang clinches men's 50m rifle prone silver
Glasgow, July 28 (IANS) Indian shooters continued to bring home more medals as Gagan Narang won the country's third medal Monday clinching the men's 50-metre rifle prone silver in the finals at the Commonwealth Games...
Read more on Sport Balla
Renew humanitarian truce in Gaza: UN chief
United Nations, July 28 (IANS) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon Monday urged Israel and te Islamist Hamas movement to renew a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza and called on those responsible to "step back from provoking...
Read more on Politics Balla
Indian paddlers lose men's team bronze playoff
Glasgow, July 28 (IANS) India's men paddlers suffered a disappointing finish in the team bronze medal playoff, losing to Nigeria 1-3 at the Commonwealth Games here Monday. India, who had won the bronze in the same...
Read more on Sport Balla
Ousted Thai PM faces power-abuse allegation
Bangkok, July 28 (IANS) Thailand's Election Commission (EC) is accusing former prime minister Yingluck Shinawatra of abusing power by using public funds to campaign for elections, local media reported Monday. EC...
Read more on Politics Balla
CWG: Ghosal, Anaka lose in squash
Glasgow, July 28 (IANS) Indian squash players Saurav Ghosal and Anaka Alankamony bit the dust Monday bringing to an end their individual campaigns in squash singles at the Commonwealth Games here. While Ghosal lost...
Read more on Sport Balla
England 452/5 at tea
Southampton, July 28 (IANS) England were batting at 452/5 at tea on Day 2 of the third cricket Test against India at the Rose Bowl here Monday. Ian Bell and wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler were batting on 133 and 13...
Read more on Sport Balla
Hockey: India out to prove a point against Australia
Glasgow, July 28 (IANS) Having registered consecutive victories against Wales and Scotland, India will be hoping to continue their winning spree when they face defending champions Australia in their next group game of...
Read more on Sport Balla
England declare first innings at 569/7
Southampton, July 28 (IANS) England declared their first innings at 569 for seven on the second day of the third cricket Test against India at The Rose Bowl here Monday. Ian Bell was the top scorer with 167 while Gary...
Read more on Sport Balla
Hosts Scotland record best CWG gold haul
Glasgow, July 28 (IANS) Hosts Scotland recorded their highest Commonwealth Games gold haul here by picking up their 12th yellow metal Monday. Alex Marshall and Paul Foster won Scotland's historic 12th gold medal in...
Read more on Sport Balla