Ms. Mel Lim: Building Beyond Boundaries by Unleashing True Creativity

Ms. Mel Lim has had a remarkable professional journey spanning over two decades, culminating in the creation of Chateauz™. In an exclusive interview with CIO Views, Mel shares her incredible journey of passion and success.

  • Every leader has a unique definition of success. Tell us about your thoughts on success and why do you feel that.

For the perpetual seeker of personal growth, the term “success” often seems paradoxical, almost excessively definitive, as though it implies a finite endpoint. Life, however, is an ongoing odyssey. In my youth, it may have meant garnering professional accolades, delving into prestigious projects with renowned clients, and flourishing rather than merely surviving. Yet, at this juncture in my journey, success takes on a more profound, spiritual dimension. It’s about living authentically, shedding the layers of pretense to reveal my true self, embracing, and embodying my core values in both personal and professional spheres. It’s about having the freedom to pursue my passions without compromise, to express my creativity to the fullest, unburdened by the weight of external validation or the fear of judgment. In this sense, success equates to freedom. And it’s equally about the boundless love and unwavering support I receive from my two remarkable children, who have been the bedrock of my every endeavor as a single parent, weaving their presence seamlessly into the tapestry of my entrepreneurial journey.

  • What inspired you to take the step of faith to lay the foundation for Chateauz?

Chateauz emerged from my extensive experience collaborating with a global enterprise client during my design and strategy consultancy work. Over the past seven years, we’ve explored the potential of XR technologies to enhance various aspects of business, from hybrid work collaborations and cultural improvements to product demos and annual sales kick-off events. These experiences have revealed critical insights: For enterprises of all sizes to succeed and expand their XR initiatives, they must address challenges related to adoption, interoperability, and business intelligence. Every day, I wake up driven by questions like, “How can we create a scalable technology to enable this? How can we improve upon existing solutions, learning from both their successes and failures? What core values should guide us?” These questions have shaped Chateauz’s foundational strategic priorities: (1) Design Excellence, where we prioritize delivering captivating and straightforward designs and storytelling experiences; (2) Innovation, as we embrace technology as a means to enhance the human experience ethically; and (3) Premium Experience, committing ourselves to providing exceptional services, experiences, and products to our customers, vendors, partners, and employees.

  • Challenges make you stronger. What is your take on this? What were the roadblocks that taught you valuable lessons in your professional journey?

With over two decades at the helm of my own consultancy before the inception of Chateauz™, my professional journey has traversed diverse terrains. My earlier years were immersed in the world of commercial architecture, where I sculpted spaces that seamlessly blended form and function. Additionally, I embarked on an entrepreneurial adventure, birthing a product line that found its way into the hands of more than 500 retailers worldwide.

This odyssey has not been without its share of trials and triumphs, both material and emotional, navigating the ebbs and flows of multiple economic recessions. Through these experiences, I’ve unearthed profound truths. I’ve come to understand that genuine creativity transcends the pursuit of external influences. True innovation demands a crystalline clarity of thought and an unwavering vision.

Yet, one of the most formative chapters of my life unfolded at a remarkably young age, establishing my financial independence at the tender age of 19. As an immigrant, severed from the safety net of family and friends, I was thrust into a world where every decision I made was an echo of my own resolve, reverberating across the spectrum of outcomes, be they good, bad, or downright challenging. This crucible of self-reliance sculpted my instincts, fueled my heart-driven creativity, and forged an unyielding resilience that propels me forward on this extraordinary journey. In essence, I’ve come to embrace the unequivocal ownership of my choices and the indomitable spirit that they’ve ignited.

  • Tell us more about Chateauz and its services.

Chateauz™ addresses three crucial challenges in spatial computing for enterprises: how to effectively integrate XR technologies into their operations, how to expand their brand experience, and how to determine the return on investment (ROI).

So, how do we accomplish this? Our recommendation engine is the key. It matches specific business needs with suitable XR spaces built on various XR platforms, ensuring that organizations can enjoy interoperable and scalable experiences. Additionally, we provide a robust AI/ML data utility dashboard that offers real-time insights into user behavior. This dashboard answers essential questions about spatial engagements, including who is engaging, what they are doing, where they are doing it, when, how, why, and the ROI.

What sets us apart is our ability to achieve this at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time it traditionally takes. We achieve this by placing business intelligence at the heart of our approach, allowing organizations to make data-driven decisions swiftly, with 100 times the cost savings and 10 times the speed of adoption.

  • Tell us about your life before What marked the beginning of your career?

My career journey in the United States began in 1997, marked by financial hardships as my parents faced bankruptcy shortly after my arrival due to the Asian economic crisis. Faced with two choices—returning to Malaysia or finding a way to support myself through college—I chose the latter path. This determination led me to juggle five teaching assistant jobs while interning at prestigious architecture and design firms during my studies at the Art Center College of Design.

After graduation, I immersed myself in commercial architecture for over seven years before venturing into entrepreneurship with my own product manufacturing company. In 2003, I established my design and strategy consultancy, which evolved to collaborate with cutting-edge technology enterprises across various fields, from cybersecurity to neuroscience.

My dedication yielded numerous prestigious accolades, speaking engagements at esteemed institutions like Stanford, KPMG, and Microsoft, and the writing of a book titled “Turtle Design In A Rabbit Age” on creativity and mindfulness, and published by Routledge. I now proudly serve on advisory boards, embodying a transformative journey from adversity to accomplishment.

Then Chateauz™ was born…

  • Has it been difficult to thrive as a leader in this industry? Share with us your views on making an influential impact on the next generation of leaders and how you wish to do so.

Has it been challenging? Absolutely. Building a tech startup is an arduous journey, no matter who you are. Crafting a tech startup as a woman? Some might argue it’s even more demanding, considering that just 15% of tech startup founders are female.1 But here’s the twist: I’m not just a woman building a tech startup; I’m a single mother raising two young boys simultaneously. Many might say that’s a recipe for the impossible; yet, in my vocabulary, the word “impossible” holds no sway.

Acknowledging the stark statistics and fielding questions that can range from, “Did you really build this?” to “Can you please smile more and talk less during your presentation?” is a reality I can’t ignore. Many remarkable female founders have shattered glass ceilings, paving the way for entrepreneurs like me; however, letting these challenges rattle me would be counterproductive. I could mention that I was accepted into Mensa at the tender age of 13 and that I can master a new scripting language or 3D game/CAD software in a matter of hours, or that I’m an ambidextrous polyglot, but that might come off as boastful. Yet, there are moments when such revelations keep the skeptics at bay.

At the core of my being, I carry two unwavering principles that not only guide my own path but may serve as a compass for nurturing the next generation of leaders. The first is the “beginner’s mind,” a mindset that allows us to explore and embrace the world with childlike curiosity, unburdened by the constraints of the “expert mind” that often stifles creativity and growth. In the words of Shunryu Suzuki, “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” This perspective empowers us to adapt, to be flexible when needed, and to stand firm when required. It creates space for creativity, playfulness, the lessons of failure, and the transformative encounters that shape our lives. It reminds us that the journey itself is where the magic resides, not in reaching a predetermined destination.

The second guiding principle is integrity, where our word is our bond. This principle is not just about the words we speak but the actions we take. In the realm of business and life, it is the foundation of trust and the bedrock of reputation. It is through our consistent actions and unwavering commitment to our promises that we earn the respect of our peers, build trust within our professional networks, and attract like-minded individuals who share our drive, compassion, and commitment to excellence. In essence, it is the way we navigate this journey, and it’s a lesson I impart to my young boys: that words matter, but actions speak even louder, forging the path to a life of impact and authenticity.

  1. (
  • What has been the best recognition that you received as a leader?

The notion of a single “best” recognition or accolade eludes me. I believe it’s the culmination of meaningful moments that truly define leadership for me. It’s about those instances when someone sets out on a two-hour journey from their Ohio farm to attend one of my speaking engagements, a person I’ve never met, waiting patiently in line to share how my life story inspired them to embark on a new career path. It’s encountering fellow female executives at events, who approach me and earnestly request that I establish a coaching business to guide them in leadership, despite my reservations about my qualifications as a coach. It’s the moments spent lecturing at an Ivy League MBA class on innovation or standing before an audience of 2000 people, discussing design on a grand stage.

These moments resonate with me because they signify that I’ve touched a chord, that I’ve somehow struck the right note in my journey, inspiring individuals from diverse backgrounds to connect with me on profound intellectual and emotional levels. Their stories, shared failures, and triumphs have left an indelible impact on me, as they’ve felt safe enough to confide in me, entrusting their experiences to my heart in confidence.

  • What is your vision and plan for the future of Chateauz?

In the not-so-distant future, I envision Chateauz™ emerging as the preeminent leader in spatial computing analytics, poised to make a transformative impact analogous to the revolutionary role Google Analytics played in traditional web platforms. Our bold vision propels us toward a 2030 where countless businesses seamlessly transition into the dynamic realm of spatial computing and extended reality (XR).

At the core of our mission is the streamlining of adoption processes, empowering enterprises to fully harness the boundless potential of spatial computing. This transformation transcends mere operations; it’s a fundamental shift that reshapes how businesses operate, communicate, and innovate.

Our cutting-edge AI and machine learning models serve as a lighthouse, illuminating the path to enhanced content and experience delivery across spatial computing platforms. These insights are the catalyst for a new era, revolutionizing how users engage with and consume digital content in spatial dimensions.

Our unwavering commitment lies in equipping enterprises with the tools and strategies needed to future-proof their businesses. We believe in sustainable, scalable, and profoundly impactful digital transformation. Chateauz™ isn’t just a company; it’s a catalyst for the evolution of businesses into the immersive, transformative world of spatial computing, driving innovation, growth, and resilience for the years to come.

  • What are your responsibilities as Founder & CEO of Chateauz? Walk us through your regular day at work. Also, define yourself in one word.

In the world of startups, resilience is my guiding star. With over 25 years of experience under my belt, I’ve cultivated not only resourcefulness and determination but an unwavering resilience. Those who have had the privilege of working alongside me know that I’m the type to face any challenge head-on, maintaining a laser focus, uplifting spirit, and inspiring everyone around me to join in the journey. There’s a prevailing jest among those who attend meetings with me: You’ll either depart feeling invigorated and recharged, or you might just find yourself pleasantly exhausted from the sheer energy I bring to the table.

At Chateauz™, our startup status means that my daily routine is anything but routine. It adapts to our evolving milestones and immediate needs. However, if we zoom out, my focus generally centers around four key areas: product development, sales, fundraising, and operations. In each domain, I’m fortunate to have a dedicated lean team and a network of trusted advisors who share in our collective vision. Understanding my strengths and weaknesses early on has been crucial in shaping our advisory framework and hiring strategy. It’s also vital to recognize that setbacks, experiments, and improvements are all part of developing cutting-edge technologies. As long as we have a team equally passionate about this journey, we’ll keep gaining valuable insights and net positive on the learning outcomes.

Many days, you’ll find me diving headfirst into coding and hands-on development, collaborating closely with our talented development team. On others, I’m engrossed in back-to-back investor discussions or engaging with customers and partners, seeking ways to enhance our product.

My technical background and extensive experience in product development for tech companies, along with guidance from our tech advisors, empower me to chart a clear product roadmap and choose the most fitting tech stack. This knowledge allows us to maintain a lean budget, allocating resources precisely where they’re needed. In today’s economic climate, capital efficiency is a cornerstone of our growth strategy. We’re in this for the long haul, prioritizing sustainability, and longevity over fleeting trends.

Establishing our strategic priorities and core values from the outset has been a game-changer. It serves as our compass, guiding us in forming partnerships and shaping our recruitment strategy. It also dictates the kind of individuals/investors we welcome onto our cap table. For us, it’s not about chasing fast money or jumping onto fleeting trends. We’re here to construct a robust tech foundation, and we’re here to stay, staunchly committed to building something substantial and enduring.

  • How do you maintain a balance in your personal and professional life? How do you keep yourself and your team motivated to deliver the best services?

Earlier in my career, I possessed a certain freedom when it came to networking and travel. I was a relentless road warrior, and my priorities were clear: professional career first, followed by my then-spouse. Consequently, clients, conferences, and opportunities took precedence, and I rarely hesitated to say yes. This approach opened doors to remarkable opportunities, from speaking engagements to exciting business ventures.

Fast forward to today, where I find myself a single mother, raising two young children since they were in diapers. Balancing the responsibilities of a CEO alongside the demands of their schedules forced me to become more discerning about how I allocate my time. Every moment spent away from them prompts a crucial question: Is this opportunity truly worth the time away from my children? Can this task be delegated or managed remotely?

In essence, single parenthood has transformed me into a better and more efficient leader while nurturing a deeper sense of compassion. During and Post-COVID, I’ve witnessed peers and team members grappling with similar challenges, not just as caretakers for their children but also for aging parents. While at Chateauz™, we’re dedicated to crafting innovative technologies and delivering excellence, we recognize that at the heart of it all, it’s about the human experience. Our journey is about making each other’s lives better.

The intersection of work and personal life can be an intricate dance, each with its own set of demands and challenges. To empower our team to show up as their best selves, we must create an environment and equip them with the tools and support needed not only to thrive but to flourish. This is the essence of our mission at Chateauz™: to honor the complex tapestry of human existence and provide the space for individuals to excel, both professionally and personally.

  • Tell us about your personal goals. What is your message to aspiring executive leaders?

I draw inspiration from the profound words of Kahlil Gibran: “Your daily life is your temple and your religion. When you enter into it, take with you your all.” This sentiment resonates deeply within me, shaping my philosophy of wholehearted commitment in everything I undertake. In the tapestry of Buddhism, we embrace the impermanence of life, recognizing its fleeting nature. Every morning, I awaken with a mantra that drives me: What can I do today that distinguishes itself from yesterday, ushering in new learning, growth, and a greater capacity to become a better, devoted mother, a steadfast friend, and a loving sister?

The answer might manifest in various forms, from delving into a profound book on quantum physics to the exhilaration of a boxing session. It could lead to culinary adventures with my children, soaring high during a skydiving lesson, or even piloting an aircraft. The essence is to embrace every day as a canvas for exploration, an opportunity to evolve and enrich our lives in multifaceted ways.

To my fellow aspiring executive leaders, I humbly offer this piece of advice: Go forth and be unapologetically you, but venture where you are celebrated, not merely tolerated. Your journey should be a symphony of experiences that resonate with your passions and talents, enriching your life and the lives of those around you.