In this week’s Asia Tech Podcast, we share what we’ve learned from a year of getting out there and traveling around Asia talking to startup founders and investors. How effective are startup events really? Do we really need more demo days and speed dating to grow the Ecosystem or should we focus more on substantive conversations that help Founders and Angels connect the dots in Asia? In this episode, we also share our plans for 2018 and our inaugural podcast round tables which we’ll be bringing to a city near you soon.
Marcus Ellison is consumed with learning and innovating. He is not bound by existing rules nor others’ perceptions of what is and is not possible. Marcus believes that life is a system that needs to be figured out an approaches things in terms of experiments. He comes from a family of entrepreneurs and even went so far as to design his own major while he was in college. His first business, started while still in college, was an internet radio station that played Jazz music. He also built a successful real estate investment company literally from scratch that succeeded on his ability to hustle, learn the things he did not know and create trust and credibility along the way. Marcus is very talented and driven. He has now focused his energy on building VentureMark. After moving to Vietnam, he noticed that the Angel investment scene was not only very fragmented, but quite immature. He has set out to change all of that with VentureMark.
Jason Goldberg builds things…and he generally builds them bigger than you would have expected. Jason worked on Bill Clinton’s campaign and then in the Clinton White House, not because he was well connected to them, but because he reached out himself and asked. An early lesson learned was that you don’t get things you don’t ask for. Seeing opportunities is relatively easy, seizing them is the definition of success…and great entrepreneurs are great at seizing great opportunities. In his current business, SimpleToken, Jason Goldberg believes he is seizing a very large and transformational opportunity. The success of SimpleToken augurs a secular change in the way communities are built, given incentives to produce and compensated. Simple Token aims to be the platform that enables “Cryptocurrency to Power Digital Communities”.
- Introduction to Kyle Ellicott and the Read Write Labs IoT accelerator
- Why was Kyle attracted to Asia even though he had spent most of his startup career in the US?
- Why do startups need accelerators?
Kyle Ellicott is one of those entrepreneurs who has the knack of spotting a trend before it becomes “a thing”. He started his first business aged just 14 selling computers to small companies who wanted to get online. He then helped grow ReadWrite – one of the first online publications covering innovation starting back in 2003. ReadWrite has evolved since those early days also spawning an accelerator which has raised over $130 million for its cohorts. So when Kyle makes a calculated bet on IoT and expanding their presence in Asia (particularly Hong Kong and Shenzhen China), entrepreneurs take notice.
In this interview we talk about Kyle’s journey as an entrepreneur since those teenage years to what excites him now in IoT in Asia.
We spoke to Vincent Sethiwan on the newest floor of Launchpad in Bangkok, Thailand…Launchpad is meant to be ‘the perfect blend of a professional office, a co-working space and a creative space.’ I think it lives up to its billing. Vincent conceived of this space while trying to build his own company…a game company and software development house that was originally run out of his home and a coffee shop an Central World.
Vincent learned many lessons while he was building Charged Concept / Magic Box and Launchpad…not the least of which was, ‘do not try to market two concepts at the same time’. He explained the struggles he had initially simply getting people to understand what a co-working space was…even mentioning that some people would walk by the space and surmise that he was running a new type of furniture shop. He also talked candidly about the pressures of being the third generation of a successful family and his drive to succeed and build something big…using the experiences he gained from working in a rice processing factory, working at IBM and getting a combined BS / Masters degree at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. This was a truly great story…
Florian Bonhert was born in France and moved to the United States when he was three years old…which on its face does not seem like a big deal.
However, if you listen to his story, that move, at such a young age set the tone for the rest of his life. He moved back to France at the age of six and then to Massachusetts at the age of ten. He could not have known then how important this ‘international experience’ would be to the rest of his life.
Florian’s global outlook, environmental awareness and pluriculturalism are core to everything he does. His ability to adapt and learn about new cultures, be open minded, learn new languages and teach others drive him to succeed across the board.
He said many interesting things during our conversation, not the least of which was (loosely translated from the Chinese), “When you give someone a rose, you still have the smell of the rose in your hand…”. As employee 37 of Mobike, Florian is a fascinating guy with a super story to tell.
I spoke to Angela Mackay today about developments in digital media including podcasting and the growth of video as a platform. We discussed experimentation in content creation, the current state of advertising, the power of global distribution and partnerships and subscription models versus ad based business.
Angela is the Managing Director and Publisher of Asia Pacific for the Financial Times and also sits on its Global Board. Hence her views on things financial, business development, and private equity are deeply nuanced and highly valuable. If you have not already listened to Angela speak, you should…
After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles, Anna Gong spent the following 20 years forging a globe spanning career in the enterprise software space, experiencing both startup life (5 of them) and corporate life (3 multi-national corporations) and in the process creating the perfect training ground for her current role as the CEO of Perx Technologies.
Perx was a pioneer in the customer loyalty and rewards space in Singapore with a well defined Business to Consumer model. After joining Perx towards the end of 2014, Anna quickly realized that her enterprise software background was going to be a key ingredient to get Perx to the next level. Anna has a unique and well developed view on how to best serve both businesses and customers in this space and was convinced that moving to a B2B2C model was the best way to accelerate the growth of Perx…Her investors at Golden Gate Ventures and Eduardo Saverin agreed.
We had a fascinating conversation with Benjamin Joffe for ATP Stories. Benjamin is a Writer, Keynote Speaker, Angel Investor, Founder of a digital innovation consultancy (Plus Eight Star) and the world’s #1 Investor / Accelerator in early stage hardware startups via HAX. His journey through two decades of development in Japan, South Korea, China, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong was nothing short of amazing.
We touched on his concepts of how technology ecosystems evolve differently in different locations via varying ‘culture codes’. Benjamin’s direct involvement in so many ecosystems gives him a unique perspective on the growth and development of the characteristics that make those systems vibrant.
Miles Wilson is the senior director heading up Global Leadership at the Coca-Coca company based in Asia. Miles has worked in Asia for over 10 years, living in Hong Kong, Shanghai and now Singapore. As a senior exec in one of the world’s most recognizable brands, Miles gets the opportunity to a unique level of access to Asian markets and the opportunity to see them grow from the early days. In this interview Miles shares what his role encompasses at Coca-Cola and life as an exec in Asia.