319: David Yeng – Redefining Asian Insurance with InsureVite

PitchDeck Asia presented by Asia Tech Podcast is a regular podcast showcasing some of Asia’s most exciting startups. Each episode, we collate a batch of startup founders who join the show to share their story, the problems they’re solving and their funding requirements. Founders are welcome to submit their startup to The Pitch here. Our goal is to create a platform to help Asian based founders and investors connect through story.

315: Jes Kaliebe Petersen – Overview of The Myanmar startup ecosystem (Asia Matters)

Podcast highlights:

  • 05:20 Phandeeyar – the Myanmar Innovation Lab – is interested in using technology to accelerate impact in Myanmar. The Accelerator programme has been running since 2016. Every year, a new cohort of 7 to 10 startups is onboarded. Workshops are held on tech and startups, alongside a co-working space and social impact programmes for people like civic techies and activists.
  • 08:59 Chate Sat – a platform for freelancers – is one of the startup successes of Phandeeyar. It was founded by two sisters, who joined the accelerator in 2016.
  • 18:10 Jes Kaliebe Petersen talks about his journey; starting off in Microsoft and how he found himself in Myanmar today. He first became a developer in e-commerce, and then co-founded a business in India. He then moved back to Denmark, to a Fintech company. In 2010, he left for Kabul, Afghanistan, to develop an SMS based social network.
  • 34:55 The sense of community in Myanmar: The phenomenon of people rallying together around common causes, even those that they may not be directly involved with. People are approachable and easy to work with.

303: FinTech (Pitchdeck Asia)

Podcast highlights:

  • 17:40 Nikhilesh Goel shares with us what is it really like in the journey of a startup. The biggest takeaway from his experience is- if you can handle the constant ups and downs which happen every day and still come out smiling it then this is for you. You either do something new or do it better.
  • 34:16 Azmul Haque stresses on the importance to keep an eye on the business model as it is growing and also on the changing regulations. Especially if the startup is dealing with consumers, large corporates or small players they need to make sure they are compliant with the law may it be commercial contracts or pure play regulation.
  • 58:18 Ned Phillips summarised the entire show by sharing an interesting perspective for the founders- before the launch of a startup work out why you are doing it because if you are building it to sell it you have to do it the right way otherwise in 5 years time you will find yourself with a company that you can’t sell.

300: Tiang Lim Foo – SeedPlus, Venture Capital, and Southeast Asia

Podcast highlights:

  • 06:56 People in the region seem to speak highly of the work you guys do at SeedPlus. You seem to check all the boxes for the ideal startup founder most VCs look for. — Never referred to self as an entrepreneur. What entrepreneurs do is way, way harder than what we do as VCs. Having been in venture capital for a few years, have a greater appreciation for the dangers of stereotyping. Great founders can come from anywhere. Biases can lead to dangerous thinking and missing out on great opportunities. Empathy is probably one of the hardest skills to acquire as a VC. You need to have empathy with founders. Of course we are investing for financial gain; but at the same time we want to help build businesses that are good for human beings. An example of a company focusing on empathy is Amazon. Jeff Bezos has always been customer-first, customer-centric. This has not changed over the years.
  • 14:53 When you’re chatting with a founder, what do you look for? — It’s really about the team. At the seed stage there are a lot of unknowns. This means the founder and the team have a much bigger impact on overall outcome during this early period. We look for qualities like mental agility, understanding context, market fit, displays of leadership, and just like pure grit. It’s a delicate balance. When you come across someone who has an opinion about how the world should work, even if it’s not correct, this suggests it’s possible to have a discussion around making ideas work. It’s also relevant to consider the context in Asia. To have an opinion implies you’re willing to go against the grain. Asia is more conformist than other cultures, and this is not always great for entrepreneurship.
  • 45:29 A new generation of talent is wondering how they can be part of the Asian Century. What advice might you give? — There’s no better way than just being here. You can read and watch as much as you want, but it’s not as good as seeing things for yourself. Singapore is a great gateway into the rest of Asia. It’s good for families and it’s safe and efficient here in Singapore. Immersion and acquiring a language are also fantastic ways to get acquainted with the region.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Tiang Lim Foo, Operating Partner at SeedPlus, to ATP Stories with host Graham Brown.
  • 01:00 Can you give us a brief synopsis of yourself? — Operating Partner at SeedPlus, a seed-based venture capital fund in Singapore. We closed our first fund in June, 2017. Primarily we invest in the broader Southeast Asia region, not too much in Japan, South Korea, and China.
  • 03:50 All of the members of SeedPlus who have been on our show seem very relaxed for VCs. You all seem pretty informal in your approach to venture capital. This is not how VCs tend to operate in Asia. Is this deliberate? — Partially it’s a reflection of who we are and where we came from. [Tiang] came to SeedPlus from Evernote, the note taking software company that started in Silicon Valley. Worked for them in Singapore from 2012-2015. At SeedPlus, we have backgrounds in tech companies. It informs our dress, our language, etc.
  • 06:56 People in the region seem to speak highly of the work you guys do at SeedPlus. You seem to check all the boxes for the ideal startup founder most VCs look for. — Never referred to self as an entrepreneur. What entrepreneurs do is way, way harder than what we do as VCs. Having been in venture capital for a few years, have a greater appreciation for the dangers of stereotyping. Great founders can come from anywhere. Biases can lead to dangerous thinking and missing out on great opportunities. Empathy is probably one of the hardest skills to acquire as a VC. You need to have empathy with founders. Of course we are investing for financial gain; but at the same time we want to help build businesses that are good for human beings. An example of a company focusing on empathy is Amazon. Jeff Bezos has always been customer-first, customer-centric. This has not changed over the years.
  • 12:41 When you think of your role as a VC, do you take on board inspiration from people like Jeff Bezos? Do you read Tony Hsieh, for example? — That book is on my never-ending to-read list. If you think about this from a game-theoretic perspective, venture capital is one of the few industries that reward long-term strategy. Venture is a multi-round game. You want to partner with founders with whom you can have a long relationship. Reputation compounds over time. Founders may come back after their idea germinates a bit and you find it’s now a better fit for the fund.
  • 14:53 When you’re chatting with a founder, what do you look for? — It’s really about the team. At the seed stage there are a lot of unknowns. This means the founder and the team have a much bigger impact on overall outcome during this early period. We look for qualities like mental agility, understanding context, market fit, displays of leadership, and just like pure grit. It’s a delicate balance. When you come across someone who has an opinion about how the world should work, even if it’s not correct, this suggests it’s possible to have a discussion around making ideas work. It’s also relevant to consider the context in Asia. To have an opinion implies you’re willing to go against the grain. Asia is more conformist than other cultures, and this is not always great for entrepreneurship.
  • 19:18 When you look across Southeast Asia today, do you see these qualities coming through? — In a very macro sense, yes. 3-5 years ago if you were starting a business in Singapore, it implied you were unemployed. These days starting a business is a career choice. Across the region there is more of a groundswell happening.
  • 24:22 What’s happening at the macro level with China in Southeast Asia right now? — Historically speaking there have been very deep networks and connections with mainland China. There is still an enormous growth potential inside China. However, now we’re starting to see a shift towards expanding into Southeast Asia. This is a very natural extension for Chinese businesses. It’s a pretty exciting time. For VCs there are a lot of opportunities as people and markets begin to come online.
  • 28:48 How can investors in Southeast Asia manage this “Chinese effect”? — It’s not obvious there are clear answers. At the seed stage of investing, you go back to first-principles: are we investing in good businesses?
  • 33:18 The period you spent at Evernote was quite an interesting time in your career. They are a company who have tried to keep their product simple even as it evolved. As an investor, how do you manage the temptation many businesses face of wanting to move in many different directions at once? — This goes back to having empathy for users and consumers. Most users can’t verbalize their needs well. Designers have to intimately know what problem they are solving for their users. At the end of the day, the CEO must make a decision and have confidence they’re making the right decision on behalf of customers.
  • 41:43 When one looks at Southeast Asia, it’s possible to see a competition developing between Amazon and Alibaba. Where do you think this will go? — It’s too early to say. Also, it’s not clear Amazon sees it as a competition per se. It’s not just about e-commerce selections. It’s also about the ancillary services around the customer. This could be Amazon Prime media, storage, etc. Amazon is a company thinking 5 to 10 years ahead. You can’t do this if you’re defined by competition in the market.
  • 45:29 A new generation of talent is wondering how they can be part of the Asian Century. What advice might you give? — There’s no better way than just being here. You can read and watch as much as you want, but it’s not as good as seeing things for yourself. Singapore is a great gateway into the rest of Asia. It’s good for families and it’s safe and efficient here in Singapore. Immersion and acquiring a language are also fantastic ways to get acquainted with the region.

280: What must you avoid to fall in the pit of failure? In the Making w/ William Bao Bean and Sebastien Gaudin (NSH2)

Podcast highlights:

  • 02:40 Let’s put this very interesting podcast conversation in the context: William runs an accelerator. Sebastien runs a startup which was part of the accelerator program and now in scale up phase, and me as the podcast host, as well as, accelerator mentor….
  • 10:07 What’s the difference between being a founder and entrepreneur? William Bao Bean , General Partner at SOSV, Managing Director at Chinaccelerator and MOX explains why founders have to be entrepreneurs. There can’t be one without the other. Most normal people don’t put all their eggs in one basket. They don’t quit their jobs, use up all their savings to try and do something that has not been done before. Entrepreneurs take risks to try change the world and make a significant difference. They are trying to change the way things are being done.
  • 11:33 Nishtha – “People often ask me if being an entrepreneur is in the DNA or can be learnt”. William: “We are part of a long term study. HPDI. Shows how you make decisions. How you make trade offs. People are pre disposed to being risk takers. Opposite of that is like a CTO. We don’t take too many risk mitigators in our start ups because working for a start up drives you nuts. We invest in people who are kind of crazy and we use the accelerator program to filter out the insane ones”
  • 13:53 In the Making podcast is a great opportunity to say thank you to many who contributed to your journey and success and how they shaped you. We don’t say enough thank you’s. This is a great moment to share with the listeners…
  • 23:05 What are the factors that contribute to a successful acceleration of a start up or acceleration of a new service/product?
    1. EXPERIMENTATION. The first factor is being open to coaching and experimentation. Other factors include persistence. There might be a lot of failures but still you have to keep smashing your head against the wall over and over again. We try very hard to not tell our companies what to do. But we make a lot of suggestions on what to try. And people who are willing to jump off the cliff and try a bunch of new things, even if in the heart of their hearts they think it might not work, nonetheless they try are often the ones who succeed.
    2. NOT GIVING UP. So it takes a certain type of personality to try lots and lots of different things over and over again that don’t work, becuase in the end you are trying to solve a problem that hasn’t been solved before or isnt being solved properly so you are trying to come up with a better solution.
    3. THE RIGHT TEAM. Team is what we look at. It’s not always about the product. The founder has to be passionate enough to make these first two factors work
  • 27:09 In the making of any new innovation- product or service is about failures too. Any examples?
    Sebastien: The fact that i picked up the set of team that i did at start, was a failure. It didn’t let us go through this iterations, adaptations and learn and develop fast enough. It took us 2 years to come to the DNA of where we are now. Ofcourse we learnt a lot in this period. But we lost time. Team was too young and not complimentary enough.
    William: My first startup was a pretty low point. I took my own money and couple of friends while i was still at Soft Bank. First mistake – doing a startup without being 100% focussed. Second mistake – the team combo. Third mistake – I was a bad CEO.
  • 33:10 Sebastien Gaudin , CEO & Co-founder at The CareVoice and William share three tips for start ups to totally avoid to fall in the pit of failure. Few –
    “Opinions are like noses. Everyone has them. Take opinions under advise-ment. You need to know when to apply and where and use that to drive your experiments. and make decisions based on data as opposed to somebody’s opinion”
    “No marketing expense until you have your product/service taking off. Product-Market fit. I burnt cash when i started off and you don’t need that at all. Start with your brand and your team”….

  • 34:48 – Show finale. Rapid fire round between the host and the guests.
    What other professional other than your current would you like to attempt?
    What are you not good at?
    How do you manage anger?
    How do you manage stress?
    What’s coming up next – In the Making for The Care Voice and Chinaccelerator
    What would you like to ask to the network of listeners and Asia Tech Podcast. Make the ask
    Working in a different country. Why should you consider working in a different country other than your home country?

    “Commit to the uncomfortable” – #NishHosts Show – IN THE MAKING

277: Tony Mai – Founder Compliy

Podcast highlights:

  • 01:45 Tony Mai founder of Compliy, elaborates how their AI powered regulatory interpretation platform helps manage financial regulatory change
  • 09:08 What kind of skills are needed in a team? – Tony Mai explains the manpower needed to develop an usable AI product
  • 12:06 Tony Mai shares how he started his journey of being a serial entrepreneur at the age of 19. What did he learn from yo Karaoke business? Tony shares his learning journey and business hacks

274: Andrew Romans on blockchain, ICOs, and venture capital (Cross Border Kyle KYL8)

Podcast highlights:

  • 00:40 Can you give us a quick introduction about yourself? — Really an entrepreneur who found a way into venture capital and investing. At heart see myself as someone who founds and builds companies. More recently have become infected with the blockchain bug.
  • 27:10 ICOs and tokenization represent a new tool in the entrepreneur’s toolbox for how to fund a business while at the same time creating a fan base. It will be very important to see how these things are regulated going forward; however, right now it is possible to be fully compliant with the law, while at the same time developing your business and product in new and truly innovative ways with these technologies. Venture capital has traditionally been very illiquid. When VCs invest in companies, it might be up to seven years before they see a return on investment. With an ICO in contrast, the expectation is that in a matter of weeks coins will be trading on an active market and generating returns and cash flows for investors. It’s a game changer for venture capital.
  • 35:45 So this is basically a whole new economy? — Yes. In fact, if any listeners run or know someone who runs an airline, give us a call. We can help you raise billions of dollars with a token offering. Any company with a loyalty program who does not tokenize moving forward is going to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Large companies will be the big winners here. If you think about it, companies like Costco are already doing something similar in driving a discount-based loyalty program. As soon as companies add liquidity through tokenization, the sky’s the limit.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Andrew Romans, co-founder and general partner of Rubicon Venture Capital, also CEO and general partner at 7BC.VC, to Cross Border Kyle with host Kyle Ellicott.
  • 00:40 Can you give us a quick introduction about yourself? — Really an entrepreneur who found a way into venture capital and investing. At heart see myself as someone who founds and builds companies. More recently have become infected with the blockchain bug.
  • 03:25 What are some lessons you’ve learned getting started and becoming an author? — The books have been a network path and have allowed me to meet new investors around the world. With the blockchain book, it was an attempt to clearly lay out the existing securities law in the United States and how it’s possible to be 100% compliant and still do an initial coin offering (ICO). There is a lot of misunderstanding around ICOs, what they are, how they work, and how they comport with existing law. Many investors simply don’t understand crypto and distributed ledger technology because it’s so different from anything else they’ve worked with. To take another example, publishing is a market ripe for the introduction of blockchain and smart contracts. Having a distributed record of book sales and how authors are reimbursed will go a long way towards improving how the publishing industry works. And not only publishing, but also real estate and any other instance where someone feels a contract was not fully honored. When someone says all this cryptocurrency stuff is rubbish and all the coins will go to zero, it may be true for 99% of the coins out there now; but the ones that make it will be huge.
  • 27:10 ICOs and tokenization represent a new tool in the entrepreneur’s toolbox for how to fund a business while at the same time creating a fan base. It will be very important to see how these things are regulated going forward; however, right now it is possible to be fully compliant with the law, while at the same time developing your business and product in new and truly innovative ways with these technologies. Venture capital has traditionally been very illiquid. When VCs invest in companies, it might be up to seven years before they see a return on investment. With an ICO in contrast, the expectation is that in a matter of weeks coins will be trading on an active market and generating returns and cash flows for investors. It’s a game changer for venture capital.
  • 35:45 So this is basically an whole new economy? — Yes. In fact, if any listeners run or know someone who runs an airline, give us a call. We can help you raise billions of dollars with a token offering. Any company with a loyalty program who does not tokenize moving forward is going to sink to the bottom of the ocean. Large companies will be the big winners here. If you think about it, companies like Costco are already doing something similar in driving a discount-based loyalty program. As soon as companies add liquidity through tokenization, the sky’s the limit.
  • 41:05 When you spend all day in the blockchain world, you realize the problem that this is the way things should happen; but it doesn’t work because the solution doesn’t exist. Right now there are a lot of missing pieces to this technology. There are all kinds of badly needed fintech and basic payments infrastructure, and right now there is a big opportunity for VCs to investment with companies to get these things built.

269: Pieter Franken – Safecast, Shinsei Bank, MIT & Monex Group

Podcast highlights:

  • 02:10 You came to Japan to work for Panasonic Corp in 1989. What was Japan like back then? — This was just after the real estate bubble started to burst. Prior to that Japan always felt like an endless party. In 1989 the hangover was starting. It was a special time. You find Japanese companies all have their own stories. They are not all the same.
  • 28:00 You were actually involved in the aftermath of what was the largest corporate failure in Japanese history. Tell us a little bit about that. — You’re talking about The Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, which went bankrupt in 1998. I joined the bank that emerged from this in 2000, Shinsei Bank. My interests were in rebuilding the bank from a technical / operational standpoint. At that time, Japanese banking technology in services was lagging. We really started to innovate to make Shinsei Bank a leader in banking tech.
  • 43:23 When you look at FinTech innovation in Japan today, there seems to be a lot going on. How has this happened? Who is driving it? — First, it’s important to consider that FinTech is a very broad term, which at it’s core means bringing into the world of finance new digital technologies, new companies, and new innovative concepts. In Japan now there is a realization the central places for finance in Asia are in Singapore and Hong Kong, they are not in Tokyo. There’s a growing realization banks need to innovate more.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Pieter Franklin to Asia Tech Podcast Stories.
  • 02:10 You came to Japan to work for Panasonic Corp in 1989. What was Japan like back then? — This was just after the real estate bubble started to burst. Prior to that Japan always felt like an endless party. In 1989 the hangover was starting. It was a special time. You find Japanese companies all have their own stories. They are not all the same.
  • 06:43 How did it feel being a Westerner there at that time? — It was an eye-opening experience to see how things could be done differently. Companies could be organized in different ways. At that time, Japan was the cutting edge place for IT in the world.
  • 09:50 Let’s talk about Safecast. You helped found Safecast quite soon after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami devastated parts of Japan in 2011. Tell us about that. — You can look back at photos of that time and the work we did at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. It was from that experience we saw the need for more transparency in these types of events. We found, for example, the measurements of dispersed radiation issued by authorities were deceptive at best. Our idea was to give people the ability to measure radiation on their own.
  • 18:18 When you look back, that earthquake was the [4th most powerful ever recorded – ed.]. Was there really anything that could have been done to prepare for it? — This is the fundamental question. My own view is that the consequences from a disaster like this are very very large, but the odds the disaster will happen are very very small. Those odds are not zero, however. The question for us is whether we should do something if the consequences when something goes wrong are very very big? What one observes is people are not good at understanding the dangers when the consequences could be this severe.
  • 22:50 Another area where this thinking seems relevant is in certain tech fields, like AI for example. When you look at these projects, do you worry about the implications of things going wrong? — Of course. We should worry about what might happen when things go wrong. So Facebook, electric cars, reusable rockets, these things have clear potential benefits; but we have seen how the same technology can be used as a weapon. That’s the dilemma of progress.
  • 28:00 You were actually involved in the aftermath of what was the largest corporate failure in Japanese history. Tell us a little bit about that. — You’re talking about The Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, which went bankrupt in 1998. I joined the bank that emerged from this in 2000, Shinsei Bank. My interests were in rebuilding the bank from a technical / operational standpoint. At that time, Japanese banking technology in services was lagging. We really started to innovate to make Shinsei Bank a leader in banking tech.
  • 35:05 You talked about things you helped innovate, like 24-hour ATMs. To us here in 2018, these do not seem very significant; but back then they had a real impact. — Right. In Japan, ATMs were only open when the bank was open. Imagine if this were the case today. There were certain challenges to innovating in the banking sphere. For example, when the bank closes, you have to take all the cash and put it in the vault. When you open the bank, you have to take the money out of the vault. So we really had to bring a process engineering mindset to these design challenges.
  • 43:23 When you look at FinTech innovation in Japan today, there seems to be a lot going on. How has this happened? Who is driving it? — First, it’s important to consider that FinTech is a very broad term, which at it’s core means bringing into the world of finance new digital technologies, new companies, and new innovative concepts. In Japan now there is a realization the central places for finance in Asia are in Singapore and Hong Kong, they are not in Tokyo. There’s a growing realization banks need to innovate more.
  • 49:00 What is the regulatory environment like in Japan? — The government in Japan made the wise decision to put everyone with something to say about what happens in the financial world into one place. They call it the Financial Services Agency and this has helped bring clarity to the market. It has also allowed the government to be more nimble in regulation, especially as new technologies come online.
  • 52:45 Do you ever think about what drives you? — You have to think about this. For me it’s building things and the passion that comes from building new things. You have to find ways to build where you can take risks while not fundamentally endangering the company or markets if something goes wrong. This is the challenge.

268: The Singapore Entrepreneur Edition with Aaron Cheng, Sabrina Wang, and Kyriakos Zannikos (Asia Matters)

Podcast highlights:

  • 18:48 Entrepreneurship is difficult. Dealing with the criticisms from people around you and sometimes those harshest voices are the ones in your own head. All entrepreneurs deal with uncertainty. How do you deal with it?
    • Aaron: There’s no real answer. Everyone takes a different path. You have to find something you’re really passionate about. If it was easy, everyone would be an entrepreneur, but it’s not easy. The most difficult thing is to get over the fear to start something new.
  • 37:58 Your companies are not huge. You’re not an Apple or an Amazon. How do you get people to want to come and work with you?
    • Aaron: I do things the Singapore way, which is to say if you want to learn and work here then by all means come. If you don’t want to work here, then don’t come.
    • Kyriakos: It’s not that difficult to get good people. We don’t necessarily want the people who just want to work for a big name. It has been easier than we first expected. In the end it requires a bit of luck and a bit of hustle.
    • Sabrina: We treat everything like a pitch as if we’re the next big thing. We are big believers in culture. We try to give our employees a vote and say in the direction we’re going. But it’s difficult to find people. We don’t have the resources to pay a big bonus to attract talent, for example. The struggle is to get the right people.
  • 49:20 What advice would you want to leave listeners with?
    • Graham: For me it’s surround yourself with the right people. You can’t underestimate how important this is.
    • Kyriakos: You have goal and you shared it with people. This is important. Share your idea, and not just to the people you feel comfortable with–tell the world! Not everyone will like it or think you’re right, but share your idea.
    • Sabrina: Rejections are normal. Maybe 99 people will say you’re wrong, but all it takes is that one person to believe in you and what you’re doing. Also, don’t feel bad towards the people who reject you. Maybe the next time you meet they will come around.
    • Aaron: Think for yourself. Believe in yourself. Do it!

Podcast notes:

  • NOTE: This episode contains explicit language.
  • 00:05 ATP670 – Asia Matters with Graham D. Brown and special guests Aaron Cheng, Sabrina Wang, and Kyriakos Zannikos
  • Guest Introductions:
    • 01:09 Aaron Cheng
    • 03:29 Sabrina Wang
    • 07:28 Kyriakos Zannikos
  • 10:44 All three of you are entrepreneurs. Where does that seed in your head come from? Where does that inspiration to be an entrepreneur come from?
    • Aaron: People may think we’re weird, but we know what we want in life. Decided when young to make stuff. Realized early on wanted to make things in Singapore.
  • 14:15 People look at Singapore as a great place to start a business. Is it actually easy to start a business in Singapore?
    • Sabrina: It’s a very good question. One thing faced by young people who want to be entrepreneurs is the license requirements in Singapore. If you’re too young you can’t, for example, have a bank account. There are lots of stories about how difficult it can be in Singapore to start a business, but that hasn’t been my experience. This isn’t to say it’s been easy. Starting a business is hard, but you just have to work through it.
  • 18:48 Entrepreneurship is difficult. Dealing with the criticisms from people around you and sometimes those harshest voices are the ones in your own head. All entrepreneurs deal with uncertainty. How do you deal with it?
    • Aaron: There’s no real answer. Everyone takes a different path. You have to find something you’re really passionate about. If it was easy, everyone would be an entrepreneur, but it’s not easy. The most difficult thing is to get over the fear to start something new.
  • 26:10 Kyriakos, for you things were different. You left a corporate job to become an entrepreneur. What was this like for you?
    • Kyriakos: Everyone is different. Some people know from the beginning they want to be entrepreneurs, other people realize during their lives they want a change. There is no right or wrong way to come to this. It is not easy to decide to leave a stable job. For me things sort of came together in a way here in Singapore. It is certainly different from working a regular job. There is a freedom, but also the worries associated with not knowing if you’re going to get paid this month, for example.
  • 32:48 The current businesses you’re running, when did you all start those?
    • Sabrina: 8 weeks now.
    • Kyriakos: A couple months now.
  • 33:20 Are you the type of entrepreneur who likes do get your hands dirty and try to do everything?
    • Sabrina: For me it’s a bit of both. If it takes a lot of time to do, you might look at outsourcing that particular task. Having worked in a corporate job offers good perspective. You realize if you keep doing everything yourself you will burn out. It makes sense then to hire someone to do certain things.
    • Aaron: Our business makes smart phones for different regulatory zones. So there is a lot of things to do. Design, quality control, actual assembly, etc. It’s possible to be involved in everything, but not at a high-level of detail. As regards delegation, what is important is whether someone wants to learn something. If you want to learn, we will teach you.
  • 37:58 Your companies are not huge. You’re not an Apple or an Amazon. How do you get people to want to come and work with you?
    • Aaron: I do things the Singapore way, which is to say if you want to learn and work here then by all means come. If you don’t want to work here, then don’t come.
    • Kyriakos: It’s not that difficult to get good people. We don’t necessarily want the people who just want to work for a big name. It has been easier than we first expected. In the end it requires a bit of luck and a bit of hustle.
    • Sabrina: We treat everything like a pitch as if we’re the next big thing. We are big believers in culture. We try to give our employees a vote and say in the direction we’re going. But it’s difficult to find people. We don’t have the resources to pay a big bonus to attract talent, for example. The struggle is to get the right people.
  • 49:20 What advice would you want to leave listeners with?
    • Graham: For me it’s surround yourself with the right people. You can’t underestimate how important this is.
    • Kyriakos: You have goal and you shared it with people. This is important. Share your idea, and not just to the people you feel comfortable with–tell the world! Not everyone will like it or think you’re right, but share your idea.
    • Sabrina: Rejections are normal. Maybe 99 people will say you’re wrong, but all it takes is that one person to believe in you and what you’re doing. Also, don’t feel bad towards the people who reject you. Maybe the next time you meet they will come around.
    • Aaron: Think for yourself. Believe in yourself. Do it!