313: Edith Yeung on investment and future of blockchain (Ashley Talks 21)

Podcast highlights:

  • 14:58 You are investing a lot in China while many of your colleagues in the San Francisco area do not. How does this usually work? — Each investor has a different style in terms how they want to attract companies. It tends to be easier if you’re vertically focused on a particular market, for example blockchain. If you are a founder, it’s necessary to find the people who are vertically focused on the products or markets you are interested in. You should know when you reach out who you want to be contacting regarding potential investments.
  • 24:24 Turning now to the topic of blockchain, what is your vision of the future of blockchain? — Multiple parts to this answer. Excited because it represents a change in how we think about the ownership of data. From a technology side, it’s changed how people think about a lot of relationships. Obviously distributed ledger technology is not new, but what is new is the idea of tokenization. It helps creators and investors get the capital and resources they need right from the start. China and the Chinese government have been very supportive of blockchain as a technology. What they haven’t been supportive of is all the cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs). China is just a huge market that basically any company focused on establishing themselves there will have enough to attract investment.
  • 44:25 Let’s talk about women for a bit. How did it feel to be a female developer working in this space? — First of all, we should encourage everyone, not just women to have a basic understanding of coding. This is going to be a building block for so many things in the future. Even if you don’t end up being the person writing the code, you will be able to have meaningful conversations with people who do. In China, have met so many great women CEOs and investors. The important thing is to know what you’re talking about. It’s not about being a woman, it’s about being good at what you do.

Podcast notes:

  • NOTE: This podcast contains explicit language
  • 00:05 Welcome Edith Yeung, Partner at 500 Startups, to Ashley Talks with host Ashley Galina Dudarenok.
  • 00:40 Tell us about your journey. How have you ended up in San Francisco Bay investing in so many global startups? — Born and raised in Hong Kong. Came to the US at age 16 as an exchange student. Stayed with an American family in the Midwest. Have been in the US for over 20 years and started career as a developer building risk-management systems. Started own entrepreneur group in San Francisco using Meetup, which turned into a sort of media conference business. Through this met a partner from mainland China who developed Dolphin Browser on Android. This experience led to wanting to do more with investments and startups, and so here we are.
  • 07:14 What are the biggest differences between managing an investment fund versus just investing by yourself? — As an angel investor, the thinking was why not invest some of your own money to help a company get off the ground. When managing a fund, however, the entire thought process is how do we maximize the return for our investors. As a fund manager, it’s necessary to have true conviction your decisions will make a return.
  • 14:58 You are investing a lot in China while many of your colleagues in the San Francisco area do not. How does this usually work? — Each investor has a different style in terms how they want to attract companies. It tends to be easier if you’re vertically focused on a particular market, for example blockchain. If you are a founder, it’s necessary to find the people who are vertically focused on the products or markets you are interested in. You should know when you reach out who you want to be contacting regarding potential investments.
  • 18:38 What are the companies you’ve invested in that you’ve liked the most or been most impressed with? Have you had any failures? — So many. Really, there have been so many. Very much enjoyed meeting Prerna Gupta who is founder and CEO at HOOKED, which is the number one reading app in the US for millennials. As an early-stage investor, it’s important to be open-minded about products and services people haven’t seen before. You can’t try to invest in the next Instagram, this just won’t work. As a fund manager, if you see a great investment and miss out, that is a failure. When you see something you believe in, you just have to go for it.
  • 24:24 Turning now to the topic of blockchain, what is your vision of the future of blockchain? — Multiple parts to this answer. Excited because it represents a change in how we think about the ownership of data. From a technology side, it’s changed how people think about a lot of relationships. Obviously distributed ledger technology is not new, but what is new is the idea of tokenization. It helps creators and investors get the capital and resources they need right from the start. China and the Chinese government have been very supportive of blockchain as a technology. What they haven’t been supportive of is all the cryptocurrency exchanges and initial coin offerings (ICOs). China is just a huge market that basically any company focused on establishing themselves there will have enough to attract investment.
  • 34:19 Do you have a favorite startup coming out of China now? — Again there are so many. If you think about content production companies, right now the power is in finding a way to produce and personalize content online. One exciting company in this space is Castbox. They are very impressive. Another company is Agora. They are doing basically video chat as a service. This is more back end, but it is gaining in popularity.
  • 44:25 Let’s talk about women for a bit. How did it feel to be a female developer working in this space? — First of all, we should encourage everyone, not just women to have a basic understanding of coding. This is going to be a building block for so many things in the future. Even if you don’t end up being the person writing the code, you will be able to have meaningful conversations with people who do. In China, have met so many great women CEOs and investors. The important thing is to know what you’re talking about. It’s not about being a woman, it’s about being good at what you do.
  • 50:52 Moving forward will you continue focusing on China? Will you continue focusing on any specific technologies? — Focusing on early-stage blockchain-related projects. This will be the focus for the next three to six months. If you’re working in this space, get in touch. It’s doesn’t matter if you’re focused on China or not. The number one quality to seek in a founder is to never take “no” for an answer.

293: The Growth of Entrepreneurship in Asia (Digital Lives Asia DLA5)

Podcast highlights:

  • 14:30 Simon: it’s interesting to consider how what you see defines the reality you believe in. An exposure to other entrepreneurs early in your life likely gives you the confidence you can do something similar. Digital has changed this so much because we are no longer confined to just looking at the people around us. You can see fascinating stories all over the social media platforms today. Graham: digital then is a great leveler, isn’t it? Look at how women in China can see people around them using these digital platforms. They no longer see the model entrepreneur as someone who is older and male.
  • 39:05 Simon: when it comes to scaling a business, it’s really striking to see the barriers women face in getting access to funding. Graham: in some ways this isn’t surprising given investors tend to back what they know, and what they know is men being successful in business. The challenge in Asia is generational. It will take a generation of entrepreneurs who exit with success and decide to go back in to fund the next crop of people. These will be the investors more likely to back women or non-traditional founders.
  • 44:55 Simon: the theme emerging from our conversation today is there is definitely an energy around entrepreneurship in Asia. A lot of this is just waiting to be activated. What we need to do is find out how to create the cultures to allow this energy to flourish. Graham: it seems the best thing we can do is to tell people’s stories. Help people access inspiration.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 DLA7 – Digital Lives Asia with Graham Brown and Simon Kemp
  • 01:00 Graham: Let’s start with the question of where is the most startup-friendly city in Asia today? What city has the best startup to overall population ratio? — Simon: The obvious answer seems like it would be somewhere in China. But this seems too obvious. Let’s say somewhere in Indonesia. Graham: Actually it is in China.
  • 02:37 Graham: The city with the most startups per head is Zhuhai, which is right next door to Hong Kong and Macao and part of the whole Pearl River Delta ecosystem. The level of startup activity in Zhuhai is 10 times higher than in the city with the highest level of startup activity in the US, Miami, Florida.
  • 05:45 Simon: In looking at entrepreneurship in Asia among millennials, Asia does not seem to be suffering the lack of people trying to create things. Graham: if you look at some of the data coming out of places like the US, you see entrepreneurship as a percentage of the overall population has slipped to something like 5%, which is down from the high a generation ago near 10.5%. The data suggest this generation is the least entrepreneurial generation in the US.
  • 08:55 Graham: thinking about why this is the case several things come to mind. First it’s a lot harder in the West to be an entrepreneur. Also people are generally comfortable, so there’s less of a drive to hustle. Simon: the data also show the burden of student debt in the US. It could also be the people with the drive to be entrepreneurs are finding other ways to scratch that itch so to speak. One way they’re doing this is through the gig economy.
  • 14:30 Simon: it’s interesting to consider how what you see defines the reality you believe in. An exposure to other entrepreneurs early in your life likely gives you the confidence you can do something similar. Digital has changed this so much because we are no longer confined to just looking at the people around us. You can see fascinating stories all over the social media platforms today. Graham: digital then is a great leveler, isn’t it? Look at how women in China can see people around them using these digital platforms. They no longer see the model entrepreneur as someone who is older and male.
  • 24:08 Graham: coming back to the subject of megacities in Asia. Looking back at the Zhuhai statistic we opened the show with, we see in Zhuhai there are 2,800 startups per 100,000 people while in Miami, the figure is 247 startups per 100,000. In Shenzhen, 16% of people there are engaged in entrepreneurship. The comparative figure in the United States is only 3.5%. Imagine living in a place where you’re surrounded by these stories all the time. This is what’s happening right now is Asia. There is this compounding effect where entrepreneurs are inspired by other entrepreneurs and want to go to places where a lot of them are.
  • 27:50 Simon: it’s worth unpacking this a bit. There are two side to entrepreneurship: the opportunity side and the necessity side. The businesses we are celebrating today are those on the opportunity side. This happens when people look at the world around them and spot an idea. Traveling around Asia you see so many more opportunities to improve people’s lives than you do when you travel in the West.
  • 32:28 Graham: look at some more facts here. In data from 2012, the highest ratio of male to female entrepreneurship is the UK. Twice as many men than women are entrepreneurs in the UK. In best ratio for gender parity in entrepreneurship is in developing markets in Asia. There are an equal number of male and female entrepreneurs in developing Asia. Simon: this really helps explain one reason to feel so optimistic when we look at these things. Of course there is still a long way to go in order to improve the chances of female entrepreneurs; but it is heartening to see the progress in Asia.
  • 39:05 Simon: when it comes to scaling a business, it’s really striking to see the barriers women face in getting access to funding. Graham: in some ways this isn’t surprising given investors tend to back what they know, and what they know is men being successful in business. The challenge in Asia is generational. It will take a generation of entrepreneurs who exit with success and decide to go back in to fund the next crop of people. These will be the investors more likely to back women or non-traditional founders.
  • 44:55 Simon: the theme emerging from our conversation today is there is definitely an energy around entrepreneurship in Asia. A lot of this is just waiting to be activated. What we need to do is find out how to create the cultures to allow this energy to flourish. Graham: it seems the best thing we can do is to tell people’s stories. Help people access inspiration.

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.

257: Does America’s Auto Future Lie in China? (Cross Border Kyle KYL5)

Podcast highlights:

  • 09:35 How do Asian startups go on the “pitch” side of things? The Valley does very well on the story side. In Asia, there is an overemphasis on technology and not so much in the story but this has changed dramatically over the past year
  • 17:05 Coming from “Motor City” Detroit, Michigan, Kyle touches on the innovations in the automotive industry of China – Shanghai Auto City
  • 31:45 An auto industry that’s starting to grow and see the pathway for innovation and the need to work with startups and to work on a global scale like the case of Oakland County in Michigan taking 300 companies over to China

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 KYL5 – Cross Border Kyle with Kyle Ellicott
  • 00:15 Graham and Kyle last saw each other in Hong Kong where they got to go on a tour
  • 03:05 Kyle spoke at the Startup Launchpad Conference by Global Sources. What did Kyle take away from having seen those Southeast Asian and Asian startups?
  • 06:10 Was there a lot of hardware startups there? Yomee – The World’s First Automatic Yogurt Maker. Kyle says “Lessons are being learned, companies are educating themselves on what works and what doesn’t, and are starting to see what the market needs are versus just building to build”
  • 09:35 How do Asian startups go on the “pitch” side of things? The Valley does very well on the story side. In Asia, there is an overemphasis on technology and not so much in the story but this has changed dramatically over the past year
  • 14:15 Did Kyle see anything interesting on the AI and deep tech startups side of things?
  • 17:05 Coming from “Motor City” Detroit, Michigan, Kyle touches on the innovations in the automotive industry of China – Shanghai Auto City
  • 23:40 Michigan and Chinese Automotive industries working together – was there a scenario where it’s too regulated to test some kind of tech in the US that they go to China and test it right out of the factory gate?
  • 26:05 How did the guys in Michigan take it when people from China went there and talked about technology and China itself?
  • 28:45 According to John Waraniak, Detroit has been so crushed that all of the traditional infrastructure was gone – did this have an effect on the Michigan people being open in the conversation with people from China?
  • 31:45 An auto industry that’s starting to grow and see the pathway for innovation and the need to work with startups and to work on a global scale like the case of Oakland County in Michigan taking 300 companies over to China
  • 33:10 The governor of Michigan has made 8 trips to China which is the most of any previous governor – which other cities out there are doing this?
  • 35:05 “Sometimes, something gets so broken that the only option is to start again” like the Michigan auto industry but you see this in Asia as well like Hong Kong and Vietnam
  • 39:35 Be open-minded as a business owner, as an innovator, as an executive, or as a consumer today and in the future and incredible things will come in the future because of that
  • 40:40 Check out crossborderkyle.com for podcast episodes and other unique content

249: Kineret Karin, Growing a Social Impact Accelerator

Podcast highlights:

  • 22:55 Kineret Karin’s thoughts on the growth of accelerator companies and the startup accelerator model in Singapore
  • 28:25 The challenge of identifying the right startups and Kineret’s strategy to overcome this
  • 34:12 The double bottom line – measuring the economics of na ImpacTech startup involves measuring the social impact created and the associated financial model associated

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Kineret Karin to Asia Tech Podcast Stories, hosted by Graham Brown
  • 01:11 Kineret talks about ImpacTech, a Singapore based accelerator focused on startups that create a positive impact on the environment and the society
  • 02:02 How ImpacTech has grown and evolved since Kineret’s last appearance on the show in August last year
  • 06:03 Are corporate accelerators the future? ImpacTech’s collaborations with large coorporations like Shell and Singtel
  • 08:23 Kineret shares the process behind ImpacTech’s work with Shell
  • 11:53 The first five start ups selected for the ImpacTech program with Shell – hydrogen batteries for electric scooters, smart meters for utilities, wireless charging for busses and cars, more cost effective solar panels, smart tent for the homeless and energy panels for different weathers
  • 14:42 The learning curve working with engineering startups – Kineret’s background is in the service industry
  • 17:25 Shell’s commitments to startups in this batch
  • 19:07 Why are large corporates like Shell investing resources into startups? What is in it for them?
  • 20:51 Are large corporates genuinely helping startups or just doing it for PR purposes? How can you tell?
  • 22:55 Kineret’s thoughts on the growth of accelerator companies and the startup accelerator model in Singapore
  • 27:18 Singtel and ImpacTech’s start up accelerator program “Future Makers” and what it involves
  • 28:25 The challenge of identifying the right startups and Kineret’s strategy to overcome this
  • 30:47 The commitments between startups and Singtel for startups in the 4 month “Future Makers” program
  • 32:30 Kineret’s secret methods of distinguishing a good startup from the rest
  • 34:12 The double bottom line – measuring the economics of na ImpacTech startup involves measuring the social impact created and the associated financial model associated
  • 35:14 How does Kineret measure the potential social impact of a startup?
  • 36:56 Kineret shares future plans for ImpacTech including expansions to Thailand, Hong Kong and Japan
  • 40:16 What kind of start ups is ImpacTech interested in?
  • 42:10 When would it be the best time for a start up to contact accelerator companies like ImpacTech?
  • 44:29 Get in touch with Kineret through her LinkedIn or website>

247: Blake Larson, Expanding LaLaMove Across Asia

Podcast highlights:

  • 28:30 How did Blake arrive at the day-to-day approach – his interpretation of strategy – as the right way to do it? Also, spending his first eight weeks for Rocket Internet in Hong Kong standing outside petrol stations handing out flyers to taxi drivers
  • 35:00 As a well-educated, successful and MBA-holding person who went well outside his comfort zone, what are Blake’s formative experiences? Personal growth is so much more when the world becomes not about you and what you’re trying to do and his love of feeling “small”
  • 42:45 Coming from outside of Asia and working for a high-growth startup, is this kind of environment for everybody? What kind of people thrive in a place like Lalamove? The four values of the company – passion, grit, humility and execution

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Blake Larson to Asia Tech Podcast Stories
  • 00:40 What exactly is Lalamove? How do consumers use this mobile app?
  • 02:45 In Bangkok, it costs $40 to move a parcel, which is the same price to hire a delivery driver for a day
  • 05:10 Lalamoves addresses the challenge of redundant inventory
  • 06:45 How does the trust aspect come into that? The number one thing Lalamove customers value the company for is its reliability
  • 08:40 Can you train people – from the provinces, who may not have an education or who may not be fully literate – to be great at customer service? Lalamove created a system that incentivises the behaviour the company wants
  • 12:15 Respect, income, and freedom – the three values Lalamove brings to their drivers. To what extent does driver-to-driver word-of-mouth help the company? Also, is it common for drivers who use Lalamove to use other platforms? One could be better off if it wasn’t exclusive on both sides
  • 16:00 A quick look at Lalamove’s published numbers of where they are right now – US$160 M in funding, 126 cities in 7 countries
  • 18:15 The dynamic on the ground is very different in each individual city – What is it like to do business in Ho Chi Minh for example? What’s it like to be a foreign business coming into Vietnam and work with people who may not have a lot of experience working with foreigners? Empathy as an increasingly used approach to building a service business
  • 23:45 As Lalamove’s MD International, what does Blake do? Does he force himself to go out there? Also, the idea about the training program conceived by Lalamove to make their culture stronger – making sure that as they grow quickly, they actually keep their feet on the ground
  • 28:30 How did Blake arrive at the day-to-day approach – his interpretation of strategy – as the right way to do it? Also, spending his first eight weeks for Rocket Internet in Hong Kong standing outside petrol stations handing out flyers to taxi drivers
  • 31:05 What did Blake learn from doing his market research at the petrol station? People make the internet to be way sexier than it is and it as a good reminder of humility despite his MBA and corporate background
  • 35:00 As a well-educated, successful and MBA-holding person who went well outside his comfort zone, what are Blake’s formative experiences? Personal growth is so much more when the world becomes not about you and what you’re trying to do and his love of feeling “small”
  • 39:50 How does Blake constantly challenge himself considering his position in Lalamove, a high-profile company? The risk gets higher but it’s even higher if you don’t do anything
  • 42:45 Coming from outside of Asia and working for a high-growth startup, is this kind of environment for everybody? What kind of people thrive in a place like Lalamove? The four values of the company – passion, grit, humility and execution
  • 47:05 Blake’s advice for people who would interview about joining a startup – go talk to whoever the users or potential customers of a company are
  • 49:00 The story behind Blake making their new employees build their chairs, which symbolizes why Lalamove are the way they are as a company

237: Anna Haotanto (Founders in Asia FIA2)

Podcast highlights:

  • 06:50 We listen to how Anna Haotanto validated the idea for The New Savvy – a passion project to move women along the spectrum of financial management, to contribute to society
  • 27:35 How did Anna scale The New Savvy from a financial perspective? Investors from Singapore and Australia who were on board with the mission of The New Savvy and Anna keeping them in the loop of how the business is doing
  • 36:25 Overcoming the challenges of being a founder – backstory on the hacking of The New Savvy website. Writing about the experience, learning coding, picking herself up and learning to heal, and having a support system

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Founders in Asia with Jodie Collins. Welcome Anna Haotanto, CEO and founder of The New Savvy, a financial investments and career platform for women
  • 01:05 The New Savvy – empowering a hundred million women to achieve financial happiness
  • 02:40 Anna’s background – her vision of building a financial education for children and realising the lack of such a platform for women that was both engaging and relevant
  • 06:50 We listen to how Anna Haotanto validated the idea for The New Savvy – a passion project to move women along the spectrum of financial management, to contribute to society
  • 10:30 In building a business, passion is not enough, there should also be purpose to help others, a process and plan for what you want to achieve
  • 14:35 Did Anna plan out the processes for the business up front or did these evolve over time? The importance of having clear documentation of processes helps other people to help you build the platform or business you want
  • 17:05 The six-strong New Savvy team, plus working with freelancers and the possibility of a totally remote setup
  • 23:40 How does Anna decide where she’s going next? The challenges of expanding in Indonesia, a special place for Anna, and launching in Hong Kong
  • 27:35 How did Anna scale The New Savvy from a financial perspective? Investors from Singapore and Australia who were on board with the mission of The New Savvy and Anna keeping them in the loop of how the business is doing
  • 32:35 What is the business model from where The New Savvy’s revenue comes from? Sponsorships, advertisements and content marketing
  • 34:10 What is the thinking behind exploring Malaysia and the Philippines next? The high English literacy of the Philippines and the warm people of Malaysia, where Anna started her career as a banker
  • 36:25 Overcoming the challenges of being a founder – a backstory on the hacking of The New Savvy website. Writing about the experience, learning coding, picking herself up and learning to heal, and having a support system
  • 43:40 The encouraging community of Singapore and thinking about the purpose of The New Savvy as reason to not walk away from 2 1/2 years of work

232: Shanghai Round Table with Kapil Kane, Jasper Gill, Vincent Djen, Carmen Wang and Nishtha Mehta (Asia Matters)

Podcast highlights:

  • 09:40 What makes Shanghai special? We listen to insights from Kapil Kane, Jasper Gill, Vincent Djen, Carmen Wang and Nishtha Mehta. We learn about the “Shanghai hump”? They say that if you live in Shanghai for four years, you’ll stay forever
  • 19:55 Shanghai is a maturing startup ecosystem so new accelerator models are emerging. We take a look into the world of XNode. XNode is a late stage accelerator, focused on scaling up startups. XNode mainly works with corporate like Intel
  • 41:05 What advice would our entrepreneurs give to people from The West who want to be part of the Shanghai scene? Empathy and tolerance go a long way. Volunteer and work for value exchange, come committed and for the long haul. Learn and localise fast, drop the ego. Stay hungry and foolish

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 ATP620 – Asia Matters with Graham Brown
  • 00:35 Introducing XNode Shanghai – a physical coworking space in the startup accelerator with Jasper Gill who moved to Shanghai from Vancouver 2 1/2 years ago
  • 02:20 Vincent Djen from Hong Kong, cofounder of FashionEx which helps fashion startups to learn to grow and scale their business in the massive fashion scene in Shanghai
  • 04:15 Carmen Wnag from Nanjing – studying in US, Spain, Italy, India. We learn it’s typical of her generation to go out to the world and absorb different cultures
  • 06:50 What is it about China that you see a lot of female entrepreneurs? 50% of coders at Le Wagon Shanghai are females – ahead of Marseille, Lisbon, Barcelona. Females now are free to do what they want to do and choose to work or start their own company
  • 09:40 What makes Shanghai special? We listen to insights from Kapil Kane, Jasper Gill, Vincent Djen, Carmen Wang and Nishtha Mehta. We learn about the “Shanghai hump”? They say that if you live in Shanghai for four years, you’ll stay forever
  • 12:30 We listen to the story of Vincent Djen and FashionEx. Does the world need a fashion tech accelerator? Vincent shares the stories of how fashion brands are using AI to help find customers. We also hear an interesting case study about 3D printing customised bras for women
  • 15:35 What brought Carmen back to Shanghai after traveling around the world? We hear Carmen’s story of working on augmented reality software for a US company
  • 17:00 Where did Jasper’s scaleup accelerator idea come from? A backstory on Jasper’s earlier work in Shanghai and a further insight into how things move at a pace here
  • 19:55 Shanghai is a maturing startup ecosystem so new accelerator models are emerging. We take a look into the world of XNode. XNode is a late stage accelerator, focused on scaling up startups. XNode mainly works with corporate like Intel
  • 23:01 Why did Vincent choose XNode as his startup’s partner and what keeps him in Shanghai after 12 years of living there? We learn about the opportunities in Shanghai and how in areas such as fashion, it’s emerging to be one of the major metropolitan cities of the world
  • 25:20 What do they wish to change in Shanghai? Jasper is bugged about people not moving to the right-hand side of the escalator while Carmen complains about the price of housing!
  • 28:25 Everything just happens fluidly in Shanghai where it’s so open and easy to talk to people – Jasper’s first week in Shanghai and Carmen’s idea with a mixed-reality dining experience
  • 33:30 Is Shanghai indicative of the rest of China? We learn about the talent and people in Shanghai and how that sets its vibe apart from the rest of China
  • 34:40 35% of its population of Vancouver is of Chinese origin. Did this make it easier for Jasper (who is from Vancouver) to integrate with Shanghai?
  • 37:45 How important is that “international element” in Shanghai?
  • 38:40 Introducing Nishtha Mehta, lean innovation coach. We also talk about making the move from India to China.
  • 41:05 What advice would our entrepreneurs give to people from The West who want to be part of the Shanghai scene? Empathy and tolerance go a long way. Volunteer and work for value exchange, come committed and for the long haul. Learn and localise fast, drop the ego. Stay hungry and foolish

231: Virginia Tan co-founder of Lean in China (Ashley Talks ASH8)

Podcast highlights:

  • 06:00 Why are there so many successful female entrepreneurs in China? China is one of the best places in the world for a woman to start her own business – we look at the reasons why
  • 13:50 In China, a lot more women are participating in technology than in The West- why is that? We look at Chinese pragmatism and their tendency to be early adopters of technology
  • 23:40 How can men support women in the workplace? This is never an easy subject as many men get scared off by gender politics. The participation of men as the game-changer in promoting gender equality

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 ASH8 – Ashley Talks with Ashley Galina Dudarenok
  • 00:10 Today with Virginia Tan: co-founder of Lean in China, She Loves Tech, Teja Ventures
  • 01:00 How did Virginia’s journey with Lean in China, the first international Lean In circle outside of the US, start? A backstory on Virginia about growing up in Singapore, spending early parts of her career in Europe and the Middle East before quitting her job as a lawyer to the shock and disapproval of parents, moving to Beijing in 2013, meeting girls in a bar then Lean In China
  • 03:35 What was the most influential and empowering factor in Lean In – the book by Sheryl Sandberg – that motivated Virginia to start the organisation? The trigger was in the book but it’s the women she met in China that inspired her to start Lean In group
  • 06:00 Why are there so many successful female entrepreneurs in China? China is one of the best places in the world for a woman to start her own business – we look at the reasons why
  • 09:10 Do Chinese female entrepreneurs think differently? The combination of work ethic and the appetite for risk caused by the general environment benefits women (although it applies to the Chinese generally)
  • 12:20 Working 9-9-6 (9am to 9pm, 6 days a week) in China – the legacy of the hard work ethic. If you are going to start a business you need to think big
  • 13:50 In China, a lot more women are participating in technology than in The West- why is that? We look at Chinese pragmatism and their tendency to be early adopters of technology
  • 17:05 Are women also active in finance? Foreign-owned companies in China say the percentage of senior female leadership in China is much higher than in other countries
  • 18:25 The different relationship of Chinese women with money – China as an extremely pragmatic market and its women embracing that financial independence and economic empowerment
  • 20:25 Is the future female? Will the rest of the world catch up and will there be more women returning to work and starting their business and going into tech and finance?
  • 23:40 How can men support women in the workplace? This is never an easy subject as many men get scared off by gender politics. The participation of men as the game-changer in promoting gender equality
  • 28:40 What advice would Virginia give to women who are looking for mentors? Virginia never looked for mentors but was fortunate enough that her clients, bosses and even friends were her greatest mentors
  • 31:05 Who are the most important people in Virginia’s life that push her to improve and get better? Her guy friends focus on her professional development while girl friends focus on her personal development
  • 34:40 Success is relative but for Virginia, success is being able to pursue your dreams, having the freedom and autonomy to give your dreams a shot
  • 36:30 How can you achieve your life goals? Know what your dreams are – a long and tiring search, the things you can live with and can’t live without, then take that leap of faith and try despite the fear, but make sure you have a safety net
  • 39:35 What books would Virginia recommend to anyone out there to read about female entrepreneurship or the way that women can contribute to the workforce or personal development? How Google Works, Alibaba’s World to understand technology, Daring Greatly on emotional intelligence, Malcolm Gladwell books
  • 42:25 www.leaninchina.com.cn, one of China’s leading women’s non-profits, education and training and data research, 120 communities across China and more than 100,000 members. www.shelovestech.org, the world’s largest startup competition for women and technology entrepreneurs launching in May 8 and will be in 12 countries this year, including Hong Kong
  • 43:40 www.tejaventures.com – will be up soon but you can reach Virginia for queries at virginiateja@gmail.com
  • 45:00 Subscribe to ashleytalks.com

227: Where are the best (and worst) options for incorporating your business in Asia? (The Start STA2)

Podcast highlights:

  • 07:40 Banking options for startups. The regulations are getting tougher. If you’re thinking about where to set up your business, always factor in the banking options it’s going to give you.
  • 27:45 What factors should startup founders think about when they’re choosing a place to start a business?
  • 44:45 Are there any sort of things that banks don’t like to hear? What are the common mistakes startup founders make when incorporating their business?

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 STA2 – ATP The Start with Graham Brown, Dennis Poh and Gustavo Liu
  • 00:05 Dennis Poh: answering the questions of clients about where they should set up their company in and what things they should take care of after incorporating the company
  • 02:20 Gustavo Liu: former private banker and co-founder of The Hungry Lab, advisor to start-ups on financial aspects
  • 04:25 What tends to go wrong when a Silicon Valley startup wants to incorporate a company in Asia?
  • 07:40 Banking options for startups. The regulations are getting tougher. If you’re thinking about where to set up your business, always factor in the banking options it’s going to give you.
  • 12:55 What makes Singapore a good jurisdiction to set up a company? Choice of the companies that you can incorporate, good business characteristics, good investor base
  • 16:00 What happens when founders set up a business and raise capital but establish in a jurisdiction that investors won’t touch?
  • 19:50 The top 3 jurisdictions in Asia to consider from an investor’s perspective: Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam
  • 21:55 People still use a US company to run the business in Asia itself: why does that work?
  • 25:15 It’s better to pay a little tax somewhere than no tax nowhere: is this good advice?
  • 27:45 What factors should startup founders think about when they’re choosing a place to start a business?
  • 30:50 Advice for startups based in Thailand with regards to banking options
  • 33:35 If I lived in Thailand but my business was all over Asia, is it completely legitimate for me to go to Singapore and set up a business there? Better to be having a relationship with a bank and talk to them about what you intend to do before you jump in
  • 39:50 Banks want your business but the last thing they want is some newspaper investigation like “why does this bank have 10,000 accounts for some gambling fund?”
  • 42:00 Banks have the “high street” and “side street” methods for opening a bank account: having a good relationship with banks is so important and that means the banks understand more about you
  • 44:45 Are there any sort of things that banks don’t like to hear? What are the common mistakes startup founders make when incorporating their business?
  • 47:05 What startup companies should look for is a banker who’s already dealt with people like them before
  • 51:40 Are there any kind of company incorporation structures in Asia which were once popular but have now become unpopular? New options that people might want to consider
  • 53:45 Doing due diligence search on an individual is a lot easier than doing a search on the company itself, that’s why some companies are favoring the register their companies in the owner’s name
  • 56:10 Why Hong Kong seems to have become less popular as an option in recent years with people now switching to Singapore
  • 58:05 Going online to offshore services providers and buying a company in BVI for $500: where should startup founders start with this process? Speak to professionals in that certain jurisdiction
  • 01:01:05 Advice from Gustavo on the banking side: there is no easy route, it’s how much time you devote to understanding this as a business founder and talking to as many accountants and bankers. Understand who you are dealing with