275: Bob Gallagher — Appsynth

Podcast highlights:

  • 04:18 Earlier this year, you picked up an award in Singapore. Tell us a little bit about that. — We picked up two awards from Campaign Asia-Pacific. Campaign Asia-Pacific is basically the de facto agency world magazine in the region. It was really good recognition for us. Now it’s onward and upwards!
  • 26:00 Do you see anything emerging in Thailand on the mobile front that will catch on in the rest of the world? — On the consumption side, Thailand is leading in terms of time spent on mobile. We’re talking 4-5 hours a day. There is also mobile payment via QR codes, which are very big here. We see the drive to a cashless society. These are things you would notice in Thailand, people scanning people’s QR codes and transferring money for products and services very easily.
  • 44:10 So now you’re 8 years into the story of Appsynth. Where do things go from here? — For us it’s a careful balancing act in terms of having the people we need versus having a situation where work dries up and we can no longer support the number of people we have. Maybe we could expand to 100 people, be we’ll have to see. We also want to look at growing regionally and also in Europe and the US. One effort we’ve engaged in is diversifying the nationalities of our employees. As we move forward we need to continue to figure out how to change our structure to support our growth.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Bob Gallagher, Managing Director and Founder of Appsynth to ATP Stories with Graham Brown.
  • 00:40 You set up Appsynth in 2010, correct? — Yes, that’s correct. Coming up on 10 years in Thailand with 8 of those years running Appsynth. We have over 50 people working for us now and have seen a steady stream of growth in this regard.
  • 01:40 So your background was originally in music, wasn’t it? — Yep. Started working in mobile 12 years ago for a mobile music distributor and even before that running a record label. Came to Thailand first at age 18 and saw the potential in the markets there.
  • 04:18 Earlier this year, you picked up an award in Singapore. Tell us a little bit about that. — We picked up two awards from Campaign Asia-Pacific. Campaign Asia-Pacific is basically the de facto agency world magazine in the region. It was really good recognition for us. Now it’s onward and upwards!
  • 07:48 These awards must help in terms of recruitment. Can you talk a little about that? — We’ve probably hired a bit more than 15 recruits in the past year, which is a lot. The award adds to the prestige of working with a company like ours. While we’re growing, we’ve been focusing on things like company culture and creating an environment where people want to come but also then want to stay.
  • 10:35 When you look at other companies, who do you admire in terms of getting corporate culture correct? — There are many different role models in this regard. There’s no one way to run a business. But to name a few, there’s Spotify. Of course there are other inspirations from different fields. Just take a look at who are the best software teams in the world and how do they operate. One benefit we have in terms of hiring people is the ability to tell candidates they will be able to work on many different projects given that we’re not such a big company. We don’t have teams devoted just to narrow features or products.
  • 15:15 Can you describe a bit about how you capture the sort of software engineer who wants to go out and make a difference in the world? — This is really a reflection on how we go about business development and being selective in terms of who we work with and what sorts of things we take on. There’s a lot of work out there, but we need to find things that are exciting and are going to be used by millions of people. This gets people motivated.
  • 20:30 You’ve recently published some data about working in Thailand and the changes taking place there. Can you help us understand some of these trends? — We clearly see how hard people work in Thailand. Certainly in technology and knowledge work, people work very hard here. The pace of work has been increasing here and we expect this to continue.
  • 23:50 In Thailand you have a hard-working population, and a young population very connected on social media. What sorts of opportunities does this create for a company like Appsynth? — This is a point we like to highlight because Thailand really is at the forefront for mobile usage and mobile shopping. It’s not in places like the US, it’s here in Thailand.
  • 26:00 Do you see anything emerging in Thailand on the mobile front that will catch on in the rest of the world? — On the consumption side, Thailand is leading in terms of time spent on mobile. We’re talking 4-5 hours a day. There is also mobile payment via QR codes, which are very big here. We see the drive to a cashless society. These are things you would notice in Thailand, people scanning people’s QR codes and transferring money for products and services very easily.
  • 35:20 What sorts of other things are you experimenting with there in terms of mobile payments and money transfer? — The app we produced for 7-Eleven here in Thailand has a feature where parents can top up their children’s accounts and eliminate the need for those kids to carry cash. This helps parents better control where and how their kids can spend money too. Another feature you see is loyalty tracking, which can be used to offer discounts and enticements to consumers.
  • 36:45 Do you think Thailand will be a leader in terms of being a cashless society? — Yes, I think so. People have really embraced this new QR-based payment model. Maybe Thailand won’t be the first country to go cashless, but it will certainly be one of the first.
  • 37:45 What is the mobile music scene in Thailand right now? — People here obviously love music and mobile, and in fact Spotify as the big player in this space was actually a bit late to come to Thailand. There are other players here including well-established local labels who are getting into mobile music.
  • 39:50 Do you see a lot of Chinese investment coming into places like Thailand? Are there Chinese companies coming in and making big investments? — Yes, definitely. There’s pros and cons of course. We’ve seen some cases were Chinese investment comes in and ends up moving development jobs back to China where some Thai developers simply don’t want to move for whatever reason. This has opened up new talent avenues for the companies that remain. This is what happened, for example, at Lazada.
  • 44:10 So now you’re 8 years into the story of Appsynth. Where do things go from here? — For us it’s a careful balancing act in terms of having the people we need versus having a situation where work dries up and we can no longer support the number of people we have. Maybe we could expand to 100 people, be we’ll have to see. We also want to look at growing regionally and also in Europe and the US. One effort we’ve engaged in is diversifying the nationalities of our employees. As we move forward we need to continue to figure out how to change our structure to support our growth.

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.

226: John Artman – China Tech Talk

Podcast highlights:

  • 16:00 How moving around when you’re young impacts future life. What kind of skills are required to adapt to new places and new people in Asia?
  • 32:00 People’s concerns and objections using technologies, mobile payment systems like WeChat in Asia. The contrast between WeChat and Whatsapp. Is this the result of protectionism?
  • 48:00 John Artman shares a 5 day itinerary of places in China that will that will blow your mind. We also discuss the vast differences within China, eg between Beijing and Shanghai.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome John Artman, Editor in Chief of Tech Note and the Co-Host of The China Tech Talk Podcast to Asia Tech Podcast Stories.
  • 03:00 John Artman’s background, how he found his way to China, how it became his home and what he hoped to accomplish there.
  • 06:00 John Artman’s beliefs and the influence of eastern philosophies. How has the mix of American and Eastern culture in his life changed his outlook living as a foreigner in China?
  • 10:00 Coping with the traffic in China and perfecting Chinese communication skills.
  • 13:00 The troubles some foreigners go through in Asia. Culture Shock! The key to making China work is the people you hang around with. Choose wisely.
  • 16:00 How moving around when you’re young impacts future life. What kind of skills are required to adapt to new places and new people in Asia?
  • 20:00 Being an outsider in China. John Artman’s history and experience working with China Radio.
  • 27:00 Chinese society and what’s going on with the China Tech Talk podcast. John Artman’s partner Matt and what he finds interesting about the podcast that keeps him going.
  • 32:00 People’s concerns and objections using technologies, mobile payment systems like WeChat in Asia. The contrast between WeChat and Whatsapp. Is this the result of protectionism?
  • 38:00 The evolution of WeChat in comparison to WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Chinese technology market, people’s mindset and the overall competitive environment.
  • 43:00 The loyalty of Chinese consumers. Do they stay loyal to one platform provider like TenCent or Alibaba? A brief discussion on Pony Ma, the CEO of Tencent.
  • 48:00 John Artman shares a 5 day itinerary of places in China that will that will blow your mind. We also discuss the vast differences within China, eg between Beijing and Shanghai.
  • 54:00 A look at current projects and John shares his contact info.
  • 216: Alex Medana – Blockchain, Identity and Financial Inclusion in Asia

    Podcast highlights:

    • 24:50 Do we own our identity? Who owns “me”? What will the distribution of our identity on the blockchain mean for finance, contracts and our relationship with government?
    • 28:11 Will intermediaries (bank loans, credit cards companies, credit agencies) exist in a world where block chain is the dominant form of wealth distribution?
    • 37:33 Financial inclusion in Asia and how blockchain will affect access to new forms of payment or capital in rural areas

    Podcast notes:

    • 00:05 Welcome Alex Medana to Asia Tech Podcast Stories, hosted by Graham Brown
    • 01:45 Introduction to the subject area – Defining the terms bitcoin, blockchain and Fintech
    • 07:44 How to get more people on blockchain?
    • 11:04 If blockchain is the vision of the distributed truth system, is it a challenge that no one can manipulate it?
    • 16:00 We are going towards both less control and more control
    • 18:36 Alex envisioning the future of blockchain as personal data converging into a distributive ledger which nobody can touch
    • 20:51 Parallels between the French Revolution and the present time in terms of individual control
    • 24:50 Do we own our identity? Who owns “me”? What will the distribution of our identity on the blockchain mean for finance, contracts and our relationship with government?
    • 28:11 Will intermediaries (bank loans, credit cards companies, credit agencies) exist in a world where blockchain is the dominant form of wealth distribution?
    • 35:28 Reasons why blockchain is the future – over the counter trapped liquidity and financial inclusion
    • 37:33 Financial inclusion in Asia and how blockchain will affect access to new forms of payment or capital in rural areas
    • 44:21 Blockchain is not a silver bullet but an enabler to ask fundamental questions like why certain people are not in the ecosystem
    • 45:22 The story of Grameen Bank founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, who loaned money to village women who were making baskets and achieved repayment rates of 97%
    • 46:15 Financial institutions aren’t lending money due to pre-conceived notions about repayment abilities. Can blockchain can change that mentality?
    • 49:23 The story of how mobile payments were invented from the Phillippines 12 years ago
    • 51:20 The best places to have conversations about these issues: Fintect Association board, Digital Economy Task Force UN Efgar and one to one conversations
    • 53:44 Doctors in Quebec disagreeing with their pay rise
    • 55:36 Being successful or not doesn’t really matter, Alex wants to be seen as an enabler of change
    • 56:29 Reach out to Alex Medana the global citizen on LinkedIn

    181: China’s New Retail Frontier (Ashley Talks ASH2)

    Podcast highlights:

    • 03:24 What do we need to know about the Chinese e-commerce phenomenon that is 11/11, ‘Singles Day’?
    • 15:17 What is the O2O trend in China all about? A look at offline shops running on big data technology and livestreaming from hair salons
    • 23:30 How are department stores in China using Alipay and facial recognition technology to create a better customer experience?

    Podcast notes:

    • 00:05 ASH2 – Ashley Talks with Ashley Galina Dudarenok, hosted by Graham Brown
    • 00:29 Update on book sales of ‘Unlocking the World’s Largest E-Market’
    • 03:24 What do we need to know about the Chinese e-commerce phenomenon that is 11/11, ‘Singles Day’?
    • 10:30 What did Ashley do on 11/11?
    • 13:31 What about girls eating noodles on livestreams, what do they do?
    • 15:17 What is the O2O trend in China all about? A look at offline shops running on big data technology and livestreaming from hair salons
    • 18:05 Changes in retail over time
    • 20:00 AliBaba’s chain of supermarkets (Hema supermarkets)
    • 23:30 How are department stores in China using Alipay and facial recognition technology to create a better customer experience?
    • 25:48 Mom and Pop stores identifying customers using Alipay
    • 28:28 What is AliBaba doing right for Hema that the others aren’t doing?
    • 31:55 Who are Alibaba’s main competitors?
    • 34:25 China as a battlefield between Tencent and Alibaba
    • 39:30 How does it work for consumers on a day to day basis?
    • 44:00 What are the possibilities of retail going outside of China?
    • 48:28 Acquisitions by China in other regions, China going global
    • 52:50 Chinese attitudes towards usage of personal data
    • 55:56 Which is the best store to visit in China to experience all this?

    178: Unlocking the World’s Largest E-Market – China (Ashley Talks ASH1)

    Podcast highlights:

    • 00:50 A first look at Ashley Galina Dudarenok’s new book about China: Unlocking the World’s Largest E-Market
    • 16:30 Different Chinese mobile payments systems and how embedded they are in day-to-day life. Will China become the world’s first cashless society?
    • 42:50 What are some of the common misconceptions about China and Chinese consumers?

    Podcast notes:

    • 00:05 Ashley Talks with Ashley Galina Dudarenok today hosted by Graham D Brown
    • 00:50 A first look at Ashley Galina Dudarenok’s new book about China: Unlocking the World’s Largest E-Market
    • 02:40 A little background history on Ashley’s story
    • 06:30 Ashley on speaking Mandarin and moving from China to Hong Kong
    • 08:05 How big is the Chinese e-commerce market?
    • 11:45 A 101 on WeChat – introduction to China’s operating system for life
    • 16:30 Different Chinese mobile payments systems and how embedded they are in day-to-day life. Will China become the world’s first cashless society?
    • 25:00 What’s going on with the crazy world of video and live streaming in China? Why are people paying monthly subscriptions to tune in and watch people eat?
    • 34:20 Why is it important to back the right video platform in China?
    • 36:35 How does Ashley use social media platforms to build her personal brand in China?
    • 39:35 Is it easier as a foreigner to succeed in China?
    • 42:50 What are some of the common misconceptions about China and Chinese consumers?
    • 48:40 How are Chinese consumers now educating brands about how to behave in the digital space?
    • 55:20 How can Chinese brands get roasted when social media goes wrong?
    • 57:20 New retail experiences in China

    157: ATP Stories: Shaun Rein – Author, ‘The War for China’s Wallet : Profiting from the New World Order’, China Market Research Group

    • 00:09 Asia Tech Podcast Stories with author, founder and managing director Shaun Rein
    • 00:56 Internet challenges in China
    • 01:25 Background about Shaun Rein
    • 02:40 A little bit about the previous books, The End of Cheap China and The End of Copycat China
    • 05:24 Innovations in China especially in payment methods
    • 10:05 ‘Boots on the ground’ approach
    • 11:57 Thesis around the book, ‘The War for China’s Wallet: Profiting from the New World Order’
    • 14:25 China’s foray into Africa
    • 18:00 The TenCent and Alibaba duopoly
    • 24:00 What will be the impact of Chinese companies in South East Asia?
    • 27:05 What were the mistakes made by the Americans? How to avoid replicating them when the Chinese come in to South East Asia?
    • 33:41 Do you get your books translated? If you do, would you want them sold in China?
    • 37:37 Now that China has caught up, where does it go from here? What’s in store for the next 5 years?
    • 40:18 What does ‘one belt, one road’ mean?
    • 43:22 What is happening in the Greater Bay region?
    • 48:00 The domesticity of the Chinese market

    We spoke to Shaun Rein about his new book, ‘The War for China’s Wallet: Profiting from the New World Order’. A fascinating follow up to his other books…We covered many other topics as well, including the duopoly of TenCent and Alibaba, the massive internet market in China and why it is difficult for foreign firms to succeed and how China has become a hotbed of innovation across many verticals and sectors. Shaun has been in China for almost 20 years and has seen so much change and development that informs his ongoing analyses of China, business in China and the growth of some of the world’s largest internet companies. It also gives him a unique perspective on China’s changing place on the global stage and its impact on business and geo-politics.

    015: Fintech Startups in Asia

    Fintech Startups in Asia are hot. With over $10 billion invested in Fintech startups in Asia alone last year (up from $1 billion in 2014), 2017 is set to become a record year for new entrants. But, who are the winners in this new space and which startups should we watch out for?. Featured this week: Fintech startups in Asia, Where are the Fintech market opportunities? Who are the biggest Fintech users in Asia? Fintech for migrant workers, low credit score and the unbanked, Geico, Lazada Philippines, Rocket internet, Tinmen, Numoni Singapore, Bitcoin, Paypal and Ebay, Kickstarter, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Singapore, Indonesia, Omise, Ayannah, FastaCash, CodaPay, Lenddo, Tala Mobile, Easy Taxi, Zen Rooms