320: Xanne Leo – Helping Crypto Wallet Users Store Private Data with Infinitus Token

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.

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.

289: David Jou – Pomelo Fashion

Podcast highlights:

  • 01:35 What is Pomelo Fashion? Where did it come from and what does it do differently in fashion and e-commerce?
  • 21:50 Does Pomelo sell their own brand and goods or are there concessions wherein they have designer brands in there? What is their inventory like?
  • 31:30 Pomelo’s retail store also serves as a showroom for the goods and products. Is there a typical customer journey wherein one comes into the store, tries a product, goes home, checks it on their website and buys it?

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome David Jou to Asia Tech Podcast Stories
  • 00:25 A little backstory on David Jou who was born in Dortmund, Germany, grew up in the USA and South Korea, speaks German, English and Korean, and being surrounded with talented people who speak English in Bangkok
  • 01:35 What is Pomelo Fashion? Where did it come from and what does it do differently in fashion and e-commerce?
  • 02:40 Pomelo is a DNVB, a digitally native vertical brand, and David wants to take on the Zara’s and H&M’s of this world. How does he compete with that?
  • 08:35 Traditionally, Zara had a weak online presence. Until very recently, you can’t order online, so why would Zara not go online and fend off some competition? What is David’s thought process on that?
  • 15:25 What is fast fashion? A style-agnostic idea focused on relevant fashion trends becoming popular in the market where Pomelo is present and the company tries to put together assortments based on the trends that are relevant at any given time
  • 17:35 Why did fast fashion emerge and designer brands got sort of pushed aside?
  • 21:50 Does Pomelo sell their own brand and goods or are there concessions wherein they have designer brands in there? What is their inventory like?
  • 23:30 Does Pomelo have physical stores apart from their big online presence? How much is offline and how much is online?
  • 25:55 Pomelo started 100% online but as an online e-commerce provider, what was the main driver for the company to set up a retail store?
  • 31:30 Pomelo’s retail store also serves as a showroom for the goods and products. Is there a typical customer journey wherein one comes into the store, tries a product, goes home, checks it on their website and buys it?
  • 34:40 Compared to a traditional retailer, Pomelo can make more iterations at a much faster rate. When the company tries to improve their app or their stores, what’s the starting point? How does that happen?
  • 37:05 David and Graham touch on the challenge of creating a culture where people can share ideas
  • 39:15 “What your strength is could be your potential downfall”. How does David get himself out of that comfort zone?
  • 43:00 “Be honest and vulnerable. When people give you feedback, do not overreact and don’t defend your ideas – listen.”
  • 45:15 “Apple is a tech company but effectively is a retail company. There is real value in being able to go and walk the shop floor.” Can you be a pure playing e-commerce buyer in fashion and succeed without that front-end?
  • 47:30 As Pomelo had a physical store, did it change how David’s and his team thought who they were or how they thought about their roles?

287: Charles Reed Anderson – IoT in Asia

Podcast highlights:

  • 24:00 You’re a recognized IoT expert. In your own day-to-day life, how wired up are you? Do you use these gadgets? — Just bought first smartwatch. There are drawers full of things that were used once and never used again. One of the best devices for me though was the Muse headband, which is a product designed to track your brain waves. As they developed it though, they turned it into a guided meditation platform that works really well.
  • 29:50 When you look around Asia now, what countries do you find interesting in terms of what’s going on with IoT? — One interesting thing is what’s going on with co-called smart cities. Very few of them have gone from having an infrastructure-centric focus to a citizen-centric focus. Taipei seems to have done better than almost everyone else. They’ve already launched something like 130 proof of concepts all around the city. Maybe 75% of these will fail, but that means 25% will succeed and give other cities new ideas moving forward. Already Taipei has some cool autonomous bus projects. This year they’re launching a shared scooter scheme. The next logical path you will see is where cities focus on making the smart city concept viable for businesses. Not everyone will be able to jump down the path like Taipei.
  • 50:20 How would one compare IoT in Asia to the rest of the world right now? Is it even possible to do this? — Asia is by far the biggest market for IoT in the future. There is a long tail there. It’s a fascinating market and the level of innovation coming out of China right now is just amazing. Keep an eye on India over the next 24 months. Tata is coming out with systems at price points that will allow developing markets to get into the game. This is what we need to see.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Charles Reed Anderson, founder Charles Reed Anderson & Associates, to ATP Stories with host Graham D Brown.
  • 00:55 You are the IoT person in Asia. What gets you excited? What do we need to know about IoT in Asia now? — One product is a new children’s smartwatch from Omate, which is based in Shenzhen. What’s cool is they’ve partnered with Tata Communications to make it with an eSIM. This will give Omate basically global market access on the back of Tata’s relationships. The eSIM allows the device to connect to almost any network.
  • 06:45 So what does this mean for telecoms? — Certainly smart operators will try and create business models to engage this new revenue stream. It could mean handset manufacturers are able to bypass local telecom operators. Imagine a Google or Amazon, with an eSIM, they could launch a new product globally and not have to negotiate with telecom companies in every market they want to enter. Laptop manufacturers are launching new models with eSIMs included.
  • 10:45 What devices do you really see eSIMs making a big impact on? — One thing about eSIMs is they will empower new startups who have good ideas. With the Omate watch, having the relationship with Tata means the watch’s communications are secured in a way that will help companies get past regulators worried about safety and privacy when it comes to products for children. Also in healthcare and medical tech devices where secure connectivity is critical.
  • 18:50 What are some of the areas where you see more of the medical tech coming through? Where will this make an impact? — In the last five years, there have a been several interesting things. Samsung was doing R&D on a device with a bunch of different medical sensors and testing out which ones were going to work and how to build a platform around it. Now you also see companies like Fitbit not just building devices, but actually bringing in people from the healthcare industry to help advise them on what to do with the data they’re generating from users.
  • 24:00 You’re a recognized IoT expert. In your own day-to-day life, how wired up are you? Do you use these gadgets? — Just bought first smartwatch. There are drawers full of things that were used once and never used again. One of the best devices for me though was the Muse headband, which is a product designed to track your brain waves. As they developed it though, they turned it into a guided meditation platform that works really well.
  • 29:50 When you look around Asia now, what countries do you find interesting in terms of what’s going on with IoT? — One interesting thing is what’s going on with co-called smart cities. Very few of them have gone from having an infrastructure-centric focus to a citizen-centric focus. Taipei seems to have done better than almost everyone else. They’ve already launched something like 130 proof of concepts all around the city. Maybe 75% of these will fail, but that means 25% will succeed and give other cities new ideas moving forward. Already Taipei has some cool autonomous bus projects. This year they’re launching a shared scooter scheme. The next logical path you will see is where cities focus on making the smart city concept viable for businesses. Not everyone will be able to jump down the path like Taipei.
  • 46:10 What was the recipe for success in Taipei? Why did things work there? — It’s a combination of factors. There are a lot of very good hardware manufacturers there. Lots of IoT vendors are coming out of there already. The city also has excellent infrastructure. It’s a good business environment where lots of MNCs have big centers there.
  • 50:20 How would one compare IoT in Asia to the rest of the world right now? Is it even possible to do this? — Asia is by far the biggest market for IoT in the future. There is a long tail there. It’s a fascinating market and the level of innovation coming out of China right now is just amazing. Keep an eye on India over the next 24 months. Tata is coming out with systems at price points that will allow developing markets to get into the game. This is what we need to see.

285: Sudhanshu Tewari – Scaling a startup in Singapore

Podcast highlights:

  • 14:45 Recruiting and keeping talent in sales is very hard especially when you get beyond the entry level. Why would a company owner want to reward sales guys with iPads and things like that rather than just hard cash?
  • 24:15 When startup founders expand, they spend their time educating markets whether that be merchant partners or consumers, which is a huge risk – that’s a huge hidden cost that can sink a business. How does Rewardz do it?
  • 28:00 Often, the best salespeople aren’t very good at managing and the once who are good at managing aren’t very good salespeople. When Sudhanshu recruits and builds his company around that, what does he look for?

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Sudhanshu Tewari to Asia Tech Podcast Stories
  • 00:25 What has happened with Rewardz? Did it continue to grow directly as Sudhanshu thought back then three years ago?
  • 05:55 As an entrepreneur, did Sudhanshu find dealing with large organisations like a hospital frustrating or did he change his mindset about it?
  • 08:50 When Sudhanshu was building his sales team, does he recruit salespeople on the basis of them already having connections within the industries he’s trying to get into?
  • 10:00 When going to these organisations, does he target the HR departments? Who would be buying Rewardz?
  • 14:45 Recruiting and keeping talent in sales is very hard especially when you get beyond the entry level. Why would a company owner want to reward sales guys with iPads and things like that rather than just hard cash?
  • 17:00 How did Sudhanshu work with the eyewear company? Did he build a relationship with the founder, the retail store owners or the head of sales? Also, what would be the problem the eyewear company has that Rewardz is solving for it? Why would the eyewear company need a solution like Rewardz?
  • 19:20 Sudhanshu talks about the growth of Rewardz in 11 countries
  • 21:50 What is the most effective use of Sudhanshu`s time to scope up partnerships in new markets? How does he go about in markets like Indonesia?
  • 24:15 When startup founders expand, they spend their time educating markets whether that be merchant partners or consumers, which is a huge risk – that’s a huge hidden cost that can sink a business. How does Rewardz do it?
  • 25:25 How does Sudhanshu manage the 11 markets that Rewardz is in? Does he consciously ring fence his time?
  • 28:00 Often, the best salespeople aren’t very good at managing and the once who are good at managing aren’t very good salespeople. When Sudhanshu recruits and builds his company around that, what does he look for?
  • 33:30 How many people does Sudhanshu have now at Rewardz?
  • 34:30 In Graham’s telecoms business, he spent too much time managing all the people in the business when he should have been getting out there evangelizing, marketing and selling. How does Sudhanshu consciously author himself to do these things to grow the business rather than get caught in the weeds of growing a business?
  • 37:50 Does Sudhanshu find it a challenge being honest when going to social media and talk about where he went wrong?
  • 39:45 The branding side was something that did not come naturally to Sudhanshu and his cofounders
  • 40:35 Does Sudhanshu plan to continue to go on this growth trajectory? Is he popping the corks or is he a bit more low-key when it comes to his daily wins?

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!

254: String Nguyen (Ashley Talks ASH12)

Podcast highlights:

  • 01:00 Starting out on Meerkat, how did String Nguyen build content and community around her video content and eventually get 20,000 followers on Linkedin?
  • 13:10 Growing your Linkedin followers to 20,000+ . There’s a 30,000 limit on Linkedin followers, how do you get around it? How do you win a Linkedin “top voice” award? It’s all about community and growth.
  • 44:30 Why did String delete SnapChat? What’s the problem with SnapChat for content creators? How does the ROI of SnapChat compare with Linkedin?

Podcast notes:

  • 00:00 ASH12 – Ashley Talks with Ashley Galina Dudarenok and String Nguyen
  • 01:00 Starting out on Meerkat, how did String Nguyen build content and community around her video content and eventually get 20,000 followers on Linkedin?
  • 05:00 How do videos convert compared to other platforms? Before you get to conversion, you should build brand awareness? Is it okay to publish informal personal content on Linkedin or does it have to be slick and professional?
  • 08:45 In video content creation, it’s tortoise vs the hare. Personal branding is a marathon not a sprint. It’s a full time job that you have to commit to for the long term
  • 13:10 Growing your Linkedin followers to 20,000+ . There’s a 30,000 limit on Linkedin followers, how do you get around it? How do you win a Linkedin “top voice” award? It’s all about community and growth.
  • 14:10 An insight about String’s entrepreneurship and her journey. Where did it come from?
  • 19:00 How do you become good at communication and ask great questions in videos and podcasts?
  • 21:00 String’s thoughts on Blockchain and ICOs, including who she follows on Twitter
  • 30:00 How do education systems shape our thinking processes and entrepreneurship long term?
  • 31:40 What are String’s thought on Asia, innovation and entrepreneurship?
  • 39:00 Why did String double down on video? What does it mean for SEO? What about sponsored video content?
  • 44:30 Why did String delete SnapChat? What’s the problem with SnapChat for content creators? How does the ROI of SnapChat compare with Linkedin?
  • 52:00 Live Streaming and the future of Video. Ashley and String discuss Live Streaming in Asia, its impact on social media, micro influencers and new retail.

251: Dan Itsara – Glazziq the Bangkok Based Fashion Brand

Podcast highlights:

  • 08:10 Does Dan see his previous work experience for the US Air Force and NASA relevant to building an eyeglass company in the context of what he is doing?
  • 25:20 Did Thai people – or Dan himself – not know where he fitted in when he moved to Thailand? Also, did that put doubt in his mind?
  • 45:20 As a mountain climber and an entrepreneur, what is Dan’s take on the “never give up” advice?

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Dan Itsara to Asia Tech Podcast Stories
  • 01:25 Why did Dan decide to build Glazziq, an e-commerce brand for prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses?
  • 03:10 Where did the Glazziq design get its influence from? Also, where did the idea of starting Glazziq come from?
  • 08:10 Does Dan see his previous work experience for the US Air Force and NASA relevant to building an eyeglass company in the context of what he is doing?
  • 14:55 Thai people are friendly, don’t like confrontation and don’t like saying there’s a mistake – how does Dan culture that mindset into a group of people who may have been programmed in another way?
  • 18:20 “Disagree and commit” – an example of Korean Airlines in the 1980s
  • 22:05 A backstory on Dan as an American-Thai, growing up in Northern California and his rationale for going to Thailand
  • 25:20 Did Thai people – or Dan himself – not know where he fitted in when he moved to Thailand? Also, did that put doubt in his mind?
  • 28:00 Having experience living in cross-cultural worlds develops empathy – a powerful tool for retail and e-commerce
  • 30:55 How did Dan grow Glazziq, an e-commerce/retail business, to operational positive within six months?
  • 34:10 Is it difficult to standardize the process of making prescription eyeglasses or sunglasses? Also,
    the many mistakes Glazziq made in the process
  • 38:55 How close is Dan to having the “ultimate dashboard” to simplify his business or is it a pipe dream to have?
  • 42:45 Now that Glazziq is a growing business and operationally positive, does Dan have a clear idea on where he should be focusing?
  • 45:20 As a mountain climber and an entrepreneur, what is Dan’s take on the “never give up” advice?
  • 49:35 “Amateurs practice until they can do it right but professionals practice until they can’t do it wrong”
  • 50:05 Dan’s experience is a great case study on why it makes sense to not necessarily work for a startup straight out of the gate but to get training first in the corporate world or the military
  • 52:15 Check out www.glazziq.com or find Dan at LinkedIn.com/DanItsara

246: Does the Korea Summit Mark the Beginning of the Asian Century? (Asia Matters)

Podcast highlights:

  • 08:35 It takes somebody to break the mould and push the boundaries – British pop singer Jessie J winning a talent competition in China equivalent to American Idol, the Beatles breaking into the US, Jack Ma taking his Chinese company Alibaba to The West
  • 32:20 If your most innovative people are focussed on trying to find better ways to connect, you’re building the future – when you have a generation of people growing up where the default is to build connectivity and bridges, then you have the beginning of a new era
  • 45:10 The North and South Korean meeting is the image that would define the Asian Century – the point at which people’s mindset shifted far enough that they thought the old way of looking at this old region was changed so far that it was broken

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 ATP640 – Asia Matters with Graham Brown
  • 00:20 North Korean president Kim Jong-Un stepped across the parallel and shook hands with South Korean president Moon Jae-In – An image that defines the Asian Century about building bridges and not walls
  • 03:55 The historic summit between the two Koreas – a long road ahead and it may fail but what if it worked? Its similar implications and parallels with the fall of the Berlin Wall – the beginning of globalisation
  • 07:05 Growing up in an era where nuclear war was a real threat before the fall of the Berlin Wall blew away the old ways of thinking and shifted to looking at “The East” as opportunity
  • 08:35 It takes somebody to break the mould and push the boundaries – British pop singer Jessie J winning a talent competition in China equivalent to American Idol, the Beatles breaking into the US, Jack Ma taking his Chinese company Alibaba to The West
  • 14:50 Nobody cuts a red ribbon to open the Asian Century – defining history as a series of events like the Industrial Revolution, digital age, the British Century or American Century
  • 20:30 Nobody ever names these eras when they’re happening, like the Reformation – In Germany, Martin Luther nailed his “95 points” on the door of a Catholic church who sold repentance, made a lot of money from this and exercised a lot of power, kicking off ideas like self-development, that you could make your life better
  • 27:05 What will the global media industry look like for kids growing up – what they think of as a music, movie industry is gonna be very different to what we understand
  • 32:20 If your most innovative people are focussed on trying to find better ways to connect, you’re building the future – when you have a generation of people growing up where the default is to build connectivity and bridges, then you have the beginning of a new era
  • 36:40 Media conditioning us with wall-building narratives like the case of Fox News reinforcing its narrative towards Iran. But young people are malleable enough that these narratives don’t stick – they will see an Asian region which builds bridges emotionally and physically
  • 41:35 America exercised its soft power in 1915 like what China is doing right now in 2018
  • 43:00 Who brokered the meeting between the two Koreas? Chinese leader Xi Jinping – China, not USA, is brokering power in Asia, politically reinforcing what is happening economically in the world
  • 45:10 The North and South Korean meeting is the image that would define the Asian Century – the point at which people’s mindset shifted far enough that they thought the old way of looking at this old region was changed so far that it was broken