312: Vincent Djen’s journey as Director of his family business and Co-Founder of FashionEx Shanghai (Founders in Asia FIA8)

Podcast highlights:

  • 01:05 Vincent Djen, Co-founder of FashionEx Shanghai, shares more about his company, further explaining how it helps startups in the fashion industry grow by giving them insights and methodologies to avoid mistakes which helps them build solid business plan
  • 19:50 Vincent shares how important research is before entering the Chinese market in terms fashion, further explaining how looking at the analytics of taobao and Tmall aids a startup analyse and compare how they rank in the fashion industry for China
  • 30:50 Vincent elaborates more about his journey, sharing how he manages the RnD for his family bushiness and also manages his FashionEx by working more towards the business development side

301: Ryan Pyle – From Toronto to Shanghai (Founders in Asia FIA7)

Podcast highlights:

  • 00:40 Ryan shares his backstory on how he ended up in Shanghai, where he is today, to what his business is and what he’s doing
  • 24:40 How does Ryan go about the commercial aspect of his business? How does he go out there and work with partners to sell his programs and distribute content?
  • 44:25 “Television is gonna come back. The whole Kardashian era and the whole reality-tv era is coming to a grinding halt.” – Ryan

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Ryan Pyle to Founders in Asia with Jodie Collins
  • 00:40 Ryan shares his backstory on how he ended up in Shanghai, where he is today, to what his business is and what he’s doing
  • 06:15 Jodie had quite a similar experience with Ryan in China and found the Chinese people to be welcoming, friendly and helpful. Was that what Ryan found on his travels as well?
  • 07:30 What does Ryan do now? What is his business?
  • 09:45 How did Ryan arrive in his decision to follow his passion of photography and television? How did he get to think he’s gonna give it a go and follow it?
  • 11:55 How did he transition from when he started as a freelancer, a contributor, who only got himself to worry about, and then building it into a production company where he has a number of people working for him?
  • 14:10 Ryan manages a team of 20 people based around the world. How does Ryan find these people and how does he build relationships with them?
  • 18:00 What type of productivity tool does Ryan use in order to run a remote team particularly?
  • 19:45 When things get tough, how does Ryan stay motivated?
  • 24:40 How does Ryan go about the commercial aspect of his business? How does he go out there and work with partners to sell his programs and distribute content?
  • 33:10 How does Ryan grow his business? Is he looking to expand through working with other partners and developing other types of content?
  • 38:00 One of the reasons Ryan started this is because the narrative about China was not what he was experiencing? Has that narrative changed?
  • 41:15 How does Ryan work with brands? Does he let them know where the line is?
  • 44:25 “Television is gonna come back. The whole Kardashian era and the whole reality-tv era is coming to a grinding halt.” – Ryan
  • 49:25 What is Ryan working on now? And what’s next?

263: NishHosts Show – IN THE MAKING Intro (NSH1)

Podcast highlights:

  • 08:05 Let’s talk about what this podcast is going to be about? — That’s the concern I have with the word ‘start-up’. People think it’s this independent entity but essentially ‘starting-up’ is in any context. In a new job or a new situation. Even though I’ve been in China for 13 years, every couple of months I feel I am ‘starting-up’, starting all over.
  • 09:53 You have to step up. Don’t you? This is an important part of it. One thing inspiring about your story Nishtha and am sure people who know you know how you step up. It’s a powerful skill to have. Does it come naturally to Asians? — I believe it is part upbringing, part DNA, part also how you build that mindset. It’s like muscle memory. Practice and build that muscle of not giving up, that muscle of resilience.
  • 09:53 And what about failures? I do believe our industry is talking too much about successes and get inspired by success stories but who doesn’t fail or who doesn’t fall? That’s an important part of in the making which people need to hear.
  • 21:45 What qualities are you looking for in people you want to bring on the show? — One thing is very close to my heart, my passion and I believe many people with starting-up mind set have. It’s about committing to the uncomfortable. People with that mindset are more open to accepting that things might not go exactly the way it is, they are in the making. On a mission to create things for the benefit of others.
  • 27:40 Isn’t it the case so many of these people don’t always recognize how what they’re doing is amazing? — Yes, very much so. Everybody has different strengths. It’s not just about inspiring others, it’s about being able to help. I am on a mission to re-look at the way we are learning in our industry. To help people up their skills and up their game. That’s what we’re going to do here on In the Making. Like this one exercise I do – ‘burst the balloon’ – it works

Podcast notes:

  • NOTE: This podcast contains explicit language.
  • 00:05 NSH1 – NishHosts Series Episode 1 – ‘In The Making’ with Nishtha Mehta
  • 01:43 Tell us about your journey. What happened when you moved to Shanghai? — I wanted to do something new and get out of my comfort zone. I was so confident that i’ll leave one job in India and land another here when i come. But soon that confidence was shattered! I had a “reality check” within the first few months. A failure let’s say.
  • 04:10 Going through the process of moving to China, what was that like while you were doing it? — I used to cry every single day for three weeks. Simple things like finding vegetarian food was a nightmare. I spoke zero Chinese. It was truly starting from scratch…but that was the opportunity!
  • 12:23 “You have to learn how to fall, you have to learn how to do a safety roll too. How to slide on your knees, how to protect yourself, so you can get up and try again”
  • 08:05 What do you want to do here with ‘In the Making’ in the coming episodes? — In the Making NishHosts series hopes to cover Asian Leaders, entrepreneurs, not just in start-ups but also from the Corporate world, tech companies. Untold stories. What they built is not a job done, it’s very much In the Making. We often talk about what they’ve built. But it continues. The person is in the making, the product is in the making, the service is in the making. What were the infliction points in this journey, how they made decisions and what’s coming up next from them. Give people a voice and mobilize the community to support one another.
  • 15:03 Do people in large corporate environments get this idea of still being in the making? Or do they just see a bunch of check-boxes with items accomplished and they’re on to the next one? — Things are changing fast. Especially in China, the speed is unprecedented. Corporate-types are quite nimble. Atleast the people i work with – change is happening. There are many many different approaches in the making.
  • 16:27 One of the things I do with CollabCentral, the consulting I run. It’s not a company as such. It’s a mindset. It’s a way of working. Just because you are in marketing department, doesn’t mean you can’t be part of R&D new product development. Or if you are working with X Company, you can’t lend your ideas to Y company. I am on a mission to gather more people in the network to work in an open source manner. Plug & Play.
  • 17:47 What is it like when you bring people together from across a value chain? Many times these people have never worked together. — On the inside, people often may not know each other but they are working in broadly similar ways. The challenge is when you bring in external actors. The key is to make your partners think the ideas are their own.
  • 28:24 What exercise do you do to to stay in the game and committing to the uncomfortable? — I can share one example. I call it ‘Burst the Balloon’ exercise. It sounds philosophical but it works! You should start with bursting the full blown balloon. Don’t let it fizzle out. Burst the balloon. Realise that things are perfect but it shouldn’t stay perfect. Don’t stay in comfort zone. We are here on a mission to help others up their game, up their skills.
  • 29:28 — Another exercise I do by committing to the uncomfortable – is something called as ‘Buddying up with the Uncomfortable’. What I’ve learnt is that don’t just go and talk to experts. Find someone who’s also uncomfortable with that one thing you are but wants to learn or do or up the skills in that area.
  • 30:29 — Another one important which I highly recommend – ‘Volunteer your time with a value exchange’. we go and spend time, offering my skills of helping a startup with their marketing etc, helping pro bono; but in exchange we ask them to let us be part of their journey, let’s say a new tech. That exercise is an important part of up skilling and staying fresh.
  • 33:28 — Wrapping up. Calling out to the network here. What In the Making will cover in the future — The utter pains. The delicious gains. The smart decision making choices – from some very interesting entrepreneurs, Corporate Intrapreneurs, Hustlers. How they are helping other people up their game, up their skills. And how they are also coming out of failures – which will be an important part of In the Making. Committing to the uncomfortable. And what’s coming up next – In the making from them. Stay tuned! Or write to Nishtha with anyone to recco.

261: Edward Tse (Founders in Asia FIA5)

Podcast highlights:

  • 13:55 Was it from BGC that Edward moved to start Gao Feng Advisory Company? Also, what was the motivating factor for Edward to decide to start his own consulting firm?
  • 20:25 At the core of it, what is the difference between the traditional way of thinking and the “China way” of thinking?
  • 37:25 What sort of channels does Edward use to distribute that thought leadership and get their brand out there? Also, does Edward identify as the brand? Is Edward effectively Gao Feng?

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 FIA5 – Founders in Asia with Jodie Collins
  • 00:50 Welcome Edward Tse – Founder & CEO of Gao Feng Advisory Company – to Founders in Asia
  • 02:35 Edward got recruited by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to run their China business in Shanghai in 1992 – pioneering the consulting business which was nascent then in China
  • 08:50 What were the things that Edward learned from working with Chinese entrepreneurs?
  • 13:55 Was it from BGC that Edward moved to start Gao Feng Advisory Company? Also, what was the motivating factor for Edward to decide to start his own consulting firm?
  • 20:25 At the core of it, what is the difference between the traditional way of thinking and the “China way” of thinking?
  • 28:55 How does Edward see this “China way” of thinking gain traction in other markets across Asia?
  • 31:10 Edward talks about his journey of starting his own consulting firm Gao Feng Advisory Company – what challenges have Edward faced and what are the lessons that he can share with other people?
  • 37:25 What sort of channels does Edward use to distribute that thought leadership and get their brand out there? Also, does Edward identify as the brand? Is Edward effectively Gao Feng?
  • 39:30 Edward offers tips for other founders on how they can continue to build their media presence
  • 43:10 Has Edward thought of something which his company wants to go into that’s outside of the management consulting sphere?

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

243: Julian Kwan – Investacrowd (Founders in Asia FIA3)

Podcast highlights:

  • 12:00 How did Julian Kwan get started in Singapore? It’s the best place to start a property tech business. Thinking where the investment comes from is critical
  • 24:25 The huge sense of belief and 150% conviction that you need to have in starting a business. The dilemma startups face with an idea that’s too early for the market (like real estate token exchanges)
  • 39:50 Asian companies don’t support startups like Western companies do. Raising money from traditional sources is much harder in Asia than in The West – but is this situation changing in recent years?

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Julian Kwan to Asia Tech Podcast Founders in Asia with Jodie Collins
  • 01:25 How did Julian Kwan get into Asia? A backstory on Julian backpacking in and around Asia, studying in Beijing, then working in Shanghai on different jobs before moving onto real estate development and renovating a prosthetics factory in Shanghai
  • 06:35 Did Julian have any local partner to work with in the renovation of the prosthetics factory project? Turning it to a hotel, raising money from a big American entrepreneur, opening it, eventually signing up a couple of deals with real estate developers in China then expanding into other parts of Asia
  • 08:50 Did Julian move to Sri Lanka permanently for a project there? The challenges Julian faced in doing business at Sri Lanka
  • 12:00 How did Julian Kwan get started in Singapore? It’s the best place to start a property tech business. Thinking where the investment comes from is critical
  • 15:05 What is Investacrowd? A real-estate financing company, a tech platform where global investors can access high-quality commercial real-estate investments – a diversification tool
  • 17:35 Did Julian develop the Investacrowd technology in Singapore? Expansion plans into adopting the blockchain technology and the shareholdings into the smart contracts instead of old paper contracts
  • 20:50 How did Julian develop the idea behind Investacrowd? What was his inspiration for starting the business and how did Julian transition from idea to making it happen?
  • 24:25 The huge sense of belief and 150% conviction that you need to have in starting a business. The dilemma startups face with an idea that’s too early for the market (like real estate token exchanges)
  • 28:20 Does Julian see ICTX (Investacrowd Token), an extension of the Investacrowd business, as a pivot away from what he is doing?
  • 30:25 As the CEO, how does Julian balance out his team in terms of where their focus is on the existing business versus the new business? And how are the “old-world” real estate companies moving into the blockchain space?
  • 35:55 Being a business founder now working in an area that is moving at an extremely fast pace, how does Julian manage that from a health and time perspective?
  • 39:50 Asian companies don’t support startups like Western companies do. Raising money from traditional sources is much harder in Asia than in The West – but is this situation changing in recent years?
  • 42:35 Where are the most interesting markets for property technology in Asia?
  • 44:30 Julian’s tips for founders who are looking to move or are interested in Asia – find and go what’s behind the curve; work in an accelerator or VC fund, see all the different things and come up with something of your own; understand the cost space; play the long game otherwise people won’t work with you

240: Asia Tech Podcast at Chinaccelerator with Oscar Ramos, Geoffrey Handley and Kapil Kane(Asia Matters)

Podcast highlights:

  • 13:45 Oscar Ramos talks about how engineers in China can get direct access to product creation. This is a competitive advantage that is difficult to get anywhere else in the world.
  • 33:06 Only what you bring to the table matters. Leave your history, where you’re from and your baggage behind. What are the tangible benefits of this mindset in the startup ecosystem?
  • 35:57 How can you get involved in Shanghai and China? Just get on the plane and turn up or is there a more systematic approach?

Podcast notes:

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

229: Kerry Brown – the World’s Most Powerful Nation Under Xi Jinping

Podcast highlights:

  • 05:30 Talking about the “Man of Faith” – what are some of the most common misconceptions and stereotypes of Xi Jinping in the West?
  • 18:30 What is the One Belt One Road Initiative and what does Xi Jinping have to do with it?
  • 42:30 So where do you begin if you want to start looking into China? The King’s College Professor advises you to get on the plane!

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcoming Kerry Brown – Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of Lao China Institute at King’s College, London, and Author of Several Books.
  • 01:15 What made Kerry Brown write his latest book, “The World According to Xi”, and what’s the message he’s trying to tell the world about the president of China?
  • 05:30 Talking about the “Man of Faith” – what are some of the most common misconceptions and stereotypes of Xi Jinping in the West?
  • 11:00 Graham and Kerry Brown discuss Chinese Soft Power and contrasts in international politics.
  • 18:30 What is the One Belt One Road Initiative and what does Xi Jinping have to do with it?
  • 21:00 China is becoming more and more familiar to the rest of the world but according to Kerry Brown, there’s still a long way to go.
  • 25:30 We need an honest dialogue about China in the West as the country keeps globalizing.
  • 29:00 In spite of of globalization, the number of students enrolled in Chinese language classes is dropping – what are some of Kerry Brown’s thoughts on learning Chinese?
  • 37:15 China is facing a huge challenge with soil, water and air quality after decades of hard industialization.
  • 40:15 Did you know that Liverpool has one of the oldest Chinatowns in the world? Discussing Liverpool Shanghai Partnership.
  • 42:30 So where do you begin if you want to start looking into China? The King’s College Professor advises you to get on the plane!
  • 50:00 Immersing yourself in a different culture can be scary. Visit one of the dozens of Chinatowns all over the world to get a taste of Chinese culture.
  • 50:30 Want to learn more about Kerry Brown? Visit his website at www.kerry-brown.co.uk to find more! The Great Learning Starts Now.

228: Introducing Jodie Collins host of Founders in Asia (FIA1)

Podcast highlights:

  • 00:05 We are excited to introduce Jodie Collins – Founder of Re/Digital – and the newest member of the ATP Team as host of Founders in Asia!
  • 09:45 Unlike most of her peers, Jodie Collins decided to head off the beaten path and move to the city of Yuxi, in the Yunnan province of China, to learn Mandarin.
  • 27:45 At first Jodie was determined to apply everything she had learned back in Sydney – hear what she has to say about the differences in company culture between Australia and Asia.

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 We are excited to introduce Jodie Collins – Founder of Re/Digital – and the newest member of the ATP Team as host of Founders in Asia!
  • 01:00 This episode is all about Jodie Collins! Graham and Jodie talk about Jodie’s background and Re/Digital.
  • 06:00 A lot has changed in terms of digital marketing since Jodie started working at Fairfax Digital in Sydney.
  • 09:45 Unlike most of her peers, Jodie Collins decided to head off the beaten path and move to the city of Yuxi, in the Yunnan province of China, to learn Mandarin.
  • 15:00 Jodie was consciously motivated by the Chinese language – which she might not have learned in an expat bubble like Shanghai.
  • 20:00 This blonde Aussie was a real curiosity in her small town in southern China. Graham and Jodie talk about standing out.
  • 23:30 Moving to Asia is obviously not the right choice for everyone. Graham and Jodie discuss some of the problems of “having an attitude”.
  • 27:45 At first Jodie was determined to apply everything she had learned back in Sydney – hear what she has to say about the differences in company culture between Australia and Asia.
  • 31:00 Despite her amazing job in Sydney, she wanted to get back to Asia – eventually ending up in Singapore.
  • 34:30 What is it that made her move back to Asia? Graham and Jodie discuss working in an international environment.
  • 41:00 Jodie’s own show is all about the people who have followed their vision and how they have scaled up.
  • 45:45 Jodie admits she had her doubts about moving to a communist country. How did her views change during her experience?
  • 48:00 Jodie Collins has a lot to talk about! Make sure to tune in next week to hear more!