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.

304: Jan Smejkal aka Your China Guy (Cross Border Kyle KYL9)

Podcast highlights:

  • 04:45 What has Jan seen happen with the “community” in China specific to Startup Grind which grew from 3 or 4 chapters to 25? How did he develop that community?
  • 10:00 Where does Jan see the Shenzhen community today? What does he see happening in that community around startups and entrepreneurship? What’s the pulse?
  • 26:45 Where is China going? With the venture markets and startups taking off, where is this situation going?

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 Welcome Jan Smejkal aka Your China Guy to Cross Border Kyle with host Kyle Ellicott
  • 01:25 What is Jan aka Your China Guy up to?
  • 02:45 Jan works with Startup Grind. How many chapters does it have now?
  • 04:45 What has Jan seen happen with the “community” in China specific to Startup Grind which grew from 3 or 4 chapters to 25? How did he develop that community?
  • 10:00 Where does Jan see the Shenzhen community today? What does he see happening in that community around startups and entrepreneurship? What’s the pulse?
  • 15:45 A quick sidestory of Kyle in Shenzhen
  • 24:25 How did Jan come up with the name Your China Guy?
  • 26:45 Where is China going? With the venture markets and startups taking off, where is this situation going?
  • 31:10 Kyle advises you should give China a chance
  • 38:00 The number of people traveling in and out of San Francisco alone globally is huge but there’s a lot more activity happening in China
  • 40:25 Jan’s top 3 pieces of advice for first timers landing in China
  • 45:45 Jan’s favourite travel hack
  • 47:00 Who is Jan’s favourite China unicorn?
  • 48:00 Where can someone find more about Startup Grind in China? Go to startupgrind.com/
  • 50:50 Find Jan on twitter.com/yourchinaguy or contact him through email at [email protected]

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.

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.

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

250: Case Engelen, CEO of Titoma (Ashley Talks ASH11)

Podcast highlights:

  • 07:25 Is Taiwan losing its competitive advantage against Mainland China? Is Case moving there from Taiwan?
  • 40:25 In terms of the manufacturing process itself, what is the technology that gives Case chills and excitement right now?
  • 44:05 More manufacturing migrating away from Mainland China into Southeast Asia and the rest of the world like Africa – what does Case think about that?

Podcast notes:

  • 00:05 ASH11 – Ashley Talks with Ashley Galina Dudarenok
  • 00:10 Welcome Case Engelen, CEO of Titoma, to Ashley Talks
  • 00:35 Case shares his journey into Taiwan and Mainland China and founding Titoma – “time to market”
  • 02:15 What is the difference between manufacturing in Taiwan and manufacturing in Mainland China?
  • 07:25 Is Taiwan losing its competitive advantage against Mainland China? Is Case moving there from Taiwan?
  • 11:10 Is Taiwan worse paid than Mainland China in the manufacturing world? Also, what are the pitfalls or dangers that manufacturing firms face now?
  • 20:30 What are the differences between hardware, software, and firmware? And how fast can people manufacture devices in places like Shenzhen?
  • 28:35 Does Case see a lot of factories, like traditional OEMs, start to market their own brands? Huawei as an example
  • 32:00 A lot of people think China is still a nation of copycats and that any partner you work with is potentially gonna stab you in the back, take the product and sell it by him/herself – what is Case’s take on that?
  • 38:20 Would Case encourage people to go to platforms like Kickstarter with an idea in order to raise money in order to test the market and move ahead with it?
  • 40:25 In terms of the manufacturing process itself, what is the technology that gives Case chills and excitement right now?
  • 44:05 More manufacturing migrating away from Mainland China into Southeast Asia and the rest of the world like Africa – what does Case think about that?
  • 50:45 What scares Case the most about China are the regulations which are often rather “fluid” but Ashley sees the situation getting a lot better
  • 55:55 What book or movie does Case recommend that gave him critical insight into China, the world or manufacturing?
  • 56:50 What does Case’s company, Titoma, do? Get in touch at titoma.com

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

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: