I wished that I knew about the book “Mastering the Rockefeller Habits” by Verne Harnish when I was working on my startup a few years back. There are definitely things that we should not have done during that time. Jamie Lee, the co-founder of Lunch Actually and now Prizle (which I am an investor in both companies), recommended this book to me during one of our lunches. We were discussing on the subject on how to scale a team, and he highlighted how he scaled his startup to a company from the lessons learnt from this book. If you are thinking how to grow a startup from scratch to a proper functioning company, this is a must read book. So, what are the Rockefeller habits that you can use to scale your company? [Read more...]
Over the course of the past few years, I have been mentoring within the ecosystem, focus my efforts mainly through INSEAD Business School and JFDI.Asia. Sometimes, I might end up giving some advice to entrepreneurs who I might be interested to invest in their companies. For a while, I want to convey my thoughts on mentoring and how that has evolved over the years. A recent feedback session I have with JFDI.Asia prompted me to pen my thoughts on mentoring. [Read more...]
If you are seriously looking for an Italian restaurant with great service in Singapore, Ristorante Da Valentino stood out to be probably the top on the list. It was started by Chef Valentino and his family in July 2005 with humble roots in a shop house along Rifle Range road. Subsequently it was moved to the Grandstand in Turf City. The toughest part about Valentino is that it is always fully booked and you have to book at least two weeks in advance. I have been to Valentino twice: the first time with my wife (when she was still my fiancee) for our first anniversary of the proposal date in the Rifle Range and the second time three years later with her again two days before Valentine’s Day. In both occasions, the restaurant did not disappoint but impress me with both food and service quality in the highest degree. [Read more...]
Let’s start with the question, “Are Southeast Asia technology companies under-valued? Different people will have different perspectives depending whether you sit in Singapore or in Jakarta or Bangkok. Recently, Terence from Tech In Asia published an interesting post on the investment activity around Southeast Asia. Two important observations came out from the article: (a) the investment in e-commerce, fashion and online retail constituted where most of the money were channeled to and (b) the amount of investment that Rocket Internet amassed against local investors is 5 to 1. Taking this further with the data from Techlist Asia, we can draw some interesting insights about the value of Southeast Asia technology companies. One interesting insight is that the asymmetry of information about the Southeast Asia leads to different perceived values of startup companies in the market.
After my trip to Google I/O 2013 last year, I wrote about the development of applications on the Google Glass. As a prequel to the review on Google Glass (which I have been recently gotten one unit through a private unit via the glass explorer program and using it for at least a week), I thought it might be good to share this earlier article I have written about how one should think about developing applications. One important thinking is that the development philosophy on the Glass follows closer to web development than native mobile application in either iOS or Android SDK.
Alkaff Mansion holds a special place in my heart even for the fine dining experience. Located on Telok Blangah Hill next to Mount Faber in Singapore, the mansion has been an icon to those who lived nearby. For me, my home was next to Telok Blangah Hill and I have seen the mansion in its current form since the age of seven. When I was a child, it was the only mansion on the hill along with a Chinese temple nearby. Subsequently, the Singapore government turned the hilltop to a recreation park, by removing the temple and kept Alkaff Mansion in tact. During my college and university days, I usually jogged around the hill and was often fascinated by the infrastructure of the mansion. The location has gone through two incarnations as restaurants, and in her second incarnation today, it has taken the form of an Italian restaurant. Hence for me, reviewing this restaurant takes on a different perspective from the fine dining restaurants located in the city.
As the year 2013 comes to a close, it is a time for reflection on what has passed and look forward to the challenges ahead for the year ahead. I am thankful to my wife, Yuying Deng who has braved through tough moments together and sacrificed a year of career to take care of our daughter Eleanor after two major surgeries in her first year. Of course, we are both thankful to our family, relatives and friends for their support to us over the course of the year. Nevertheless, we see it as part of the process that will make us better people for the future. We should focus on the future because we will be spending the rest of our lives there. Here are some thoughts ahead for 2014. [Read more...]
In the digital realm, businesses are searching for a solution from the mobility space as an enabler for them to reach or acquire customers. Typically, they run into a basic question whether to choose building a native application (or app for short) on one or two mobile platforms (iOS or Android) or a web application (otherwise known as mobile websites) that seemed to be ubiquitous across browsers on different mobile platforms. In this essay, I explain why native apps is currently winning the mobile battle over web apps. [Read more...]
For those who are curious about my next step after Vistaprint, I am joining Singapore Post as Vice President, Digital Services. Before starting on my new role, I have enjoyed my time working and learning from a group of interesting colleagues in Vistaprint. As it was my first job in the corporate world, I am grateful for the lessons learnt and the friendship built with every team I have worked with during my time here and the experience (I believe) would someday help me in my future endeavours. The role in Singapore Post offers a different set of challenges and learning opportunities and switches my perspective towards general management, focusing on digital products and business. Like every challenge before, I look forward to learn and collaborate with my colleagues in Singapore Post.
Whether you are going to join a company as an employee or build a company, you are a startup in your own way. Everyone typically asks me, “Why are you an entrepreneur?”, “Why do you move from research to business?”, “How do you manage failure if things do not work out?” and “What have you learned from your startups and investments?”. To make this talk simple, I share a few lessons particular managing failure in my own journey till now, and some lessons in working with people within the Southeast Asia entrepreneurial ecosystem. I have delivered this talk on 19 Nov 2013 during the RIE @ Nanyang Polytechnic event. [Read more...]
In building a native mobile application either for your startup or corporation, one major question for entrepreneurs and corporate executives is, “Which mobile platform should I build the native mobile application that will further the business objective of my company?” We should be of no delusion that it is now a two horses race between Android and iOS, with the rest being a far distant third. The question now becomes, “Android of iOS first?” I propose a checklist in how one should tackle this question for both start-ups and corporations.
A great product is a synthesis of technology and business thinking. How do we decide what goes into the product and determine the roadmap of the product? How do we establish the balance between the business and technology of the product? In this post (based on a talk with the same title I gave in Hackers & Painters on 15 Nov), we discuss some interesting lessons learned on product management and why both business leaders and technologists don’t get it. [Read more...]