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...]
Recently, together with Huifen Zheng, we launch the open source angel investment templates. Our aim of the project is to facilitate angel funding in Singapore for both startups and angel investors. At the same time, we hope to provide a set of documents to help overseas entrepreneurs from other parts of the world, which incorporate in Singapore with the aim to receive financing from Singapore investors. With the initial launch, we have received some feedback from the users and even enthusiasts within the community here in Singapore who have created interesting applications with the legal documentation. [Read more...]
Today, we launch and release an open-source angel investment templates in the same spirit of what Y-Combinator did in Silicon Valley for Singapore that encompass the great Southeast Asia entrepreneurial ecosystem. The origin of these efforts came from our mentoring work in JFDI.Asia, INSEAD Business School & young entrepreneurs seeking advice and meeting with overseas entrepreneurs who plan to move to Southeast Asia or seek investment from investors in Singapore. Working with a corporate lawyer & mentor to JFDI.Asia, Ms Zheng Huifen, we have released these documents as part of our modest and humble contributions to the ever growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Singapore and out to Southeast Asia.
Recently some entrepreneurs came to me with the following dilemma: their startups are not going anywhere and they are considering shutdown. Some of them started as entrepreneurs for all their lives, have families in the process and have never considered the possibility of going corporate. Hence they thought about making a career switch. The follow up question from them was, “Why did you choose a corporate career and was it tough for you to manage the transition?” After explaining my rationale to them on various occasions, I thought that it might be good to share my perspectives on why I have decided to do that before starting up another company within the next 5-10 years unless something cropped up.
Currently ranked 4th in Miele Guide Restaurants in Asia 2013 (but was ranked 1st for two years in a row since 2011), it is the perfect treat for me to wine and dine in Iggy’s restaurant for my 39th birthday. My wife made the choice given the reputation of the restaurant for my birthday celebration as well as to support my fine dining endeavours. My overall first experience in Iggy’s Singapore was not just good but great even with early glitches in first impression. What made the experience interesting is that both my wife and I are given the experience to look at the kitchen and also speak to one of the chefs in the restaurant. [Read more...]
Recently, I made a bet with a good friend (who is currently a CFO of a retail giant in China) on whether Apple needs market share to be successful. Our bet set the timeline about two years from now and the thesis is that Apple does not need market share to have high profit margins against the android operating system onslaught from Google and their original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and user adoption & retention. Obviously, you know which side I am from. Some analysts often drew their arguments that Apple needs market share to succeed based on the personal computers (PCs) and browser wars from 1980s to 2000s. I am going to draw on the metaphor on why the market share argument do not work in our world today and Apple should be Louis Vuitton and not Zara to be successful.
It’s a common phenomenon in startups that the hustler or what I called the business guy, typically goes out to search for the technology co-founder. In meeting entrepreneurs via my network fund, they often asked me one common question after the initial pitching of the idea, “I am looking for a technology co-founder who can get this done. Can you help me with this?” Of course, 99% of these startup co-founders whether they are rookies or MBA students have no clue to who they really want to hire. Hence, this article is addressed to people who might want my advice on seeking out technology co-founders.
In the customer discovery phase of a startup, the startup team typically encounter a phenomenon called the signal and the noise. The signal answers the question whether your startup is genuinely gaining traction and generating viral user growth. The noise shrouds your vision with all the drums banging about the promise of your startup. Both signal and noise constituted both marketing and public relations (PR) portion of a startup. How do you build a proper marketing and PR plan while relentlessly focused on delivering the minimum viable product? I shared some insights on working with users, media engagement and crisis management with the JFDI 2013b class. [Read more...]
Why do startups need a minimum viable product (MVP)? How do we define the features for a MVP? What are the principles that we can use to move the team towards building that MVP which can be subjected to a lot of distractions in the market? In this session, I will guide the students in Singapore University of Technology & Design on a product development session and teach them to think, construct and work out a MVP. [Read more...]