The Shokunin Way

The_autumn_leaves_covering_the_red_gate_outside_Tenryu-ji_Temple_#Kyoto_#Japan_at_Tenryū-ji Every year, my wife and I spent a week in Japan where we spent our time looking at product design, and understanding how the interfaces on different products there work. Watching documentaries such as “Jiro dreams of Sushi” and “The Kingdom of Madness and Dreams” provided me inspiration on why everything I do should have the attitude of Japanese craftsman, called the Shokunin way. Learning from my past failures while learning the skills for the next journey, I have adapted the Shokunin thinking into product and general management. [Read more…]

Startups Dilemmas in Asia: Bad Revenues & Pivot

dilemma-500 Here’s a scenario which I have encountered when various founders sought me for advice across Southeast Asia. They have successfully raised a significant amount of money through investors with a revenue model based on their initial product with the intention to expand to other markets or scale the revenues up with more aggressive sales or marketing tactics. As they start their next cycle, they discover that their business model is not scalable as they originally thought it would be. In such a situation, they are tempted to pivot to a different model given that they have some cash runway. The question is that how they should pivot. Here are a few considerations if anyone out there are thinking about turning around their startups. [Read more…]

The Trouble with Two Sided Marketplaces (and how to deal with them)

Demand & SupplyRecently, I spent some time with the 2014A batch of startup companies in JFDI.Asia. Although their value propositions are different due to the nature of their challenges, I can basically break some of their questions into the following: (a) I am running a two-sided marketplace with demand and supply (or some may call it a chicken and egg problem), which side should I focus first? (b) How can I grow both sides at the same time and what are the ways to do that given that I have no control on either sides? To answer that question, I relied on my previous experience in running a two sided marketplace type startup and also fine tuned my experience into a simple principle as to how you can turn them from a two sided to a single sided marketplace. [Read more…]