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…]

The Single Founder Dilemma

iStock_000018238421SmallHere’s the question which I am being asked by many people who want to apply to accelerators or planning to start up new businesses. “Should I be the sole founder or find a co-founder?” The answer is not so straightforward. Most accelerators often preached the need to have co-founders and tend to drop applications by single founders. There is justification in why they chose to do so. After all, 9 in 10 startups fail, and, following on with you get 84% with multiple founders vs 16% with single founders in the successful startups. Does that mean that you should not attempt to be a single founder? In this essay, I take a contrarian view that you can be the single founder if and only if you satisfy a set of conditions. [Read more…]