My first review began with figuring out where to take my wife for her birthday dinner. For the past two years, I have taken her to fine dining locations which require me to book at least two weeks in advance: the famous Ristorante de Valentino (moved from Rifle Range road to Turf City in Bukit Timah) and Pollen in Gardens by the Bay. Both restaurants have provided a great fine dining experience to me. As ambience is an important criteria to my choice, I selected Catalunya Singapore, a Spanish fine dining restaurant located at the Fullerton Pavilion, which boast a beautiful paranomic view of Marina Bay: the floating stadium, Marina Bay Sands casino and convention centre with the ArtScience Museum and new Marina Bay Financial Centre. Till date, I have not experienced good Spanish tapas in Singapore and it will be interesting to explore Catalunya. [Read more...]
An important milestone for the whole SGE family which I am honored to be part of. Today, SGE is officially acquired by Tech In Asia in an undisclosed sum. My colleagues, Gwendolyn Tan and Terence Lee who I have worked closely with over the years, will be moving to join the new setup. Of course, I am thankful to the support from the readers and friends who have supported the site many years. The site has become part and parcel of the startup entrepreneurial ecosystem. Now it has evolved to another incarnation which I believe will take the spirit of what we started to a new level. My heart felt thanks to Willis Wee, the founder of Tech In Asia and his team for their confidence. This serves as more a note to thank also many friends who have been part of the SGE family, most notably, Isaac Tay, Nicholas Aaron Khoo and Lai Weichang who also have been part of the team who made it possible. [Read more...]
The theme of this article is to debunk the myth that “Singapore is a small market”. This article originated from the many discussions I have with fellow Singaporeans both here and overseas. Some are entrepreneurs who are currently working and building their companies locally while others are now pursuing their dreams in the US or China. In most of our discussions, one insight that seemed to pop out often is that Singapore is not really a “small market” and you can scale the company up to a certain point where it becomes attractive to go regional and then global. The key message is that if you want to succeed in Singapore, you have to re-imagine and enable a traditional industry with new technology which makes it more efficient, productive & drives revenue. [Read more...]
In the past few years, most companies advocate the myth of outsourcing as a way to cut costs on engineering. One myth advocated by people in business strategy and operations to justify why it is better to outsource from an expensive place to a less expensive one is that only the specifications of the product input leading to the outcome of the product matters and not the quality of engineering. The problem with that view is that you pay peanuts to get monkeys, i.e. you pay less to run an engineering team because it affects your profits and loss (P&L) but you end up giving a lower quality software engineering product to your customers. That explains why a lot of companies, particularly in Asia cannot take innovation to the next level. With the evolution of the product manager to lower the quality risk, does that mean that there is no room for in-house engineering? Here are some thoughts on the management myth about in house and outsourced engineering. [Read more...]
How do we set up an engineering or technology team within a startup? What are the pieces that deemed essential or not? Upon hiring your first engineers, what are the best practices for the startup phase before you move into the intermediate setup? [Read more...]
Making decisions on issues are parts and parcels of an entrepreneur’s life. Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking Fast and Slow” describe the two systems where there is a part where we make quick and slow decisions based on the complexity of the issues at hand. It’s not difficult to decide simple issues, for example, buying of equipment and software for the team, but not easy when you are faced with making strategic decisions. No one is perfect and even I have made mistakes in making decisions. In the past year, I have been reading and thinking deeper about decision making process for strategic issues. The issue is that when we reflect the mistakes we made in our decision making, hindsight is 20-20.
An article and a counter-argument to the article from two friends of mine (who I highly respect) inspired me to write this. I will summarise the article first. The article describes a well-respected hardware maker, Bunnie Huang and his views on why he considered Singapore as an ideal place to be in. Of course, the counter argument came from a local software leader and community organiser for the Python community, Calvin Cheng who argued that Singapore do not have interesting hardware companies as compared to Silicon Valley. Of course, the debate “Silicon Valley is a better place than [name of another place].” popped up again. [Read more...]
Over the last four years, with the rise and fall of Chalkboard and building up the startup of my family for my wife and daughter, I have taken a break from investing and am in a portfolio management mode. After a year of corporate career and setting things up proper for my family, I have decided to get back into angel investing but building on a different model that provides me with the least hassle of dealing with paperwork but at the same time, the most enjoyment of angel investing: working with founders of a startup and helping them to succeed. One major philosophy change I am going to have is to write about the why, what and how I will invest here. Like my recent articles, I will make modifications to this document. [Read more...]
The focus on this set of slides are on customer development, mainly motivated by Steve Blank’s “4 Steps to Epiphany”, and centered a lot on customer discovery & validation. Based on a three hour session I have conducted on customer development for a summer school between Nanyang Technopreneurship Centre, Nanyang Technological University & Chonnam University, Korea on 18 June 2013. As the primary objective of a startup is to validate its business model hypotheses (and iterate & pivot until it does), the entrepreneur needs to work out the customer discovery process by performing small experiments to engage the customers to see if they will buy or pay for the products/service that you are selling them to. The talk also addresses the lean business canvas and helps the team to think about how to size the market and work out the channels on how they can get and grow customers.
During my trip to San Francisco for Google I/O 2013, I have an unexpected encounter with a CEO of an notable Internet company in the lobby of a hotel where I stayed. The date is 15 May 2013 (first day of Google I/O), and he was meeting with someone (a lady who I suspected to be a journalist) between 4-7 pm in the bar area. I have told this story only to my wife in the same evening and concluded that I won’t talk about this encounter after something major was happening for this CEO and his company at that instant of time. [Read more...]
Been thinking a lot about the future start-up which I want to build in a few years time. Have distilled many ideas, thoughts and experience of failure into a set of guiding principles for my own consumption.