Tag Archives: e27

There will never be the perfect product

Since February, I working on a new product for e27, which I am incredibly excited about.

Putting together the product has been incredibly satisfying: I get to work with some of the most amazing partners from great great global companies, and I have full autonomy on:

  • Product Strategy
  • Partners
  • Pricing Strategy
  • Branding
  • Marketing
  • Design/User Experience

It feels like all the articles I have been reading about has been for this product. There’s so much things I want to add to the product; albeit mostly minor tweaks. I want to add this feature. It would be cool to have that added security feature. I think a sharing mechanism should be in place.

And then it hit me.

There will never be a perfect product. Never.

A product is a constant process of iteration. Lean Startup methodology says that, put out a minimum viable product presentable product and optimize it through feedbacks from users.

Just as the saying goes, there will never be the perfect time to launch, and there will never be a perfect product.

So note to self: categorize the “good to haves” and the “must haves”, and prioritize the features/add-ons.

e27 Startup List

A strong community won’t appear overnight, but if you start with the right foundation, the rest will come in time. - Techcrunch

With that in mind, e27 has curated a free database of technology companies, people, investors and service providers in Asia that anyone can edit, called the StartupList. Essentially, the StartupList aims to be the startup resource hub of Asia where anyone can learn everything about matured and also uprising Asian companies. On top of that, funding activities, acquisitions, exits and hiring in the region could also be tracked from the list.

The purpose of the StartupList is simple, first of all, to provide a one stop startup database for everyone to be updated with the startup environment in Asia and not only does this provide the publicities needed for startups, aspiring entrepreneurs could also check for competitors for their startup idea. For startup founders, the worst thing that could happen when you assemble your team and commit to a perceived one million dollar idea, only to find that there are a more than one competitors in the industry (if you never do your homework properly). Secondly, StartupList also provides a platform for the startup community from Asia to build valuable connections and scale their businesses through the expansive network of companies on StartupList. Entrepreneurs and startup founders should help and support each other, and this is the very foundation of a startup community.

Of course, compiling the list is a continuous effort and requires the help and support from the community to help add, edit, and ensuring that startups deserving a mention and which has the potential to be the next big thing is on the StartupList. We know that every now and then there are startups sprouting out here and there, especially with Asia’s technology startup ecosystem exploding in recent months, our team alone is unable to keep track of all of them, so the support from the community in helping to grow the StartupList is very much needed.

So feel free to check out the StartupList and do drop us comments below on any area for improvements as well as suggestions.

Things that matter

Now that exams are over, I can now focus on things that truly matter – Lunchsparks and e27. =)

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs

Startup Community

Recently I blogged a post on e27 and it created quite a huge hype among the startup community that reads our blog. Essential what I did was to review an app and then provided some feedbacks on how the app can be improved.

Below are some comments from the post:

I’m betting loads of money on that Found is not going to be successful.  The sooner they realize this the more money and time they’re going to save. Move on!

Alright I’m going to be blunt. To the “Founder”, my advice: STOP working on this. TODAY. End your little project now. You have been working on this app for what, 1.5-2 years? No user traction and zero revenue. And your new version is a complete rip-off of Foreca.st. Wake up and MOVE ON. You’re wasting your time dude.This is a perfect example of why the government shouldn’t interfere with the startup industry because they don’t know SHIT. Bet half a million dollars on one silly app and then what? Hope a Silicon Valley will bloom here? Beyond ridiculous.

“How was the valuation done?” wth!!! Why this and how that … wouldn’t you want to know!? Excuse Danny if he doesn’t get back to you, he’s kinda busy running a start-up! Suggest you get back to reading your textbooks,  you may find some answers there!

What shocked me was the intense argument over the whole Found saga. While the whole intention of the post is to help the startup get some feedback from the community to improve the app, they focused on what went wrong in the whole startup process, the funding, and the team. And people are scolding each other and it was divided into 2 parties, one that supported the app and one that think the startup will fail. Makes me feel like the whole startup community is not as friendly and supportive of each other as I thought. For me, I would be more than willing to give genuine feedbacks to other startups and help them grow, and thats what I do, i review apps and I review startups, because ultimately i need their genuine feedback in what I do in the near future.

And the whole startup scene feels like a game to me, a game of who creates the next big thing. Kinda felt the same like “men and their toys” with the whole ego issue. Somehow i think entrepreneurs have some ego problem. Im not sure I have the same problem, I hope not. Totally gave me a whole new way of looking at the startup community in Singapore.

Reality, is ugly.

 

“Don’t be blindly in love with your idea, be ready to adapt and change.”

Adopted from the post on e27. A very good article not just for entrepreneurs but to everyone. Read it if you haven’t done so.

Anuj Khanna Sohum, the founder of Affle is a serial entrepreneur. To date, he has started 3 companies with Affle being his latest company. Anitus Technologies, Sohum’s first company, was acquired by the publicly-listed Malaysian conglomerate MCSBand rechristened myMCSB. His second company, SecLore, which dealt with information security, was acquired by Herald Logic in 2007.

Every entrepreneur has their own story of success. While Sohum does not claim to know the key to being a successful entrepreneur, he shares his story with us hoping that his experiences would benefit aspiring or budding entrepreneurs.

e27 managed to attain insights from an interview with the man himself.

What does any aspiring or budding entrepreneur need?

  • Passion

“A true entrepreneur is very true to his idea, just intent on making the idea a reality regardless of how much they make or how much (of the company) they own.”

Sohum knew from an early time that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. He always have a lot of ideas and he sees opportunities in everything. He believes that it takes a little innocence and a whole lot of passion for an entrepreneur to step up and take on the challenge of making something new and in the process, being inspired by that in eagerness to make the idea alive. As an entrepreneur, you will have to believe in the idea and be so passionate about it to just go out and do it.

  • Start young

“Start a company when you are in your university years”

Having started his first company while he was in his university years, Sohum strongly advocate that everybody should do the same too. He justifies it by saying that one has nothing to lose and in fact, much to gain from starting a company during his/her university years. He describes the perks- which includes being surrounded by passionate young people, who likewise have nothing to lose, and having a huge resource pool that includes qualified and experienced lecturers. Sohum even goes so far as to suggest that one could possibly start a “100 people company at zero cost!”.

Sohum does mention repeatedly that an early start is best. He started his first company in his second year of study at the National University of Singapore and managed to get it registered by his third year. While his friends were looking for companies to intern at as per university requirements, he managed to intern officially at his own company! If it were up to him, he would make it mandatory for students to start a company as part of the university curriculum.

Besides, Sohum also talks about how experience is important and how he has learnt a lot from the things he did wrong. If one starts young, one would be able to accumulate much more years of experience. Looks like a compelling argument for any entrepreneur to start young!

  • Balancing skills

“A successful entrepreneur is one who knows how to blend his business competence and entrepreneurnal spirit together in a balance.”

For Sohum, one matures from being a pure entrepreneur into a businessman. He believes that an entrepreneur in the purest form is like an artist who does not care about commercialism. Slowly as one matures, an entrepreneur learns to become a businessman. Sohum is quick to point out that when money becomes a priority, there might be a loss of the innovative edge and this is where the balancing skills come in handy.

However, it is not to say that an entrepreneur should not be entirely focused on developing his idea but instead, he/she should not lose sight of his/her own interests in terms of company shares and profits.

  • Objectivity

“Don’t be blindly in love with your idea, be ready to adapt and change.”

This is sound advice! Whenever anyone comes up with an idea, he/she would naturally be excited about it and probably think that it is the best idea in the world. What Sohum says is that one should be prepared to face with criticism or negative feedback. When that happens, one needs to be objective and review the feedback gathered with a critical eye. He mentions that critics are actually your best friends- they are help you to improve and develop your idea. So polish up the idea after listening to the critics and make it a gem!

  • Competency

“Win respect and trust. Not demand.”

Being a boss so young has its challenges. Sohum experienced this first hand when he was trying to employ workers for his first entrepreneurnal project. He shared that looking young and trying to employ a person who has a double degree and industry knowledge is no small feat. “Who would take you seriously?” he exclaims. While that might be an issue, he overcame his relative inexperience by making sure that he was competent in what he does know.  Winning respect and trust is not easy but at the end of the day, it is possible with hard work, knowledge and humility.

  • Management skills

“You don’t need to be the most senior or the most competent.”

Being the founder and boss of his team, Sohum believes that his core function in his company is to manage. While he may not be the most senior on his team, he does not see that as a disadvantage. His advice is for entrepreneur bosses to always remember that they are running a team. You have to acknowledge others’ expertise while keeping in mind that you are not expected to know everything. Always be sure that you know what you are supposed to know and tap on the team’s expertise when it is needed.

  • Trust

“Funding is about trust and inspiration.”

When asked about his experiences in getting funding for his projects, Sohum says without hesitation that investors typically look out for people who are committed and trustworthy. Commitment is easy to spot in an entrepreneur when there is passion in his/her pitch, the problem only arises when investors try to assess your trustworthiness. The easiest way, he reckons, is to invest your own money in your company. Nothing instills trust in investors as much as that! Investors are more likely to believe in your project if they see you backing it yourself to the extent of putting in your own money. So, be ready to tap into your own funds!

Being the director for the Mobile Marketing Association APAC region, what are some developments in the region that might be exciting for aspiring or budding entrepreneurs?

The growth and penetration of mobiles in Asia has been phenomenal. The number of mobiles has far outgrown that of the PCs and television and mobile phones are becoming cheaper and better and increasingly connected to the internet. With this trend, more people would be demanding content and services for the mobile so any development in this mobile space would be rewarding.

There is also a potential mobile market comprising of India, China and Indonesia. These three countries together make up more than 50% of the world’s mobile users. It is a ripe time for entrepreneurs to develop for this target market. Anyone who succeeds in capturing this market would have a strong foothold in the world market.

The ONE advice you have for all aspiring or budding entrepreneurs out there?

“Build a great team, don’t do it alone. Ideas are only as good as the team executing it.”

 

Post live on e27

Found is relaunching after working on their latest iteration from March 2011 (We did a sneak preview of the new Found last July). For those of you who do not know Found, Found was launched at Echelon 2010 last year as Foound (note the double ‘o’) and was actually one the of the best pitches. However, Foound did not do well especially after Forecast (which was built on Foursquare) was launched, which provided a similar kind of service.

Excerpt from my post on e27. Basically I reviewed the Found app and recommended a few ways to improve user engagement. Do read and drop a comment! =)

Talent Pool Problem

Excerpt on my post on e27:

For this Barcamp, since I was there from 10am all the way till 6pm, I had the opportunity to hear from 8 speakers. While hopping around the various rooms for the talks, the topic of Singapore’s talent pool kept surfacing and became one of the most discussed topics (in my opinion). Apparently, many agreed on the fact that there is a serious startup talent pool problem in Singapore. For those of you who may not know, in Singapore, the “good” and “quality” engineers are poached away by the finance and investment banks even before they graduate. They are often lured away by the attractive offers and hefty starting paycheck from these finance and investment banks who engages in a battle for local talent. This often leaves the startups with minimal choices to choose from in what is already lacking local talent pool, creating the difficulty in looking for quality tech cofounders. Elisha Tan of Learnemy is one such victim, where she shared in her session “Hey I founded a web startup OH SHIT I CANT CODE” that even with an interesting idea and the ability to pay (Elisha received fundingfrom the YES! Fund!), she has still not found a tech co-founder to venture with her.

Let’s forget about the paycheck for a moment – it is arguable that startups might not be attractive enough to entice Singaporeans to join them, because for one, Singaporeans are brought up to believe in the Singapore dream – you get a good education (certificate), you get your car, and you get a safe job with a good paycheck. The risks for entering startups/starting up are too high. It can also be argued that working in huge companies like Facebook and Google is also working in a startup, because one can learn more from the already proven platform and also mingle with the best in the industry, on top of enjoying the awesome facilities and their infrastructures. Personally, I’m with the “working in a startup company” camp as opposed to “Getting a safe job” camp but I think a lot of effort must be done to change the current mindset of the Singaporeans and their perceptions of working in/for startups.

Of course, Jeffrey Paine, the man behind Asia’s Founder Institute scene is trying to remedy the problem with his new initiative, Cofoundify, which is an exclusive mailing list of founders looking for cofounders. Derrick Ko also launched a new initiative called the StartupRoots that places the country’s most elite students in innovative startups in hopes of cultivating quality tech cofounders and promoting the spirit of entrepreneurship in Singapore, which he shared in his topic “Fixing the talent pool – the startuproots way”.