The four types of startups in the Southeast Asian ecosystem (insights from a VC)

The four types of startups in the Southeast Asian ecosystem (insights from a VC)

In our latest Growth Kung Fu interview, Jeffrey Paine, managing partner at Golden Gate Ventures shared a range of great insights, incl. his perspective of the types of startups that are currently in the Southeast Asian ecosystem.

If I was a startup founder what would I have to come with in order to convince you?

Jeff: It changes over time, right? So, now with four to five years of data, we can tell which companies will be big, which companies will be small or SMEs and which companies will fail. So, I would say the company needs to understand what they are. In SEA there are four types essentially. So, there is the type that, no matter what they do, they will die --.

This blog has been written based on the interview with Jeffrey Paine managing partner atGolden Gate Venture

What does that mean exactly?

Jeff: Unless they completely pivot to a consulting company, they will die. That means wrong idea, wrong market, wrong people, just everything wrong.

Then you have the ‘Global from Day One’ guys which is less than 10%. So, they are a global company, global app, global product but they happen to come from South East Asia. They are very few and far between; the dynamics change – you are now global, you have multiple competitors everywhere and with different levels of funding and sort of competitive landscape.

Then, the third one is ‘Regional from Day One’. They have aspirations to be in South East Asia. They have to start from one country before they go out and they kind of know what to do if they dominate one country. So, those are probably 20-30%.

Majority of them, and that’s the fourth, are actually ‘One Country plays’. So, number one in this in Thailand etc..

Some of them know that – some of them don't. The problem comes where they think they’re regional but they’re actually local. That's where the disconnect comes.

Some of them know that and go: “Oh, I’m happy with just one country, don’t care, don’t ask me to do anything, I just want to listen.” So, when you have these four types, the investors just need to know what to invest in.

So, maybe 80-90% of companies don’t raise money, or at least institutional money, because of this.

They raise money from friends and family and then they can’t raise money anymore. Then they will either die or they will take a loan and pivot to a consulting company.

Then, the ‘Global from Day One’ guys, our investors don’t know how to help them because we are a lot more local and a lot more regional. So, it’s hard to help them to go to the US or Europe. That’s why there's not a lot of them to begin with ,because it's extremely hard to be immediately in the top 5 of the world, it’s extremely hard to do that, but the outcome might be bigger so there are still investors willing to take a bet on it.

The last two are the ones that are tricky. Everybody wants a company to be regional because you have bigger market size, but the reality is very difficult to be regional and if you’re only one country then it’s too small and I might as well don't invest here because it’s an SME and you give a 3X return.

That is the problem. Investors may know what they want, but might not find the companies they want. Or the founders think they can be regional but they actually can’t be regional. That's where the disconnect comes in.

For more about Golden Gate Ventures, check their website or their Facebook account.

Interested in Jeffrey? You can find more from him on Twitter and LinkedIn

Before you write the business plan for your IoT startup

Before you write the business plan for your IoT startup

Kyle Ellicott of major IoT and Wearables incubator, ReadWrite Labs shared some tips for Asian founders and people looking to get into the IoT space.

Any advice that you might have for home-grown start-ups in Hong Kong that are getting into the IoT space?

Kyle: So, let me give you a few pieces of advice. So, one just for companies in Hong Kong, not in IoT or in IoT. My biggest piece of advice is get out and help each other. One of the things I’ve loved every time I’m in Hong Kong and it absolutely fascinates me is, you walk into a co-working space like the Hive or the WeWork, Paperclip or even Metta and you just see people buzzing, you see people communicating, don’t’ stop that. Push those boundaries. If you’re getting just into this world of being an entrepreneur, go to as many events as you possibly can until you see the same people 10 different times.

If you ever get a chance to work with each other, help each other. I remember the days when Los Angeles was still a very young ecosystem, very similar to Hong Kong and there were about 20-25 that really supported each other, helped to drive and push each other forward and that group still exists today and some of them are very, very, successful whilst others have gone on to make multiple successes but one way or another everyone has continued to progress and grow the community. And so, for those in Hong Kong, do the exact same thing, get out, you’re not the first to have the problem you’re having, guaranteed. Talk to someone about it, learn from them, you know talk to guys like us and others in the community and just simply ask: Hey, what do I do here? How do I get above this certain hurdle? How are you doing? How can I help?

For those in IoT, of course pop in and say hi to myself or Raj or any of the team members always happy to welcome you and be part of Hong Kong IoT family. But, at the same time just as I mentioned in the beginning, look towards the community, look towards what is happening at co-working spaces and look at the type of events they are putting on. A lot of these events are free or cost five or 10 dollars, just go support the community, ask questions and learn.

If it’s your first time and you want to learn everything you can online, shameless plug, readwrite.com. It’s what we all cover and at the same time, look at Tech in Asia, look at E27, look at these websites online to get your first foot into the door. When you get back on the ground, look at Jump Start magazine that’s circulated every couple months on the ground.

But for IoT’s specifically go to some of the IoT events. Look at Cyberport, look at these resources you have locally to support you and anywhere else in the South East Asia region, every country right now has some type of IoT initiative. All the governments around are pushing these things, with a simple search online or a quick notes through the community you can easily find where these projects are going and if not ask the three of us or ask my co-founder who will happily point you guys in the right direction.

Those are some great tips Kyle but at the same time and not to belabour the point of hardware is hard, we looked back a couple years ago and one of the things we found on YouTube was an interview with you in 2013 where literally the biggest things in hardware that you were talking about were the Google Glass and Pebble Watch. Glass has obviously been a parked way and Pebble Watch has been acquired.  All of this to say that obviously there's a ton of risk involved with being in hardware startups. How would you advise a new startup entrepreneur to deal with that?

Kyle: Yeah, so first and foremost let’s not glamorize entrepreneurship too much, it’s always hard starting a business. Taking a hobby or an idea or a project and turn it into a company that generates revenue is not an easy path. It is hard, it will be one of the most difficult things you ever do in your life, at the same time it will be the riskiest and it will be the most rewarding, regardless of its turnout and you have to know that going into this business and on the IoT side in hardware side, you’re absolutely right.

This blog has been written based on the interview with Kyle Ellicott foundr at ReadWrite Labs

Hardware is hard, if anyone tells you differently they’re lying to you and feel free to call them out on Twitter.

We'll tell them Kyle sent us.

Kyle: Yes and you can cc me on the tweet and I will happily favorite it and also comment it but it is very hard and very difficult. With software, coming from my technology background, it’s code, you’re putting design on top and it can work.

With hardware, you have to put components together physically and not just once but multiple times over and you have to put layers on top of that, multiple layers of code plus the design, multiple layers of design and then hope you didn’t spend too much money and you can still make a profit off of it. And where it’s difficult is marrying all that together, you know when you create a piece of software, parts boil down to nuts and bolts. Software code is free, it’s just us pressing keys. On hardware, you have to pay for components, components get cheaper at scale, they don’t always start off cheap so your initial prototypes can cost a lot of money. That’s ok. If you are truly invested, you accept the risks, understanding the potential reward. Put a little bit of money into making a real prototype and once you get one, find the components that you need that will make it a little less expensive to make a couple more.

So, that when you go out to talk to press, talk to partners, talk to investors, you can show these things off and not just have the one and only demo. With the companies that you mentioned, Glass and Pebble, it is hard because there’s a new element when it comes to these types of products and that’s us as consumers.

We have a very big opinion as to what we want and what we don’t want physically held in our hands and with something like Google Glass. Part of the reason why that didn’t work at the time and why you're starting to see a little bit of these companies come back now. Is because at the time the entire culture shock, no one was fully ready for that. As tech guys, for us,  that’s so cool, let’s put a camera on our face, let’s do all kinds of stuff, that’s awesome. But for the general public, there was just a psychological thing that did not click and we’ve seen it from all the technologies we have in our life.

From, you know the wearables we have on our wrist, to the cell phones we have all of these different pieces of technology have a hurdle to get through and with poor Glass that was one of the biggest. You’ve got a camera that faces someone else directly and you don’t know if they’re recording, not recording, you know if they’re taking a picture, what’s happening? You don’t know what’s going on and unless you have a pair that was hard to understand.

Hardware is hard but understand your costs, understand what you’re getting into and I can tell you the reward is definitely worth the risk and the very last point is focus on the platform you’re building on top of for hardware. Get it to a point where the hardware is not merely the value, it’s software, it’s the data you’re generating that gives something back. So, actionable insights, give something back to the user at the end of the day. That’s what’s going to have people coming back to you.

For more about ReadWriteLabs, check their website or their Twitter account.

Interested in Kyle? You can find more from him on Twitter and LinkedIn

How to be incubated by 500 Startups

How to be incubated by 500 Startups

Pankaj Jain of 500 Startups fame, who’s responsible for 500s Indian incubees, shared a few tips with GrowthKungFu co-founders Wai Hoi Tsang and Pritish Sanyal about how to get incubated by 500 Startups. 

This blog has been written based on the interview with Pankaj Jain Partner at 500Startups

Pankaj for some of your listeners out there who are dying to apply for 500 Startups, what are you looking for in your next batch of startups?

Pankaj: I think the most important thing I look for in founders is that they are thinking about a problem and more importantly thinking about a problem that has not been solved yet and I’ve said this for years and I still really believe this.

When you walk out of your hotel room or your office or your home in India, there’s about a million problems staring you in the face all around you. The problem is that most of us, when we live there, we become oblivious to those things, we block them out and that doesn’t mean those problems are going to go away, those problems are still going to be there. If you can find solutions to those problems and really build on those solutions, that’s where the opportunity is. It’s not building an AI chat box for ecommerce, that for me doesn’t excite me in the least.

You know, I met somebody who was building a solution for water notification. So, most people don’t realise this but you only get in most metropolitan areas of India, you only get four hours of running water per day, two hours in the morning, two hours in the evening. And it’s usually from a specific time to a specific time but like most things in India, time is a very stretchable phenomenon, right? And just because you’re supposed to get water at 4pm, doesn’t mean you’ll actually get it. 

Well, how about for people who are living in poor neighbourhoods, out working they can’t be home at a certain time to wait for water so they can fill up their water tanks for drinking and cleaning their clothes and bathing and everything else. What if they got an SMS alert that said: “Hey, this is the time water’s going to be available.” And that was because there were sensors placed in the water distribution system, right? That’s a real problem that people will pay small amounts on a regular basis for because it solves a really important need for that.

There’s another company that I met that looked at garbage collection in India, which is still a major problem. Well, how do we take these problems and combine them and start collecting garbage in a way that makes economic sense and deliver it to bio-diesel plants that are going to pay for it? So, you can sell garbage to bio-diesel plants that aren’t getting enough raw material to power their plants and you can help the pollution problems across the country. These are real issues that Indians have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. So, I think the biggest opportunities to come are solving real Indian problems that are also transportable to South-East Asia to Africa and most of Asia.

So, those are the things that I think are exciting and these could be anything from education to health, digital health, micro-finance, garbage collection, water distribution, data analytics. You know, most of these places especially we got tier two, tier three cities in India and I’m sure many other parts of Asia and Africa, there’s not a lot of data. At least not structured data in any sense, so no one’s really able to make informed decisions about anything so if you can collect that data in a cost-effective way and you can make that data usable and you can make data-driven decisions, I think that’s good for everyone also.

 I think there’s a lot of interesting opportunities but at the core, it’s about solving real day-to-day problems. Don’t try and solve first world problems for somebody sitting in New York or San Francisco. Go solve a problem for somebody who lives and breathes Delhi’s air on a daily basis.

So, what makes up a successful 500 Startup founder? 

Pankaj: I think that’s pretty much the same everywhere. It’s not a 500 founder versus anybody else but I think being bold and being humble is really important not just for successful founders but also for investors. I think recognising opportunities early, taking chances when you see those opportunities but also being able to learn and grow consistently is important.

Running a two man startup out of your bedroom is very different from running a company with 5,000 employees, right? So, can you grow into that? At every stage, you’re going to feel like: “Oh, I made it!” Right? But then you have to stop and think and say: “Wait, there’s a long way still to go, how am I going to grow into this.” Recognising that you constantly need to be learning and constantly be talking to other people and developing mentors, right? For each stage that you’re going to get into is also important? Getting people that can help you personally and guide you into that is very useful.

For more about 500 startups, check their website or their Twitter account.

Interested in Pankaj? You can find more from him on Twitter and LinkedIn

HOW TO FIND THE BEST MENTOR FOR YOUR STARTUP

HOW TO FIND THE BEST MENTOR FOR YOUR STARTUP

Hung Tran, the Vietnamese founder of edtech startup GotIt! secured an investment and mentorship from Guy Kawasaki as they look to expand. He shared his secrets with GrowthKungFu co-founders Wai Hoi Tsang and Pritish Sanyal.

This blog has been written based on the interview with Hung Tran founder of Gotit!

You count Guy Kawasaki, the former Chief Evangelist of Apple and currently the Chief Evangelist of unicorn Canva as one of your personal advisors. How did you make that happen?

Hung: That's an interesting story. Actually, it was a cold call to Guy. Nobody believes that. When you want to talk to some people like Guy to be your advisor, you need to do your homework to see what he wants. We spent a lot of time watching his presentations and reading his book and we kind of knew we fit with what he wants.

Guy really likes the foreigner founder and Asian founders specifically. On top of that, education is what he really is about. That's why we thought that we had something that really fit what he wants. Based on that knowledge, we sent him a cold email. Somehow he replied and we got into a Google Hangout, talked to him, showed him the product and he really liked it.

Eventually he put in his own money down as an investor, not just an advisor. I would say, it's lucky, one of the luckiest things that happened to us as a company.

What was the key difference between your pitch and the hundreds of other pitches that Guy gets on a weekly basis?

Hung: I would say, for Guy, you need to have something to show him. You need to prove to him that you can do things. Other than that, he doesn't care. At the time we reached out to him, we already had the product and we had users. 

Most of the startups don't make anything, they just talk. When we talked to him, our product spoke for us. Because of it, he believed that we could get somewhere and that's why he wanted to help. 

What has been the value of his advice to your company?

Hung: How we market our product and other marketing subjects, Guy has a lot of insights in those things. So whenever we need something, like, say, hiring marketing people, we ask him for introductions or we send people to his office for the interview.

Also, the connections. This guy lived most of his life in Silicon Valley, he has connections with almost anyone in the Valley. When you need to connect with someone you don't know, but you don't have people around you to connect to the person with, the very next link would be Guy for us. Somehow he can make all of that happen. 

What advice do you have for startups looking for mentors who have the same influence and expertise like Guy?

Hung: First, you have to be sure that you've made the product or an MVP version of it, so you can show people your ability to execute. A lot of people have great ideas. With the idea alone though, you achieve nothing. 

Ideas only have value if you can turn it into a product or service. First, you have to show people that you can make the MVP. Second, you have to think about, if the thing that you are doing also aligns with the advisor's interest. If not, it can be very difficult. 

Third, you have to make sure that there's something the advisor can do that's of value immediately. It won't work if the value-add is for something way off in the future. It needs to be something he or she can help with now, like connections, some advice about the product or even the copy of your marketing materials. Something concrete.

For more about Gotit!, check their website or their Twitter account.

Interested in Hung? You can find more from him on Twitter and LinkedIn

Growing a platform: don’t piss off your partners

Growing a platform: don’t piss off your partners

Kowrk, a platform connecting users to co-working spaces, business spaces and other providers of shared offices deals with vested brand names in the co-working space, such as WeWork and Garage Society. Founders Honey and Abhishek Kathuria spoke to GrowthKungFu co-founders Wai Hoi Tsang and Pritish Sanyal about how they keep their partners happy.

This blog has been written based on the interview with Honey and Abhishek Kathuria, founder of Kowrk.com

You're a platform and you're trying to work together with some of the major brand names in your space, such as WeWork and the Hives. A lot of our listeners work with platform models where they're trying to work with established names in their space, at the same time, it's 'co-opetition' or 'frenemies' or call it what you may. There's certain vested interests there and you're trying both to dislodge them and work together with them. How do you deal with that?

Abishek: I don't think it's a 'co-opetition' model, it's a simple collaboration model. Simply because what we're doing is growing the market. On one hand, for the established spaces, we're an additional channel to bring them A) leads, B) business and C) more exposure or brand awareness. On the other hand for the new players in the market, the new co-working spaces who come up, we are actually expanding the market.

We're increasing awareness of the concept of co-working, in India for example, that awareness was pretty low a few months ago and it's increasing by the month. The place where I see the tension come in is, yes, we're also increasing the supply base in a way. 

Obviously, that's the whole concept of a market space. As more customers, more providers are going to come in. It might be harming in a certain way the established players, however that's only happening because the market space is growing.

Again, we're looking at this from the basic philosophy that this isn't a zero sum game. It's a growing market and the potential is enormous. The more players who get in, the more, even from a competition perspective for us, other platforms who are aggregators or marketplaces, we welcome it, because the more there are, the less the effort for every single one participant in terms of pushing and pulling the kart to grow the market. It just increases the awareness and gets more people on board.

 For more about Kowrk, check their website or their Twitter account.

Interested in Honey and Abhishek? You can find more of their insights on Honey’s LinkedIn and Abhishek’s Twitter.

Cyberport startup incubator in Hong Kong: worth it?

Cyberport startup incubator in Hong Kong: worth it?

Cyberport probably is the startup hub of reference in Hong Kong. A lot of Hong Kong startups are based there and if you get in, you get free office space, one of the most valuable things you can get in Hong Kong. Cyberport-based Hong Kong startup Gaifong and its founder Elliot Leung spoke to GrowthKungFu co-founders Wai Hoi Tsang and Pritish Sanyal about whether applying for Cyberport is worth it.

This blog has been written based on the interview with Elliot Leung, founder of Gaifongapp.com

You have been incubated by Cyberport. Cyberport, obviously, one of the biggest government-funded incubators in Hong Kong, a lot of startups incubated here. If you come into Hong Kong, this is probably one of the first places you look to coming.

Elliot: Our experience has been great. Cyberport is actually related to the government but not part of the government. It's a private company wholly owned by the government. Meaning that it's actually profit-making. It actually has a shopping mall and office space, which it leases out at regular market rates to normal companies like Microsoft, Samsung and McDonalds.

Any profit they glean from that, they put to use by helping startups. You can apply to this incubator and if you get accepted, you get a free office - you have to pay management fees, but it's pretty cheap - or you can apply for an even earlier stage grant, which is just a check that gives you a certain amount, around US$12,5K, which goes into your concept development.

The cool thing about this is that they don't actually take equity. Unlike other incubators who take maybe like, 10-12 percent,  Cyberport doesn't take equity. It's really just helping local startups get started. It's been amazing for us.

In terms of advantages and disadavantages, what does that mean?

Elliot: Advantages, it's great, free office space and there's some cash involved. That's definitely good. In the beginning when we were just starting out, we didn't have anything to show. We couldn't raise any funds yet. It was really just a spreadsheet. With this spreadsheet, I got that small check of US$12,5K, which allowed us to run a few MVPs.

Disadvantage, if you ask ten people who've applied, ten people will tell you that the application procedure is pretty bad. You actually have to submit a bunch of forms and the deadlines to meet nor the questions are that user-friendly. To their credit, they're actually reforming this right now in the coming batch. That's the main disadvantage though.

To read more about the Cyberport startup program, see their website.

For more about Gaifong, check their website and iOS and Android app.

Interested in Elliot? You can find follow him for more insights on Twitter

Tips from a VC: is your startup ready for an accelerator?

Tips from a VC: is your startup ready for an accelerator?

You’ve gotten some backing from family and friends and you feel you are ready to take the next step with your startup. How do you know your startup will be accepted at an accelerator? Vikram Upadhyaya, Chief Mentor and Accelerator Evangelist at GHV Accelerator spoke to GrowthKungFu co-founders Wai Hoi Tsang and Pritish Sanyal about his accelerator’s investment strategy.

Let's talk a bit about your investment strategy. TEST and Proof of Concept, what does that exactly mean and what makes a good company for GHV portfolio.

Excellent Team - the T - Execution capability of the team - the E - and building a Scalable business model using Technology - the S and T. This was TEST, the investment thesis of our accelerator. These experiences really helped and are still helping us to learn every day, and most importantly unlearning a lot of things every day.

I'll take a step back and talk you through the full form of GHV accelerator. It stands for Green House Ventures, it's a concept based on a green house, where we provide greenhouse effects to the ventures, by providing the right resources and irrelevant are removed from the ecosystem.

What are those resources? Those resources for the early stage startups, the seed stage, immediately after the family and friends round, we call it a post-incubation. They need the right set of skill in terms of building a product, which we expect the entrepreneurs to come with.

At the early stage, what we can look at, is the capability of the team. The capability of the team to build a product using their skills, instead of hiring very expensive resources e.g. they can code or build a business model and test it.

That's how we look at it. Now, this team is not relevant for a venture if they don't have an execution capability relevant to the business. So let's say there's a guy who worked for fifteen odd years in healthcare as a data scientist. Now he's thinking, let me launch a venture in the hyperlocal space, so there's piece which he brings on board that can help him to execute the venture. We look at the execution capability of the venture through the team. That's the E part of it.

Now, in a very competitive environment, one has to be scalable, highly scalable in a country like India where we all talk about a population of 1.2 billion with a big geography, a large number of smartphones and consumer base. This scalabilty in a country in India for a startup can only be achieved through technology, hence this S and T come in. We use this TEST as terminology for the investment thesis.

We are coming in with a position post-incubation, we prefer they have some Proof of Concept in place. Someone has made a product and say they can make it big, we look for a proof of concept in terms of the customer acquisition and repeat customer orders. We try to judge the engagement experience of the customer and what the loyalty factor is of the customer he is bringing in.

In a nutshell, that's how we define TEST PoC. That's our investment thesis.

Those who don't recognize themselves in that formula. If those startups that are pitching themselves to you to be incubated and they don't fall in these criteria, would you still consider them? If you do, how do you go about it.

Those that don't fit in these criteria, either they're eligible for pre-incubation stage, where we'll introduce them to some incubators and achieve these parameters. Those that are all grown, they go in the category of institutional investment post-accelerator, because they don't need acceleration, they need capital. We connect them with VCs in the market.

Is this a science-based approach on e.g. 3 out of 5 criteria or is it more of an art form where you have a deliberation with the rest of the team and you try to decide whether there's a match and potentially a long term opportunity. How do you go about that?

TEST PoC is a framework. Definitely for each parameter we have various weightage and various subcategories. In a team we look at around six points one has to achieve. We look for them to pass and achieve all the parameters to a certain level.

We give weightage based on the business model or the space they are trying to venture in. We can't have a total miss on for example PoC and still pass them and pick them up. They have to adhere to TEST PoC in full, but it may be like 80 percent for Team but 60 percent for the technology part of it. We have complete metrics which is driven by the excel. A score card we can call it.

For more about GHV Accelerator, check their website and Twitter account.

Interested in Vikram? You can find follow him for more insights on Twitter

Growthacking in Fintech: how BitMEX became one of the world’s top digital currency exchanges

Growthacking in Fintech: how BitMEX became one of the world’s top digital currency exchanges

Fintech, a hypercompetitive space with many peers funded by VCs. How can you still succeed as a small bootstrapped startup? Arthur Hayes, the founder and CEO of BitMEX spoke to GrowthKungFu co-founders Wai Hoi Tsang and Pritish Sanyal about their growth strategy.

You guys are one of the top bitcoin exchanges in the world. What was your growth strategy and how did you get to this point?

Arthur: [We found a specific position in the market.] We want to basically allow anyone anywhere to trade anything by using bitcoin and financial derivatives. Unlike the majority of bitcoin exchanges that many people might be familiar with, you basically send them some US dollars or HK dollars and they allow you to buy and sell bitcoin on an immediate delivery basis. We're purely a financial products or contracts exchange.

That allows us to apply leverage to the products that we offer. Which makes them a lot more attractive to retail traders. Instead of trading something where you have to fully pay for every purchase or sale, we allow you to trade with up to 100x leverage.

Now, if you look at the traditional financial services industry, leveraged trading products trade in much greater quantity than the underlying asset and that's the trend we're counting on and that's what's helped propel us to the top of the league tables.

How do you get the message out there? Some would say in the startup world: “you build it and people will come.” Was that the same case with BitMEX or was there another outreach strategy in acquiring those users?

Arthur: We looked at traditional forms of online advertising, Google Adwords, banner ads and it's quite expensive to target bitcoin holders with your particular product. You're competing with very cash-rich VC-funded exchanges, you're competing with gambling operations, who have a lot of cash to basically acquire customers.

The strategy that we used was to provide original and relevant content to our users. We provide probably one of the most well-read blogs on trading of bitcoin and other digital assets. We're quoted almost weekly on one of the most-read bitcoin news sites, CoinDesk and we do a lot of outreach through conferences, speak appearances, podcasts like this one and syndicated articles in other media publications. That's how we build a name for ourselves as experts in derivatives-trading for the digital currency industry. When you think of bitcoin derivatives or digital currency derivatives, BitMEX is definitely going be at the top of the list.

Very cool. When you speak to other people about their inbound strategy, a lot of people feel, is that, even a month in they're still not seeing traction. [And that's when the doubt sinks in.] Should I stick to my guns? Should I look for other opportunities. How long did it take for you guys to get some traction and see the return from this investment?

Arthur: Initially our thesis was that traditional Wall Street banks, hedge funds and money managers would all come flooding into bitcoin and would want products they were familiar with. The product offering that we had in early 2015, is much different than the one we have today.

Our thesis on large financial institutions coming into bitcoin proved incorrect. What we were left with was a very active participation from retail traders. Because we have various channels where we listen to customer feedback, we were able to see that what our customers, who were on our platform, really wanted was highly leveraged trading products across a variety of digital currency trading assets.

That's how we pivoted to offering those kinds of products and see our growth take off.

In a nutshell, it was listening to the few customers that we did have at the time who were very committed to helping us succeed.

That's fantastic. So how did you find out what it was that drove your customers? Did you look at data? Did you set up surveys? Did you have one-to-one conversations?

Arthur: We operate what we call a 'troll box', which is basically a real-time chat room. Anyone who has signed up for an account with BitMEX can basically talk to us and other users on a real-time basis 24/7. So you have people who are very passionate about this industry and if they feel that an organization is willing to listen to them and is committed to safeguarding their funds, they're very free with advice.

The overwhelming advice we got from our customers was, high leverage and a different variety of products. At the end of the day, we listened to them and that's where we are today.

For more about Bitmex.com, check their website and Twitter account.

Stories from a VC: How a 500 Startups Principal Hacked Her Way to Finding Her Passion

Stories from a VC: How a 500 Startups Principal Hacked Her Way to Finding Her Passion

In a world where every company and startup seems to have a grandiose mission statement, finding your personal passion hasn’t become easier. Shalini Prakash, Principal at 500 Startups and founder of side-project Find Your Slash gave GrowthKungFu co-founders Wai Hoi Tsang and Pritish Sanyal some insights in her approach to finding her passion.

Shalini, in the way you speak and write on blogs on Medium or LinkedIn, you find that same passion back. How did you find that passion?

Shalini: I'm not the best person to be answering this question about passion; I have always taken up things that I'm really uncomfortable with. For some reason, I love challenges, I love getting out of comfort zones. When you look at my background, I started out as a software engineer at Fidelity investments, it's from there that I moved on to many different roles, so for me passion, really means having a deep connection to whatever you're doing.

For me, the deep connection comes with newer challenges and to see that you're really solving a big problem. That's why I'm so interested in working with entrepreneurs. Or even in some of my writing that I've published recently.

And that’s where your new project, Find Your Slash comes in?

Shalini: The platform is really inspired from my own personal journey, especially over the last one year, I've had an opportunity to meet some really amazing people. I've had an opportunity to work with some of the best minds, I love my job. At the same time, there's this constant feeling that there's something that's missing. I need more, some sort of creative energy booster.

And I thought: if I'm feeling like that, think about somebody sitting in a field or posts where they're just thinking of getting through the day. I thought I was in a much better position. So I thought maybe I should form a community for people like that. People who have this burning desire to do more and have this fire in their belly, but are not able to do.

This is not about quitting your job and trying to start something new. Instead, it's about what else you can do, other than your typical day job. If you think of it, in a larger sense, to achieve excellence in one thing, be it at your job as an engineer or whatever you want to be, you cannot just think in a uni-directional way. You need to think multi-directional, to think that if you, for example, want to be a successful wildlife photographer, you need to understand wildlife, environment as well as what it means to be an artist, a technologist and a salesman at the same time.

Even to just be good at one thing, you need exposure to different things. This platform is a call for people like that, don't go after passion, especially if you don't know where to find it or what it even looks like. Instead think of ten different avatars that you can be, because tomorrow, when you know what you want to do, all these dots will connect together and you will be super good at that!

This platform stands for developing those 'slashes'. You can be a blogger/artist/photographer/maker/dietitian, anything that you want to be. The slash essentially stands for all the avatars you can be.

How to find a manufacturing partner in Shenzhen

How to find a manufacturing partner in Shenzhen

Shenzhen, the Silicon Valley of hardware and the capital of manufacturing for the rest of the world, can feel like an impenetrable place. David Li,  one of the leaders of the Chinese hardware and startup ecosystem shared his insights in how to go about finding that local partner.

Do you really need a local partner? And if you do, where does one find a local partner in Shenzhen or the Greater China ecosystem?

David: Right now, one of the best parts of coming to Shenzhen and one thing to recognize is the huge industrial design ecosystem in Shenzhen. Most of the hardware startup founders have no experience with manufacturers. And that number is probably only going to increase. [Startup founders] have great ideas. But the best people to talk to make those ideas come to reality] are probably the industrial designers in Shenzhen.

What a lot of people don't realize about Shenzhen is that Shenzhen is the number one city in terms of design in China, even before Beijing and Shanghai. Right now, there are about 4,000 design studios in Shenzhen and about a 100,000 working industrial designers. These are the best entries to find partners in Shenzhen.

Do you Baidu them? How would you recommend someone, from Hong Kong, from Singapore, who doesn't have those contacts; how would you recommend them to find those people?

David: Shenzhen has a really great industrial design association, the Shenzhen Industrial Design Association (SIDA). One of the recent reasons I moved from Shanghai to Shenzhen was to set up the Shenzhen Open Innovation Lab and to increase collaboration with SIDA.

These industrial designers who have been helping people get into Shenzhen with just an idea and take it all the way to manufacturing. This is the strength of Shenzhen.

We gather different partners who are interested in working with small startups. Problem is that these startups don't look like their traditional customer. Their traditional customer came in with money in hand and said they wanted a crazy new electronic thing.

Industrial designers can take something from the design stage, figure out the user experience and figure out a way to bring it all the way through manufacturing and shipping. That's what Shenzhen Industrial Design been doing in the past decade.

How would you structure that partnership? Do you need to give an equity stake? A percentage of the proceeds?

David: The industrial designers here are very accustomed to getting a percentage of the proceeds. Equity doesn't work for them. Equity doesn't really work to structure a partnership, especially when it comes down to manufacturing. Manufacturing is a very cash-intense and cash-driven business. Anything you cannot turn into cash in a very liquid way is not very helpful for the ecosystem. A share out of the proceeds is the best way to approach the partner here.

Creating a new market as a startup, it’s not easy

Creating a new market as a startup, it’s not easy

How do you now go about creating an entirely new marketplace? That was the question facing Rukmini Vaish, the founder of pet travel startup Collar Folk, an entirely new concept in a new market in India.

A niche market can still be a fantastic opportunity

Rukmini Vaish: India is the fastest growing pet market in the world. Even in terms of people getting pets. The numbers that are floating around are: 600,000 pet dogs are added to families every year. So yes, the opportunity is huge. It is a new market at the moment.

By way of our experience in the last three months, it is just such a compelling and latent need. The moment you talk about it, people jump at the opportunity.

Rukmini, you're trying to define a market from scratch. How will you tackle the challenges that you face and how will you overcome them?

Rukmini Vaish: Facing challenges, we'll do that across two fronts. The first one being that, given that we're trying to create a market, the stakeholders could be both customers and partners. A need to educate them and to get them to adopt the idea, that is what is taking us time to figure out and I think that the biggest way we try to overcome is by not being inflexible.

You would want that everything happens on your product and the transactions happen there as well, but we've actually been very fluent in our approach and with people's requests. We've documented each of the requests rigorously so that the next level of product-development and product-offering is such that we'll address the issues and concerns and questions that people will have.

What's next is we've identified the top 5 cities where we want to focus, where we've seen very good traction from consumers and a lot of demand. The idea from an inventory point of view is we're adding inventory which are at a driving distance from these cities so that's one. The other thing is, we've realized that we don't want to be just someone who drives to pet-friendly hotels and resorts which is what you see on the website right now.

It's important, just telling someone that you'll drive across the country or their properties are pet-friendly doesn't help because people still want to call you and want to ask how they travel and whether this driving distance is actually okay for the pet. When we go there, what are the do's and don'ts? What can we do at that destination?

The idea is from suggesting these places, we want to curate the entire experience, which is why one step in the process, the first phase is our focus on the travel part that we will integrate, the second phase that we're working on is the experience part. 

How to close the sale, even if it’s in Panama

How to close the sale, even if it’s in Panama

Finding a niche market where your startup has a distinct advantage is one thing. Securing leads from across the world and then closing them is a whole other thing. Ken Low, Chief Commercial Officer of Arcadier, a global marketplace startup spoke to GrowthKungFu co-founders Wai Hoi Tsang and Pritish Sanyal about some of the challenges that come with building a global business.

How to clinch a major business deal halfway across the world, being a company based out of Asia

We really like to build communities and marketplaces. We want to be the leading marketplace creator, not only in Asia, but globally. We won't be the next Uber, but we hope to be the people behind the next one. We were having conversations with various partners through our contacts. One of our partners and eventual investor was actually based out of Panama.

They felt that there was an opportunity there. The giants like eBay and Amazon weren't really omni-present in that area. There was an opportunity for them to build a marketplace and grow. Through a dinner conversation they found us. We actually started the project with them, flew across to Panama, 48 hours on an economy flight. It was a really long journey *laughs*

It was a really interesting engagement. Why they found us half way around the world was that there aren't many of us in the market, that actually focus on this area. One or two in the Valley, one or two in Europe and us in Asia.

So you have that personal connection. But a lot of people have personal connections somewhere, whether it’s second tier or third tier connections. How do you build on that to turn that lead into actual business?

Arcadier's business really relies on B2B right now. We use the standard social media and speak to media like e27, Tech in Asia and the other outlets that allow people to understand what we do. The only other avenue is to go through government bodies, have them be your spokesman as well as personal contacts.

With every personal contact, messaging is key. We keep our message to them simple so that it's easy for them to speak to other people and make them understand what we do.

 Organization is also important. Regardless of the time zones, we do pick up the calls. We have three offices, but they are all in similar time zones, Sydney, Singapore and the Philippines. Only recently a US office. We haven't really put people there yet. We try to cover as many of the time zones as possible to keep it happening.

Building a hardware business is hard. Or is it?

Building a hardware business is hard. Or is it?

The cliché goes that hardware is hard. Not just hard, but building an IoT startup is supposedly so much harder than launching a software startup. How do you deal with distribution and manufacturing as a small business? Do you need to be in China to be relevant in IoT? Bay McLaughlin, co-founder of Brinc.io, one of Hong Kong’s premier hardware accelerators spoke to GrowthKungFu co-founders Wai Hoi Tsang and Pritish Sanyal about some of these hardware myths.

Building a hardware company requires stamina

Bay: The thing about IoT that I always try to impress upon people when they think about building these companies is that with software, you can launch an app in the app store and either you take off or you get hidden among the 10,000 others in your category. You fail privately.

In IoT, when you launch and then you go through the production process, you deliver and then you start retail; you don't know from that day when you apply to Brinc for at an earliest point, about two years [whether you will survive]. But, when you look at the numbers for most IoT investments, it's about the three year mark, when you realize whether you're at a velocity and trajectory where you can stay alive long enough to compete with the big guys or whether you need to sell quickly and to shut down.

For most founders, they think it's starting a company with the click of a finger and IoT is awesome, but you've got to be the type of person who's ok with not knowing for about two to three years if you made the right bet. That's a different personality type than a software personality type. For software, you get instant gratification of knowing whether you can hack this together and whether your social hacking metrics are working or not. You don't get that gratification with IoT for a really long time.

So, is hardware hard?

Bay: It's challenging of course. The way we kind of spin that is yeah, obviously, but there is a certain type of person that thrives off of challenges. There is a certain person that rather takes the hard road, they just like to work on more complicated, challenging problems. There are the type of people -- no offense, right - that should make a software company. There's a type of person that thinks they should be a founder that should really be an employee and should never be a founder. Because being a founder is super, stressful all the time because there's nobody to blame, right?

I think it's more about an understanding of what you're getting in to. For us, we really love people that have this emotional connectivity with a physical object, realizing that when you have a physical object or when you buy something physical, there is this instant visceral relationship.

Now, people still chuck stuff, right? I have a whole box of consumer electronics. But for those, that really hit it right, think about all the fond physical things you can think of in your life. There's dozens and dozens. And they have the chance of a connection long term that software apps in the folder on the third home screen don't.

Again, the risk and reward ratio is just different. But it's definitely worth it, once you do it.

What are the main challenges? Why is it hard?

Bay: Couple of easy ones, everyone hits the same things. First one is absolutely, I never manufactured something at scale before. There are makers and they are the lifeblood of this system. These makerspaces and arduinos, making people able to tinker, that's critical.

But, the leap from that to scale and manufacturing, which nine times out of ten is going to put you in the PRD, the Pearl River Delta. Some people say they're going to try it in Mexico and then you find them here. Or I'm going to try South Korea; that works sometimes. Or I'm going to try Montreal and then you find them here.

It's one of those things that you can't get away from. That's actually a big reason why [Brinc.io has] chosen Hong Kong and why we believe you can't get away from the PRD. It's a weird moment where -- what other vertical or type of business actually kind of requires you to be in one particular geographic region on the entire planet?

There are very few types of companies that require you to be in one place. As the world, we've consolidated our electronics and mass scale manufacturing into one place on earth. Fabrics are in other places, right? Vietnam or whatever.

I think that's an interesting opportunity and almost any founder that's made it will tell you, I should have come to China and Hong Kong earlier. That's sort of the constant response. It's faster and it's not as scary as they think it is. So they believe they should have gotten here faster.

 

Startup books: what our interviewees are reading

Startup books: what our interviewees are reading

One thing we’ve found in common among a lot of the entrepreneurs and startups we’ve spoken to is that they look to books for deeper inspiration and thinking. Here is the first of a series of book recommendations our startup interviewees were kind enough to share. If you have thoughts or books you would like to share yourself, don’t hesitate to reach out on hello@growthkungfu.com  

Tak Lo, partner at Zeroth.ai: Grit by Angela Duckworth

I finished reading Debt: the first 5000 years by David Graeber as well as a autobiography of Lee Kuan Yew. But right now, I am reading Grit, from a professor named Angela Duckworth.

Grit.jpg

What does it take to do really well in life? The answer, says psychologist Angela Duckworth, is not innate talent but grit – something she learned the hard way. Subtitled The Power of Passion and Perseverance, the text is the fruit of years studying the psychology of success. Swimmers, chefs, army cadets, telesales executives … Duckworth examines them all, and what she finds is that natural talent – the genius prized by her father – does not make humans disposed to succeed so much as the qualities she sums up as “grit”.

 Read the full review on the guardian here.

Mei Yi Yeap, General Manager, Asia at Peatix: God’s Chinese Song by Jonathan Spence

 My happy place is when I'm completely immersed in a book, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Because I'm a history buff, I tend to graviate towards reading a lot of history books. The book I’m reading right now is called God's Chinese son. It sounds really iffy, but it's actually written by a very prominent historian called Jonathan Spence about the Taiping civil war.

growthkungfu god chinese son_.jpg

Jonathan Spence’s book recreates the spiritual world that nurtured one of China's most remarkable megalomaniacs. Hong Xiuquan was the founder of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, the rebel movement that seized a power base in southern China in the mid-1850's and provoked the ruling Qing Dynasty into a terrible, decade-long struggle. The Taiping Rebellion, which cost something like 20 million lives, was the largest war of the 19th century, a war whose duration and dimensions dwarfed the nearly contemporaneous civil conflict in the United States.

Read the full review on the New York Times here.

Anshuman Mihir and Mohit Rajpal: One Minute Manager

The “One Minute Manager,” co-authored by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson is a parable; it reads more as a story than a textbook, or as Blanchard has called it, “a kids’ book for big people.”

It is an easy to read book that reveals three very practical secrets of managing people: one minute goals, one minute praising and one minute reprimands. The theory was to keep it simple so that the complex information would be easy to digest and to put into practice.

Read an article celebrating the 30th anniversary on Yahoo.com here.

growthkungfu one minute manager

Finding product/market fit as a start-up

Finding product/market fit as a start-up

How do you do market research on a small budget? And when do you know you have achieved product/market fit? Key questions for any start-up. We asked Anshuman Mihir and Mohit Rajpal, the co-founders of My Taxi India, a start-up focusing on the inter-city cab rental service market in India which recently won the RISE conference pitch competition.  

We first looked at train data. Close to 5 million tickets are getting sold every day. And even with that huge number, still, 13 - 35 percent tickets are not getting booked, because trains don't have the availability needed. On the other side, we also looked at the bus industry. Busses, like trains, don’t drive in or into every city.

Then we thought of this huge population (60-65 percent of people) that is not being served at the moment. We then looked at the data from tier 2 and 3 cities, where people really want to come and use road transport, but don’t find what they need.

Whenever you build a company or build a technology, you have to think of the entry barriers

Let's say, I'm going somewhere with a family. If I take a Volvo, that will cost me 4,000 bucks, even if I take the Aghra route. As an alternative, first, I would go from my home to bus stand, from bus stand to the destination bus stand and then from that bus stand, to the final destination. It's not convenient.

That's how we thought of launching intercity taxis. Intercity taxis will come to your doorstep and will take you to the destination where you want to go at a cheaper cost. We are serving a market, which is completely unorganized at the moment. There is an existing demand, and if we get this seamless convenience in place, people would love to take the taxi.

If you ask anybody in India, booking a inter-city taxi is a very tough task at the moment. You need to call multiple people. There is no one brand in place. You first find a name on Twitter or Google, then you have to call multiple taxi operators. In India, you have to negotiate the price. Every taxi operator has a different price. So we know this pain area of the booking process for intercity taxis in India.  We know that this is a very tough process. That’s where we came in.

For these 46 million people transfers per day and a market that’s 90 percent unorganized, we thought of launching a GDS, a Global Distribution System, so that all taxi-operators could get into one system and reach out to these consumers. At the same time, this volume allowed us to reduced the taxi price by 40 percent, making taxi as competitive as bus and train.

The thing with long tail marketing is…it’s so much work

The thing with long tail marketing is…it’s so much work

Long tail marketing, focusing on the niches to – sounds brilliant, but it’s treacherously hard. Mei Yi Yeap, General Manager of event platform Peatix, spoke to GrowthKungFu co-founders Pritish Sanyal and Wai Hoi Tsang about Peatix’ successful long-tail strategy

 Mei Yi: We see [long-tail marketing for start-ups] as a two-pronged approach. Number one, we look at people who want to use technology. This group, we try to reach through our growth and marketing effort, through our content, we educate them by saying this is how you can do events better, this is how you can improve on, let's say, growing your sponsorship fees etc.

There is another group that hasn't really given thought to [our service,] ticketing. Or, they haven't really thought about leveraging technology very much, because they have always done things in a more manual way.

With this second group, a lot more on-the-ground work is required. We have more bizz dev type work with them, we partner with co-working spaces for people who want to host events in their space, we can offer [Peatix] as a tool for them to leverage. To drive more traffic to them.

We also consciously reach out to people who do events that are not tech-driven. For instance, music events or theater events. We reach out to them and say: give it a try and you might be surprised. One particular example is where we worked with a music promotor, and they own a huge eatery in Malaysia and run a series of concerts, which they always sold at their cafe and a few other cafe-affiliate partners.

I approached them to sell online. There was some back-and-forth and they decided to not do it 'this time around'. I said: "You know, you really have nothing to lose. Just set up a page, if you sell, you sell, if you don't, you don't." Turns out that within that one week that they set up a page, Peatix helped them sell far more than any of the other cafes that they were selling in for months.

The organizer says: "I'm so glad you convinced me to do it." That was brilliant, because it was exactly what we want. We want to empower people who have not thought of doing things in a different way to benefit from it.

As you mention your [online initiatives]. Can you talk us through your Slideshare [content marketing strategy] and how it has helped you to grow your community?

Our Slideshare initiative is rather new, but I love it because it is driven by one of my teammates - she looked at our content marketing and said: I can add more visual elements to this. What she's done, is very simply use a lot of the great blog content that we have and repurposed them into Slideshares. We started publishing them, a few Slideshares a week and some of these - without a lot of promotion - have already attracted more than 600 views per slide.

You don’t have to be a doctor or lawyer to be a good Asian son or daughter

You don’t have to be a doctor or lawyer to be a good Asian son or daughter

“Why don’t you become a lawyer, doctor or engineer?” A sentence all too familiar for a lot of people with an Asian heritage. Tak Lo did just the opposite of that. Tak, a former US army veteran, a former director of the famous Techstars accelerator, who is currently a venture capitalist in Asia, the UK, the US, a company mentor for startups here in the Asia Pacific region and across the world spoke to GrowthKungFu co-founders Wai Hoi Tsang and Pritish Sanyal about the challenges of taking a non-traditional Asian career path.

Taking risk is the logical choice

Every time I go into school, I come out and think I'll go into investment banking and it never happens. Most to the disappointment of my father. I would like to think I am extremely logical – my undergrad is in economics – so I always thought of risk slightly differently. So both after the University of Chicago and London Business School, I said: [now] is the best time to take lots of risk, because you're extremely young and you [can] take risk you wouldn't be able to take at any other time because your risk profile changes over time and decreases as you get older.

That's why I took risk after the University of Chicago [by joining the United States Army]. Correlating, after the London Business School, it was the same thing. I was 31 and I understood it was one more time to take risk. When you are 30, you start to have a decreasing ability to change careers.

Nobody wants to hire a 35-year-old into a new industry. I decided for myself that I wanted to be in startups, I thought the switching costs of making enough money and then switching were too high afterwards, even if you have enough money.

So I decided to switch right then, right there to the industry I wanted to be in, while I still could. And not be locked inside the investment banking bubble. I thought it was the logical choice and it turned out to be the right choice.

What can you say to those people who are being pressured by their family, by their peers and friends to become a lawyer, a doctor, an engineer? What can you tell about why you took that choice and what you took away from it? How does that impact how you see life and business today?

First thing is, family pressure is real. No question. Oftentimes I think it's artificial as well. Family pressure is just another form of social pressure, right? Your friends do one thing, my family says another thing. Ultimately, I am in the driver seat and I have to make the choices that are right for me. For the listeners, I think that's that: [family pressure is] just like any other pressure. It might be weighted slightly higher, because your family at the end of the day is your family.

The second thing is, especially for those that are right out of undergrad. That first choice that you make out of the undergrad, really dictates how you live the rest of your life. Right out of undergrad you have the most flexibilty in terms of what you choose and how you want to live the rest of your life.

If you decide, in 20 years from now, I want to be an entrepreneur so therefore I am going to do this because this is what helps me to get there or the same for an investor, I think [that’s harder, but] those are the choices one needs to make.

Where’s the East-Asian startup ecosystem?

Where’s the East-Asian startup ecosystem?

You have to visit but one of the numerous coworking spaces popping up around the region to bump into people like  Nilesh, a first time founder of an IoT start-up in Mumbai or Cathy, a rookie growth manager at a fintech start-up in Hong Kong or even Gary, a junior employee at an ecommerce start-up in Singapore. They all have one in thing in common: just a couple of years ago, they would have chosen a career path that was classically regarded as respectable in Asian culture. Their dream is no longer to be a doctor, engineer or lawyer; it’s to be the founder of the next billion-dollar start up, a unicorn or whatever the Asian version of that might be (a horned dragon?).

They face one nagging question from their peers, friends and family: how do you know that what you do is right? Will it lead to anything? As the Cathys and Garys build towards the next percentage of market share, they’ve embraced a life of endless hustle and boundless optimism. That’s needed. The path to unicorn-status or a successful exit is a journey of a thousand miles and one that needs to be cleared, step-by-step. The big uncertainty for many however lies between the first and last step. What about step twenty, fifty and hundred on this journey? That’s the uncertainty of start-up life. But should the path really be this opaque for Asian startups? Where is the ecosystem in mentors, known successful peers or readily available VC money to support these guys?

In many ways, it makes me think of that now famous TED talk from Derek Sivers on leadership. His TED talk is centered on the clip of a lone dancing nutcase at a music festival who attracts a huge crowd around him through his dancing. Sivers explains that it is the first follower who transforms a shirtless dancing guy into a leader. The lesson we take is that even the most fearless nutcase needs a little bit of help. And that it’s the supporters, not the leaders themselves who turn bemused spectators into a community and movement.

In some ways, the start-ups in Asian cities around the region are not unlike a group of disparate shirtless dancing guys. We need shirtless dancing guys like Nilesh, Cathy and Gary and then some. But in order for East-Asian startups to compete with an ecosystem like Silicon Valley, we need more than that. We need to go beyond just our respective cities like Singapore, Hong Kong and Mumbai. For Nilesh, Cathy and Gary to succeed, we need a developed support network, which can help with connections, funding and advice. We need more conferences, more funding and more people to share insights and best practices from other people in the region. Who’s prepared to do their part and potentially ridicule themselves together with all these shirtless dancing guys?

Our five cents is a project called GrowthKungFu, a platform to tell Asian growth stories. GrowthKungFu brings the growth community across Asia together and gives its new members the relatable, qualitative and actionable insights they desperately need to grow. We want to be shirtless dancing guy’s first follower. What will you do?

About the author

Pritish Sanyal and Wai Hoi Tsang are the founders of GrowthKungFu, a platform to share growth stories and insights from start-ups in Asia.