Day 2 talks were less interesting than day 1, but they have a couple of surprising perks: 1 round table session that I think is the most valuable of all sessions, and the battle arena.
I wrote the day 1 highlights chronologically. For day 2, I begin with the most interesting one.
Round Table Session: Early Stage Growth Discussion
Toby Hoenisch / CEO & Co-founder, TenX
Michele Ferrario / CEO & Co-founder, StashAway
Zal Dastur / COO & Co-founder, Lucep
This is hands down the best session I join. I learn so much from the 3 speakers. The discussion went personal and the questions were spot-on.
1. How to know when to quit: If there is no other people (at least there is another person whose as crazy as you are) and your company run out of money (always ask: what can I do to avoid run of money?)
2. Key metrics of early-stage start-up: Customer Acquisition Cost/CAC (how much does it cost to get new customer) and Lifetime Value/LTV (how much customer has invest and will invest)
3. Don’t take rejection seriously.
4. Bring energy to every conversation. Answer with enthusiasm to the first person, hundredth person, and beyond. Even if you get rejected 100 times, you never know if the 101st person is the one who will invest.
5. If you really need to talk to someone, don’t be afraid to call.
6. You will need psychological support from your co-founders. Failure is talking to 100 VC and all of them reject. Success is talking to 100 VC and get 99 rejection. You need support to handle those 99 rejections.
7. You have to be borderline crazy to be an entrepreneur.
8. Find someone who has done it before; to predict what kind of challenge you will face.
9. When you need funding, ask: what do investors want to see. Prepare this scenario to tell to VC: if we have an additional $5mil, we can do X. Consider whether investors want to see longer runway or growth.
10. Tenx: still live together until now.
11. Know what you are bad at; find co-founder that can complement.
12. You do not need to learn everything — I am guilty.
13. When you are looking for co-founders, find someone who understand that the mission is business; those who accept when they are wrong (including you).
14. When the downs come, you need the core team to sit down together: disagree on topics, not on personal/relationship.
15. Don’t forget that you always have FFF to support you: Friends, Family, and Fools.
Main Stage 1: Cheryl Goh (Group VP of Marketing, Grab)
1. When you have an idea, try to pitch to your mom. If she doesn’t buy your idea, that is probably a bad idea.
2. “My life was a truly unremarkable”
3. No background in marketing, but in the beginning that is the only position the CEO need. And the experience of building business is what was useful.
Differentiating Product in the Face of AI Democratization
Avinash Patchava (VP Data Sciences, AI & ML, InMobi)
Hong Ting Wong (CEO and Cofounder, Botbot.AI
Kenny Chua (Head of R&D Singapore, DataRobot)
1. Define AI-need of your company; it is different for every company.
2. Does AI relevant for small companies? kaggle as a proof that even individual can help big companies with their problems.
3. Remember 3 things that small company can focus on for AI: niche use case, dataset, talent.
3. Self-service data science: for AI to change business, it need to be pervasive.
4. Unique challenges in mobile first: richness of data, privacy (How to anonymized dataset), strong latency demand (people expect immediate response)
5. AI is a tool; only good if it can do what it supposed to do.
6. Impact of chatbot: for repetitive question, understand context (can improve number of transaction 3–5 times)
Main Stage 2: Cindy Deng (Managing Director APAC, App Annie)
1. Different stage of mobile apps development
a. Phase 1: experimentation
b. Phase 2: expansion
c. Phase 3: monetization
2. Globally people spend on average 3 hours/day on app (Indonesia 4 hours on app).
3. Every person has used 40 apps and 80 apps installed overall.
4. 86bil gross consumer spend (105% increase), in-app only. APAC 66% of overall.
5. +60% average sessions number per user in Indonesia.
Main Stage 3: What Makes a Good Founder
Akiko Naka (CEO, Wantedly, Inc.)
Grace Yun Xia (Principal, Jungle Ventures)
Helen Wong (Partner, QiMing Venture Partners)
Magnus Grimeland (CEO & Founder, Antler)
This session was straight-forward, to answer the topic:
1. Strong obsession: have a topic that you want to work 24/7, even not get paid
2. Clear spikes: clearly better at something than most
3. Drive and tenacity: to drive through failure
4. Good vision/strategy
5. Leadership: lesson from Jack Ma (willing to share and can attract good talents)
Anson Zeall (Chairman, Association of Cryptocurrency Enterprises and Startups, Singapore)
Benjamin Soh (Executive Director, Gibraltar Stock Exchange)
Chia-Ling Koh (Digital Business Lawyer, OC Queen Street LLC)
1. 90% of startup failed, 99.9% of ICO failed.
2. Regulation in country — just avoid problems, not solving it. Example from China, although BitCoin is illegal, they still done it.
3. ACCESS in Singapore as an example for government support in blockchain.
Main Stage 4: E-payments in Singapore
Hock Lai Chia (President, Singapore Fintech Association)
Lukas May (Head of Banking, TransferWise)
Reuben Lai (Senior Managing Director, Co-Head of Grab Financial Group, Grab)
1. Grab: main problem in Singapore is talent.
2. Why so against cash: it is not actually cash, but more about access to financial services (Transferwise: focus is transparency, bank fee is not clear now)
Main Stage 5: Future of AI
Laurence Liew (Director, Industry Innovation, AI Singapore)
Michael Gryseels (Senior Partner, McKinsey & Company)
Prof. Alfred Huan (Executive Director, Institute of High Performance Computing, Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, Agency for Science, Technology and Research)
Richard Koh (Chief Technology Officer, Microsoft)
I was rather disappointed with this session, the discussion was too general and I do not get any notable insight.
1. Think more about general AI (and transfer learning)
2. Tay of Microsoft as a mistake to learn from.
Yep, that’s all for me.
Ben Mathias (Managing Partner, Vertex Ventures)
Hian Goh (Partner, Openspace Ventures)
William Bao Bean (General Partner SOSV, Chinaccelerator, MOX, SOSV)
Pokeguide: Micro GPS for tourism
Conscient AI: analytics platform
Emphat: Emotion detection from voice (1st place)
Logibrothers: Comp. science game for kids (3rd place)
XOPA.AI: ML for HR (2nd place)
OCards: Platform for Point-of-Sales
What I learn: judges always ask about CAC, CLV, Cohort (how many come back after 1 month, 2 months, so on), and monetization strategy. Another thing: potential problems; we need to be aware of that and think about the solution.
Going to Tech in Asia conference for 2 days help me predict whether a session will be insightful or not:
- Great session does not have more than 2 speakers. 3 is max; 4 then you will definitely get a shallow discussion.
- 1 Speaker sessions were the best ones (Fireside talks), especially if the moderator can carry the discussion well — those who are not attached to a prepared list of question
- Keynotes were, Okay-ish. It really depends to the speaker. I would rather join other sessions.
- Register for round tables and prepare question beforehand. Round table have limited slot, but usually you can still come because people drop-out.
- Lastly, speaker > topic. Go for speakers that have gone through a lot, you will learn more than going to a seemingly interesting topics.
Of course I would not be able to write this without the opportunity given by Tech in Asia event teams: Lawrence, Jenine, Hui Min, JayJay. Also special shout-out to my only round table volunteer team: CY, the veteran volunteer: Darian, and of course all fellow volunteers!