Ray Wu

—a bystander’s contribution. Work with early stage startup founders. Manage @JFDIAsia Accelerator

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Startup Customer Service: the Surprise Factor

Every product manager should be like Digg Reader’s CTO Michael Young & Spuul’s CPO Michael Smith (Smitty)

Since the new Digg Reader came out I have been hugely impressed by the work and attention to details.

My loyalty grew partly because of how responsive Michael Young, its CTO, has been. He responded to my tweets when I least expected it, consistently. This was the surprise factor that brought delight.

Here are two separate occasions when Michael Young responded to me about my RSS frustrations.

Michael Young to Seth Levine

Michael Young to Jeff Paine

When my RSS feed didn’t work, I didn’t think it was Digg Reader’s fault at all. But it was Michael Young’s personal touch that gained my attention and made me love the product.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with Smitty, one of the best product guys that I know. He responds to every review and comment on Google Play Store, Facebook, Twitter....

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A Dialogue on Accelerator Programs: is it useless?

Lucas Carlson put himself out on the web (I respect that a lot) and challenge the usefulness of incubator and accelerator programs.

He penned this post, “Incubators are Bullshit”, and I couldn’t help but write a comment on his blog to voice my opinion. I strongly believe that accelerators are in the people business

My original comment on Lucas’s blog post

What seems to be “busy work” at incubators sometimes do amount to nothing. I’d like to share this with the incoming companies at JFDI.Asia (disclaimer: I manage the accelerator program) as a reminder of what not to do (endless hours of intro meetings with mentor whiplash) and what to seriously focus on (spend time with customers, focus on OKM, and on building and testing the product).

Lucas, I looked up and saw that you live in Portland—I don’t know the scene there—but not every part of...

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On Leadership, Accelerated Innovation (reactions to WhatsApp), and Entrepreneur’s Mindset

Here are a couple of articles that stood out for me in the last few weeks.

On Leadership

  • Sam Altman for President, by Paul Graham
  • How to Get a Job at Google, by Thomas Friedman
  • Satya Nadella, Chief of Microsoft, on His New Role, by Adam Bryant

I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be a leader. These three pieces all touch on the topic. All three point to the essentiality of humility in a leader, in recognizing when to lead, and when to step down.

From Friedman’s piece,

What we care about is, when faced with a problem and you’re a member of a team, do you, at the appropriate time, step in and lead. And just as critically, do you step back and stop leading, do you let someone else? Because what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power

From the interview with Satya Nadella,

I was throwing very ordinary...

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Joining a startup accelerator? Here’s the most important criterion to look at

I wrote this blog post and originally published it on Tech In Asia. Editing done by Terence Lee and Steven Millward. Apply to JFDI’s accelerator program before February 21st.

In 2013, I had the opportunity to work with 19 teams from all over Asia through JFDI, a startup accelerator based in Singapore. I got to know each of the founders personally, and worked closely with them on a daily basis.

Recently, when I saw Collabspot’s founder Jeremi Joslin and his partner and CEO, Laurent Gasser, I recalled to myself just how much progress Jeremi and Collabspot have made since I first met them in 2012. That was back in Manila.

At that time, he was living in France, and was working with Gino Tria, Adler Santos, and John – the Collabspot developers – in the Philippines. I was introduced to them through Rafael Oca, an alumni from JFDI. Today, Jeremi lives in Singapore, with a newborn added...

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3 Tips to Early Stage Startup Execution

We like founders that execute (guess what JFDI stands for), and I really enjoy working with teams that get sh*t done.

Yesterday, I was talking to Tomas Laboutka of HotelQuickly (he’s a mentor at JFDI), and he also obsessed over the importance of getting stuff done—which would build momentum.

From talking to successful entrepreneurs like Tomas, through my own experience, and seeing JFDI’s founders achieving their near-term goals, there are 3 main ways to organize a startup so you can also become an execution machine, and I offer anecdotal examples and tools to help you do just that.

JFDI.Asia is looking for teams to work with; if you like getting sh*t done, please join us.

1. Set Clear Objective

Founders often get bombarded with tasks and things to do. While keeping a laundry list of tasks can help you finish all your to-do’s, a list does not help you prioritize.


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I love sci-fi and so do the partners at JFDI.Asia; Meng had introduced me to many great design fiction books, and they shaped the way I thought about the future.

Two days ago, Hugh asked if I had thought about where humanity would be in 30 years' time—the year, 2043. My imagination ran wild.

In 2043…

Creating orbital habitat will be the new goal for Elon Musk & co. Google will be providing the analytics to monitor the efficiency of electricity consumption. One of the first prototypes of orbital habitat will have just launched by 2043.

Essentially, it is a concrete jungle with oxygen preserved only for human use—a mega-space-station. Gravity will be a tenth of the earth in the habitat, and a few dozen privileged Silicon Valley executives will have reserved properties on the station.

The biggest technology enabler for this is our increased mastery of synthesized artificial...

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Books that Shape Common Early Stage Culture

Andrew Parker mentioned two of my favorite books as what he thought were important to entrepreneurs (original post). I started to think about what were some of the most important books to me that shaped me.

Here is a list in no particular order. I segmented them into five different categories. I’m starting to believe founders, teams, and their investors need to share common values (culture) in order to succeed—and these books create that “culture.”

Mentality of a Founder

Founders at Work

  • This book got me started—interviews with founders of Web 1.0 companies, including Paul Buchheit and a bunch of very recognizable names today. It goes into the early stage of their businesses, the hardest times, etc. Livingston (author) is also Paul Graham’s wife and Partner at YCombinator

Hackers and Painters

  • Collection of essays by Paul Graham. Some of the observations he...

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Single Purpose: do what you are best at, spark fires

Two weeks ago, I went on a journey with my closest friend to reflect on our lives. I set out with many questions; however, the epiphany came to me in rather unexpected ways.

My buddy Chris and I talked a lot about living in the moment and of letting-go. We dwelled on the idea of having a purpose without ego.

I walked away with the concept of having a single purpose in life: do what we are best at doing and enjoy it.

Purpose without Ego

In my case, he suggested that I should align my motivations behind being a connector and continue to be a “fire starter.”

The important part was to be cognizant of not letting the expectation of being a “connector” define my identity.

Let go in expectations, control, ego-centric motivations

What that meant to me was to focus on the personal fulfillment and enjoy being myself; ie. live in the moment and not live by the result.


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Why, How, What, 2014

Vision has become more and more of an important guiding force for me. I started to see how important that is in many entrepreneurs' successes and failures; in the decisions that they make.

I look at it as if it is an overarching thesis. With a strong conviction to the vision, I get to make all the small decisions to work towards that goal.

The problem is, most of the time we get caught up in the midst of things. There is not a lot of opportunity to reflect and refine the vision—especially for our personal lives.

This is where I thought using the Golden Circle will help me figure out my personal goals. I have a strong vision of what my motivation is, but not so much how that translates to everyday life.

In particular, I am most interested to translate the motivations into specific milestones that I can measure.

1. WHY: what is my motivation?

  • I want to change the world in my own...

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Value isn’t the same as Valuation

An investor friend of mine lost a deal recently. As it turned out, the founders received a higher valuation offer, and they decided to go with the other lead investor. In a world prone to an obsession with valuation, I could understand the rationale.

It is often said about the venture capital business: owning a small slice of a watermelon is better than a large chunk of a grape. I liked the analogy. But only the last few days did I realize I had mistaken what it meant.

Yesterday there were some good news. The Branch team got picked up by Facebook for $15 mn. I am really happy for my friend Hursh, co-founder of Branch. Branch had some really well connected angel investors on board from very early on. The acquisition reflected the “value” the team and investors created. It was perhaps not the behemoth exit they had dreamed of and gone into the venture with, but I surmised,...

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