Ray Wu

Working on MagicBus.io

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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 to

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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.

Recently, I have

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2043

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 made around 2000 are

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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.

 Be Excited about

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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, the economics

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Early Stage Team Patterns

Fred Wilson posted this fireside chat between Eric Ries, Chris Dixon, and Marc Andreessen.

I’ve been thinking a lot on my experience interacting with early stage founders. We are constantly trying to understand the patterns and I have an ongoing working thesis on the type of teams we are looking for.

It’s great to see that what I believe in terms of bottom-up market sizing is important to Marc, too.

The video recording of the talk made me think about what we are looking for going into the next batch. Here are two segments that I particularly enjoyed.

  • founders that break regulations vs innovate within regulations
  • what Andreessen Horowitz looks for?

Here is the video and my notes on the two segments.

 Healthcare and Financial services: as examples of the extremely regulated (13:05)

  • founders either do radicalized disruption or within regulation
  • example: bitcoin is a release valve

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Objectives and Key Results

I was introduced by my friend Julia to Google’s OKR system in our discussion in helping manage teams’ accountability to goals during the accelerator program.

Recently I started tracking my own project in this format, and thought about implementing this system within our team, and perhaps in the program.

A timely article on Business Insider introduced me to this post: Startup Lab workshop—How Google sets goals: OKRs by Rick Klau (Product Partner at Google Ventures).

This workshop recording is excellent. Rick Klau went over:

  • what are OKRs
  • how to implement
  • how to adopt at your own company

His live video is here, and these are my notes.

 A High Level View of OKR

 Keys to OKR

  • set quarterly and annually (annual OKRs are not set in stone)
  • measurable
  • set at personal, team, and company levels
  • publicly available to everyone in the organization
  • graded each quarter by yourself (OKR

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3 Steps to Successful Cold Call in B2B Customer Development

I had two observations about B2B startups doing customer development via cold calls. When founders spoke passionately about their businesses and their products (features), they got silence treatment on the phone.

JFDI’s 2013B startups were mostly B2B. They were selling to large enterprises, F&B, construction firms, SMB, blog shops, eCommerce sites, pharmaceutical, pharmacies, and consumer brands. There were some founders that were good at cold calling and getting meetings, but others got complete shut down. I sat through some cold calls with the teams and took notes. I had also done a lot of calling when I was working in research (for investment funds).

I was most curious about these: a) what techniques were successful; b) what did founders teach themselves to become more successful?

Sell Value, not Features

This was a piece of advice from one of our mentors, Simon Dale from SAP. B2B

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