Ray Wu

Working on MagicBus.io

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ubiquity eschers triangle

A couple of months ago I was trying to make sense of the onslaught of iOS and Android as a threat to the telecom companies. The relationship here is not a balanced symbiosis. Platform vs Infrastructure (de facto Standard) has been a theme that we see repeatedly over time. I believe by understanding this particular trend will open the keys to a slew of [investment] opportunities.

Part of it was about establishing a standard on top of a new standard, and in doing so, replacing the previous standard.

In the case of telephony, a lot of companies got to work and laid down cables and wires. Once the Infrastructure and the network effect was released, ubiquitous Platforms started to emerge. Platforms took certain shape. On the one end, things like ACH payment (wire transfer) company established themselves (like Western Union) as a de facto money moving Platform on the wired world. On the...

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Consultative selling: your product needs to fit your customer’s vision

Kuo-Yi spoke with our founders about consultative selling today. In an early stage startup environment, what the founders needed to find, was the fit between their products and their customers’ visions.

Having won major contracts and signed on IBM as an system integrator for a USD $15mn governmental project, Kuo-Yi broke down his approach crossing that chasm. He shared three main pillars in closing a sale.

Who were you talking to

There were three types of people you needed to find in an organization: a) a decision maker/influencer; b) a coach; c) a champion.

Kuo-Yi pointed out that a decision maker was not defined by his or her title. It was the person that had the budget to make the decision. An influencer was not bad either; he or she could get other stakeholders’ interests aligned.

A coach was someone who could help you navigate the organization. This could be a sales person that...

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Asking for Introductions: Start Simple with the Ask

A lot of our teams needed to get in front of domain experts, customers, and mentors. Most of them asked me to put them in touch, but I went back most of the time to ask them to write a short, concise email to help me make the connection.

Write in 3 sentences

One of our founders, Arthur, was very used to writing long emails that opened with “thank you’s” and compliments. This was polite, but I found that most of the people just wanted to know what you needed.

I suggested to Arthur and Veronica (another founder) to reverse the entire content of the email. Instead of [opening thank you’s] to [what we do] to [what we need from you], I asked them to flip it around.

This way the recipient could decide whether he or she could help before reading more about you and the thank-you’s. And if you couldn’t summarize what you needed or what you were working on, it would be too burdensome to ask...

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Don’t Forget Common Sense

Smitty is both technical and goal driven. He’s an all-star products person. At today’s mentoring session, he kicked off with a talk to helped JFDI teams focus on two things: 1) create an emotional connection with customers, and 2) make hard decisions early on.

Be funny

Most startups were battling the online noise vs signal problem. Smitty stressed the importance of striking up a relationship early on with the customers—as soon as they signed up.

He referenced Derek Sivers’s “most successful emails” and drew on his own experience building product at Spuul.com, where they crafted quirky characters to engage users. He recalled, immediately after applying this approach, their emails were inciting reactions, both good and bad from users. This made their product memorable.

This approach created a dialogue. He was also religious about getting back to each customer on every feedback...

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Google Trends: eCommerce in SE Asia

In light of Andrew Chen’s blog post on Google Trends, I was curious about the eCommerce players in Singapore vs the Region.

Google 1.png

This puts the size of Singapore sort of in perspective. Not scientific—though the spenders are here—Singapore is still a speck. Zalora Malaysia and Indonesia rank higher on search trends.

Google 2.png

Looks like Zalora also did a lot of PRs the last twelve months vs the other players (the Letters on the graph indicate news headlines).

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It all started with knowing your customer!

Scott Bales stopped by JFDI to talk to the teams about Persona Development. His talk was by far one of the best I had seen on this topic—simple and loaded with anecdotal war stories.

It was great to hear him explain persona to the founders. Persona Development made sense, and sometimes was deemed trivial. Scott pointed this out, but also reassured the teams that it was extremely helpful when his team had painted 32 personas for Moven.com, a mobile bank he co-founded.

Focus on Behaviors

Scott emphasized this repeatedly—he reminded the founders to focus on behaviors of the target customers. In my experience working with teams on Persona Development, this was often the point where founders brushed over and missed. Often times entrepreneurs focused on facts (ie, demographic) over behaviors.

Behaviors were great assumptions to validate because they brought together a group of people that...

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Growth Sourcing: hacking Early Stage startups pipeline

Today was Day 7 of the JFDI.2013B Bootcamp. The last two months our team worked our butts off—but we did it! Ten awesome teams joined our family on August 29th.

The past 8 weeks I slept very little. My eyes were glued to the monitors, responding to hundreds of emails, checking on our funnel metrics, and working around the clock interviewing teams. The recruitment exercises we went through taught me a lot. We made some great strides, and some mistakes: there were also some humbling surprises. Here are the numbers and our journey.

Sourcing for teams

For an accelerator program like JFDI, we served a few groups. Startup founders were our customers—one side of the puzzle. We targeted balanced teams with solid domain knowledge. About 1000+ founders registered on our landing page, with 320 teams completed the application. Compared to other landing pages, I thought this activation rate was...

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Catching the Wave: Early Adopter to Early Majority

In the midst of NSA and back-lash towards Cloud (I didn’t really pay too much attention), I still believed that Cloud is the governing trend in this generation of computing.

Recently, I was trying to nail down some personal investment theses. One of the trends Meng and I debated about surrounded Cloud. More specifically, we both agreed that the “last mile” was where some startups, especially BYOD, B2B and B2SMB, could make significant impact.

In other words, startups that focused on taking an early adopter technology and packaging it for early majority (in certain cases, in Asia, for Asia).

One of JFDI’s startups, Krake, obsessed itself with this trend. I recalled the very week the team read about Geoffrey Moore’s Bowling Pin strategy. While, technically, the theory was to identify the beachhead market and expanding from one segment to another, but by coupling with Moore’s Crossing...

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RSS has taught me everything

Google Reader.jpg

Since March 2009, I read 58,319 items on Google Reader. Instead of mourning about the death of Google Reader, I wanted to share my feeds. I had 310 RSS subscriptions, and really valued the VC blogs and numerous Lean Startup and Customer Development posts that helped me grow in the last 4 years.

When I first got interested in the VC and startup world, I read a lot of Brad Feld and Fred Wilson. They were prolific and amazing writers. They also held nothing back. Mark Suster was great at breaking down a topic from both an investor’s and entrepreneur’s point of view. Chris Dixon was always inspiring. Nivi and Naval’s Venture Hacks had far more information than I could possibly digest. Steve Blank and the early days of Eric Ries’s Startup Lessons Learned blog shaped the way I thought about building products and entrepreneurship.

More recently, I read slightly differentiated stuff. I am a...

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Be A Fool

Hitting home runs are hard. Being confident is very different from being right.

Yesterday, I was talking to an entrepreneur and he told me his passion, but also his financial conundrum. He wanted to change direction to work on something more monetizable, but ultimately more limiting as a product. I couldn’t help but tell him to pursue his passion, and go all the way. In fact, why be an entrepreneur otherwise?

His concerns were real — cash running out was imminent — he had two months’ runway. We were debating. He drew from his personal experience from the past; similar situation. I shouted, “but that was different,” and quickly realized it was hard for me to counter him without any way to back up my claim.

Only this morning, did I come to realize what had bothered me, and what I should have stated clearer.

Fear of failure was a logical thing. In the next two months, if he didn’t make...

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