So the car kind of broke down and in the middle of the road and we had just enough momentum/energy/luck left to pull over at a nice place. Shawn was glad I’m with him in the car and I’m glad I left a packet of nice orange peels in the car a week ago to munch on while working with my laptop waiting for his dad to come. God is good.
Yesterday, I had the honor of bringing co-founder of HootSuite, Dario Meli around my office block, the infamous Blk 71. He was here with his partner (in life and in crime), Joanna Riquett to learn more about the start-up scene in Singapore as well as to promote their new start-up, quietly.
It’s actually Quiet.ly. It’s just fun how we kept playing around with the name 😀
As they were early and it was lunch time, I brought them to my favorite hawker next to the block to have some of the favorite local delights – Chicken Rice, Hor Fun, Char Kway Teow and choice of juices. To anyone who is hosting the couple next, here’s some things to remember. Joanna does not take spicy and Dario does not take eggs. Remember how I said ‘eggs are basic’, well, yesterday I learnt it’s really not the case for everybody. Eggs cancels out taste in whatever dish it’s in for Dario, so he had the Char Kway Teow with no eggs. The ‘zhi char’ uncle was laughing at him, but he won’t budge. So Char Kway Teow with no eggs that is.
After lunch, first stop was my office. I got my partners in crime, Mark and Susan to meet them. The conversation went on to the mobile scene in Asia. As the mobile scene in Asia differs from one country to another, ‘Fragmented’ is the word to use. Indonesia still regards Nokia as the premium handphone brand, with big players like Apple and Samsung still figuring out the way to enter the market. It’s a vast difference in Korea, with Samsung leading the way and other parts of Asia with Apple still in stronghold. Mobile usage and brand sentiments for these countries differ too, so for any company and start-up looking to enter the mobile market, even for applications, you’ll need to be physically present in the country in order to understand the market, the user sentiments and to gain a strong foothold.
From there we move on to meet John from dropmysite.com. He’s just next door, though we’ve never met. While Mark’s take is that funding is not an issue here in Singapore, John has a different view and he’s got his research to back him up.
It is incredibly difficult to get funding for anything more than 60K. Well, technically that’s true. The ICV funding by Spring Singapore is by far the easiest funding to get for specific purposes, anything else can be quite a headache either in terms of process application or in terms of equity returns expected. As quoted from John, ‘not one start-up in Singapore managed to get more than 3 million dollars in funding for the past 6 years (Need to confirm this quote with John again). The one that last got 3 mil had no product, no service, nothing to gain revenue from and within half a year, it got sold to a Russian company.’ Shady.
We also visited NUS Plugin and the JFDI – Joyful Frog Digital Incubator. The place is still under renovation, but it already has the aura of where incredible start-ups are born.
Hopefully I can do a coverage once the renovations are done. Jay or Hugh if you see this, add me to your mailing list 😉
The last stop was Skoolbo. I’ve known them for close to a year now and I’m very grateful for Shane to host the visit at a last minute notice (I called him 3 hours before the visit). I couldn’t really talk about what the discussion was as I was busy chatting with his marketing and business development girls, but I’m sure they’ve had a good session.
It’s great to be able to meet awesome people and build great connections at the same time. Many thanks to FlagAHero for the scoop. I’ll do this again!