Biden’s China VC Investment Ban, Singapore Ecosystem Guide & Reverse Culture Shock - E302

· VC and Angels,China,USA


“I'm incredibly optimistic about this ecosystem. There's a lot of macro stuff that is really pushing us along that I don't think we could've imagined five years ago. Some of it is geopolitical, but in terms of what we, as an ecosystem, can do to help move it along further, there's this sort of notion around information exchange and community building. Helping each other is really important. So we want to encourage people to do that, to connect more, create more moments of this serendipity, and then, we can all prosper together.” - Shiyan Koh

“We need to get more comfortable sharing imperfect things and works in progress. Not everything is shiny and perfect. In fact, most things are not. That's how we progress as an ecosystem. We have to show what we got, be transparent about where we’re struggling, and ask for help. That's how we're going to progress together. That's a point that we are still immature in this ecosystem. We want perfection and we like to exalt people too early. We hold them up and be like, ‘This is a paragon of entrepreneurship.’” - Shiyan Koh 

“Founders are generally more reticent in the region. I had a founder conversation recently. He didn't really want to show weakness to his investors. He didn't know something and I get it, but also, I think that's something we want to change. We want people to ask for help more. As you said, everyone is figuring it out. It is okay not to know. In fact, it is normal not to know and you are going to know faster by asking than pretending. We should be open about helping each other kind of progress.” - Shiyan Koh

Jeremy Au and Shiyan Koh, Managing Partner of Hustle Fund, discuss the Southeast Asia startup ecosystem and the key considerations for fostering growth. The conversation covers three key takeaways:

1. Biden Admnistration VC Investment Ban: Jeremy and Shiyan discuss that the ban is a progression in curtailing investments in Chinese semiconductors, quantum computing, and certain AI applications. This prompts VCs to reevaluate strategies and diversify into other regions due to concerns over reporting requirements and potential long-term legislative changes. This can also lead to potential inflows into Southeast Asia due to the reduced investments in China.

2. Ecosystem Density & Serendipity: They talk about entering Singapore tech ecosystem, especially in regards to getting access to local communities and information asymmetry. They also talked about how Singapore is small yet the benefit is a dense ecosystem which allows for serendipity, interaction and high velocity networking.

3. Information Asymmetry vs. Sharing: They highlight the tension between sharing knowledge and keeping ideas secrets. Shiyan believes that true value comes from the unique execution rather than just knowing the concept. Jeremy points out that market players do benefit from information asymmetry especially incumbents and emerging market leaders, and has been weight against other pros and cons. They agree that fostering an environment of open collaboration is key to the growth of the region’s startup ecosystem.

Also, they talked about the challenges of reentering Singapore ecosystem as a sea turtle, sharing imperfect work, and the role of media in highlighting startup success stories while acknowledging that fundraising announcements do provide a market signal of validation from gatekeepers.

Supported by Baskit

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Jeremy Au: (01:17)

Morning, Shiyan.

Shiyan Koh: (01:19)

Good morning, Jeremy. Happy National Day to you.

Jeremy Au: (01:20)

How was your National Day? We watched TV on my end and then we went to the Toa Payoh Stadium and actually it was a lot of fun. It was the first time we saw the fireworks that was not in the main location. We always watched it on TV, but at the satellite location, it was like in the stadium. It was packed. It was great. Patriotism was high and the fireworks were awesome it was our kids' first-ever National Day in person, but also the first ever fireworks. So the two had a nice video recording of a three-year-old, the one-year-old, their first experience of fireworks.

Shiyan Koh: (01:47)

I love it. I love We had some people over casual potluck, you know, chicken curry, beehoon type of And then we put the live stream up on TV for everyone to kinda like watch what was going and I thought what was fun had a ton of PRs in the room, but only two citizens, yours truly is one of And everyone as I've lived here for 10 plus years and I've never seen this before. Like, I've never seen a National Day parade. And I was like, how is this possible? It was you know, they were watching it and you they're like, what is total defense? And then there was like that little skit with the kid or whatever, it was like a little bit cringe.

And they were what is total defense? And then like the whole thing comes and they were you know, surprised by the military vehicles coming through. And I hadn't realized. Did you notice that Flag Parade had corporations in

Jeremy Au: (02:32)

I wasn't paying that close attention and if there was a transit to the fireworks part, so I might have missed it, but I did see the total defense one. And my favorite part was the cyber defense because, you show like scares phishing malware, and I was like, yes, all the techy savvy is like, yes, please prevent scares from happening and watch out for deep fakes and stuff.

Shiyan Koh: (02:50)

Yeah, no, it was actually really good. And I think, I don't know, I'm always mixed. This is so cringy, I'm like, actually, these are important topics, what does it mean to be economic defense, social defense? How do we like to work together on these fronts? And so I think I come out on the side of like positive, even though sometimes when you're watching it, you're like

Jeremy Au: (03:08)

I think every country's independence day is not a time of subtlety, I'm just saying like, it's not as if July 4th is not full out America, with the beer, the flags, the fireworks. I mean, I'm just saying ev every Independence Day on the news.

Shiyan Koh: (03:20)

Yeah, yeah. Totally, totally, totally.

Jeremy Au: (03:22)

The French have, for example, Bastille Day, right? I mean, for just a big day. They also have a military parade. Very common for them. And they actually have contingent from other countries who are participating there. So I think that's interesting. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Shiyan Koh: (03:34)

On Bastille Day? I no idea.

Jeremy Au: (03:36)

So I think it's a very common aspect.

Shiyan Koh: (03:38)

Yeah, and then the kids, know, we had all these P1 kids who obviously have learned all the songs, and so they were like dancing and singing in front of the TV, and the parents were just like, wow, the brainwashing starts young. And I'm like, you have the rest of your life to be cynical. You should just lean into this and enjoy it while you

Jeremy Au: (03:53)

That reminded me that we did have, Al kindergarten did have a National Day performance. And so that was my first-ever performance. I mean, let's say that my kid's debut performance does not give me high hopes for her to be a Broadway performer one day, but she crushed it.

I think enthusiasm and very cuteness. But let's just say that three years old is not really the star time, I think, to show your case. I think she was just holding a bunch of, rods of those confetti at the end, I have no idea what those are. And then she was doing a song called Bicycle. And anyway, I loved it. I don't get it. It was very, it was very on the nose for me. It was a hundred percent about a bicycle. Yeah.

Shiyan Koh: (04:25)

It was pitched for you to love. Yeah, it was a hundred percent for parents to feel like they're spending good money at this kindergarten, and I don't want to say but my kid is obviously cuter than all the other children. That's the feeling it should evoke in you.

Jeremy Au: (04:38)

So anyway, the rest of the kindergarten also had a total defense. So you had little firefighters, little policemen, and little doctors and I was like, oh boy.

Shiyan Koh: (04:46)

That’s so cute.

Jeremy Au: (04:46)

Anyway, so I was like, it's total defense. But you know, it did remind me that when I was in the military, And I think one thing, they're always, when you're an 18 years old going through this military service, everybody's telling you about why head to defend a country, blah, blah, blah. There's a lot of terminology, and then I always remember that the instructors, they were trying to motivate us, blah, blah, blah. Like an obstacle course, right? And then they're like, oh, they're here to take your money. They're here to take your lead. They're here to take your women. To be honest, it's what they said. then I was like, you know what, this is probably the most elemental part of this entire military thing. Forget all the terminology and all that stuff, right? You're here to take your stuff. That's why you got to defend the country anyway.

Shiyan Koh: (05:21)

Yeah, they’re here to take your stuff. They're here to kill your family.

Jeremy Au: (05:22)

I was like, Yeah. Anyway, but I thought the reason why was like, I was watching this kindergarten performance and all these kids, and all these parents, I was talking to my cute kids, and I was like, oh my God, I would do anything to protect my kids. And I was thinking to myself, man, nobody wants us to piss off this kindergarten because I'm saying, this is like a hundred parents that were a hundred percent like kill to defend their kids. I mean, it was this interesting moment where it kind of clicked for me where I was like watching this. I was like, oh, it is like, to some extent, they always call it Mama Bear, Papa Bear, which is like people becoming very defensive of their family. I think there's a big part of the aspects. So it's interesting. yeah, exactly.

Shiyan Koh: (05:52)

You need something worth defending, right? So whether it's your house or your family. Why do you think we encourage people to buy houses and procreate?

Jeremy Au: (05:59)

All part of the plan.

Shiyan Koh: (06:00)

It's all part of the

Jeremy Au: (06:01)

An 18-year-old, you have neither, right? You have no money, no property, and no family. So you're just like, oh, okay. I'm here. What am I doing Well, I also to hear about all the various national days that are out there. I think what's interesting in terms of regional news we, I think we were sharing a couple of them.

One of them that you shared was about the upcoming US Biden administration ban on venture capital investments in China, stuff you want to share about that.

Shiyan Koh: (06:24)

Well, it's honest. I think it's just a progression of some of the work that we've talked about before, but it's an additional executive order limiting VC investments into Chinese semiconductors, quantum computing, and certain artificial intelligence applications. For the past 30 years, the US has been investing heavily into China.

It's like a second-largest economy in the world. Diversification, growth, and even though it is sort of a narrow set of restrictions, I do think it casts a chill over investing in China more broadly and it really makes people think about the perception of investing in the enemy even if that's not actually what's happening. And I think the way the US always gets you is on reporting requirements, which is to think about like, even if I'm doing something totally legitimate, the fact that I have to report all this stuff, this kind of admin burden, is it worth it? Should I do it? So I think this is just like another nail in the coffin, another step down the road.

Jeremy Au: (07:17)

I think you're right to say that it is a progression, right? And I think that story picks off that. And what's been announced every kind of, I'll say every half a year at this right now is not, I think, a good sign from my perspective. I think it's less about, I think this is a reaction, which is like, what does this current thing mean?

Which of course means all this stuff around reporting requirements, et cetera, et cetera. But I also think there's a sensation that like this could continue for every half a year in terms of new legislation for the next one year, next four years. And I think a lot of funds will have to say like, okay, you know. And I think what's interesting is that it covers obviously private investments, right?

And these private investments take a long time, right? So they take years for the private equity at least, right? 10, 12, 15 for venture capital. And so that time horizon basically means that you can't just be thinking about the legislation today, but you're thinking about what the legislation climate would be in the next 10 years.

And so you already have to take the worst-case scenario of this, otherwise you can't exit. So I think that's an interesting aspect of it. One other thing I think about as well is what it means for Southeast Asia so I think one thing that we notice obviously is that this means that there's going to be fewer investments from the US for example, into China.

I think the EU and the article say that they are also considering doing the same. But I think what's interesting of course is that they used to diversify in China, and so now they have to diversify in other countries. And I think that Southeast Asia may receive some net inflows from this because they still record.

Shiyan Koh: (08:33)

Yeah. I mean, where do you think are the semiconductor quantum computing and AI work being done? I think probably what South Korea, Japan, Taiwan um, we do actually have a quantum computing center in Singapore. Um, That's doing really interesting work but I mean, I think another consequence, maybe you might see more Chinese companies headquartered in Singapore trying to shed the Chinese, or separating out entities and having a Singapore-based entity that is cleaner.

Jeremy Au: (08:58)

I think we've already seen this strategy before, right? So for example, there are countries in Southeast Asia where there's a lot of textiles. And so historically, there's been a big push for textiles to be pushed out of China and so for various reasons. And then as a result, I think Chinese companies have been moving their capital, that's one, but also their management and setting up factories in Southeast Asian countries in order to be able to continue exporting under the supply chain. So I think there's an interesting dynamic where, you know, it has happened in other industries, but I think this will, I think happen a lot for tech folks. I mean, obviously, I think the other part of it is just like, it's not just a push factor, but also there's a pull factor.

I was talking to a Chinese entrepreneur to be, I mean, the person was thinking from their perspective was like, I think of the Chinese tech crackdown. And actually had known somebody who unfortunately had gone to jail. And so from the person's perspective was like, Hey, if I choose to build a business, do I want to build this in China or do I want to build this in America Singapore, right? And so I think there's a little bit of that factor where they were like, over a 10-year game, we don't know what the legislation within China is going to look like. So I'd rather this built within Singapore if I can, but of course, I think a lot of entrepreneurs who are coming to Singapore obviously then struggle in terms of the right networks, the right entry point, the right conversation, to have the right markets to go after. So I think there's a big issue.

Shiyan Koh: (10:11)

And also, I think cost, right? I think Singapore's a pretty expensive place to do business. And so I think there's this sort of net great thing. You're like, Hey, more talent is coming in, more investment is coming. You're like, but it's really expensive to do business here. It's also a small country.

It's hard to hire. And so how do you navigate that? Which is something I think is a really interesting one. I kind of make the joke like, hurry up and build the MRT to

Jeremy Au: (10:33)

It's only 40% complete. It's supposedly from the same company.

Shiyan Koh: (10:35)

Release the housing pressure.

Jeremy Au: (10:37)

I'm fingers crossed. Yeah. The RTS, the new train shuttle between Singapore to Johar Baru.

Shiyan Koh: (10:42)

No, but I actually think that would be amazing. It's like Oakland and San Francisco. You could actually have a ton more people live in JB if they had easy commute access to Singapore, that actually would benefit both countries.

Jeremy Au: (10:56)

I read the Wikipedia just last week and I was like, yeah, it's gone through a lot of ups and downs, so I'm glad at least the Singapore, the Johar Baru link is still going on. There used to be a high-speed rail right, between Singapore and KL.

Shiyan Koh: (11:07)

Too far, too hard to do.

Jeremy Au: (11:08)

I was looking forward to that one actually, to be honest. Would've been amazing.

Shiyan Koh: (11:10)

That would be amazing. But I mean, there are other things. I think this topic of like, hey, once you land in Singapore, like where do you start? How do you get plugged in and start getting connected to the community? And I think one challenge about Singapore is can feel incredibly siloed.

You can have very robust communities, but they're all separated from each other and they're not, don't necessarily all talk to each other and of them run on WhatsApp. not like there's like a website where you're like, Hey, how do I find out about stuff? You slowly meet people and they're like, I'll add you to a WhatsApp.

Once you get into WhatsApp it's like, oh, all this stuff is happening. Who knew? And so, I think there's like China’s Chinese, the Indian, the local Chinese, rocket alumni, the European refugees. There are just so many different vertical groups of people really hope that we can make a way for them all to come together and share ideas because I think that's actually how we come up with a more robust ecosystem. But I guess Jeremy, like what advice would you give someone? I've decided, okay, going to start my next venture. I'm going to base it on Singapore so that I can future-proof myself for the next 10 years.

Jeremy Au: (12:16)

Well, you know, I think I'd love to jump to the, obviously professional side, but I think the most important thing is really get situated yourself in Singapore. I guess today's episode is all about Singapore. But I think if you're moving to Singapore, I think you just had to make sure that you really understand Singapore as a country, but settings obvious Asia in terms of the history and the country because I think if you look at Singapore as this a whole country, I think there's a lot of parameters, and I don't know from your past country, whoever it is, that you may just bring in and you just all these assumptions, right?

But for example, like Southeast Asia, Singapore is a big story within Southeast Asia for thousands of years in terms of trade. I was just reading this fun history bit about one of the old reports of Singapore in the 1800s. And then the some British guy was like, oh, I've visited Singapore. It's such a bustling port. He has sucked up all the trade from Batavia, basically the power of free enterprise and low taxation.

Jeremy Au: (13:08)

I'll put a link there. I didn't pick this up, but Batavia is the old name for Jakarta

Shiyan Koh: (13:12)

Will you also do the accent?

Jeremy Au: (13:13)

That was my best British accent. There we go. Anyway. But I think the point of it, just trying to say here is like I think the big part of it's is like, are you in Singapore for five years? Are you just trying it out? Are you here for a long time? Because I think there's a lot of stories about whether you're doing a short-term game or a long-term game. I think if you're doing a short-term game where you know you're going to be here for five years, then you think carefully, right?

Am I going to be an operator? Am I going to be an employee? You do things very differently, and as you said, if you want to be part of an expatriate or other hobby or identity community, it's not really a problem, right? If you're just here for five years but if you're planning to be around for a long time, like, you know, 10, 20, 30, 40, there's a great channel by Max Chernoff, which profiles immigrants to Singapore who have been here for a long time. Then I think the conversations about how you want to integrate and who you want to have conversations with and how you want to join in the culture in that sense is very different.

I think that's really important because if you don't have your personal and family stuff situated, you can't even get started on your professional side and it changes the type of relationships you want to build on a professional side. So those are my thoughts initially. How about you, Shiyan? What's your initial advice to someone coming in?

Shiyan Koh: (14:22)

Oh my gosh, mine is not so profound.

Jeremy Au: (14:23)

Go for it. Why?

Shiyan Koh: (14:24)

Mine was much more tactical.

Jeremy Au: (14:24)

Everyone's like boo Jeremy. Tactics!

Shiyan Koh: (14:28)

I mean, I think Singapore is a small place and so, you know, you just start with one conversation and people will introduce you to other people. And I think I would start with like first leverage. You know, the networks you do have, right? So whether it's your school networks, your professional networks. And you can take that and parlay that into more conversations to build up your picture of what's going on. related to your thing about personal is you have to find ways to build a community for yourself. And so when we first moved back, even though I grew up in Singapore, I hadn't lived in Singapore for 20 years. So in some sense, like I actually had to start from scratch. And you know, what we did was we just had dinner with like the two other people we knew who worked in tech and we're like, bring a friend. So you sort of started with a dinner group of six people and we sort of started that as a way get to know people in a more intimate setting. And then kind of steadily built outwards from there. So everyone we met was referred in from that initial group of four people. And that was actually a great organic way to keep meeting people but also keep touch points with a consistent group of people over time. And it's something that I tell people about and I recommend that they do for themselves because there is quite a lot of flow in Singapore.

I do think that people are pretty open to meeting new people. And, people are also kind of allergic to the idea of networking. And so I think smaller group settings actually foster more openness and sharing and can help you feel more comfortable and situated in a place. So you're not kinda like, just like your job and your apartment, if you kind of want to build more around that. But I think getting into some of these WhatsApp groups, which you will get put into, and then following up with people once they're like, Hey, there's an event happening, or I'm working on this, or whatever it is. I think those are great ways to just start getting plugged in. And then of course, to our

Jeremy Au: (16:34)

Go hit up Shiyan. Go up, Jeremy. That's what the key advice is. The headline is. There we go.

Shiyan Koh: (16:40)

Well, Jeremy runs a great community associated with the podcast, and I think it attracts like-minded people. But I think that's something that's like pretty different, right? Is that this whole place runs on

Jeremy Au: (16:49)

Yeah. I do think one thing is that I think what struck me about it was a conversation about Singapore being small. But I think the inverse way to look at it as well is that it's also very dense. I think density is also really important for serendipity. So, I was walking out of work and I saw Mohan Behlani at e27.

And I was just like, he was like locked in right into his, like my headphones. And I'm just like, I started dancing in front of him and he's what, who is the stranger weirdo dancing from? Because he is just like, he's not paying attention. And then I was like, Hey, and then he was like, oh, and he himself was like, oh, that's so funny. I just ran to you because. I was at a coffee shop and I just met two founders separately by accident. We just said hi. And I think I do think about that quite a bit because I think maximizing serendipity is really important because obviously there's the intentional networking that you talked about conversations, and so forth. But you know, I think serendipity, luck of meeting the right person is often a big part of it, but you need to have density to make it. You know, really happened at that reaction and, you know, another founder that I met who had traveled in was like, wow, one interesting thing about Singapore is that he was just saying like, I have all these meetings with people back to back, and everybody's on the same place and I can have 10 different conversations in the same day versus back home. I'm just stuck in traffic or whatever it is. So the density of that rate of introduction is actually slower from his perspective. So I think that's something that's a plus, but I think it's something that you do have to, once you get into the flow like you said, I think you get that density sensation, but otherwise, it doesn't, it feels a bit hard to cross the hurdle.

Shiyan Koh: (18:18)

Yeah, for sure.

Jeremy Au: (18:22)

I also like your point about the returning, I mean I think turtles they call it, right? Pioneer in China, but I think the concept of folks returning to their home countries across obvious Asia is quite common. One, right? And I think this phrase I always loved is called cult-like culture reentry shock.

So it's like culture shock. When you enter new culture you get culture shock, but actually, there's something called re-entry, which is a phase, which means that you were from a culture and then you went there and you came back, and then you actually. It's okay to have culture shock, right? And I thought, I was like, yeah, this is a good way to describe it, because, for myself, I came back a couple of years ago as well, right?

Shiyan Koh: (18:55)

What's the biggest shock?

Jeremy Au: (18:55)

A couple of facts, that was pandemic that kind of kicked in real soon after, so it was basically like a double shock. But I think the big difference for me was I think information opacity was kind of really real, I think. So what I mean by that is just like when I was in Boston, New York, I think whenever you're working at founders or VCs, I think there's a lot of information that is being freely shared about A, B, C but I think, you know, within Southeast Asia, I think, you know, there's like three parts, right? One is I think the ecosystem is much younger, right? So as you know, people are not, you can say like, don't volunteer as much information, I would say. So I think that's one big piece. Hello Kid. Sorry, I guess to see the title in. There we go. Anyway, the bonus clip is for those watching the video.

There we go. And then the second part of it is I think there's also like the fact that there's actually a silo between. Ecosystems, right? So if you are in Indonesia, obviously understanding the Singapore ecosystem is more opaque, right? Versus, you know, Singapore to Indonesia is like San Francisco to New York, right? There's a little bit easier flow.

And then thirdly, of course, I think it's, I think it's opacity around certain verticals because everyone's just figuring it out, right? It's like we don't understand what supply chain is, we don't understand what tech is, we don't understand what local FinTech is.

So everyone's still figuring it out, which is okay. But I think there's an interesting dynamic where I think it felt like there was that ramp of information, right? Especially if you go to substack these days, right? Or Twitter, it's all full of information about America, but how much information is there about Southeast Asia they can read online? As you said, it's probably a WhatsApp group somewhere.

Shiyan Koh: (20:33)

It's a good point, and I wonder why. I think founders are generally more reticent in the region, I would say. I had a founder conversation yesterday. was like, oh, who do I ask this question to? I wouldn't ask my investors this. And I'm like, Hey man, I'm sitting right here. He is like, no. He's like, okay, you're okay. You're okay. But basically, the settlement behind it was, he didn't really want to show weakness to his investors like that. He didn't know something and I get it, but also, I think that's something we want to change. We want people to ask for help more. As you said, everyone is figuring it out. It is okay not to know. In fact, it is normal not to know and you are going to know faster by asking than pretending. We should be open about helping each other kind of progress.

Jeremy Au: (21:27)

I mean, information asymmetry is an edge and I think that's the rationale, that's one. Then also power distance is a real feat sensation in Southeast Asia. So I think there's a little bit more of a power distance between one stack to the other stack. So I think we have those two things combined together. I think it's quite common for folks to feel like, hey, if I share, it's going to be with my friends. People I really trust rather than a free flow because I think when you have an ecosystem that has more information, and transparency, I think one of the benefits obviously benefits new founders and it benefits the founder ecosystem, which includes more mature, sophisticated founders as well. And it also benefits VCs because people are trying to figure it out. But in the short term, information and symmetry benefit, incumbents, it benefits founders who have cracked it to some extent and don't want to share all the secret sauces with everybody.

Shiyan Koh: (22:13)

I guess so, but like, don't really believe in secret sauce maybe, which is that I think ideas are cheap. Just because someone told you how to do it, doesn’t actually mean you can do it. And if you can, then it's not really secret sauce. That's just like by definition, right? So I actually think there's very little downside to sharing what you do because it's like, hey if somebody can replicate it, power to them. But also that's not a real edge. It actually has to be something that you uniquely are capable of doing, and that's actually how you build, operating leverage, right? It's something that's like, you're uniquely capable of doing. And so, I hear what you're saying, but I disagree because this is like when people are like, it's in stealth and I need you to sign an NDA, and it's like, come on man.

Jeremy Au: (23:01)


Shiyan Koh: (23:02)

No, I'm not signing an NDA, and whatever you think is a super secret thing. You actually would make more progress faster if you actually just told

Jeremy Au: (23:10)

Add to that, I think there is a small risk in this, to put a bit of nuance there. The benefits of sharing are more important than the risk. So I think if there's a risk that somebody might go out there and clone it or localize it, or borrow it, I think that's fair. I just think that when you're in Southeast Asia or any startup you're building, you need to rally people. You need to rally as much, support capital as possible. And that kind of goes back to the serendipity piece as well. It's like if everything's closed, everything's a secret, you can't have any space for serendipity at all because nobody knows they can help you.

Shiyan Koh: (23:44)

Yeah. But that's the thing, right? We need to get more comfortable sharing imperfect things, and works in progress. Not everything is shiny and perfect. In fact, most things are not. That's how we actually progress as an ecosystem. We actually have to be like, Hey, here's what I got. It sort of works. I'm struggling with this thing. Can you help me? And then, that's how we're going to progress together. But I think that's what I don't like about or I think that's a point that we are still immature in this ecosystem, is we want perfection. And we also like to exalt people too early. I think. Hold them up and be like, look, this is a paragon entrepreneurship.

Jeremy Au: (24:19)

But those are the best stories I love them too. And I was also the beneficiary of these stories. I was a founder twice and I benefitted a lot from the media putting me on a pedestal early. If not, I mean, I always remember my mom hated whatever I was doing until one day I brought back a Straight Times article that my face and my co-founder Jia Chuan. And then she was like, oh, I get it now. And I was like, wait.

Shiyan Koh: (24:41)

I get it.

Jeremy Au: (24:42)

Anyway. I think it goes back to the pedestal. I mean I think the media is looking for good, positive stories. They should spotlight some stories.

Shiyan Koh: (24:50)

Yeah, we should. But I think it's like, how do we say it, about a person?

Jeremy Au: (24:52)

I think shouldn't say that they solved it.

Shiyan Koh: (24:54)

Like we don't.

Jeremy Au: (24:55)

I think that's the most important thing. I can say they're working very hard. We respect them for their determination. They took on a bunch of risks that other people don't want to do, and they figure out some level of execution that has gotten them to the point where we think that we should feature them because it's not just a personal idea, but it's a priority of idea and team and capital and our approach.

Shiyan Koh: (25:12)

It is the Singapore story, Jeremy. There was a time when people said that Singapore wouldn't make it, but we did.

Jeremy Au: (25:20)

That was exactly the sound they played at the kindergarten, but I had a kid singing it and I was like, oh my God. All my nationalism cells are exploding and vibrating in harmony right now. That's how they get you, but I think that's the crux of it. That's where I think every ecosystem system has to figure out, like, how do you say someone is a hero for the effort, but not a hero because of their results, because, if you're a series B, you still haven't solved it, to be honest? Or series C.

Shiyan Koh: (25:45)

Yeah, and also the focus on funding raised, makes people think about the wrong set of goalposts. I tell everyone, did you start a company to raise money or to make money?

Jeremy Au: (25:55)

But you know, it shows that you got picked by a gatekeeper, of capital, right? It shows that you cleared a level of market authentication verifications, a signal that this is a quality team, so that's why.

Shiyan Koh: (26:06)

So, yeah. But I think that's like, that's I I think that's also challenging because, people always ask me these questions like, what do investors want to see? And I always say, let's forget about investors for a second. What do you want to see? You have an incredible opportunity cost in pursuing this business. What do you want to see in your business that gives you confidence that you've de-risked it to spend another five years of your life on it? I think that's a more important conversation to have instead of seeking this external validation, which, let's face it, investors are wrong a lot, right? But their models account for that. Their models account for being wrong a lot and hopefully being really right a couple of times.

Jeremy Au: (26:45)

Can be wrong. On that note any parting words that you want to say, with your kid kind of like silently getting back in, trying to be the star. There you go.

Shiyan Koh: (26:54)

I think I'm incredibly optimistic about this ecosystem. I think there's a lot of macro stuff that is really pushing us along that I don't think we could've imagined five years ago. Some of it is geopolitical, but I think in terms of like, what we as an ecosystem can do to help move it along further, I think there's this sort of notion around like information exchange, community building. Helping each other is really important. So we want to encourage people to do that, to connect more, create more moments of this serendipity, and then, we can all prosper together or something.

Jeremy Au: (27:31)

Live long and prosper. No. Come on. You didn't do it right. It is not okay. So you biologically cannot do the Star Trek. Okay. Got it signed. Rather than the fact that you totally butchered it. Okay. All right. It's like all the Star Trek fans just riot about it.

Shiyan Koh:(27:46)

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Did I offend your Trecky sensibilities?

Jeremy Au: (27:50)

I do enjoy watching some Star Trek stuff. I think my parting words are yeah, 10 years ago, like you said it's a story, right? And 10 years ago, it was pretty much very difficult. And now, today, we think it's possible, but we still think it's very difficult. So I think in 10 years' time, I think it'll get easier, and people still think it's difficult. And yes, it'll always be difficult, but it gets better.

Shiyan Koh: (28:11)

Yeah. Yeah. No. Starting a company is always difficult. There's no way around it.

Jeremy Au: (28:16)

The ecosystem is definitely becoming more mature across, not just Singapore, but Indonesia, the Philippines Malaysia, and Vietnam, and so I think it's an interesting dynamic where I think we just go step by step. So, yeah, it's just I think for the long-term game lets you do some really crazy stuff. Stay for the long term, and wait for the ecosystem mature. On that note. Thank you so much again, and see you next week.


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