“The difference between being brave and stupid is that stupid is doing things in an uninformed way. It's like taking a risk without analysis, whereas bravery is taking the risk, understanding it, and doing it even though it's scary. A lot of startup founders if you ask them three years later or five years later if they knew everything they knew about how hard it was going to be, a lot of them would say if you had told me that I would never have done this, even the successful ones. On paper, we say we're going to do this and everyone's going to love our product and invest. That's what I thought, and it was so much harder. There were times when I almost gave up and just stubborn grit, got me through it. If you had told me on day one, this is what's going to happen, and you didn't tell me that there was going to be any sort of success, I think there's a high chance I would have said it's crazy. I'll go work at the bank.” - Craig Bristol Dixon
“Something else I'm really encouraged by is that the current downturn in the market has resulted in tons and tons of secondary activity. That's negative for a lot of the people involved because they're going to have to sell at a big discount because they need to liquidate to return money to LPs usually at the later stages. However, what's happening is you're going to probably see much more liquidity in secondary markets because of this. You're seeing a lot of infrastructure being built out. You're seeing a lot of new companies that are getting into the secondary market and startups. What that should result in is the option for more liquidity for early-stage investors along the way through secondary sales that we didn't have before, or at least we didn't have much of before.” - Craig Bristol Dixon
“The ecosystem overall is so much more robust. The connections between the regions are way better. When I started, Indonesia and Singapore weren't even that well-connected in many ways and now it's very easy to cross borders as well. You're seeing a lot more money come into the ecosystem as well. The problem I see in the ecosystem is more with the later stage and exit part where we've had some exits, but they haven't done well post-IPO. I do have a worry that we need more solid unit economics, high margin, high cashflow MNAs, and IPOs. Those companies are out there but what we've seen so far on the exit side is not that, and I do worry a little bit about the kind of brand of Southeast Asia startup exits taking a hit because of that. That affects all of us who are in the earlier stage because we're looking for exits. So I really hope we can see, and, we're very strict on only investing in companies that have a clear path towards profitability and cashflow positivity, and that's served us well in the current downturn.” - Craig Bristol Dixon
1. Maximizing Startup Potential: Craig underscores the nuanced differences between a startup's initial iteration and subsequent ones, emphasizing that experience significantly shapes how one approaches the process. He talks about an insider's perspective on the challenges and intricacies of efficiently running a startup, highlighting the importance of understanding the complex interplay between incubators, venture capitalists, and the success of the portfolios they nurture. He also touches upon the importance of startups adopting the correct approach, particularly when they're at a stage where they need to amplify their growth trajectory and truly get their operations into high gear.
2. Navigating Partnerships with Family Offices: Craig shares insights on family offices' aspirations, capabilities, and actions necessary for establishing successful collaborations. He sheds light on the often misunderstood nuances of how these entities operate within the startup ecosystem. He explains that while family offices often have vast resources at their disposal, understanding their core objectives is paramount for startups and other ecosystem players looking to collaborate with them. He highlights the significance of the alignment of expectations, resource-sharing, and mutual knowledge exchange and ensuring that both parties are clear about what needs to be achieved.
3. Bravery Versus Stupidity in Entrepreneurship: Craig and Jeremy explore the thin line between bravery and stupidity in the entrepreneurial realm. Craig ponders on the fine balance leaders must strike when navigating risk and challenges the binary view of these concepts, suggesting that the line between bravery and foolishness is often blurred. He also talks about his own journey, highlighting instances where he had to gauge risks, not just from a business standpoint, but also on a personal level. He discusses the value of hindsight, emphasizing how past experiences offer clarity on decisions that seemed ambiguous at the time, and encourages startups and leaders to critically assess their risk tolerance, ensuring that their actions, while brave, are grounded in reality and foresight.
They also talk about the recent trends, challenges, and opportunities in the region’s tech landscape, the rise of AI and machine learning startups, the role of technology in driving innovation, the changing investment patterns in Southeast Asia, and the increasing role of sustainability in tech innovations.
Supported by Ringkas
Ringkas is a digital mortgage platform aiming to solve the access to financing problem for home seekers in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. Ringkas currently collaborates with all major Banks in Indonesia and the largest Property Developers across more than 15 cities. Ringkas vision is to democratize home ownership and create more than 100 million homeowners. Don't just dream about owning a home. Make it a reality. Explore more at www.ringkas.co.id
(02:00) Jeremy Au:
Morning, Craig, really excited to have you on the show. You've done such a great job incubating hundreds of startups across Southeast Asia. excited to have your story on the podcast. Could you share a little bit about yourself?
(02:10) Craig Bristol Dixon:
Yeah. Hi everybody. Thanks, Jeremy for having me Really happy to be here. So, my name is Craig Dixon. I'm a Cofounder and General Partner at Accelerating Asia. I was in banking previously, then I moved to be a Cofounder of a startup. Did that in Singapore, had an exit there, and then I moved over to the Accelerator side and cofounded Accelerating Asia over five years ago. Have been involved startups, a founder and an investor for over 10 years. And on the personal side, I'm really, really into health and fitness and I'm really passionate about improving myself, but also distributing knowledge.
I think it's really confusing what's out there. I think that leads also towards success in the founders, like there's mental health, there's physical health and things like that. So I think that, that does tie along with that. So I think those are kind of my two main passions. love traveling, love reading, but health fitness and startups is kind of like where I love to where I love to do my
(02:55) Jeremy Au:
So how did you get into the accelerator space? What inspired you to do so?
(02:59) Craig Bristol Dixon:
Yeah, so I was in corporate, then I did startups, had an exit, and then it was kind of floating around. What do I do next? So I did another startup. You know, what do I do? I took a few months off and then I decided that startups are really hard. So I said, okay maybe I'll do something easier. And so, I ran, or I co-ran the Mirodi accelerator for Telstra. And that was in the Singapore office in 2016. And that was awesome because I was able to have all the resources of the corporate, including salary, but I got to, work with startups and help them. The reason I say that's easier is because I basically was a full-time mentor and advisor and, and certainly made investment decisions on behalf of Telstra, but it's very different from what I do today. So it was a really nice way to acquire the skill sets on the other side of the table from the founder side and led towards the Accelerating Asia experience. I think that was looking back. That was a pretty clear path. I obviously didn't plan that.
But that's how I got into the accelerator space. And that program did really well. We have a few startups that exited. We have one that's done well and raised, I think, Series B and Peter Thiel and Sequoia and a bunch of folks jumped in on that one. And that was our early exposure to the Bangladeshi market, actually. So that really hooked me. And when that program left, or so when Telstra decided to shut that down, my cofounder at Accelerating Asia, Amra and I said, This is actually working really well. There's a big gap in the market and we can talk about that maybe later. Why don't we just do this ourselves? Why don't we improve this thing? Why don't we make it everything we think it can be? Well, it's nice to have a corporate backer that comes with both resources and constraints. And so, let's go ahead and see if we can do this thing. ourselves.
(04:27) Jeremy Au:
Amazing. Yeah. I've known Amra for a long time over, I think, a dozen years, and it's interesting to see her own journey. She's previously on a Brave podcast as well. But I'm just curious from your perspective, you said the phrase "an accelerator that could be whatever it could be". So what is it that it could be from your perspective? What is that full potential?
(04:44) Craig Bristol Dixon:
Yeah I, I think the thing I noticed, and I want to give, my previous employer, a lot of credit because I think a lot of corporates that start accelerators don't necessarily have full alignment with the startups. A lot of them are looking for innovation or PR or something like that. And I think Telstra was really good. They give us so much leeway to run the program, but of course, you have constraints around who you can hire what resources you have, and what things you can do. So I think what we wanted to do was expand the team. So we now have a team of 12, and as far as I know, out of any of the other accelerators in the regions, we have more resources to help the startups than anyone else does. investors.
And so pretty much anything they need, legal marketing, growth, We can help the early-stage startups do that. Whereas before we didn't have that. We're super lean. We can change on a dime, just like a startup. I basically consider myself a startup in many ways. Whereas when you're in a corporate structure, you need to go up through the bureaucracy and ask for approvals and stuff, and that's fine. That's just the nature of the beast, right? But can operate like a startup pivot, move, change strategy. We can make decisions on, we just invested in our first company out of the Middle East and the UAE. There are a lot of places where I couldn't do that. And we said, does this make sense? We had one meeting. An awesome startup, a good market. Let's make an investment and see how it goes. Saudi's blowing up. There's a lot of interesting things going on with Israel over there. So I think the ability to act more like a startup, pivot, move, and utilize resources super efficiently.
And the other thing is I consider the founders to be customers and we're super close to the founders, always asking for feedback. How are things going in the program? What's missing? What can we do differently? And each cohort is different, and so the program has a bit of an element of standardization and then another element that's super customized and we're continuously getting feedback and meeting with the founders to ask them what they need and then changing the program in real-time based on that. I think that's an advantage of just being like lean and more startupy,
(06:29) Jeremy Au:
So many folks know what the experience is of going through an accelerator. So what you've done differently is that you set up two accelerators over time. What's a miss or misconception that are about running and setting up an accelerator?
(06:41) Craig Bristol Dixon:
I think the problem with a lot of accelerators is they don't know the problem they're solving. They don't go to the market with that. I feel like it's more top-down in most cases. And so they go, we are an accelerator focused on this vertical. And then we're going to go just find startups. And I think what we tried to do is again, on back to the startup theme and the founder theme is we wanted to identify the problem set in the market and then create a program that addressed the problem set or the gap in the market. And for us, this was based on my startup experience as a founder. There are a lot of resources at the very early stage. So incubators, like early-stage accelerators and things like that there's a lot of resources there and then there's a lot of VCs. So once you have early product market fit. Once you have shown your 18 months of substantial traction and you're ready for a million dollar check, there's a fair number of options in the ecosystem and you can usually raise money, but there's a point in between that we call the missing middle. And I have this as a founder where you have, I don't know, five, 10, 20,000 in monthly revenue. The early-stage accelerators and incubators are typically valuing startups at about 1 million. So you're you don't want to join those programs because you're going to take a big equity hit to your cap table. But you're not quite ready for the VCs yet. You're still exploring, and finding your product market fit. So that's the gap that we fit. And I think what we do is we find high-quality founders and startups who are still not quite there on product market fit, but we can see the end of the tunnel and we can see how our program can help them get there faster, more lower chance of failure and connect them to resources, both financial and otherwise, through our program. So I think that the bottom-up approach is probably a little bit different, then some of the other accelerators and startups.
The other thing is we're one of the only independent accelerators in the region. So that also creates a lot of incentive alignment between us and the founders. and I'm not saying there's anything wrong with the other accelerators. I think they add a lot of value. There are a lot of vertical focus accelerators sponsored by corporates, like the one I used to work with, and they're very useful and valuable to have in the ecosystem. But with us, our number one modus operandi of the company is to help the founders succeed and have a big exit. And so I think the incentives are maybe more aligned with us. There's a big difference in quality between accelerators. And I obviously think I have a really good quality program or else I wouldn't be doing this. But founders, I think need to be really careful because there are a lot of programs that may not be worth the time and resources they put into it. And I think they need to be just really judicious with their resources.
(09:05) Craig Bristol Dixon:
I think there's a lot of confusion about the difference between incubators and accelerators. And so every time somebody calls us an incubator, I kind of get a little bit like, no, they're not the same thing. Incubators are very early stage and helping startups that are just getting their MVP or just getting started. Accelerators typically when you already have something running, the wheels are on the car and the car is just starting to But it's a, it's a little bit of a, it's a small engine. It's a 1910 engine. You know, we don't even have the Model T yet. And the accelerator helps you get to from the Model T to the Bugatti or whatever. I don't know if that's the analogy, and that's a bit of a misconception that is, I don't know if it's ever going to go away.
(09:39) Jeremy Au:
I mean, it's definitely tricky, right? Because I think there are a lot tailwinds for incubators. So there are governments, there are universities that are trying to put more in there. And on the other side, there are also VCs that are being pushed to go early and early in And obviously they're adding on some of that portfolio support or function to do that in order to compensate for the additional risk of taking. So it always feels to me like Accelerator is like one of those Pretty tight spaces that's kind of like getting compressed. Do you think that's a fair observation or how do you think about that?
(10:05) Craig Bristol Dixon: I
You're right. You're seeing everyone in the investor space has been coming down. And I think that's accelerated as a result of the recent downturn in the VC market overall. You're even seeing private equity come into series C and B. You're seeing the series C and B folks come into A, and the folks are coming into earlier stages as well. I haven't seen any friction really between startups that we want to program, deciding not to come to our program and go with a VC instead. Typically we do a lot of work with the VCs and supplement what they're doing.
(10:36) Craig Bristol Dixon:
I think lot of VCs say that they offer a lot of support and they're trying to do the a16Z model with all these extra services. But my experience is most VCs spend most of their time fundraising. They're typically quite reactive. And just like the nature of how the system works. And So I think the reason that we're all so different is we have this accelerator infrastructure that's separate from the VC infrastructure and has a separate team and that's dedicated to that, So I think offering nearly as much support as we do, and I think we complement and work well with the early stage VCs who want to invest in startups in our portfolio. So I think we've never had an issue with that friction. It's actually been a positive so far, but certainly who knows, right? As VCs morph into more of an accelerator, maybe we will have that friction in the future, but so far it's been a positive.
(11:30) Jeremy Au:
So what's been interesting of that as you build out this accelerator, you've also been looking at more and more countries. right? looking at Southeast Asia. I know you've been also looking at Bangladesh, et cetera. What do you think about all these different countries? What trends do you see? What patterns are you seeing emerge?
(11:44) Craig Bristol Dixon:
Yeah. So we're in 15 countries now. And you really have to keep your pulse on things because you have a few different elements towards considering an investment. You obviously have the company, the founders, and then you have the market. And then you not only are looking at what's happening today, but you're looking at five, plus years down the road because that's when hopefully things will start to look towards an exit. There are overall trends and then there are micro trends, and I don't think we need to dig into micro trends cause we don't have enough time to go through every country. But I think macro trends are probably pretty similar to what you'll see across the globe where VC investment is down. However, early-stage VC investment has been fairly robust. And so when you look at the startups in our portfolio, they're raising money at a very similar rate to two, three, four, four years. So we're not seeing a big downturn in the overall number of deals closed and investment raised by our portfolio companies.
What we are seeing is that there's more due diligence. Institutional deals do take longer. There are fewer suitors. We had startups previously that had two, three term sheets, and now they're getting one, maybe two. And it's taking six months instead of three months or something like that but I think a high-quality startup can always raise money in any market especially at the early stage and especially if you are, if you have good union economics and you can sustain yourself. It's the irony of investment and the banks are like this too, right? Banks always want to give money to people who don't need it and I think investors are like that too. They're risk averse and they go, Oh, you're cashflow positive. Sure. I'll give you the money. But like why do you need money if you're cashflow positive? I mean, sometimes you do, but so, we have not seen a downturn in the early stage, pre-seed stage in most of the markets we operate for high quality startups.
Having said that, you want to look at how our portfolio is maturing. They're getting into A's and B's. And the farther you go down, the more it's been hit by the downturn. And so
what we have seen in the portfolio is that the appreciation and value of our portfolio, have slowed down over the past one and a half to two, years. Now, the appreciation overall is really good but it has slowed down because you're seeing less delta between an A and a B round valuation. You're seeing a lower A valuation than you would have seen. And so that delta between where we come is not as high a year or two ago. I actually think that's mostly healthy. I think long-term startups need to be quote-unquote fairly valued and people can argue about what that means, but I think we got ahead of our skis in these overdone valuations.
(13:57) Craig Bristol Dixon:
I also think too many models that could never really generate profit or value for the customer where people thought they could skip to IPO And then throw whatever was left onto the retail investor and then we saw that happen. Sometimes you can be successful in doing that. Trends-wise, AI, I'm reviewing cohort nine and you know, we have about 700 applications. I've never seen so many decks that say AI, And it's like everything's AI. There's like cleaning companies that have AI and I know founders need to do what they need to do to market themselves.
So the current thing is, it was crypto and blockchain. I saw everyone adding blockchain unnecessarily to their business models and now it's AI that's a trend. I don't blame the founders. I don't necessarily think it's a bad thing, but I think sophisticated investors are not going to fall for that. So, maybe at the early stage, some angels will fall for it but I think at the end of the day, it doesn't matter really what you're doing, every good founder and every good startup. We'll be fine. And I tell my founders, if you can't fundraise, it's probably your fault. And I'm here and I'm here to help you with that. so I'm not trying to be accusatory, but I think founders really need to look in the mirror and be like, the market's telling you something's wrong and, you that is And fix it or pivot or whatever it is.
So go to an accelerator, go to your mentor advisory panel. If you have a board, whatever it is find out what's broken and try to fix it and you'll be fine. And I have that experience too. I, as a founder wallowed around and made a bunch of mistakes. And then in retrospect, there was a big problem. I had a big personnel gap in my team. And, once we filled that all of a sudden we were getting term sheets and raising money and everything started clicking. and so I think if you Can't raise money, go talk to people, go try to get direct feedback. It's not always easy for potential investors. Find out what's wrong, plug that gap, or do a pivot or whatever you need to do.
(15:38) Jeremy Au:
On that note, I understand you've been working with family officers quite a lot recently. So I'd love to hear about your thoughts and observations.
(15:45) Craig Bristol Dixon:
We've seen, especially in Singapore, I think it's doubled the number of family offices and assets under management in the past year or two. And that's in a lot of new resources and new money and new people are like very smart and have resources to add to the market. Often, they don't really know what they're doing. And they have trouble identifying a deal flow. They have trouble understanding how to do diligence. Our fund is a really good fit for these types of smaller and earlier stage family offices to help them plug those gaps and help them get access to flow, help them understand how we do due diligence and combine with, you know, whatever questions have.
When we have some of our investors who are family offices in the startup in one of our cohorts I'll often do a joint call with them and, have call afterward with and, help them with this good investment for us. Does it make sense? And then we help them with documentation and legal and I think the other thing that's also valuable is. I think a lot of investors, including other folks that aren't necessarily VCs who It's not just the investment today, when you have around later and another investor comes in and then series a series cause we usually come in at pre-seed or seed. We invest in SAFE notes. The SAFE notes are converted. A lot of the investment documents, as you know, can be 50 to 100 pages long. I mean, if you're a family office that just has a couple of people working on this, how are you going to do due diligence all of these things? Make sure that the VC documents are being fair to you or being fair to your founders, how do you make sure that your SAFE notes or whatever you're investing in or converting at the appropriate share class, the appropriate number of shares on the cap table?
Don't get me started on doing calculations on rounds. it's just it's just such a pain in the butt. So we do all that. Yeah. And you get circular logic errors in Excel. And I'm just like, Oh my God. But we have a team, we have legal counsel that goes through all this stuff and so our fund, a lot of them are looking to co-invest and get access to our deal flow. And when they do, what will happen is, they'll get that email from the VC or whatever. It says, Hey, sign this thing. And they're like, what, I don't know, what this is. And so they'll ping that I would consider to be not founder-friendly or not fair to other investors that we'll push back on. And only once we've gone through the whole process, I go back to our investors and say, yeah, I think it's good.
If you're ready, you can go ahead and sign that. So I think that's another thing that early-stage investors don't if things are successful, you're going to have three, four more rounds and then some sort of exit and you're going to have to sign these documents, and if you don't have the resources to really understand and review them, that can be challenging as well. I think that's been a good fit for us to fit in with the earlier and smaller family offices which may not have as many resources on the on things. and we can help them plug that gap. And that's been I think a good fit for what's changed in the market, especially in like Singapore and Southeast Asia with just so many new family offices coming in and also investors who perhaps were in equities or private equity And they're not familiar with early-stage startup investing, which is a whole different animal they understand how to do diligence, startups versus later stage companies that have a lot data and analytics to look at. yeah,
(18:33) Jeremy Au:
For a family office, that's like kind of like started, right? What advice would you give them?
(18:39) Craig Bristol Dixon:
Yeah. it's just partnering. It certainly doesn't have to be us, but go out and leverage the resources of what's out in the market. What I really like Singapore, especially, and I think this is what I also experienced when I was in the US is that, everyone's really happy to share and help and connect. And so I think if you're like a new family office, starting up, go to events network. Just start talking to people in the ecosystem. Find out where are you fit in that part of the market, who are the best resources you can have and just build out that network. I think that's the number one thing you can do because you don't have the resources typically as a smaller entity. So go out and find other folks who have resources you're missing, whether that's an accelerator, an incubator, or other VCs.
And there are a lot of wonderful co-working spaces and things where you can go to events, meet founders, and meet other investors. A lot of times you can build out a network of fellow investors who have similar needs as you do. And so what we've done at Accelerating Asia is we typically have subgroups of our investors who often co-invest together. And they like to talk together and almost build a little due diligence panel. And I think family offices would be well off considering that as well. Are there other family offices that are similar in size, writing similar checks, and interested in similar types of startups that you can partner with? And together, you can operate as a larger entity in some ways, and provide balance and things like that.
So I think, those are probably the two main things. It's just like, networking and building out your little advisory committee or whatever you want to call it, which I think is really valuable.
(20:04) Jeremy Au:
As you know, through all of this, how do you see a kind of ecosystem progressing? Do you see it becoming more transparent, deeper, more networked, and more family offices What do you think about it? Yeah.
(20:15) Craig Bristol Dixon:
Yeah. the ecosystem overall is like so much more robust than started about 10 years ago. I think the connections between the regions are way better. I think when I started, Indonesia and Singapore weren't even that well connected in many ways and now it's very easy to cross borders as well. You're seeing a lot more money come into the ecosystem as well. I think the problem I see in the ecosystem is more with the later stage and exit part of the ecosystem where we've had some exits, but they haven't done well post-IPO. And so I do have a worry that we need more solid unit economics, high margin, high cashflow MNAs, and IPOs. And those companies are out there but what we've seen so far on the exit side is not that. And so I do worry a little bit about the kind of brand of Southeast Asia startup exits taking a hit because of that and that affects all of us that are in the earlier stage, because obviously we're looking for exits, right? So I really hope we can see, and, we're very strict on only investing in companies that have a clear path towards profitability and cashflow positivity, and that's served us well in the current downturn.
And I hope we can see more of those be exits instead of kind of the high revenue, but also high burn entities that have been a lot of what we've seen so far, but the overall encouraging and I think if you look at what the US went through in 2008 to 2015 or so and obviously beyond China followed two or three years later, India I think is probably a little bit ahead of Southeast Asia. You see a positive flywheel startups exit and then they spin off investors and they spin off new founders who have more sophistication and more resources.
And then that just feeds and feeds on itself And creates a positive feedback loop. And so I know at Monk's Hill, you guys have taken on some of those founders who've exited and a lot of the VCs are hiring these folks. Some of them are starting their own like micro VCs or they're starting new startups that have a higher chance of success cause they have already done it. And that's super encouraging. We have some LPs as well that have gone through that route and exited from some of these big IPOs and
things like that. So that bodes extremely well for the ecosystem. So I guess the pros and cons are there, and I don't want to be too negative because the negative I talked about is correct. I think it's just a matter of when. So I hope it's sooner rather than later.
(22:25) Craig Bristol Dixon:
Something else I'm really encouraged by is, that the current downturn in the market has resulted in tons and tons of secondary activity, and that's negative for a lot of the people involved because they're going to have to sell at a big discount because they need to liquidate to return money to LPs at the usually at the later, stages. However, what's happening is you're going to probably see much more liquidity in secondary markets because of this. You're seeing a lot of infrastructure being built out. You're seeing a lot of new companies that are getting into The secondary market and startups and what that should result in is the option for more liquidity for early-stage investors along the way through secondary sales that we, didn't have before, or at least we didn't have much of before. And I think that's when you look at markets like the U S that's a little bit of a disadvantage that we have compared to other markets like that.
The other thing I'm seeing is a lot more syndicate activity and streamlining of the process of creating syndicates both through costs and through bureaucracy. And I think that bodes really well too for startups, especially at the early stage who can cobble together a lot of small checks without funking up the cap table with too many investors. So I think those are two things that I've seen that I think are gonna be really helpful going forward to create more options for startups to access capital and for investors to access liquidity if they need it. One of the big things in startups is that especially eight or 10 years for an exit, assuming you get an exit. A lot of investors aren't comfortable with locking up their money for that long. so if you can a robust secondary market that gives them the option to exit along the way, you should stimulate more interest in people to invest in startups in the first place, and that obviously is bodes well for the market as well. So I think just a few things that are, interesting in the ecosystem.
(23:56) Jeremy Au:
Could you share about a time that you personally have been brave?
(24:00) Craig Bristol Dixon:
Yeah. So I, maybe a lot of your guests, recoil from calling myself brave. But I'll do my best to have an answer. And I think also, there's often a fine line between bravery And stupidity. So, I think this story could be either way. Well, the one I'll talk about is actually my transition from corporate into startups and I basically got an MBA and I had job offers from very large global banks. And then I went to run a travel technology. It really makes no sense. I'd never been in travel but I had a friend who had identified this problem and I thought it made sense.
And so I joined as a cofounder and wow, I had no idea what I was doing. I look at my early pitch deck and I'm like, who would ever invest in this company? I made every mistake in the book. But over time, I got better. I learned how to pitch. Like I mentioned before, we filled that gap and we got VC funding and so, I think it was brave to just completely change careers. I just moved to Asia. I didn't know the market and to just take the plunge and try it. Things worked out pretty well, but it could have completely gone the other way and it could have been a waste of time. And so, I think bravery is in retrospect, it's brave, but it could have easily been not so brave.
(25:07) Jeremy Au:
What’s the difference between and stupidity? So could you share what you think the difference is?
(25:11) Craig Bristol Dixon:
Okay, So, the trite answer to that is if it works out, it's brave and if doesn't, it's stupid, right? So that's kind of the trite answer. But it's not really a fair answer because there's more to it, right? I guess the difference between being brave and stupid is, stupid is doing things in an uninformed way. It's like taking a risk without analysis, is a way to put it, whereas bravery is like taking the risk, understanding the risk and doing it, even though it's scary. So maybe that's where I would draw the line on that, and I think my brave story, for whatever it's worth, was a little bit in the middle, because I was, pretty ignorant. I mean, a lot of startup founders, if you ask them three years later or five years later if they knew everything they knew about how hard it was going to be, a lot of them would say, if you had told me that, I would never have done this, even the successful ones. I think they'd say, You know, on paper, we said, Oh, we're just going to do this and everyone's going to love our product and invest. And it's like, that's what I thought, and it was so much harder and there were times where I almost gave up, and just stubborn grit, whatever you want to call it, got me through it. And it somehow worked out and it was okay. if you had told me on day one, this is what's going to happen. And you didn't tell me that there was going to be any sort of success, it was just like, here's the road you're going to go on, think there's a high chance I would have said, this is crazy. No, I'll go work at the bank.
(26:23) Jeremy Au:
Is it that you're saying it's not binary, right? It's kind of a blend right? Both brave and stupid.
(26:29) Craig Bristol Dixon: I think so. I mean, maybe you need some of that ignorance. Maybe ignorance is a nicer word than stupidity. I think you need some of the ignorance to be brave in some circumstances because if you had all the information, you would think it was stupid and not brave.
(26:43) Jeremy Au:
I don’t need to be risk-averse. I just need to be, need risk-ignorant. There we go.
(26:49) Craig Bristol Dixon:
Yeah, that's a succinct way to tie it up.
(26:51) Jeremy Au:
On that note, I'd love to kind of like the takeaways I got from this conversation. Uh, thank you so much for sharing about you know, Asia and talking a lot about you know, started about this because this is actually a second time building it, but importantly, you wanted to build it in a way it could become the full potential version uh, done over the past six years. I think it was interesting also for you to share I think, the insider point of view about what it takes to run it, well. a little about the market dynamics between you know, like success, and what you think the right segment, uh, but the approach is uh, for that need to kind of, like, it up a gear and kind of like engine going and accelerate.
Thank you so much for sharing a little bit about your point of view about family offices and the people you've been partnering with. interesting kind of where it was a set of conversations about, what they want to do, what actually do, and what they need to do to partner with you know, like yourself or other players in the ecosystem. So an interesting set of you know, you know, transparency, but like you said, kind of like sharing as well as you know, about what needs to be done uh, So I thought it was a really interesting set of conversation there as well.
Thanks for your view on you know and what it means to you. especially I enjoyed the part where you said, you know, bravery or stupidity? Is it blend? I thought it was interesting to hear your perspective, about how you've reflected on your own personal journey about has been the ability for you to differentiate what the risk is to accommodate it, but think the benefit of hindsight uh, to what actually happened. nice to hear that uh, point from you. On that note, thank you so much, Craig, for coming on the show.