Ilya Kravtsov: First Time Founder Mistakes, Mentorship Approach & Market Expansion Economics - E134

· Founder,Start-up,Singapore,Southeast Asia,Podcast Episodes English

I think its most important in those cases to talk to other founders. Especially if you’re a first time founder, you don’t realise that there are so many other founders going through similar issues and it’s a constant struggle and this is something that, in the beginning, you are not aware of. You think founders come from successful backgrounds either from corporate or consulting and they used to be always on top and then when they launch a startup then they get smashed, and that, for many people, is hard to overcome, but if you start talking to your peers, you realise that’s normal. It’s very, very rare that you’re always all up and enthusiastic. It’s always a constant struggle and you need to be able to live with that.- Ilya Kravtsov

Ilya Kravtsov is an experienced professional within the mobile/internet space with more than 15 years of experience split between TMT Management Consulting, Telecoms and IT Startups

He was formerly Founder and CEO of PouchNATION, a Singapore based tech company specialised in guest management solutions.Ilya is currently a Mentor at Plug and Play Accelerator Indonesia, Advisor at Antler whilst remaining a BOD member and Advisor to PouchNATION. Previously, Ilya worked as Head of Commercial Strategy for XL-Axiata, 2 Bln USD in revenue Telecom operator and as a Management Consultant for Delta Partners, a leading advisory firm in emerging markets focusing on TMD (Telecoms-Media-Digital) industry. Other experiences include: advising several Venture Capital funds in South East Asia (Ruvento, InvestIdea) and a stint at General Electric.

Ilya holds 2 Master of Science Degrees in International Management (Rotterdam School of Management – CEMS and Bocconi University) and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics (Bocconi University).

Jeremy Au: (00:30)
Hey, Ilya, welcome to the show.


Ilya Kravtsov: (00:32)
Hey, Jeremy, how are you, man?


Jeremy Au: (00:33)
Good! I’m really excited to have you because you’ve been such a prolific founder in Southeast Asia, so, I’m really excited to share your journey and what you’ve learnt along the way

Ilya Kravtsov: (00:44)
Thanks, thanks a lot. Happy to be here. Happy to share some insights for the upcoming founders.

Jeremy Au: (00:49)
Yeah. Awesome. So, for those who don’t know you yet, how would you introduce yourself professionally?

Ilya Kravtsov: (00:55)
My name is Ilya, I’m the CEO of PouchNATION and founder. Actually, PouchNATION is my second/third startup, so I'm a serial entrepreneur. Started my career in management consulting and decided that it was not for me and been an entrepreneur for about ten years based out of Southeast Asia.

Jeremy Au: (01:16)
Awesome. I got to ask, as a fellow ex-management consultant, why did you do management consulting in the early days?

Ilya Kravtsov: (01:24)
I graduated my university in Milan was in business school and in every business school, they push you to have a high first salary, that’s good for the rankings of every business school. It’s a lot better than being an entrepreneur in that sense, for the rankings. Anyway, myself and a lot of my friends have been interviewing for a lot of management consulting roles and I thought it was an exciting way to start my career and the learning curve would be pretty good. On the other hand, I was still young, wanted to travel, see many different things. That time, I was still based in Italy. I got this offer from a boutique consulting firm, specialised in TMD (Telecoms, Media, and Digital) and they offered me a position to go and move from Italy to South Africa. How could I say no? It sounds exciting. You just finished university, you go to a whole different continent, discover a lot of new things. I just jumped right into it.

Jeremy Au: (02:21)
Could you share about how the startup bug bit you?

Ilya Kravtsov: (02:25)
Yeah. I was in consulting, but by that time, maybe about three/four years. This was where you start seeing repetitive stuff – slides over slides, and you start looking around for like what else is there for me. I had a choice to either do an MBA which a lot of my colleagues chose to go for or do something else. MBA didn’t make sense for me because I already had two master’s degrees in Business, so, I thought it was an overkill. I thought, instead of spending 100,000 on an MBA, I might as well spend 100,000 on a startup and hope the learning is going to be as good. I took it as a learning experience at the beginning. The moment I decided to be a founder was 2012 when Instagram got bought for one billion dollars, with 16 employees. Many people don’t remember that, but I remember the news, it kind of hit me hard. I said it’s time to explore something interesting, it’s time to get the hands dirty and this is where it all began.

Jeremy Au: (03:31)
Tell us more about the first startup that you built.

Ilya Kravtsov: (03:33)
My first startup was quite interesting. It was very early in the day, 2012. I was living in Singapore at the time and myself and my colleagues from the consulting, we decided to resign, all of us, together. We were looking at different ideas of what can be done in the digital space, also, different markets and we decided at that time that Indonesia was ‘the’ market. I left Singapore, moved to Indonesia, and the first startup was digitising the F&B space. What we’re doing was substituting the paper loyalty cards, the punch cards, when you buy a coffee, you get a stamp, you get ten stamps, you get a coffee for free. We’re digitising, putting it on an app, you could go purchase your coffee, scan a QR code and collect your stamp in a digital way. We started going that in 2012 in Indonesia which was way before any e-wallet or any QR codes at till-points. We’re like the pioneers in that sense. At that time, 70% of the market share was on BlackBerry. Our first app was on BlackBerry. Now, if I remember, it was really interesting. We did that and had a good success on the merchant side, so we managed to get about 800 merchants on our platform, but it was very difficult on the customer engagement side. We needed more and more funding. That time there was no VCs…very few, I think…4 or 5 VCs and everyone was writing cheques of 20,000 dollars. That was my first startup

Jeremy Au: (05:13)
Yeah, those were the days. I remember when I still had my BlackBerry in 2012 and everybody was sharing their codes to BBM each other.

Ilya Kravtsov: (05:23)
Yeah, and in Indonesia, BlackBerry Messenger was the number one country in the world in terms of BlackBerry Messenger usage. Afterwards, Emtek even bought it out from BlackBerry, so, that was interesting.

Jeremy Au: (05:35)
Yeah, so what happened? You were saying that you were struggling with the funding side to get the user acquisition which is a tough part for a lot of these places where there’s two sides of the market place to really go after. So, tell us more about what happened.

Ilya Kravtsov: (05:49)
We realised our first mistake, I think, in our sense was that we thought the more merchants we acquired, the more the customers will follow because the merchants will promote the loyalty program and that was our key assumption. Our key efforts was not really on the consumer side, but more on acquiring merchants because the merchants were paying us, so, the more we have, the more it’s going to be used. That was a mistake because the owners of those coffee places, they were on board, but the staff in the stores were not on board. What happened is that we got a lot of traction on the merchant side, but didn’t get the traction on the consumer side. I think that was a key lesson learnt at that time. We did that startup for about a year and a half, close to two. At that point, we decided that we could not…and we had already expanded to two markets by that time, so, we had presence in Indonesia and in Philippines. Philippines operations were a bit better because we managed to get big merchants like 200 stores. By then, it was almost break even, but Indonesia was far from break even, so, we had to stop operations in Indonesia and I had to go back to earn some money because I was like two years without salary and after a few years, it becomes really tough, so, we kept a small development team in the Philippines and some operations in the Philippines and I had to go find a job. That’s how it ends, very often, when you start your first business.

Jeremy Au: (07:24)
Yeah. That’s a real reality for a lot of folks because you save up a year or two of savings and then it’s good if you can make it work, and if you can’t make it work, it’s not enough and it’s tough.

Ilya Kravtsov: (07:36)
Yeah. Nowadays, it’s easier to get the funding than it was at that time. That time, I think we got 60,000 dollars total in funding and that was it. That was a lot of money at that time. Now, it’s a lot more different because the whole ecosystem is a lot more developed, so many angels that can write you quick cheques. I think it’s a little bit different, but it’s a hard lesson learnt. You need to make sure that you raise. If you don’t raise, it’s hard to keep a business going…especially in the early days.

Jeremy Au: (08:06)
Let’s talk a little about that chicken and egg dynamic because it’s a classic problem. You haven’t made it work in one market and then you expand to a second market in the Philippines and that’s a very tricky pathway decision because one is like if we just keep going and light up new markets, don’t worry, the first market will figure out the economics later as well. It almost seems like the lesson was you got to fix the unit economics in one market first, before you expand to a new market…or, at least, making a down-arrow extrapolation from what you said. What do you think about what I just said?

Ilya Kravtsov: (08:40)
I think it all depends on what business you’re doing and how big is the market size. I think in our business, we did a mistake to go to Philippines too early because we haven’t yet proven the model working very well in one market and we’re already decided to go to another one, but there was an opportunity, so why not and we did it. For me, when I also mentor founders, I always recommend if your market size is really big and, in our case, it was big – F&B stores, coffee places, massive. You really have to crack the omelette in one place and then you can expand. Then, obviously, if you look down the line, the business to be launched afterwards which was dance and artists and concerts, that was a different business because the market size in one country might not be as huge, but also, events are regional people go on regional tours and artists do global tours and you cover multiple countries in one go. I would say really look at what your business is and see how to approach that. I won’t say it’s only there’s always a written rule, it’s kind of case by case.

Jeremy Au: (09:47)
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense and it’s good advice for a lot of founders. I guess today, we’ll call it failure, right? What was it like to go back to work? I know a couple of founders who went through that process, just wondering how you felt, your psychology.

Ilya Kravtsov: (10:01)
I think it’s horrible what happened to me. We didn’t manage to raise funds, we kept 5/6 employees and that was self-sustainable, but I understood that I can not not work and not get any income for a long time. Before looking for a job, I needed to take some time off and decompress and meet some people. I took two months and I went to the Valley and stayed in one of those startup hostels to meet with people, more entrepreneurs and see. That was very relieving because I met a lot of founders and they told me about their issues and that was something very interesting because in Southeast Asia, at that time, there were not that many founders and I felt very lonely and I said I’m the one who failed, but once I went to the US and found so many people who went through multiple startups, failed, and did again, that gave me courage to pursue that down the line again once the circumstances are right. I had this break and then I was approached by a few headhunters. I had a good CV and doing a startup is actually a plus in many case also seen by corporates. I got a role as head of strategy, head of commercial strategy in XL-Axiata which is the second largest telecom operator in Indonesia. Why not let’s try it out and was with them for about two years.

Jeremy Au: (11:30)
During that time when it sucked, how did you manage your psychology? You took a holiday, you talked to friends, how did you take a break?

Ilya Kravtsov: (11:39)
I think the most important in those cases is to talk to other founders. Especially if you’re a first time founder, you don’t realise that there are so many other founders going through similar issues and it’s a constant struggle and this is something that, in the beginning, you are not aware of. You think founders come from successful backgrounds either from corporate or consulting and they used to be always on top and then when they launch a startup then they get smashed, and that, for many people, is hard to overcome, but if you start talking to your peers, you realise that’s normal. It’s very, very rare that you’re always all up and enthusiastic. It’s always a constant struggle and you need to be able to live with that. If you can not live with that then that job is not for you. That’s when I started talking to people and realising it and that helped me a lot in understanding that I did it, it didn’t work, but it doesn’t mean that it’s purely my fault. The market might not be ready, the funding situation might not be ready, there was a lot of different factors that were in play. Timing is extremely important in starting your business and that’s what I also realise.

Jeremy Au: (13:01)
So, when it comes to talking to other founders, a lot of people who are not founders are wondering to themselves – what do founders talk about when they are talking to each other?

Ilya Kravtsov: (13:12)
That’s a good question. You talk about the key topics that bother you. Usually the key topics are not that many. One is investors. I think Southeast Asia, compared to US, etc, obviously, the investment and venture capital scene is a lot more developed. There’s also a lot more information and track record on different investors and it’s very different here in Southeast Asia. VCs started to invest five/ten years ago max. A lot of them don’t have clear track records and founders do talk about which investors are good and which investors are bad. The second one is more on product market fit because you might have it in one market, but you might not have it in the other one. The third one is people management because as your startup starts growing, people management becomes an important topic for you. In a corporate, you’re managing 5-10 people, but in a startup, if you’re funded, suddenly, you’re managing a hundred people. They say a good CEO needs to do two things – raise money and be good in people management, the rest will come. Those are the things we chat about very often.

Jeremy Au: (14:52)
That’s interesting because there’s two types of people or stages. The first is figure out product market fit and then talk about eventually becoming the CEO where hiring and fundraising are the most important skills. That’s something that you have seen for yourself the first time around you’re a founder and CEO of a company that’s looking for product market fit and that’s something you build up over time. Could you tell us the difference between being just a founder versus a CEO of a growing team.

Ilya Kravtsov: (15:32)
To be honest with you, not everybody can grow from a founder role into a CEO role because those two roles are very different and there’s nothing bad about it if you can’t or don’t want to be a CEO. A founder comes with a problem to solve and creativity and driving force to kick that off and find that product market fit as you were saying; a CEO needs to deal with people on a constant basis and manage a larger organisation. For the founder part, I would say it’s more exciting to a certain degree because you’re discovering and launching something new. A CEO role is very painful because you need to make sure the machine is well oiled and it works well and I always compare a startup like a sinking boat with a lot of holes. All you’re doing is minimise the water coming in and that’s your constant work and that’s not for everybody, but that’s the CEO’s role to bring it forward and to grow it.

Jeremy Au: (16:46)
Yeah. How should a founder think about managing their time?

Ilya Kravtsov: (17:06)
I think managing time is very important. I think many people don’t manage their time very well. Some people are too detail-oriented because you spend too much time going into details when you should delegate. Some people are on the opposite who are too high level, they get the funding and they go to all the conferences, making speeches and doing podcasts, they completely forget about the business. Those are the issues that I see.

Jeremy Au: (17:45)
How does a founder know what the best thing to do is?

Ilya Kravtsov: (17:49)
I think is to have the right balance between not overdoing it in terms of micromanagement and also not overdoing it on the other side. One tool I would recommend is before you start your week, on Sunday, organise your week because that’s extremely important. Organise your week, see which meetings you have, which are the most important, which you can skip and plan your week. Plan it on Sunday because you plan it on Monday and it’s already too late. Second tip is to do half-hour meetings, don’t do one hour meetings. It’s always very easy to talk more and it’s very pleasurable especially when you like your colleagues, but you become extremely inefficient. Thirdly, can you add value in that meeting? If you can, go for it. If not, then not. We know that, in business, meetings is what kills your productivity. That’s the key skill to know if you want to be good in time management – what meetings to attend, how long you want to attend them and if you cannot contribute, just leave, and make sure you have a culture where people can accept that. I think those are the practical tips I would give some young founders.

Jeremy Au: (19:25)
The way I used to think about it is the difference between creator time and manager time. Creator time is when you get to focus for one, two, three, four hours, very deep. Manager time is what you just said – that crazy blitz of meetings like your 1 on 1’s or external stakeholders

Ilya Kravtsov: (19:46)
Yeah. You need to balance also the thinking part versus the doing part. To be honest, the thinking part is very important because if you don’t think, nobody else in your company will because everybody is there to execute, but sometimes, you might realise that you’re executing the wrong thing. Just think is this direction really right. Are my assumptions correct? Do I need to pause it, do I need to redo it? I do that pretty often especially in the past 18 months of the pandemic because it’s a constant thinking. There’s no playbook for this.

Jeremy Au: (20:34)
What advice do you normally give to the mentees that you’re working with?

Ilya Kravtsov: (20:42)
There’s no playbook because every circumstance is very different, but what you can basically try to do is from the time you start to the time you build a successful business there’s this gap of time which can be shorter or longer. Your goal is to make this gap of time the shortest possible from where you are now to becoming successful. As a founder, what are the factors that will make me shorten that time. If you are alone in isolation, you will do your own mistakes and will make that time longer and longer. If you have support, if you have this podcast or if you have mentors, etc, there are key points along this journey where you ask others on what did you do and what was your mistake that you did. If you get support from somebody who went through that journey then you will be able to shorten that cycle from here you are to the success and that’s the key thing, that’s the key advice to my mentees – you can get there without any help, just by trying and doing because that is how it is, but you want to get there faster. You need to know what are those key points you need to validate. It’s about asking for help and asking questions. Sometimes I won’t be able to tell a startup founder what he needs to do as long as he doesn’t know what his pain points are. I ask what are the three most big issues that you are facing at this point in time and the conversation starts around the major problems they are facing and we see what support can built.

Jeremy Au: (22:39)
Could you share some examples where there was some experiment you had to run because you didn’t know which way to go to shorten that time period?

Ilya Kravtsov: (22:53)
Yeah. What happens very often especially in the seed or pre-seed stage, you start with an assumption in your head . Usually, founders, by definition, are very positive and enthusiastic and optimists. They come with this idea and they’re convinced that this idea is going to work. An example is young founders when they have an assumption and they’re convinced that’s the way to go. That’s fine, I’m not here to change your mind, but try to test your assumption within a period of time, let’s say a month or two and see the numbers. See the data that comes out of it and see if your assumption is valid. I was working with a startup who wanted to place a physical blocks inside factories for them to get their supplies instead of doing on-demand ordering. That’s fine, if that’s what you think. In my experience, a physical asset will make the operation a lot more complicated and not that scalable. It’s okay, just try it out. They tried it out, brought in a physical box and installed it in the factory for them to get the supplies. It’s not very scalable and very painful and the data showed that. Those are the experiments you want to run, especially in the beginning because sometimes you’re good at execution, but you go with the wrong idea and you go all the way in and six, seven, eight months’ time, you realise the business model is not the right one. That’s where it becomes very painful. If you do it on a shorter cycle, it can be very agile and be able to adapt. Those experiments are what we run with founders to make sure the product market fit makes sense.

Jeremy Au: (24:51)
How do you mentor and help founders? Sometimes I get feedback and I feel that person does not get it. Other times, I feel that makes a bit more sense. What things to be aware of or how should you frame things up so that it doesn’t come across as antagonistic or out of touch?

Ilya Kravtsov: (25:23)
Look, I think there’s a few things. One is to identify a startup in an area that you are an expert in. If you ask me to advise a startup in a field I don’t know – quantum computing. I have no idea. It would be very tough for me to give valuable advice beyond something generic. The first step would be to identify models where you’ve seen working or not working. As a mentor, you start seeing patterns, especially across certain sectors. Two, be humble. That’s the startup mentality. Nobody is arrogant and knows it all because we all know it’s a constant experimentation and models that might not have worked in the past will be unicorn in the future. That kind of mindset has to be there. Third, instead of telling what people should do, ask them questions. This is very important. It makes people reflect. Your main objective as a mentor is to make sure that the founder arrives at the right answer by himself and that process can be done only if you are asking the question and the person starts thinking. In that case, you’re not appearing as antagonistic or arrogant, but you are basically just asking questions. I found that technique quite useful and also they went through the process and that usually works in my opinion.

Jeremy Au: (27:31)
Great. Founders are getting advice from everybody, VCs, prospective VCs and investors, employees, parents, relationship partner. How should a founder sort through the different types of advice?

Ilya Kravtsov: (27:50)
I think majority of founders, they do have a gut feeling of what direction they want to go. That’s important. I would not underestimate that because sometimes we’re in a field of technology where we are creating something that was not there before. Sometime your data might lie. For example, you might go and do a survey of customers and the survey may say I don’t need it, but why? Because they never seen it before. If you go and ask on the first iPhone if people would be okay with that phone without any buttons, they would say no, I want my keyboard. Why? Because they never seen it, they never know how user friendly it is. You have to have that gut feeling, but take into account feedback and what is even more important is if the feedback becomes repetitive. Pitch to fifty, sixty, seventy investors and if the feedback becomes repetitive, then, maybe, there’s a problem…maybe you need to change your pitch…or maybe you need to change your business model. This is what you need to be looking out after.

Jeremy Au: (29:10)
That’s so true. How should a founder or you react to negative feedback? To some extent, its how they chose to word it, intentionally or unintentionally. How should a founder manage their own psychology in hearing negative or negative toned feedback?

Ilya Kravtsov: (29:41)
Feedback is extremely important. You will still be irritated when somebody tells you your startup is shit because it’s your baby, you’ll still be irritated about that. On the other hand, you need to be smart and rational enough to get the key message out of the feedback and not take it personally. It’s tough if you hear constant rejections, but what helps is also instead of hearing the rejections, ask questions back. Why do you think so? What made you come to that conclusion? If you try to go through somebody else’s thought process, then you might understand that your startup might not be the problem. It might be that the investor might not be comfortable with that sector because they haven’t invested before. It’s really important that you try to understand the thought process. Once you understand that, the majority of the cases might not be your fault, it’s just no fit between the parties.

Jeremy Au: (30:48)
Thanks so much for that. Starting to tie things off here. You’ve gone through a lot of positive and negative feedback over the years. You’ve also gone through good times as well as bad. Could you share with us a time where you had to be brave?

Ilya Kravtsov: (31:04)
Yeah, look, I think we definitely went through…last year was very tough year for us. So well, PouchNATION is a company which is highly exposed towards entertainment and hospitality sectors. Obviously with the pandemic, which was something that nobody could have anticipated, we obviously found ourselves in a very tough spot when the year before we just closed our series B round with Traveloka and SPH, and riding the wave up and increasing our revenue months on months and everything was going great and then, suddenly, in the month of I think it was March last year, everything dropped to almost 0 and that’s where it was some tough spots for us because we had to be brave to be able to continue the business because one of the officers suggestions on the tables was just to hibernate and that everybody go hibernate, keep the money in the bank and wait until the whole crisis and pandemic passes by. For me, that was not never really an option because I thought that the company is made out of people. If we let everybody go and hibernate, we will lose our best people and once you lose your best people then you lose basically everything. So, for me it was - you can never save enough money but you need to start generating new revenue streams and this is what I think you have to be brave to kind of put my foot down and there's no, we are not gonna hibernate. We're going to continue and we are going to try to make money again in new ways and I think this made the company survive. This made the company survive because we come up with new product which was available that can track your body temperature which was very COVID friendly and we launched it on Indiegogo and it was a success and then we raised some more funds around that product and managed to keep on going. So, again, it's a moment where anything could have happened and I could have taken the wrong decision, but I felt that you need to be brave enough to basically follow what you believe in and not let your main people go.

Jeremy Au: (33:04)
Wow. That was a tough one, I’m sure. Lots of people would give me different advice during the pandemic and everyone is scrambling to figure it out all at the same time. When it comes to a crisis, how much should a founder-CEO think about messaging or communicating to the rest of the company, what are the key things to think about from your perspective?

Ilya Kravtsov: (33:38)
Recently I read a lot of books around it and one of the book was saying is that if you have a mature organization, if you have an organization of mature in the sense that your employees are rock stars and they are great. So then in that case, the more honest you are, the better it is because they will understand and they will try to support and actually it's better to be more transparent than less transparent. Obviously, that is not always the case. You might have a team of people that not everybody is to that level of standard. I think it's a check and balance. I always believe in being transparent obviously, but on the other hand you cannot be 100% transparent and everything goes because you are the one that is eventually carrying that weight and you cannot pass everything on everybody else because and I've seen that personally, because sometimes when I pass that weight that you're carrying as a founder to somebody, people just crack and they cannot mentally live with it. Example, your founder, you know you have like two, three weeks runway left. This is a major burden on you. Now, if you give that burden to an employee, even if he is a senior guy, he might not be mentally able to live with that because he's oh my God, what's going to happen so I would say it's but on the other hand, there's certain things that people need to know. If you're struggling. If your business is not going well, you need to give signals to your people and make sure that they understand what they’re going into. On the other hand, is also not right, is to completely isolate yourself and keep your problems, and then not share them. So again, it’s a very tight balance, and it's a balance between being retaining people in a certain case and making sure they don’t crack. But on the other hand, sharing the information and making sure they know what they're going for and what they need to do and when they need to step up. So, I don't think there is like an exact formula how you balance between the two and it also depends on another, the wartime CEO, and peace time CEO. It also depends in which circumstance you are. If you're in a peacetime, you can be a bit more easygoing. If you are in a wartime, you just need to be very careful and sometimes it gets really tough.

Jeremy Au: (35:48)
If you could travel back in time to 2011, right before you set off to build your startups, what advice would you have given yourself?

Ilya Kravtsov: (36:02)
Well, I think it’s a very tough question, so I think one of the key mistakes I done in my first startup is that I was not the one in charge of fundraising and I think that was a big mistake. I think as a CEO and founder you will need…you need to be in charge of fundraising and I think that was one of the reasons why the first startup we didn’t manage to raise enough capital. That's definitely 1 recommendation I would give myself. The second one, which probably is think about an area where the market size is extremely big, so one of the mistakes that a lot of founders do is that they think that everything is a big market size. But that's very not true, and especially in Southeast Asia. The same was in my case. I was thinking, wow, this is a big market size, but then once you really start digging deeper and deeper and deeper, you start realizing this is not addressable. This is not preferable. Then it shrinks and as a startup and especially if you want to grow to become a unicorn, market size, very, very important. The third one is also on scalability. I think a lot of founders in this region, which is quite normal, tend to focus on service oriented startups rather than product oriented startups. It’s normal because you know in places like for example Indonesia, you know everybody wants a service right? They don’t want to do self service, but eventually you realize that that will become a major bottleneck down the line, even if you are successful, even if you can make a few million dollars in revenue a year, how do you scale farther? So think more product rather than service, even though maybe the market is not ready but it will catch up. So those are a few things that I would probably tell myself and repeat myself several times. Those probably are the three main things and it’s really trying to shorten that cycle from where you where you started and where you’ll be. How long is that time to success? I probably could have done a lot better if those things were being written in my head back in the days, so I wish I could have meet me 10 years…more mature in that sense.

Jeremy Au: (38:07)
The three big themes that I heard from you was, firstly, really the first part about your journey from being a management consultant in Europe to being a founder in Asia, not just in your first company but also eventually a second company, and I really thank you so much for sharing, especially about the struggles of the first startup that helped you basically make you a better founder today, but also allows you to share that true story about you actually having to go back to a full time job after being your first time founder and using that self experiences as a holiday to get yourself stronger for the second one and I think that’s a strong story in itself because I think a lot of founders really see that glossy like hockey stick curve, right? I think that’s an interesting dynamic to share. The second part, thank you for all of the technical advice around how founders should be thinking about not only getting advice or how to prioritize advice and conversely on the other side how mentors and founders can give advice to other founders as well, so there’s a lot of that dynamic around how to think, how to prioritize your time, how to make decisions, and all of that was birthed from your experience as founder. The third thing that I really enjoyed you sharing of course everything that you talked about in terms of the nuts and bolts, I would say, of expansion, market expansion unit economics. What you really need to build is true because I think we focus on what we’re building right now and we’re not necessarily thinking about the TAM total addressable market without thinking about making sure the first market is locked in and has the unit economics squared away. And that’s really good advice for everybody to be mindful for, in the future. Thank you so much, Ilya, for coming on the show.

Ilya Kravtsov: (39:54)
Thank you for inviting me. Thank you for allowing me to share. Was great chat!