Jeremy Au and Jason Patel discussed the challenges and nuances of entrepreneurship. They talked about 3 key points :
1. Defining Success: Success is subjective. It varies from person to person and isn't solely tied to societal metrics or traditional paths like prestigious universities or professions.
2. Skills for Aspiring Entrepreneurs: Jeremy emphasized the value of time, effort, and clear direction. Rather than following conventional routes, he stressed the importance of recognizing one's unique journey and strengths.
3. The Role of Patience: Entrepreneurial journeys often require time. Using the example of the Din Tai Fung founder, Jeremy illustrated that significant achievements might come later in life, emphasizing perseverance.
Jason Patel: (00:00)
Hey guys. In this video I interview Jeremy Au, who's got an extremely interesting journey. He served in the Singaporean army before going on to found two successful businesses, one that he bootstrapped and the other that he sold. Now, the important part about Jeremy's interview is that he talks a lot about how young people should give themselves time and space to find themselves.
Being lost is okay. I'll stop talking now and you can learn more from Jeremy in this interview. Enjoy.
What is up? Legendary Leader viewers and listeners today we have Jeremy Al with us and he's a super accomplished guy and we really appreciate his taking the time to speak to. All the great young people who will want to learn more about how to navigate their lives and their careers. Jeremy, how you doing?
Jeremy Au: (01:04)
Good. It's a wonderful time and I guess it's morning for you, evening for me. But happy to share a little bit about my experience across the world. Awesome. And
Jason Patel: (01:12)
Then speaking of evening where are you based right now?
Jeremy Au: (01:18)
I am based in Singapore right now.
Jason Patel: (01:21)
Very nice. I've heard great things. Always wanted to go. Let's jump right in, Jeremy. Could you give us a quick two or three minutes overview of your career and all the successes that you had, you've had so far?
Jeremy Au: (01:33)
Yeah. Happy to share. So for myself, I grew in Singapore.
I was in the Singapore Army, then uc, Berkeley. Then I was a consultant at Bain and Company doing management consulting across Southeast Asia and China. And then after that, went off to build my first company consultancy for the social sector. So that was bootstrapped. We had over a hundred clients.
I eventually handed over to my co-founder and then went off to Harvard to do my M B A. Then after that I built a second company where we grew that out from zero to millions of revenue. Prese C Series A and then inventory sold the company where I was a GM there for a year after that. And after that, I returned to Southeast Asia and have been investor and chief of staff of Monville Ventures.
Over the past couple of years. I also host a brave Southeast Asia Tech podcast which is the number one general podcast on, tech leadership reflections and, tech news. So we have over 20,000 monthly subscribers and we can find firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jason Patel: (02:35)
Fantastic. And that's, I mean, you have quite the story, Jeremy and just as a side note to our readers the link that Jeremy mentioned, we're gonna put it in the show notes and add it to the description of the bottom of the video so you can find it afterwards and take a look at Jeremy's show. So Jeremy let's get into it.
And just a first part of the story, you have quite the litany of experiences Singapore Army what did you do in the Army? And how did that prepare you for a life of entrepreneurship? If it did at all? I'm assuming it did though.
Jeremy Au: (03:05)
Yeah. For us it's simple. We are liable for two years of military service similar to other, conscript or draftee for armies across the world. So, I came in and I. Long story short was, it was quite shock compared to I think my upbringing in terms of, very focused on studies.
Yeah. And of course at the time, I was doing some martial arts on the side, but I think the Army obviously does a huge focus on regimentation in terms of discipline. March here, March there, do this, do that. Also, very strong focus I think on physical obviously exercise, endurance obstacle courses.
But also I think actually a lot of trust in a good way, right? So, we're entrusted with, high explosive weapons and all kinds of things that was just just kind of bonkers, right? And so I think I was very much pushed to my limits actually in many ways.
And learned a lot. I mean, I really would never have taught that you could be so regimented. I could have never taught, I could have been so fit or that we could have done such impossible. Endurance feats that we did back then. And I definitely wouldn't have taught that I would be entrusted with anything like, tons of high explosive at the age of like, effectively 18 years old.
Right. And just like last year I was studying for my biology exam and now I'm sitting on crates of explosives. Right. It's just like, oh, okay. But not do something stupid, so yeah, I eventually went on to become a sergeant so a detachment commander for the one 20 millimeter motor.
And I thought it was quite interesting 'cause you go through obviously like, basic leadership, then advanced leadership course, then you do cross training, you're attached to a unit. But basically I think I went through that whole experience after two years. I think I sat down and I was just like, it was really tough.
And it was tough in so many different ways, right? It's tough because one you spend two years in thesis, right? You're watching all your. Female schoolmates go off to college. Do you know they're effectively becoming sophomores or juniors by the time you come out? So you're in the military, you're an island, you're at a camp.
So you're isolated in this bubble of like all these other guys, obviously a few female volunteers, but you know, this, it's just a bubble, right? And so, I think you go through that. And then two is like, you kind of know that you've gone through so much experiences. And then thirdly, of course is you don't really know what's next, right?
Because you just spent two years running around in the jungle. So, but I think what's interesting is that once I kind of crossed over and I started becoming a freshman at uc, Berkeley I think what I kind of realized there and in my later career was that I had learned a lot and I was very thankful that I had the right mindset in the military to be learning a lot.
So when I went to uc, Berkeley, for example, well, let's be real. Right? I mean, I was very popular on campus because I could buy alcohol. I mean, I was effectively 21 as a freshman. And so everyone was like, Hey, who can buy beer? And I remember one of my good friends, she was like, I gave her a bottle of pot, for our birthday.
Anyway I guess that was the, and then she was like, oh, amazing. Right? But I think our power was, that was interesting was that. I just didn't feel like I needed to reinvent myself 'cause I spent those two years well, and I felt like I had really had gotten to understand myself a lot more.
And so I didn't feel any peer pressure. In freshman year everybody's pressuring each other to do stuff, right? And I was just like, no, 21. I'm two years older. I don't feel pressured by anything, I know what I want to do. I know what I don't want to do. This is stuff I want to abide by.
This is stuff that you know, I don't really care about. Right. And so I was able to be quite disciplined. But I was also able to push myself. So, I would remember, I would be like, somebody would be like, oh my God, this is the worst thing possible. We're doing this paper, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
And I'm like, eh, worst thing possible to do was like, trying to sleep on a hill, during a monsoon and trying to find, just being totally soaked in the mud, trying to sleep, right? That's the worst thing that could happen, right? So I think that right, that divergence that.
Dissonance was helpful in a sense that, I always remember and I keep telling myself like, Hey, I sleep in a bed. That's awesome. Life is good, right? Life could be worse. And life is not so bad right now. And so I think that discipline helped me. I think honestly, I was a better student even though my neurons were not fully utilized in the military, I can tell you that.
But, I think university, I was able to be focused. I think I knew I wanted to do, I didn't get distracted. And then I just kept going. Right. And I think, I started my career two years late and I think that was in some ways frustrating. But in other ways, I always tell myself and.
That's why I would like tell my kids, when they serve military service, one day we'll just be like, Hey, like those two years are work experience. Right. No one told me that. Right. I mean, in retrospect now I know, but you know, there's work experience. You're learning something.
Your responsibility for a team. I. You have high stakes in many ways and you have to, achieve the mission. There's a lot of good things to learn and there's some things that you have to be aware that is not transferrable to the normal workplace. Right? So anyway, I think that's what I kind of took away from this and.
Yeah, I think since then I've felt like it's been a good experience in retrospect. And I was recently doing a run this morning and I was like, man, I remember how fit I used to be 60 years ago. I was like, wow. I used to be so much faster. It was like, I'm running and I feel like this old man's body, like, you're running on quick set.
Yeah. I don't know. It's like I'm walk, I'm running around with a bunch of jello around me, right. Let's be real. So I was just like, man.
Jason Patel: (08:14)
I suppose the good news there, or not the good news the thing that takes all in is that father time comes for us all. So everyone who's 16 years younger than you currently in college or currently, going through the young years of their lives, they're they'll get there, they'll run on quicksand one day.
Jeremy Au: (08:31)
It's like you go to young people and you're just like, oh, you're gonna get this as old as me.
Jason Patel: (08:38)
Time is me. Not Jeremy. When you were giving that, that quick overview of your career, now you had mentioned that you built two companies, two successful companies, one bootstrapped and to reviewers.
Bootstrapped means that you didn't take any outside investment. You did it essentially with. You did it through your own means, so your own money, credit card, debt, loans, it could be basically your it's your own means. But before we get into that, Jeremy, it, to, to touch on your Army experience.
One last time you had talked about standardization perspective and of course having responsibility sitting on these explosives and handling weapons. I noticed that, a lot of times when I talk to young people, I. They, even as freshmen, sophomores in college or later, they feel a little lost in life.
And you had said that the Army had given you some type of direction and given you a backbone to deal with peer pressure and to help you find your way through college. What advice would you give to, either a 16, 17 year old or an 18, 19, 21, 22 year old or even older, who's lost? Who doesn't know necessarily what they wanna do with their career.
They're trying to figure out that, intellectual and spiritual backbone and they don't have two ears in the Singaporean army. What advice would you give them on finding themselves? Or at the very least, finding that North star that they can start walking toward and begin clearing up that confusion they have in their lives.
Jeremy Au: (10:08)
Yeah, it's a super fair question and I used to keep a sometimes diary in that my army is, and sometimes I kind of look at it quickly. I mean, let's be super real, right? It's not as if I was in the military, like this terminate machine who was like me mercilessly pursuing my passion and finding my North Star.
I mean, I think the awkward reality is that it's okay to be lost when 1617. Heck, amen. Yeah. 19, 20, 21. Keep going. 22, 23, 24, 25. I mean, I mean, I think, your teenage years and even your twenties, it's a time to be lost. It's okay to be lost. I'm not saying that you should be lost forever but I think, what does it mean to be lost?
Right? I mean, what it means to be lost is that it implies that you know what your direction is going. Right. And the truth is, I think when we are kids, I have two young kids now, one two year girl and one one year old girl. They're very cute and everything. And I think there's a very strong parable at the end of the day, right?
Which is that, when your childhood, nobody's asking you to have a direction, you know what I mean? And everyone's just like, just get through school, right? Do your school. Do you like science? Do you like math? You just keep going, right? So, so I, but I think teenage years, your hormones kicks in, your puberty, kicks in, your whole brain's developing.
Like you, I mean, I was like watching this like documentary about monkeys and elephants, like, like this age, your teenage years. You are meant to rebel. Like your hormones are pushing you to be different, to individuate, to be your own person. And so you feeling loss is not a problem. It's like literally not even a system problem or societal problem, it's just.
It's not even a bug, it's a feature, right? Which is that humans a right. Humans, when you hit puberty exactly. Your hormones are literally just telling you to go find yourself, go build your own identity and that shows up as rebellion. That shows up as being lost. That shows up as anger that shows up as deviancy.
Like these are all, whether you externally focus it or you focus it internally on yourself, like it's just a natural thing that happens at a age, right? So, so I think what I wanna acknowledge is That whatever you're feeling at this age is not your fault. It's not you, right? It's like every teenager's gonna go through that individuation phase.
Psychologists will say it, the evolutionaries will say it, the biologists will say it. The anthropologists will say, everybody will say like, yeah, this is totally normal. Yo teenagers have been rebelling for the past, like, 10,000 years of human history. Heck, even other animals do so, so there's nothing wrong with pushing it back against your own prior expectations yourself.
And society's expectations of you and your parents' expectations of you. So that's normal, right? It's normal to be lost 'cause your body's pushing you to explore. 'cause the converse of lost is that you are exploring something new. I. And I think that's really important, right? Like if you're doing the exact same thing, if your body wanted you to stay in the exact same groove as your other parents and your grandparents, the same village, the same town, the same zip code, then you would never be lost because you are never exploring because you're always in the same spot.
So, so the reason why is because your body is pushing you to explore right now. The question then is when you explore is what is that such process, right? And the awkward reality is that you need time and you need direction. Right? So I wish I could just, throw a north star. The truth is, even if you gave, imagine you had some time machine and you said, the moment puberty kicks in and then somebody's like feeling the hormonal drive to explore, so not suddenly feel lost.
And you have a time machine and you know exactly that. You're like, so you beam in and you're like, Hey dude, I know it kicked in yesterday. You're feeling real shit today. I can tell you with a hundred percent certainty that in 20 years you're gonna be a firefighter. Is that guy going to be, or girl going to be like, oh, I totally accepted by both hands.
No way. Right. They're not, even if you give them the North Star, they're gonna be like, no, I need to go, I need to find it. I need to push, I need to explore. You push myself, I need to try different things. Right. And I need time. So even you give them the perfect North Star, you know you need both the time, the effort.
And the direction, all those three things because you just gave time and a North star, but he never did the effort to explore and therefore be lost and feel that discomfort. They wouldn't take it, they'll just walk away from this firefighter thing, whatever you tell them. Right. So I think there's something that, that I want kind of say is like, if you're at this age, like just know that time you can't change.
It's just gonna take time and. The truth is, you're gonna have to do effort, right? Because you wanna be su, let's say you want to be an astronaut. Well guess what? You need to qualify for this that, be, fit you to go. There's a lot of hoops to become an astronaut, right? It's way harder you think It is.
So there's effort that you need to do. You have that in your control. And then who you want to become, right? I mean, the, that North Star War gonna call it, that can change, right? And so I think the military service for me wasn't really, I don't think it really gave. Gave, I think it gave me time because the truth is two years in military is two years in real life.
So I just became, from 18 years old, I became 20 years old. Right? Yeah. And so that time was there, so I, it was not just a function of Army, but I just had space in that time. That's one. And then two is that was effort. And what I learned about the Army was that I can do a lot more effort than other people, or I thought that I could have done.
Right. And that's the big difference. I think that's what Army says, like tells, taught me was like, I can do a lot more than I thought I could do. Full stop. So it turns out, yeah, I can, wrap down a cliff, no problem. Right. Turns out I can lead five people or 10 people. Turns out I could be lost in a jungle and I can use a map and compass.
So the effort, I think it taught Army that I could do a lot of effort. And then, yeah, in terms of north direction, yeah, it's not as if I knew, I mean what I learned from TU is the military was that I was not gonna sign on. With the military for another 50 years of service in the military. And I tell people all the time, it's like, look, it's very simple, right?
It's like, it's just like, people are like, oh, careers is very hard. I don't want 'em to be, and I'm like no. Okay. Do you wanna be a plumber? Yes. No, if you wanna be a plumber, great. Do you wanna be a army soldier? In my case, it's like, no, great. It's just a process of elimination, right? So it's not just, I think people look at North Star, I'm like, look, if you knock out 10 things, that's as good as finding your North Star, right?
So, I think there's something to be thoughtful about is that as a result, just be comfortable with the fact that you're you are lost because you're exploring. But when you explore, you need time, effort, and direction. Right? And things, some things are in your control and some things will take time and some things just require more self-work.
Jason Patel: (16:35)
I love it. I love it. I mean, that's, that, that's amazing. And then, and I love how you talk about, being lost is okay, it's just a part of life. And if anything, I am thinking out loud, but perhaps we shouldn't even call it getting lost, being lost. It's not, it's just a part of life.
It's part of the way, part of the road. Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. Now now moving over to your experience in entrepreneurship you bootstrapped a company, which means that, you didn't use outside investment to, to grow it into what it is. I'm sure a lot of viewers who wanna be entrepreneurs one day or build their own thing, they don't have access to outside capital.
So when it comes to bootstrapping, what are metrics that you focused on when it came to growing your company and then in a larger sense, what did you do to make sure you weren't burning tons of cash and you growing sustainably? I know it's a more meat potato type of question, but tactically. What did you do to grow a bootstrap enterprise then, be able to hand it off one day to your co-founder.
Jeremy Au: (17:36)
I mean, the awkward reality is that, when we started out, we started out as a charity, right? And then eventually we said, Hey, we should also be actually more of a social enterprise, right? And that took a lot of work to build out that revenue model. I think the truth of the world is that most companies in the world are bootstrapped and they're like, my great-grandparents where they set up little provision store, like, we got morning's like, this venture capital approach that's real good, right?
And I'm gonna go to deviant path and bootstrap my little provision shop with canned goods and stuff. No way. Right. I mean, most businesses in the world, I mean, the truth of the matter is that you can't spend what you don't have. Right. You know what I mean? So, it's almost the inverse I would say.
I think I would say that I think Silicon Valley and the whole venture capital and all this other stuff, and I think the pedestal of how we put venture capital has created this kind of inverse reality, right? Which is that most it is like, how do you be bootstrap? And I'm like, yeah, well, It turns out you can't spend more than what earn.
Right. Like, yeah. Guess what? You only made a thousand dollars. Yeah. Guess what? You only spend $999. Oh, wow. You bootstrap. Amazing. I'm like, no, come on. It's, I mean, think about it, right? Like that's a natural way of doing things. Like, I don't know. They'll be like walking through a guy who's able to, there's a guy who's like, Climbing Mount Everest with a oxygen tank, right?
And then, and then he comes back to ground level and it's like, hey have you heard about this thing called bootstrapping breathing? Like, you're like, no. Breathing is how 99.9% of all humans do it. It's just that only in some circumstances we go to environments so extreme that we need oxygen tanks to help us have peak performance to go there.
Right? So I just find it so funny that. Sometimes when people ask me about bootstrapping, I'm like, come on, that's like the opposite. It's almost the opposite of the, I dunno. It's like anti, if everybody's anti-gravity, then gravity is very novel, right? So I'm just yeah.
How do I bootstrap? Yeah. I just didn't make enough money to grow faster, so I just had to spend what I had. Right. That's how I bootstrapped.
Jason Patel: (19:38)
Yeah, no, absolutely. I think sometimes, we can get enamored with the headlines and TechCrunch and other places when an entrepreneur raises a million, a hundred million dollars or something, and then things might not work out.
But, that's okay. That's a part of life. Now when it came to the human side of bootstrapping a business, you touched on, it's a natural way of doing things, and it's what people have been doing. Starting businesses for a very long time without venture capital or outside funding.
I, I'm interested in the VC part of what you did. But before that, with bootstrapping a business, were there any particular skills that you learned outside of cashflow management that you learned in the bootstrap business but. And then you are able to apply it in the VC business, or were there skills that you found were far more useful in the bootstrap business than in the VC backed business?
Jeremy Au: (20:38)
I think there's a lot of similarities, which is that at the end of the day, you're trying to build business that makes money. Right? Well, so in the long term, and so I think in every circumstance, I think that, you need, the right, same ingredients, right? In any scenario, right? We just, you need to be an expert.
On your domain, whatever it is, there's always competition. There's always alternatives to what you're building. You always have to hire people. You always have to be able to convince people to join you and to support you, right? And you need to have a very good understanding of your customer, right? So I think in terms of like the basic ingredients of the cake, they're all the same.
But what I'll say is that the proportions are totally different between a company that's aiming to have venture capital versus something that is looking to build a sustainable, normal business. Right. Like a restaurant or something. So what I mean by that is that when we say venture capital back, like what is venture capital?
Right. So venture capital is an asset class where large, endowments or pension funds or equivalents have entrusted money managers to scout companies that are able to grow from zero to a hundred million dollars of revenue within 10 years. Right? And this portfolio of 20 betts. Equates to hopefully a, a net internal rate of return of over 20%.
So that's kind of like the goal of what Venture Capital's asset class is. And so what that means is that in the perfect world, if we had a time machine, this capital should only go to companies that we know for sure would create a hundred million dollars revenues within 10 years. Of course, we don't have that.
And so there's a little bit of scouting, discovery, coaching, and gatekeeping function. Where venture capital has to find the right companies to back. Right. And so what are the attributes of these companies are able to do that? Well, they should have incredible, honestly, like diff competitive advantages, a great market size excellent founding, and therefore leadership, and therefore a team that's built around it.
Incredible ability to rally capital and supporters and customers, but also, I mean fundamentally kind of like really catalyzing a really. Revolutionary approach to how things are being done, right? So what I mean by that, a simple example would be like if you're selling hot dogs and I'm selling hot dogs, and then I somehow managed to convince a VC to give me $100 billion of hot dog, sorry, capital to do hotdog stands, you know what?
I can make money for the vc, right? Because, assuming I'm the same, discipline entrepreneur in either scenario or both alternate realities, I'll be able to make money for them. But our problem is that you've gave me a hundred million dollars and I made, I'm just saying that you just have be quite thoughtful about what are the actual returns, the actual profits that should be generated.
And the fact is, yeah, within five or 10 years, everyone else will continue to have hot dog stands, and then there's no competitive advantage and you wouldn't be able to give a good rate of return. And then there would be a very poor outcome because from the VC's perspective, they made a bad mistake and.
Before that you imagine there'd be quite a few board debates about how to effect delivering blah, blah, blah. And what I'm trying to say here is that there needs to be a match between what venture capital as an asset class is looking invest in versus what the business, the right source of capital and the right growth trajectory can be.
And so we're looking for companies that actually can revolutionize through a generational change into technology. Now that's. Very difficult to communicate because when I was a founder, I would go have meetings and then somebody would be like, you are not a 10 x difference. You are not a revolutionary change.
And I'd be like, you are wrong. I totally am. You can't see it. Right. And so that's the conversation that you've gotta have. Honestly, as a mature founder, if you want, if you are a young person who's trying to build a business, I think, That self-awareness about the business that you're building is super duper key because you are gonna see so many f you're gonna hear the stories, right?
You're gonna be like, VCs, investing great founders. I wanna be a great founder. Therefore I go for talk to VCs. Yeah, that's a little of a pedestal myth. Mythmaking heroes journey, complex, industrial dynamic, trying to get as many people to, ride or die and effectively be, idea discovery.
Contractors and consultants for the VCs, which is not a problem as long as you know what that is. But then the thing is, there's so many businesses, 99.9%, which is just a normal, profitable business. Right. And I was just laughing recently, was just looking at this company and basically it's like Vietnam is a growing economy and so, so forth.
And Singapore has ice cream sandwiches, which is basically bread and then ice cream in between. So, and then Vietnam didn't really have that concept and so, this Vietnamese couple and a team of Singaporeans basically teamed up. They invested $50,000 to set up effectively ice cream stands in Vietnam, and now they're making $50,000 per month.
Right. So, so they're basically making $600,000 a year. Right. And they saw the opportunity. Is that a VC backable business? No, because it's not technology, blah, blah, blah. It is. I just shared an example of hotdog stand. But it's a great outcome for $50,000, effectively making half over, half a million dollars per year.
And after a couple years of operation, if you keep growing, you can make a lot of money. Right. So, I think I, I think for me, I think I just wanna make sure that if you are like a teenager, you're thinking to yourself like, Hey, do I want to be entrepreneur or not? I just wanna make it super duper clear, an entrepreneur.
You can be an entrepreneur without being VC-backed, and you can be a founder without being VC-backed. Right? And 99.9% of businesses. Can, should not be VC backed, which sounds very negative. On the other way of saying it is, should be bootstrap, just sounds very fancy. Or just be a normal, sustainable, profitable business and, know the business and get it done.
Jason Patel: (26:27)
Fantastic. Fantastic. So Jeremy, we are inching ever so much closer to the 30 minute mark and I wanna stay respectful of your time. I know you're a busy guy and you got a lot to do. You had grown a company from pre-seed, so that means idea to seed stage, which is revenue generating to series A which is, over a million dollars or higher in in revenue.
I know people are probably dying to hear about that. Tell me, what was the company, how did you raise money and what advice would you give to founders who are balancing raising money, balancing product development? Balancing team growth and trying to make sure that the rest of the team follows a culture and the principle set by the founders.
I know it's a loaded question, answer it any way you like but give us that story of pre-seed idea to acquisition.
Jeremy Au: (27:21)
Yeah, we were building a childcare marketplace, so using a sharing economy approach. And basically these were decentralized childcare across Boston and New York.
I think long story short is that I think from the beginning we really cared about. What the problems were for our customers. And these were new expecting families that just couldn't find childcare that was not the right fit for them. And so I think it was figuring out how to provide care in a more effective more you can say value for money way but also in a more personalized way.
I thought it was interesting because as we focus and built that I think it's a classic story, right? It's like what they say building a plane while still flying. It's very much that sensation. And I think in retrospect, I think what I was really thankful for was that I did have some of my prior experience as a business operator to think, help, right?
Honestly, be a founder of the company. And I had my experience as a Harvard M B A to support me. There's a lot of resources supporting me, frankly, and love advisors. That was right there before. And so as a result, we were able to hire people that were very passionate about what was happening and their honesty were the backbone and everything, right.
And I learned a lot from them. I think as we went on, I think the tricky part at the end of the day is kind of like balancing the growth rate versus the profitability. And I think there's a common problem that I'm sure every founder that might say is like, ah, I kind of get it. Because like I mentioned earlier, I think being thoughtful about venture capital and what the mandate are is and what the targets we should have and therefore decisions we wanna make, those are very tricky conversations.
And in retrospect I always tell people is like, we didn't succeed. Right? I mean, we were not that company. They became a unicorn. Right? And, that's what we define success by. And I was looking at statistic recently, right? Angel is kind of like shares, right? It's like, Or 40 companies that receive seed funding like us, only one becomes a unicorn effectively.
And frankly we're part 39. Right? So, I think I work very hard to make sure that, we landed the plane and we got stuff done right. But at the end of the day, I think I think when I sit down with founders, I think what I kind of wish I knew, but I think I. They didn't really know, but I think now it's become a bit clearer is like, yeah, what is success?
What is company success, obviously, but from a venture capital perspective, success is a unicorn. And I think that's my perspective now that I'm sitting on the side of venture capital success by a platform managed perspective is a unicorn. I think success for a business is very different. And we just mentioned at the start, right?
You could be profitable, you can be acquired you can be equal hired, right? You can wind down a company and, hand over customers in a very comfortable and sustainable way. So that's another angle of what success is. 'cause no company is forever. And lastly, I think personal success, right?
Or failure, right? That's also totally different, right? Because you can be a father, you can take care of your health, you can have a perception of yourself as a founder or entrepreneur or coach or teacher, whatever it is. But those are all very de linked, right? So I think I wanna be quite careful to be talking a little bit about what success is for a venture capital fund is very different from what success for a company and what success for a company is very different from what success for you personally.
Jason Patel: (30:35)
I love it. I love it. And then finally, in, in terms of having you directly speak to the audience to, to any aspiring entrepreneurs out there, whether they're in Berkeley or they're in New York, Boston, or wherever it is what skills do you think they should be working on right now?
Let's say you're talking to An entrepreneur, an inspiring entrepreneur who wasn't a management consultant in that vein, doesn't have a bunch of experiences, on his belt. Yeah. But what skill should they be developing right now to best set themselves up in the future?
Jeremy Au: (31:07)
Yeah, I mean, I think the awkward reality is that we're gonna look at a whole bunch of people on pedestal, and honestly, I represent a lot of them, right?
You're gonna hear about people who are Harvard or Stanford, or go right to Ivy League. You're gonna hear about people who. Management consultants or banking. Actually, those things are kind of correlated to a lot, huge extent actually. And a way it basically means that these people have, are seen to have a lot of again, call it fluid intelligence.
So ability to do you know, those IQ tests and things like that, because it shows up as academics, it shows up as case studies. It shows up as, all that stuff. And then obviously hardworking to some extent, right? So have good grades and so, so forth. But also a function of whatever benefits they've had from their family or from their prior history or whatever it is.
So I think there's a lot of baggage around, these terms. And so I think it's really important for you and from my perspective to put that aside. Just be like, okay, that's them Right. In that sense. And and just say like, if I'm in that situation, like, like what do I have?
Right? And I always tell people I was like, like, What you gotta focus on is time, and like I said, effort and direction, right? And you can like, like what is Bain or B, c, G, right? These are great companies, obviously, but these are employee companies, right? So it's not the same direction as being a founder, right?
So if you know you wanna be a founder, then you know, being B C G McKinsey is almost kind of like almost irrelevant, it doesn't make sense. Yeah. It's saying like, I'm in Los Angeles. And I want to go, where I really want to go to is New York. And then you're like looking at the people in Yosemite and you're like, wow, amazing.
These people in Yosemite. But it, it doesn't, I mean, it's kind of on the way Right. I mean, you gotta go north a little bit, north. Yeah. And probably getting hit, East's after that. But it's kind of the way, but it's not, it doesn't have to be your way Right.
To go east from, Los Angeles to New York. Right. So what I'm trying to say here a little bit is, I think if you say to yourself, you like, I really wanna be a founder, then first of all time, right? And you have time. If you're young, you have the one asset that I wish I had more of. I'm like in my middle age, right?
I'm like going on 36, right? If I was a 18 year old, I would love to be 18 years old. Oh my gosh. Give me 18 years of life back. So you have an enormous privilege called 18 years of additional time. And so that's a big one. Two is yeah, direction, right? You're gonna know I gonna hit it north, I hit it east, I hit it west.
You wanna be a founder, you wanna try to be a founder and work your way towards that. So I think keep that in mind, do your vision board go, find pictures of people you like, founders, you like conversations you heard, podcasts you like, and just pace them on your vision board and look at it every day and say, this is who I want to become.
Right? And I used to have that vision board, right? And I still do, right? Be like, these are the things that are important to me and these are the people that I respect and I would like to emulate in some way. So these, that gives you a direction, right? Not necessarily the career you want to be, but who, why, what kind of person you wanna be, right?
And then the third thing, of course is that now that you know your direction roughly, and now that you know that 18 years of time to get to whatever it is then it's about effort, right? It's about taking the steps, right? I. So the truth of the matter is like, if you're 18 year old and you gonna look at Jeremy and you say, wow, Jeremy's amazing at, 36, he's on A, B, C, D, E, F, G.
Right? And you're like, I'm like, yeah, but you know, I've got 18 years of headstart on you. Right. You know what I mean? You wouldn't, he's like, you watch, imagine you watch, you run a marathon and a guy ran a marathon like an hour before you, then you are behind you like, oh, this guy's so fast.
And you're like, no, the guy just started, in the wave one hour before you Right. Doesn't make sense. Like you're not Yeah. I mean, it's. So you gotta run your own ways. If you're 80 years old, don't look at, don't look at all these like 40 old people, 50 old people. Like, wow, these guys are so amazing.
Wow, these guys are so fast. Wow, they toy crushed it, blah, blah, blah. Like, no. I mean, they got there after 10, 20, 30, 40 years. Right? So, I think one I, one thing I really enjoy reading 'cause I enjoy reading biographies. Now don't read autobiographies. Autobiographies are a bunch of hagiography and, some promotional stuff.
Right. Like nobody vets what? And goes into autobiography, right. So you gotta read the biographies, right? Which is a third party sat down and said, Hey, I'm trying my best to create a very objective assessment of the person. Right? And, that's really important because I think when you read a biography, I love reading about those early years, right?
Their child years, their teenage years. It gives them such a great sense of the time, the effort of work they did to get to where they are. And it doesn't mean they figure it all out, right? And so I think that's something to be mindful of all the time just to be about, I'm going from point A to point B on my own pace.
And just don't look at somebody who's at point F and just be like, try to go from point A to point F now. Right. Because we're so impatient TikTok, we're like, oh my God, this guy crushed it. I mean, I always tell people like, I, I don't even heard this, tinty phone, right?
So, dumplings Taiwanese super popular. Yeah. It's a huge enterprise now effectively a, a billion dollar company. But let's, let's take a step back, right? The founder fled the Chinese Civil War, right in his teenage, in his early twenties, right? He was a delivery man all the way to the age of 35, right?
For an oil shop. And at age of 35, he set up his, first shop which was selling not dumplings, but oil, right? Think about it, right? Sure. You're selling vegetable oil. And guess what? At the age of 45, turns out that. Oil was getting disrupted by a new technology called oil in canisters and cans rather than, fresh pos.
And so he pivoted into making soup doubles, which became super popular at age 45. So now you have, and from 45 to the day he died. And he died recently this past year. R i p. But think about it, right? Like. Like he's 45 and then now he's like, and then he finally landed on the idea that's made him the world famous Typhoon founder.
Right. Think about it like that takes time. Right. So, takes time.
Jason Patel: (37:01)
Yeah. Yeah. I think in the grand cosmic scale of time, we are not here for a very long time, but in a personal sense. You gotta give yourself a couple years, several years, a decade to figure things out and figure out how the story unfolds.
Very beautiful. And I have to say here, I mean, it's super refreshing to, to hear their perspective. Sometimes you get, pop, pop philosophers and these motivational speakers are like, oh, you gotta do this and you gotta do this. You have to have, 60 million in the bank account and whatever else when you know, ultimately.
Things take time and flowers and trees take time to grow and so, so will you. So, Jeremy Al, you were an amazing guest. Yeah. Thank you for taking the time to, to be here and to all our listeners and our viewers. We will put Jeremy's contact info or where to find them in the show notes or in the description below the video.
Jeremy, thanks again for being here and thanks for teaching. Your learnings to our people. I.
Jeremy Au: (38:00)
Yeah. Thank you so much. I'll see you around.