"I think learning to manage larger teams by delegating is not easy for first-time founders or managers. Initially, you try to do everything, but then you realize you can't and need a good second-in-command to let them express themselves and figure things out on their own. As a founder, you should guide them. Founder communities in the region have evolved a lot, and I'm part of Southeast Asia Founders, where we come together to discuss the problems we face, almost like a focus group or cell group. This helps us figure things out together because we don't have all the answers, which is natural for any new and young founder." - Kenneth Lou
"When we were searching for problems to solve, we spoke to an investor who shared a lot about the health space. It was daunting because I had zero experience in the space, but we realized there are 8 billion people in the world who are aging, and that's a huge market. Everyone dies one day. This relates back to what I learned during that period of Vipassana meditation. How do we ensure that the idea of health spending, which is the years free from disease, is right?" - Kenneth Lou
"There's an interesting survey that Peter Attia, a famous longevity doctor in the US, did. He asked people if they wanted to live a longer life. Most people said they wouldn't be interested, but when asked if they wanted to see their great-grandchildren or play a game of soccer with them, most people said yes. It's about phrasing it as experiences that they can have later in life, not just about the quantity of life." - Kenneth Lou
Kenneth Lou, the CEO and cofounder of Mito Health, discussed his experiences and learnings in a recent conversation with Jeremy Au. Previously, Lou co-founded Seedly, which was acquired by ShopBack in 2018. He also shared insights on his meditation break at Vipassana and career break. During the discussion, Lou highlighted the importance of understanding the problems his company is trying to solve and the potential market for those solutions.
He emphasized the need to delegate and manage larger teams effectively as a founder. Lou also spoke about the importance of building a supportive founder community and learning from fellow entrepreneurs. Lou discussed his previous ventures and how he learned from the failures and successes of those companies. He emphasized the importance of having a strong team and shared his experiences building his own.
Lou also shared insights on his meditation break at Vipassana, where he spent 10 days in silence, disconnected from the world. He discussed how the experience allowed him to gain clarity and focus, and helped him prioritize his goals and aspirations. Additionally, Lou shared his thoughts on the need for people to reevaluate their life and career choices periodically. Overall, the conversation provided valuable insights into Lou's experiences as a founder and entrepreneur, and highlighted the importance of self-reflection, delegation, and community-building in achieving success.
Supported by Pollen
Pollen is a private B2B liquidation marketplace. The startup connects sellers carrying excess inventory with bulk buyers across the world. The platform incorporates pricing, algorithms, dashboard analytics and sustainability metrics to find great liquidation outcomes. Hundreds of tons of usable products that would've been incinerated or gone to landfill is now used by happy consumers instead. Manufacturers get more revenue, buyers get cheaper, and the world benefits Learn more at www.poland.tech.
Jeremy Au: (01:24)
Hey, Kenneth, really excited to have you on the show. You are a third-time founder, so definitely got a veteran mindset and blood in you and really excited to have you on the BRAVE show. Could you introduce yourself real quick?
Kenneth Lou: (01:40)
Yeah. Thanks, Jeremy for having me. Very excited to be here, to be sharing and also, learning from you throughout this conversation here today. So my name is Kenneth and I'm onto my third startup now. A very crazy journey rollercoaster as you would know as well. So yeah, so I've gone through hardware in my first startup and then my second startup in finance and then now in the health space. So I'll say I like trying different things. Generally very excited to be working on big problems and hopefully solving them in a meaningful way.
Jeremy Au: (02:11)
I know that your first entrepreneurship experience was Novelsys where you're doing Kickstarter, and that was actually one of my bucket list items back in the day. I was like, oh, I would love to do a Kickstarter. Was that your first entrepreneurship experience or were you entrepreneurial before that? How did that happen?
Kenneth Lou: (02:28)
Yeah, so interestingly enough, I started that in the first year in school, so during undergrad. And prior to that, when I was serving in the national service, I think one of the biggest things was the rise of mobile. So it's actually not that long ago, maybe around 10 years, one decade ago, where mobile was really coming up and I was actually looking at the development platforms like Swift and all these things where people could start to code and build their own apps. And I was very excited about the idea of being able to create a business with very low CapEx. So naturally, somehow rather, I gravitated towards Block71. So today, Block71, I think it's in its second decade. But when you first launched, there were founders, like Purple. Purple Founders were there. Darius was working on this Darius from 99.Co.
Back then he was working, on an app called BillPin. So it was actually a bills splitting app and then there were Carousell founders, ShopBack founders were in their early days and actually went down there to try to mingle and, and network with them and interestingly enough, they were saying that, why not join NOC, which is the NUS Overseas Colleges program? So I was very enthralled by that and decided to pick that leap of faith into this startup world by just registering my first company, not exactly sure what it's going to do and then I started realizing that, personal problems, right? The thing that we always learn is like, how we solve our personal problems and power banks were a personal problem of mine where there were a lot of wires and it was constantly like fumbling around. So that's where the idea of a wireless charging device came about, which is true. That experience. Yeah. But long story short, got very inspired by local tech founders in the early days of mobile and then wanted to do something in tech.
Jeremy Au: (04:14)
I mean, raising 87,000 USD on Kickstarter's no joke. Okay. That was a lot. So there you are, you've done that, and then you decide to go effectively build your next company, which was Seedly. So how did that transition happen and why did you go about building Seedly?
Kenneth Lou: (04:33)
I saw the first one actually ended up really badly. So, building a hardware company for a first-time founder is extremely doubly hard, and very, very naive because there's a lot of mistakes that we make with regard to contract manufacturing, not understanding what is quantities and economies of scale. So we essentially burn through that however much tens of thousands really quickly. And Kickstarter also charge us a big fee, right? So net net we lost about 30, 40 grand even after the Kickstarter proceeds. And the defect rate was really high. So I was actually very dejected from my first startup, but back then I was in year two, in school. So I said, why not, take it on the chain, go and learn from the best, right? And then there was the best was in the valley.
So I actually flew down there for three weeks. I call it a pilgrimage where just go down there and meet people. Schedule meetings, and go from one contact to another contact every day. Just do three meetings and breakfast, lunch, and dinner and try to really understand what makes it tick. And that's where I actually met my co-founder for Seedly who was really into this idea of personal finance because he actually won a hackathon there by building a web scraping tool. So then, we saw the idea around finance, and it was a time when expense tracking apps were this thing that was really picking up around the world where people would, write down every single expense that they would spend. So the chicken, rice or ramen or maybe spending on the taxi. Back then Grab was also starting, so people were definitely overspending, on such things.
So we saw spending and personal finances as a big problem that was quickly rising. So that's where we sort of transitioned into like, okay, let's do this thing. And we were in our last year in school, so, we decided to take the plunge.
Jeremy Au: (06:20)
You mentioned earlier that you wanted to solve a problem that you understood, right? Especially for Novelsys. So how was that a problem that you empathized with in Seedly?
Kenneth Lou: (06:30)
So the problem of personal finance actually clicks everyone. It's just how big or how small. So essentially back then when, as a student, we have very limited funds, right? So, I was still drawing allowance from my family. So, my dad would give me an allowance and then I need to manage that allowance quite well. So managing a debit card was the first sort of foray into that and I realized that it was also quite difficult to manage expense tracking next we realized that bank statements, like people had multiple banks, especially in developed countries like Singapore, where they needed help to manage all their accounts in one place. So that sort of segue into the problem statement is that how do we help you manage your money? Not just manage your expenses, but manage your money in the aggregated form factor. Yeah. So it's also very much working adults because working adults were our first target audience because we understood working adults the best back then when we were graduating. Yeah.
Jeremy Au: (07:28)
What did you learn from building that? Right? Because I think personal finance obviously is a problem for so many folks. I mean, recently we had a brave episode discussing Woke Salary Man, who was also discussing personal finance comics as well. I think a very different angle of providing education on this front. So what did you learn from building obviously a startup tackling key learnings that you had?
Kenneth Lou: (07:49)
Yeah, so I think the biggest one was about trust because for us back then, to start beyond the banks, like the big three, DBS, UOB, CBC. It's very difficult for consumers to trust a FinTech company. And back then, seven years ago, the fintech in the space were Nets and EasyLink, so literally these two were the representations of tech in finance but in just a matter of five, six years, you have robo-advisors, you have folks like Woke Salaryman, you have Ma Lion, you have like all these amazing content creators, but people who are using tech to tackle financial problems in a very unique way.
So I would say the biggest problem back then was trust, because figuring out how to build that relationship and understanding of the end consumer to say, hey, you know what? We are actually safe enough to allow you to manage your finances with us. Even though it's aggregated, it's only, there's no right or wrong. But consumers would also be very wary of like, how you're starring my data, how you're going to use my data. Things like that.
Jeremy Au: (08:55)
I mean, what's interesting obviously is that at this point in time, you've been a founder, all right? Once, and then now you're a founder again and then you're also this time really becoming a CEO, right? Because you're building a team starting a scale. So kind of like what was that? And you are also now a working professional, right? So what were some changes you noticed about yourself back then from a personal and professional angle?
Kenneth Lou: (09:16)
Yeah, I think at the scale we were at about 30 people in Seedly, so about half product engineering, and the other half would be like marketing and BD. And at a point in time, I think learning how to manage larger teams by delegating is something that it's not very easy to do as like first-time founder or even first-time management, where you try to do everything and then you start to realize that hey, you can't do everything and you need like a very good second in command to really let them express themselves and let them go and figure things out on their own and just be like guiding, like, and I think that's where the founder communities in Southeast Asia has also really evolved quite a bit, which is where, I'm part of Southeast Asia founders and founders coming together to talk about the problems that they face, almost like a focus group, cell group. That really helps them figure things out togethe, cause we don't know all the answers and that's natural for any young and new founders.
Jeremy Au: (10:19)
At that point in time, are there any myths or misconceptions about the finance space, that you understood better after kind of building out so much in it?
Kenneth Lou: (10:30)
Yeah, personal finance, the interesting thing is that though it's personal, like it's in the word personal finance you start to realize that it's actually quite similar for many people, like everyone who goes through similar life stages. At least in the Singapore and Southeast Asian context, the big expenses will always be your wedding, your house, your car, and your first kid, and you start realizing that these life stages are quite standardized across different people. So initially we were like, okay, how are we going to personalize it for different audiences? But then we realized that, hey, we can actually do it in broad strokes to look at life stages. I think that was the biggest one. Because you realize that the tools and the products that you'll be sort of exposed to at different points in time would be exactly the same thing, a home loan, a mortgage. Do you consider your CPF loan, your HDB loan or do you go with a bank? Your kids' education? Do you send them to a private preschool or do you send them to like a public preschool? It's always a very, very similar kind of life stage, so you can sort of group them up accordingly. Yeah.
Jeremy Au: (11:37)
I am definitely a consumer of those articles about weddings and Ang Bao rates and child stuff and all that, stuff and what's interesting of course is that, you obviously went through two motherships eventually, right? Once with ShopBack and once with Hyphen Groups. So could you share a little bit more about that journey?
Kenneth Lou: (11:54)
Yeah. So, so the first one was interesting. So we raised funding from East Ventures. So East Ventures was like the common investor between like ShopBack and us back then. And the cool thing was that Wilson shout out to him, right? Like he actually invested in us even though we were still students and I think for him to take that step to write that first hundred k check, right? So it was very, there was a lot of hope that we would sort of amount to something and when we were raising a second seat round, we were sort of looking to raise a subsequent 250, 300K and then we got to know of ShopBack because my cofounder was the first software engineer in the shop.
So ShopBack shared that, they wanted to go after finance in a specific way and, shared their diversity vision, Henry and Joel seem like great guys we could learn from and really work with and they really are right. So we decided to take the plunge. Back then we only had like five, six people and then we just moved our whole team into ShopBack. We did a complete share swap. So we were sort of in the early founding team within the whole setup, and we grew right. The next two years. We actually grew from there quite aggressively, especially in terms of the reach that we had in Singapore. Yeah.
Jeremy Au: (13:08)
What advice would you give for people going through that kind of like, acquisition slash merger slash you know, kind of like merging?
Kenneth Lou: (13:16)
I think the biggest one is to not be afraid to ask for help. So I think back then we were like, okay, we are going through this. We can't let anyone know. But the thing is now, I would say the ecosystem is more mature, so there would have been more founders who have gone through similar situations, so you can actually reach out to us. So I know back then the only person I spoke to, I think was Darius. So Darius had gone through a free acquisition.
So I got to know him through the NUS network, and he was kind enough to spend a morning, I remember on along China, down, he had his favorite soy sauce, chicken, rice. He set me down and he asked me why did I want to do this? What's my intentions, what's my timeline? So that was exciting. Royston as well. So folks like that, don't be afraid to just go around and ask people and you might think of it like it's very unique to you, but you also realize that things are actually act not that unique after all. There are always commonalities and similarities around different views in terms of the psyche in terms of the way that things are structured as well.
Jeremy Au: (14:22)
Well, I love the soy sauce chicken, dynamic, but also the conversation there. You said something true, right? Which is, I think you're scared and you don't talk about it, versus now that you look back on it, you feel like the ecosystem all mature, so you got to talk about it. So I think theoretically people know that you should talk about it. But for you, yourself, what was the fear there? Was it because you were scared that will compete with you or translate?
Kenneth Lou: (14:49)
I think the fear that most founders would have is information, right? Like, keep things closed. Yeah. I remember this interesting story where in the early days of startup learning, you probably experienced this as well. People would be like, I can't send you a pitch deck unless we have an NDA. That kind of stuff. And even like, let's see, Kickstarter, right? Kickstarter, the moment we listed it live and the moment there was traction, the next day we saw it on Chinese e-commerce. So it's exactly, it's like things like that used to be like, okay, you need to have IP laws, you need to be very worried about contractual stuff. You never know how your information is going to be used. But I think nowadays founders need to understand that things need to move faster, so you need to move even faster. So don't be afraid to share, to really get information to make the next step.
Jeremy Au: (15:40)
What was your own personal life at that point in time? Right? Because you were like, running around like crazy, there's like 30 people. I'm just kind of curious, what was your personal life at that point in time?
Kenneth Lou: (15:50)
Yeah, it's not easy. Even though, we sort of had 30 people I was already managing around half of them cause the other half my co-founder was looking after the product and engineering. But I think always trying to get everyone aligned is never easy. So, things like all hands, things like stand-ups, like how do we do it in the efficient way. So that's work-life personally, I was getting married. So financially, things like that. Practice, what we preach, right? Like what credit cards to use, how do you budget accordingly? Ang Bao rates, where do you get the little hacks of finance hacks around making these life decisions? I think all those things were, was running in parallel. And then now personally to have my first son soon. So adding those things again is, it's like life runs parallel to startup. Yeah. Even though a startup usually is running a lot faster pace. Yeah.
Jeremy Au: (16:46)
What's interesting is that you take all of this and then you wrap things, then you take some time out. I'm just kind of curious, obviously, we know that you're now off to build your third company, but I'm just kind of curious, like obviously Seedly How was that gap when you wrap things up? What were your emotions around wrapping things up and what was your plan for that break? Yeah.
Kenneth Lou: (17:06)
Yeah. It was actually a very unique point in time and it's something that I appeal to founders as well going through exits, right, to really have a timeline of like how ultimately they will transition out, right? Because ultimately it's great to build things and it's also great to sort of, it's a skill to actually hand it over to a team that you trust. So we are grateful to have like a team that we trust, and management that can work well with them. So our second company that we left was Hyphen Group. Back then it was called CompareAsiaGroup. So Hyphen Group. Very interesting company in the finance space.
After, the two-year period, we knew that we wanted to move. So I was very cognizant that you're looking out for a successor, making sure that he or she is aware of how to run the ship continually. So that was planned and then communicating that early on is important as well. So it doesn't come too much as a shock and personally, having that six months break, looking for ideas, looking for problems to solve, and personally, I went for a meditation retreat. I went to travel for a bit as well. Just nice COVID ended last year. Yeah.
Jeremy Au: (18:14)
Wow. Meditation retreat. I got to ask, which one is it?
Kenneth Lou: (18:21)
Yeah, so I went for the one called Vipassana. Yeah. Jack Dorsey has done it and many other tech founders, especially in Singapore I won't name names, but there are a lot of founders and VCs who also have done things like that, right? Because you get 10 days to yourself, you don't talk to anyone. You eat vegetarian food. Yeah. So that's good. I would recommend it.
Jeremy Au: (18:43)
I've done it twice. Once with my first cofounder, and with my wife. First, I was excited to go for the second one, I went and accompany my wife and I was soft dreading it going the second time.
Kenneth Lou: (18:56)
Do you do a longer one or is it just the same, the 10 day?
Jeremy Au: (18:59)
Both, I did 10 days. Yeah. Because it was the first time for my wife right? The second time around. So, yeah.
Kenneth Lou: (19:03)
Would you recommend doing twice, or?
Jeremy Au: (19:06)
Would I recommend doing it twice? Frankly, I accompanied my wife for the second one. And so I didn't feel, I think I was, would've been happy to do like a shorter one for the second one, day.
But because I knew I was going 10 days and I wasn't really in that mind space to do so. Yeah, I was more chill in finding myself the second time around. But I think the first one was really great. I really enjoyed it. And it was a very tough period for me personally. I mean, I went there the first time with my cofounder and we were best friends and still best friends we had been talking to each other nonstop every day for like, five years. It pretty much actually overlaps your time as a founder and I think it was just weird to not talk to each other for 10 days as well. So have a lot of phantom hallucinations of my devices vibrating as well. So I would meditate and then I'll feel my phone vibrate even though I have no phone.
Kenneth Lou: (19:59)
No, that's a classic one. Emails, right? Your emails and everything.
Jeremy Au: (20:02)
Yeah. I'll be meditating and I can, I can feel an email coming in. I'm just like, oh my gosh, I have a problem. So, I think obviously a lot of founders, obviously, some are successful, some exit, some obviously have struggled. I think many of them ask the question, right? It's like, how do you structure that time after that, right? Is it, it could be one month, it can be three months. I know you also were a bit longer. So how would you recommend folks think about that sabbatical time out?
Kenneth Lou: (20:32)
I think there really isn't like a fixed timeframe but I would say, do what works for you. So I met another one, another founder who is also a fellow investing company in the same VC. So he used to have started this company called Pie, that Google bought and then he was saying six months is two short. So he took a 12-month's break after he officially left Google, and he shared that it was the best 12 months of his life where he got to learn working skills. So he went to build a little shed in his home. Yeah, so things like that, I guess you can determine what you want to learn, what you want to sort of, really understand and, and find yourself again. Yeah. Find out what you're interested in. Yeah.
Jeremy Au: (21:19)
I mean, you did Seedly for over six years, right? So. Like when you stop Seedly was there anything left about yourself?
Kenneth Lou: (21:28)
Yeah, it is a good point because most founders, and myself included, like everything on my social media, everything on my LinkedIn was about my company. The identity is so like tight to that. So I think taking that six months to really decompress and just not even think about it was a good time to detach from what I was like so wholeheartedly to be like focused on.
Jeremy Au: (21:55)
I am curious about what you learned about those six months. I'll share one. When I did my first company, my sabbatical was about two months, cause after that, I went hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from Los Angeles, which was like one month. My key learning was that for some reason, I had this crazy belief that my relationship wasn't going to work with my then girlfriend, my now wife and a big part of it was that my first girlfriend in Junior College had passed away and so I was very dealing with a lot of like, grief and trauma from that. But it was showing up primarily in a relationship. So I was very pessimistic about my relationship. And then after that, I spent two months out and I was like, okay don't need to break up with her now. Maybe down the road, we'll do that, but there's no reason to do so. So I think that two months actually gave me the space because I was using work too. Fill out all my hours and not think about it.
But with two months of no work, I had to think about it and I thought about it. I said, okay, I'll continue dating this lady, who is now the mother of my kids. So that was two months, I'm so curious. What learnings did you have during those six months?
Kenneth Lou: (23:06)
In fact, the biggest one was during Vipassana, you sort of understand that things are not permanent. So you learn about the idea of impermanence and you come to this world with nothing and then leave the world with nothing. So, when I was like taking that time to decompress, I kind of realized also like personal finance, everything that we've been teaching up to that point right? Was about how you get more like a hundred thousand by 30, right? I'm sure the Woke Salaryman people talk about that.
You get 200,000 by 30. By 40, how do you be a $1 million net worth by 65? Things like that from mainstream finance media. But you also realize that, it's not just about the money, but it's about what you do. What experiences that you want to experience in the time here on this planet, led me down a very unique path because I was actually thinking of not doing startups anymore, and consciously, I know that this path is going to be so difficult again, like learning things from scratch and learning a new industry. So I was actually making that very difficult choice to like to figure out what way of life I want to design and then how I design that life going forward.
So it sort of led me down that pathway. Okay. I like health because in our was training for an Ironman, so I was doing that also in that six months. Learning things about diet, learning things about nutrition, sleep, and sort of how I sort of make that into a startup where we can help even more people. So the real wealth is health, right? That's always the same. So that sort of led me down that path and sort of also where we are working on, which is in, in the space of longevity and health tech.
Jeremy Au: (24:43)
Great transition to what you're building today. Really exciting. You're building a longevity space, which is really about health span, about ageing well, pushing back, that back as much as possible, and ageing well as well. So really excited for you to share a little bit more about how you discovered this problem and that this is, something you want to not only be interested in personally but also build.
Kenneth Lou: (25:07)
Yeah, so I think the biggest trigger was when we were looking for problems to solve. What are big enough problems that will withstand the test of time? We were speaking to one investor who basically shared a lot about this space and I think it was interesting. Initially, I was a bit daunted by it because it seemed like it's going to be very complicated. I have zero experience in the health space. But I realized that there's 8 billion people in this world, who are ageing and that's a huge market and when you think about it, everyone dies one day. So it's sort of related back to what I learned during that period. So how do we sort of make sure that the idea of health spending, which is the years free from disease, is right?
So free from cancer, free from neurodegenerative problems like Alzheimer's. How do we sort of push that out so that by the time you get it, you actually mirror to when you actually leave this Earth? So I thought that was a very fascinating kind of insight, but how do you use tech to enable that? So areas like diagnostics, how do we combine your blood biodata? How do we combine your wearable data on your Apple Watch, on your Google Health, on your Garmin, and on your aura rings? And how do we sort of synthesize all of that? We use AI and then we personalize recommendations for you, so that you know exactly what you need to be doing to extend your health span.
Jeremy Au: (26:28)
Yeah. I definitely understand that I was just plugged in my own life expectancy calculator, and they gave me a certain number and then they were like, you should drink one glass of alcohol to give yourself two more years of life. And I was like, what? I mean, I don't drink. And then so I was like, what? I need to drink one glass. And then I had to go through this rabbit hole of reading research papers to be like, and it's like five research papers that say drink one glass of wine a day equals great. And then there's a whole bunch of research papers that just came out over the past two years to be like, actually, we didn't do our math right, and therefore, it is a confounding factor, et cetera. So I'm just like, it's so confusing. I don't know what the answer is. I'll just not change my routines.
Kenneth Lou: (27:12)
There's the element of mental health as well. So, I think if you're doing it in the context of socializing with peers, with friends and with family, I think that's fine. But moderation is key. The idea of moderation, how do you use triggers to remind you to not do certain habits and sort of to build better health habits. So those areas that we think that tech can come in, which is also why we feel like we have an exciting team with the right skill sets, we try to tackle this problem.
Jeremy Au: (27:46)
I think what's interesting here is that it also does tie into your previous, founder experience, even though it's a new vertical, right? Because there's a lot of education, obviously. Actually, I felt like there's an actually interesting parallel because like you said the hidden core of Seedly is more money, lifestyle and more experiences, right? Everyone dies one day, so everybody wants more life. So, that actually is an interesting core there actually.
Kenneth Lou: (28:14)
No, that's a great, that's a great parallel. In fact, I think the question to us is like, why do you want more life? What have you not done? But at the same time, while we are sort of debating around this life expectancy has been showing to grow, like retirement, HR being pushed back further and further across every container, across every demographic. You can see walls rather, like riots spreading out in the European regions because pension ages have been pushed back further, in Singapore as well. Retirement ages have been pushed back further, so there's a whole different dynamic of ageing societies and ageing populations that I think is going to be this tsunami that's going to hit us really, really soon.
Jeremy Au: (28:56)
Why do you want more life?
Kenneth Lou: (28:58)
That's a great question. I think it's to do more. So hopefully figuring things out, have more experience, travelling, working somewhere else. Cause I've never worked anywhere else other than Singapore. So how do we take this idea? Maybe we can go somewhere else to expand. I think that's more to be done, personally.
Jeremy Au: (29:18)
Personally, right? Yeah. Does make sense.
Kenneth Lou: (29:23)
Yeah. There's this interesting survey that was done. When you ask people, there was this survey run by Peter Attia, who is a very famous longevity doctor in the US right? How many people want to live a longer life? Most of the room would normally say they wouldn't be interested, but the moment you ask them, would you want to see your great-grandchildren? Would you want to go for a game of football or a game of soccer with them? Then, most people say yes. Again, depending on your demographic. So it's about phrasing it as experiences that you will experience in a later stage of life, not just about the quantity.
Jeremy Au: (30:04)
No, it's a really good point, right, and not an easy conversation to have.I mean, I think people want to have more experiences. You made me think like, I mean the awkward reality is like, I have two daughters now, and they're so cute and I love them a lot and I'm kind of terrified about them dying, and I also got terrified about myself dying too early, cause I like this YouTube video by our grandfather story and he talks about this poor widow and her husband died from cancer right early and so she got stressed and angry and she was a bad mom and then it took her years to realize herself. And her three kids were like comforting her and they're all happy now as a family and I was just watching a video and I cried and I was like, oh my gosh.
I don't want to die and cause that pain in my family. I remember the next day, I was in a Grab ride, and then I put on a seatbelt for the first time because, yeah. I was like I have a kid now, I have two kids. Not because I don't want to wear a seatbelt like a loser, and by the way, I use a bicycle without a helmet, right? So, because I don't want to bike like a loser, I'm a winner who doesn't bike with a helmet. I'm cool. Who needs a heavy helmet with lights and stuff like that?
Kenneth Lou: (31:33)
Actually, it's a great point. We reference a lot to the learnings of what's happening in the West when it comes to preventative health and you roughly know what will kill you. So accidents are one big one. So things like getting into car accidents, like plane accidents, but that's one type of killer. Another one would be things like cancer. Cancer, you've got neurodegenerative problems, you have heart disease, you have type one, type two diabetes. So it's like a handful of things. You sort of understand what will kill you and then sort of work backwards, like how do you sort of, look for the precursors of those things and sort of push it back further? So things like wearing a seatbelt, wearing a helmet, you know those exact analogies you would take for other aspects of your health, be it your cholesterol levels, be it your sugar levels.
Jeremy Au: (32:26)
Yes. Now the government is into, I mean, longevity is healthcare. Healthcare is longevity, right? And so mandating seats and mandating helmets is you're becoming a dad soon. How is that changing your view on longevity and so far, I'm so curious. How are you feeling?
Kenneth Lou: (32:46)
Right now I don't feel a big thing until I see the scans and then hopefully everything is well, it comes up well. But I think like mentally, like getting ready for the next phase going back to what we learned in life stages, right? I think this life stage will really sort of open up in terms of understanding life and life and death because my dad passed away at 56, so he passed away really young as well due to brain cancer. So I sort of see the parallel where you come and then you leave this earth. So what do you do here during your time? Makes a lot of sense. So maybe I'll be more motivated to create more impact quicker. Let's see.
Jeremy Au: (33:27)
I mean, the truth of the matter is everybody's interested. Right. So, it's just that nobody really believes it in the sense that everybody has had a personal loss: amily members, loved ones, acquaintances, classmates, and colleagues. As I said, everyone dies one day and in the meantime, we just ignore it and keep working like there's no tomorrow. So I think everyone's quite interested silently, but I think there's also so much like crackery and so much like, fear and everyone's like, it's like people can't even get their insurance stuff alone their will and testament. We already know that stopping smoking and wearing a seatbelt and wearing a helmet is super important and people don't do them anyway. So what do you think about that? I mean, how do you think about crossing that education threshold from your perspective?
Kenneth Lou: (34:17)
No, it's a great question. So you brought up insurance, which is the direction parallel to this space that we are playing in because by doing certain things, you are buying insurance for something that you are afraid will happen. It's a big hurdle to cross for us and for many wellness companies because ultimately we are preaching a future to you that otherwise would have happened almost as if like in a multiverse. So it's sort of going into that part of the brain that makes you think more, not just on a shallow level, but on a deeper level where, in the future, you have 10 more years, 20 more years.
What does that look like for you? How do you sort of relate the experiences back? It's not just about the number, but it's about lifting your great-grandchildren. You can carry them up. So those are things like walking up the stairs, walking down the stairs being able to carry your groceries home. So those are very visual sort of examples that we like to remind our clients and our audiences. Yeah.
Jeremy Au: (35:21)
On that personal note, you share a time that you personally have been brave?
Kenneth Lou: (35:28)
Yeah, so, I think one of the biggest things was actually attempting the Ironman in six months. So that was actually last year when I woke up, I said like, I'm going to challenge myself, not only mentally through like a 10-day silent retreat but challenge myself physically and initially the thought process was, I can't do this, right? It's just mind over matter, but I started to realize that there's a lot more that was involved. Your diet, your nutrition, your exercise, keeping up for a regime, extreme motivation like to just do something and just get it off the bucket list like in hindsight now, I actually seem like a lot of death rates when it comes to extreme endurance like sports for people who are not full-time athletes. So I thought that was like something, in hindsight, it seemed quite foolish, but I thought there was something interesting in my life so far.
Jeremy Au: (36:20)
What is one piece of advice that you'll give the first year out in the professional workforce self? You already started Seedly the year at that point in time. What advice would you give yourself back then?
Kenneth Lou: (36:32)
As with most pieces of advice is like finding out what works for you and not being so worried about what people think. I think that's huge, especially in this day and age where social media exists, everyone is on, right? So the way that you're represented, the things that you say, the things that you do, like, just feel like there's a lot of people who care about you, but actually, everyone is like dealing with their own shit, right? So you have to sort of figure out your own things you're figuring out your own problems, figure out what path works for you and at the end of the day, no one. You don't have to be so concerned about what people think, in my view.
Jeremy Au: (37:11)
Thank you so much. I'd love to summarize the three big themes I got from this conversation. The first, of course, is thank you so much for sharing everything about your professional journey, across your first Kickstarter project and obviously, the failure from your perspective and what you took away to build Seedly and how you grew it out as both a founder and CEO to eventually exiting and learning about what that process was like. So thank you for sharing all of that. The second that I really enjoyed was actually I think your set of experiences as a three-times founder. So your reflections about building for your own problem and being very intentional about that search was really interesting and how you also structured your sabbaticals, or transition times, in a way gave you space and also allowed you the opportunity to consult other people but also gave you space to find you.
So, we talked about the Vipassana and what you took away from there and, how you took away the insight that everyone dies one day. So, I thought it was an interesting phrase. I would say, I've got to remember that, everyone dies one day. Probably not the most popular T-shirt I would say, unless you're very cool, you only live. I think that that's a cool way of saying it. Everyone dies one day is like the down version of that, right? Two sides of the same coin, Lastly, I really enjoy actually this conversation about mortality actually. I love that question. You said, why do you want more life? I think framing up in the perspective, not just in terms of years, but also in terms of experiences and opportunities, I think we got to discuss this in the context of life stages, in terms of parenthood and marriage and different life stages but also I think, discuss, I think a little bit more of the personal angle for both you and me.
We also got to talk about why you're deciding to not just be a user of longevity, but also build a longevity startup. So I thought it was really interesting to hear you intend to educate, some of the parallels between this and personal finance insurance. On that note, could you share with folks who are interested in living longer and spending more time, with their kids or loved ones, where can they go and find you, Kenneth?
Kenneth Lou (39:21):
Yeah. So they can find us on mitohealth.com. We are setting our data, so basically trying to get more clients to figure out this side of their life that otherwise they would've underlooked at. So we are very happy to serve you. Share with you the content that we have. To hopefully help you live better and feel better.