Will Fan: Vietnam Refugee & Cab Driver Family Legacy, Pivoting to NewCampus Product-Market Fit, and Invincible Grief From Sister's Death - E257

· Podcast Episodes,Founder,Australia and New Zealand,Start-up,Purpose

 

 

 

“My grandfather, who I never met, fled the Vietnam War and sent his seven kids to three different places. One was on foot to Thailand, the other was by boat to Malaysia and the others by train to China, including my mom. He went MIA with my grandmother and two of my uncles and we never heard from them again. I put together a journal of all those Vietnamese families’ stories two years ago. I think a lot about the legacy that our families have built and I felt so proud. It’s like a continuation of a different spinoff.” -- Will Fan

 

“My LinkedIn has a dove that’s a personal representation of strength. When I'm back against a wall or having a bad day, it allows me to take a step back, reflect and realize it's not that big of a deal, and move forward. I use the word “invincible” as a reminder that the world's not gonna die tomorrow. Just keep moving forward, sleep it off, and restart.” - Will Fan

 

Will Fan is an accomplished business leader, writer, and academic. He is the CEO and Head of School at NewCampus, a prestigious business school catering to emerging leaders in Asia. Prior to this, Will was the co-founder and CEO of QLC, a successful startup focused on virtual internships. Will is also a respected writer and has contributed articles to e27 and Forbes Business Council. Will holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a Bachelor of Laws from UNSW.

1. Will shares about why the Fan family’s journey drives his passion for education: separation during the Vietnam War, refugee immigration to Australia and working their way up from being a taxi driver. The death of his sister and accompanying grief catalyzed him to get in touch with his own life, health and community. Building startups allowed him to learn that you have to love what you do and enjoy the process of solving problems.

2. He dives into how he tackled product-market fit iteration across his three startup pivots. He also matured as a business leader to increasingly seek more leverage and arbitrage to build unfair company advantages. The biggest challenge in education tech is understanding the end-to-end cycle of selling to multiple stakeholders, e.g. learners, parents, K-12, universities, corporates and government.

Watch, listen or read the full insight including maintaining sustainable business via sustainable relationships, education ecosystem for the emerging class and more at https://www.bravesea.com/blog/will-fan

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Jeremy Au: (01:43)

Hey, Will, really excited to have you. We had a wonderful dinner conversation half a year ago, and I wanted to pick this up and keep the conversation going. Will, could you introduce yourself real quick?

 

Will Fan: (01:56)

We did have a really good session, Jeremy. Very excited to be here. We should do it more often. So I'm Will, the Cofounder and Head of School of NewCampus. We're an online management training platform. We really look at building the next generation of leaders in Southeast Asia. So excited to talk about the future of work, what's happening in the market, people, and just generally have fun. Thanks for having me here.

 

Jeremy Au: (02:19)

So how did you become an entrepreneur in the first place?

 

Will Fan: (02:24)

So my parents were immigrants. My mom is originally from Vietnam, my dad is from Guangzhou and so they actually moved over to Australia very early. My mom fled the war and growing up she actually had a lot of exposure to the business. My grandfather was one of the main distributors of xylophones in Vietnam. And so, when her family, her cousins, my uncles and aunties, moved over to Sydney, it was really rebuilding from the ground up. And so, even though my parents did everything right, sent us to a good school, good university, and good career I got a lot of exposure to business growing up.

I remember having wads of cash walking across Chinatown, passing that between different family members cause they were in the groceries, or the real estate business. But I think my real foray into startups and not side hustle growing up was doing a side business with my co-founder and wife about nine years ago. And that was a moonlight business in furniture. We did this in the evenings at Accenture. And that actually got me placed into joining an accelerator in Singapore. And so, 2014 fast forward to 2023 now, it's really been a rollercoaster of entry points, but I think the DNA of business, DNA of being a founder has always been there. Just how'd you give that exposure? And I think I got a lot of that exposure very early on.

 

Jeremy Au: (03:52)

So was the accelerator, was that JFDI? Is that how you met my sister back then?

 

Will Fan: (03:59)

Joyful Frog, there it was in 2014, Ayer Rajah Crescent. The first thing they teach you is why you need to be the best person to be solving your problem. And at that time, we knew nothing about selling vintage plants and lamps, and dining tables, but it was our gateway to e-commerce and a gateway to getting exposure to tech. And that actually rolled into the work that I'm doing now, eight, nine years later at NewCampus.

 

Jeremy Au: (04:31)

Amazing. I recently interviewed Hugh Mason. So he also shared his perspective at JFDI and what he learned as a community builder. Your perspective, obviously you did a year right? And you say it was an entry point, but that was not really the business that you went into because you quickly built a second business after that. So what was it like just to transition from Coachello to your next company?

 

Will Fan: (04:54)

I think first-time founders always have that big idea, but really bad business. And so for me, it was e-commerce, selling vintage furniture. And the first thing when we arrived in Singapore, we realized people don't like to buy secondhand stuff here. And you can actually buy even cheaper, nicer pieces, just by ordering online and shipping it from Malaysia or Indonesia.

But Hugh, and Ming and the JFDI team, including your sister, really gave us the thought process around how you help people explore alternative careers and develop those skills to move forward. And so we took our own learning, trying to set up a business and, build new careers and actually turned that into the first version of NewCampus. It was a platform called QLC, Quarter Life Crisis. Terrible business name, but really aligned with the users. And it was a business-to-university model. So we built programs, and we scaled edtech solutions to universities all across Southeast Asia, the Middle East and China. And that was really our second entry point into figuring out what it was like to build a technology-enabled education platform.

 

Jeremy Au: (06:11)

And what was interesting is that you just started your journey and specialization, I guess in education and the concept of learning and I think that's something that you shared that you were very much passionate about over dinner last time around. So how did you end up discovering that you really love education and education tech as your vertical or profession or domain or passion?

 

Will Fan: (06:38)

So I think I fell into the education space. No one tells you this, but selling to universities is the toughest customer. Slow sales cycles, multiple stakeholders and being an Asian 20 something year old kid, it was so hard to broker the right type of relationships. But we pushed through, and did that for four years. I think at the end of the day, the thesis behind my life's work is really growing up with very few role models. Growing up in a really small western suburb in Sydney. There are very few people that look like me, very few people that were a few steps ahead of me and very few people that I could look up to. And so the genesis behind my why and how I think about moving forward is how do you really give people the exposure, the insights, the capability to move forward? And it so happened that my eight-year journey has been in these people's space. And I think education has been a big part of it. And what I really love is using that as a vehicle because at the end of the day, education is timeless. And with the pandemic, it's really put the spotlight on the need for change.

 

Jeremy Au: (07:46)

And what's interesting is that you chose to build QLC for four years and then you chose to build NewCampus after that. So what was that transition from your perspective?

 

Will Fan: (07:58)

Building an education company is hard. Similar to the healthcare space, it's probably the longest time in terms of finding customers, you have to educate users. You have to build a brand, you have to figure out a business model. As I mentioned earlier I actually fell into the education space. I think a lot of earlier entrepreneurs in 2014 and 2015 learnt, their lessons in a much shorter window. Think e-commerce, think payments, think FinTech. But I think, when we hit that four-year mark and we had sold to about 40 institutions, 15,000 students regionally, we actually had an opportunity to call it quits.

It wasn't a venture-back business. Even though we were cash flow positive, cash flow positive was not sexy in 2018. It wasn't a backable company. But, we asked ourselves, hey, even if we did quit, what would we do? It would probably be in the same space. And so in 2019, we decided to launch our own challenger school. And we rebranded it. So it was a bit more mature NewCampus from Quarter Life Crisis. And a lot of our spotlight and acceleration came when the pandemic hit. And so now it's that 1824-month window for us to really figure out how do you win the market, how to tell your story, how do you compound a lot of the insights experience that we've built over the past decade?

 

Jeremy Au: (09:15)

So what was wrong with QLC slash, what did you wanna make with building, obviously NewCampus, because it's a big decision, right? I mean, as you say, it's cashflow positive. You had a team, this was your second venture and then you decided to build and say, I wanna build a third version of this with the same co-founder, right? So that's a very big decision. It wasn't easy, that's for sure. So what was driving that decision from your perspective?

 

Will Fan: (09:43)

No one teaches you how to build a business. And I think the Southeast Asian landscape eight years ago was still very nascent. A lot of success was taken from Silicon Valley, from Europe, some from China. And I think the biggest gap as first time founders as you will, was really knowing what models could succeed. And how do you move forward? And I mentioned that building an education company is so challenging, right? Because you need expertise, you need the network, you need the capital. And at the stage of where we were in our 20 something, it was so hard to see beyond 18, 24 months. And on top of that, I think the biggest challenge was universities being a customer. One of the biggest.

I guess the challenges that we saw was how do you build a venture-backable business that relies on 24-month sales cycles. And I think realizing now, looking back, it was a great small to medium company. But you really needed the distribution. You needed the market precedent to be the wind under your wings. And so when we pivoted, it wasn't so much of shifting the concept, it was just refining our focus and moving away from doing something that we weren't comfortable in playing in and focusing on areas that we knew. We wanted to work with the type of customers but also the type of problem that we wanted to solve. It wasn't helping business school departments make more money. It was about how do you empower the end learner to reinvent, redesign and give them exposure over time.

 

Jeremy Au: (11:17)

And what's interesting is that you chose to change your customer segment, right? Because you were initially targeting universities and now you're targeting technology companies. So walk me through that.

 

Will Fan: (11:28)

Yeah. So even the customer segment fell in our lap. So QLC actually started off working with folks like Faye, Eddie, and I, who were trying to level up and reinvent and redesign our careers. It so happened that when I'd moved back to Australia, a university said, hey, why don't we sell this to a hundred students? And so as a, bright-eyed founder, of course, you take that $20,000 contract, not knowing that it will take you 24 months to service.

And so as we got one contract, we added another, another, and then that's your entire Australian university market. And then we asked ourselves, okay, where's the next market that you go to? Where's the next market? I think at the early stage of building a business with very little direction and very little exposure to how other businesses have done, it's quite dangerous cause you end up just following what your customers say. And so as we kind of grew and evolved as a business and when NewCampus was born, it was really solving our own pain point. How do you develop the young and rising leaders in our own company, including ourselves as founders?

And then I think we really found the flywheel come 2021 when we had the same customer segment coming back and back to us. So I do think looking back, the B2U strategy gave us so much exposure and insight to building a business. I think it just wasn't our customer that we understood to the tee.

 

Jeremy Au: (12:57)

Product market fit is something that, it feels like that's a story right across all three companies, right? Because you were building cultures and then like you said you didn't necessarily have the founder market fit. And so you quickly moved towards QLC, which was closer to founder market fit, but didn't really have that product market fit because of the universities. And then now at NewCampus, you feel like in a much better spot. So what are some lessons around product market fit that you know, you've kind of considered or reflected on during this journey?

 

Will Fan: (13:27)

We were doing virtual internships in 2014, and the challenge that we were trying to solve was educating international students on why they should be using Slack and Zoom. We were way ahead of the curve and it was just painful to actually figure out how do you move the needle. I think when we started seeing indicators of product market fit was actually, really the past 12, 18 months where you just have that repeatable flywheel. And as young founders, you are not really trained to see that you're just following the growth playbook.

Back in the JFDI days, they had this weekly tab where you put in customer interviews, and product interviews but I think when you actually feel that momentum coming to you, it's really about how you double down on that piece. There's really two lessons over the past eight years doing this. One is you really need to love what you do. One core theme principles in our companies enjoy the process. And if we didn't love solving problems for institutions, then you are just building a business for the second building company. I think the second thing is, at the end of the day, what makes us a successful company is figuring out that arbitrage. And so we had very little leverage being young, inexperienced entrepreneurs. We didn't have the capital, we didn't have the brand, and we didn't have the user base that will keep coming back to us. And so when we kind of reconstructed, redesigned and said, hey, let's give it a third crack, it was really aligning how do we win the market in a realistic way moving forward?

And I think when I look at entrepreneurs, right? Who is trying to chase the crypto markets or chase the next boom? It's really trying to figure out what is your true arbitrage and unfair advantage, and then you double down and capitalize on that.

 

Jeremy Au: (15:13)

And when you think about capitalizing on the arbitrage and unfair advantage, how does that show up? Is it because the founder really gets it, or is it because there's an opportunity in the market? How do you find that?

 

Will Fan: (15:25)

Well, it's taken me eight years to find it. I think having spoken to so many emerging edtech entrepreneurs, one of the biggest challenges is actually understanding that end-to-end cycle. Whether it's selling to K-12, selling to universities, selling to the end parent in our case, multiple stakeholders and the learner.

And I think that takes time. We did it the long way by building our own business. But a lot of successful education founders had the peer to learn from or a company to get exposure to. And so, really depends on the industry by industry. But in our case, I think there's a few things at play for us.

One is, we are solving problems for us. Like what does the modern Asian leader look like? What are the cultural nuances and upbringing that existing institutions can't serve? And when we kind of play in the Southeast Asian market, why are we able to take on sort of the bigger global folks in the west that can't touch the east. And I think a lot of this comes down to your DNA, even growing up as an immigrant, how do you actually bake that into the user journey and into the design and the themes of how to talk to your users. So I think back to the good old JFDI question why are you the best and only person to be solving your problem? And I truly internalize that and I try to help other entrepreneurs internalize it too.

 

Jeremy Au: (16:49)

You mentioned that education tech founders are often emerging and figuring things out. What are some common myths or misconceptions that founders may have about education tech.

 

Will Fan: (16:59)

I was talking to a founder who flew in from Hong Kong a couple of weeks ago, and the main thing I was really coaching him on, he's been doing about two years, a bootcamp model is that you need to really separate aspirational building with running a business. And I think that's thereally dangerous place to be in when you are so drawn in to solve poverty or self-uplifting society or in his case, it was empowering the next generation of K-12 kids getting new career paths. At the end of the day, we're building a business and it's so important to understand the fundamentals of building a company.

It's very easy to ride the wave in some industries like crypto, and FinTech, but education is a slog. And so you need to be able to learn to take money off the table. Learn to build the right fundamentals in a company and if you're really taking a long-term view, ensure that you are able to build up the resources and networks to get there. I think most founders and their teams are still so drawn in and sucked into the mission that they forget about themself. And you end up folks like me that build businesses for eight years and then realize, took you eight years to do something and it'll probably take even longer to solve that pain point and problem.

 

Jeremy Au: (18:21)

I agree with you because I was reading this article, right, and saying like, there are some fields that have a lot of mission to it, right? So there's a little bit of a subsidy where there's an oversupply of founders and talents who want to work in these areas. So for example, there's a potential oversupply of founders who want to work in ESG or Green Tech, right? Or like you said, education. And so there's a lot of folks who are looking at a mission, and so there's in some ways an oversupply of talent, which is good for recruiting and hiring, but also can be quite problematic when you're trying to figure out something that makes sense, right? I thought it was quite a brutal read in that way because it's kind of saying like, oh, you care about something.

And then of course what you're kind of saying was that there's a lot of unsexy industries that are totally starving for talent. I always remember that the person who had the easiest job worked at a tobacco company because nobody wanted to work for the tobacco company. And so he was one of the few people who were okay with it. And he had a paid, well, he had a secure job and he spent his spare time volunteering and helping out at different places. And that's how he kind of like, had that equilibrium for himself. Right. So, I do resonate with what you said about founders who are captivated by the mission and not thinking through the economics or the time horizon of education.

 

Will Fan: (19:36)

Yeah. The other side of the coin is it allows you to think what is the next 20, 50, a hundred years of your legacy? Looking back it probably would've been easier building a furniture business. Gen Z is loving vintage, vintage lamps that are coming back. But when I start thinking about my life's work, I think NewCampus, the education space, the future of work space, people space is a great vehicles. It's just a vehicle that's not for everyone and that's okay.

 

Jeremy Au: (20:06)

Why is legacy important to you?

 

Will Fan: (20:11)

So many reasons. I'll tell you maybe two stories. One is about my grandfather who I never met. When he was fleeing the Vietnam War, he actually sent his seven kids to three different places. One was on foot through Thailand, the other was by boat to Malaysia and the others by train to China, including my mom. My grandfather went MIA with my grandmother, and two of my uncles never heard from me again. It was a fascinating recount. I put together a journal of all those stories of Vietnamese families two years ago with the family. And like, I think a lot about the legacy that his family and our family have built, his brother and all the cousins, including my mom who went to Sydney. They built a real estate empire in Australia. And growing up, I felt so proud that, I mean the name was Dongna Ma, Southeast Asia. And I actually felt so proud that it was part of a legacy that they built. And for me, I just think this is a continuation of a different spinoff. So that's one story.

The second story is, and I was telling you this over dinner with my sister passing away last year from cancer, it's actually almost the one-year anniversary. I almost feel like growing up with very few leaders, Asian leaders in my life and in the ecosystem and the community, it's so important to keep moving forward.

And so, when I look at NewCampus, it's not really a Will Fan brand. It's about an ecosystem of an emerging class. And how do you keep helping others take a leap forward? And I think over time that story has gone beyond. So it's very important for me to tell the stories of others.

 

Jeremy Au: (22:02)

Why is this family important to you? These are stories of family, of blood and ties, and kinship. These are interesting stories for you to say, define legacy. Why does family matter?

 

Will Fan: (22:17)

I think it comes down to Asian upbringing. My dad was a cab driver for 20 years. My mom built and failed dozens of businesses. And similar to a lot of families that moved overseas to Canada, to UK, and Australia, a lot of us created much with nothing. And when you kind of look at the history of Silicon Valley, the leaders as immigrant nurtured entrepreneurs, we actually didn't have that table talk. We didn't have the privilege of learning about the world. I would go to a private school funded by credit card when my dad was driving 18 hours a day. And so I actually think it's not so much why it's important.

I just think it's part of our DNA and I think it's so exciting to figure out how to use that as a calling and a weapon and an arbitrage to play on that. And these are the stories I talk to with our clients, and our learners, all across the region that are going through their version of leapfrogging. And I think that's incredibly powerful when it comes to solving your problem or the problem that we're trying to out.

 

Jeremy Au: (23:29)

How does that translate into your work? Because this feels meaningful to you, and yet, as you said, the work is very hard and it takes forever, right? So, I'm sure they're fun moments, but how does that translate into education? Because you could have translated these stories of family and legacy into different domains like construction or finance. And you've chosen to channel that into education, right? So I feel like I would love to understand how that bridge happened.

 

Will Fan: (24:00)

Yeah. No one said you shouldn't be doing hard things. A lot of my peers end up going down the law route or banking route, and creating their own families and supporting the infrastructure. I think for me again, education has become that vehicle. And I love the space, right? Because I do what I do best, which is having conversations like this. I don't see myself as a vertical. It just so happens when we're raising venture capital or doing partnerships or building business in this category, but at the end of the day, I'm just in the people space and there are a certain class of people that I champion and support.

We've landed in Sunny Side Singapore and we've started doing a lot more work for the region. But we also see other regions, other continents, incredibly exciting to solve similar issues. And I do think if you look at Maslow's hierarchy, how education plays is uplift. And exposure and education. I don't have the hands for construction, so that would've been an industry for me.

 

Jeremy Au: (25:01)

On that note, obviously, you didn't construct a building, but you've constructed a company. And what have been some lessons that you've learned in building a company that's non-obvious to someone who hasn't done it yet or is early in the journey?

 

Will Fan: (25:16)

So I do a lot of public speaking. My parents sent me to public speaking as a kid. I hate talking. But I've internalized and learned how to talk like this. And I always remember every time I go on stage and the curtain opens and I'm gonna be reciting my two-minute poem. Really take in that butterfly feeling in your stomach, appreciate and accept that this is human. I didn't think about articulating it as an eight-year-old, as a tiger parent would be sending eight-year-old kids to public speaking.

But when I look at entrepreneurship now, having done this for almost a decade, everything that we do is uncharted. And I think it's appreciating that what we're doing is taking a very fine line between you could die tomorrow, but also you could step into a realm of doing something completely new and transformative personally and business-wise. And I think the first lesson really comes down to appreciate that there's no path forward, and celebrating that fear is part of the journey to learn. The second would probably be to find your people that can help you get there. We're a small village of 43 now. The founding team has been together for almost a decade. So, if I were to do something more in the next 20, 30 years of my life, it probably will be with them. And I think that's been such an enriching thought process because why wouldn't you go to war with people that have your back and can understand your story better than you do?

In the early days, it was that whole founder dilemma. How do you find the right co-founder? But I also think as we start to think about sustainable businesses, it's about how do you have sustainable relationships over time? And I think maybe the third thing is that there's no one right way to build a company. You don't need to follow the best practices that are written on Google or ChatGPT, but how do you actually use common sense and human relationships to move forward? And I think that's actually been my north star when it comes to doing new things in really challenging, untapped environments right now.

 

Jeremy Au: (27:37)

Could you share about a time that you personally have been brave?

 

Will Fan: (27:41)

Maybe I can share my sister's experience. She was top of her field as a recruiter and a lawyer in Hong Kong. And when she found out she had lymphoma she would do everything on her own. She'd go to chemo, she'd shave her own head, she'd buy wigs all in the peril of Hong Kong and the rest of the world being locked down. And so, when I got that call this time last year, that Kat had a couple of days to live, you need to fly from San Diego to Hong Kong to see her before Friday. I think that really became like a shift in mindset around being the oldest kid out of three children. I'm the middle child. And so, when I kind of reflect back on her journey I'm so grateful that we got her home.

I'm so grateful that she found peace towards the end. But man, like company issues, nothing compares to if you are figuring out life and death. And so I think there was a very big transformation moment for me last year. Just internalizing, observing, celebrating, and loving my sister's journey. And just getting to see a different light in her. So, for those listening in, call your siblings.

 

Jeremy Au: (28:52)

How did it change you? Because grief is universal and yet very individual emotion at the end of the day. So how do they transform you specifically?

 

Will Fan: (29:02)

So many ways. I think I'm not fearful anymore. I think, as much as I, and my team perceive us as bold and rebellious, like there's always that fear of failure, right? Coming from nothing and slowly building up and realizing, oh, do I take that extra two steps or three steps? I actually feel I lost that completely. And so for me, I felt like there was a significant leapfrog in maturity now as an older sibling but also as a business leader, how do we take bigger bets to make a change, especially if this window is the window that we want to be playing in. I think the second thing is grief is such a human feeling, and it's actually allowed me to connect with a lot of entrepreneurs that don't talk about it. I was at a lunch with an investor and one of his parents is actually going through a similar cancerous experience.

And I'm hopefully giving him some insight and some reading lists to internalize as other founders have sort of given me that exposure too. So I do feel like it's unlocked a different type of community and thinking but also as a founder, I do feel invincible in a meaningful way, but also make sure that you treat your health. So, cutting out alcohol make sure I do yoga four, five, six days a week. You gotta look after yourself. So those three points.

 

Jeremy Au: (30:37)

You said the word invincible. And why does that make you invincible? I think for some folks it makes you more fearful. For other folks, it makes you kind of like taking time out and so, so forth. In this case, you define it as invincibility and in a context as well, in terms of confidence, in company building and in education tech, right? So how does that work?

 

Will Fan: (31:01)

I think if Kat had survived, I probably would've really slowed down and caught it quits, right? Like she's been carrying the family flag for 37 years of her life. And at that time when I was fundraising in the US it's actually thinking, hey, I think she'll be okay. Let her do her thing, she'll be fine and I'll just keep doing my thing. I'll think long-term. Bless her soul. I think she really left us. It left the family obviously heartbroken, but as the next version of her, I actually feel like you have a celestial, on your back.

And if you look at my LinkedIn, Twitter, there's a dove. And that's supposed to be a personal representation of strength. And I do think that when there are times where I'm back against a wall, or I'm having a bad day, or I'm worried about a deal or a transaction not coming through, it allows me to just take a step back and reflect and realize it's actually not that big of a deal, just move forward. And so when I use the phrase invincible, it's true that it's just a reminder that the world's not going to die tomorrow. Just keep moving forward, sleep it off, and restart.

 

Jeremy Au: (32:18)

You mentioned the dove being important to you. How does the dove translate to your everyday life and work?

 

Will Fan: (32:28)

Well, I stopped drinking. I tried starting off with dry January. And I think I've decided to just cut alcohol completely. So those listings keep me accountable. That's actually given me a lot of clarity and thinking I'm saving my waistline, saved my wallet. I think I'm calling my family a lot more before I just keep running through and, maybe checking on them every month, every two months. And for a very long time, family wasn't really part of my sphere of importance. So checking in on family and making sure that they're whole to my journey.

And I think finally for the business side again, being brave on moving forward and taking bigger bets, I think that's something very untapped, especially for Asian entrepreneurs that haven't seen a path. So every step that you take, there's just another mist of steps that you don't know how to pivot or take a step back. And I do think conceptually as a business leader, it's just allowed me to keep running and be okay that I'm taking bigger bets.

 

Jeremy Au: (33:32)

Thank you so much for sharing. I really appreciate the depth of this. And I would love to summarize the three big themes I got from this. The first that really jumped out at me honestly was I think, family and legacy, right? I think you shared about how your grandfather meant so much to you, someone that you'd never met, and how he chose to save his family during the Vietnam crisis and help your family survive through the refugee crisis to different countries through different routes. And you talked about how your own parents were cab drivers and worked hard to give you that education, give you that privilege, as you said. And that gift of being alive, of being educated, and with ambition, right? And so I think one thing that came up to me was even though like you said there aren't a lot of leaders, business leaders around the table, it felt like very much that you have many leaders at home through your family stories. And I thought that was tremendous, that you are pushing on to reshare those stories in their own remixed, different folks, different characters to so many folks across Asia through education and NewCampus.

The second, of course, was really interesting to hear your entrepreneurial journey about how your first company was actually a furniture startup for antique lamps and really sharing about how you end up pivoting with your co-founder to a second company QLC, which was also in education tech, which was closer but not really there, it's closer in terms of founder market fit but it was further away from product market fit. And then you pivoted again to finally what is NewCampus where you finally had the product market fit and sharing about how you've learned about it and what the common mistakes that founders may make in thinking through product market fit, especially in the context of education, tech time horizon, and the different dynamics there. So really insider point of view on product market fit and the entrepreneurial pivot.

Lastly, I really enjoyed your sharing about your sister's death from cancer and the grief that you took away from this, but also the invincibility that you have transformed it into and how you've allowed it to be a transformational moment for so many aspects of your life, from personal to business. And I really appreciate that because I've experienced grief in my life too and it's one of those emotions that's so difficult to talk about because if you talk about it in any context, it just comes across as callous or high-level or irrelevant from the outside, but I think from the inside point of view, they shared so beautifully. I thought that was a beautiful metaphor for the dove and it resonates so deeply for me because it's like you said, universal. So, thank you so much for sharing Will.

 

Will Fan: (36:10)

Let's have more of these conversations.