I joined Eric Chan on Your Grit Story podcast and we explored several topics including the potential impact of generative AI on society, envisioning AI as future best friends, counselors, and teachers, the remarkable pace of technological advancement, reflecting on past and upcoming developments like augmented reality and lifelike AI replicas, and human limitations and agency, highlighting the importance of self-care and recognizing our ability to control only ourselves.
(00:00:00) Eric Chan:
Welcome to Your grid story podcast, where we chat with founders, leaders, and change makers to learn about their journey to make the future a reality. I'm Eric, your friendly host. Follow us on where you are tuning in, or find us on any social media channels to catch highlights and snippets of our episodes.
Let's be inspired by the stories while you create your grid story. All right. All right. So we are back on your grid story podcast and we are on the investor series to learn together on investing insights, especially on what startups should look out for when looking for funding. And today I am super excited to have Jeremy on the show with us. Hi, Jeremy. Welcome to the show.
Hey, really excited to be here. Awesome. Awesome. Super super a joy to have you join us today. So Jeremy is definitely no stranger to the startup scene, right? Not only is a founder that an investor, he's a dad of two beautiful girls and he started the Brave Southeast Asia Tech Podcast. And I'm super inspired by what he's doing.
There's lots more to share about Jeremy, but I want to just take a pause here and have Jeremy share more about him with us. So let's kick off with this question. How would you share about what you do to your kids? How would I share about what I do? I would say, wow, this is something that's right on hotspot here.
(00:01:30) Jeremy Au:
What I would say is, Hey, kids, everything that is around you right now was built by business. And that business was built by in the early days by a founder, an entrepreneur that made a decision to build this business, you know, 30 years ago. So, you know, your Barbie dolls. Ikea furniture, all this was all founded by people who made a decision to build a business many years ago.
And as part of that early part of the business, people had to believe in them and give them capital to help them start their business. That is in the business now of venture capital, which is that I am looking to fund, support and advise companies who are starting out today to build the future that you and your kids will be living 30 years down the future.
(00:02:18) Eric Chan:
Yeah. Great starting point here. I think. What's around us, literally, physically, it's all started from business, right? Starting from investments, right? Started from a, an entrepreneur, a company, small, big, right? They build products for us to use, for our kids to use. And something that I'm very inspired as well, together with many other followers of your podcast Brief Southeast Asia Tech Podcast, that you started more than two years ago run us through a little bit.
How did you get started?
(00:02:48) Jeremy Au:
Yeah, so, you know, I think for me, my personal story was that I obviously grew up in Singapore, Army UC Berkeley, being a consultant across Southeast Asia and China. Then after that, built my first company, which was a consultancy for the social sector. And then after that went to Harvard to do my MBA.
And after that, built a second company, Education Tech. Grew it out across pre seed, series A, and sale. And then was a GM there for a year before coming back to Southeast Asia from Boston, New York. And when I came back, what I realized was that I couldn't find a podcast that I really wanted to listen to.
So, at that point of time in 2020, you know, I'd been listening to podcasts for many years. I'd been listening to audiobooks. And of course it's great, right? You're listening to how I built this, you're listening to Tim Ferriss, you know, you're listening to Jason Calacanis, you know, so all these are all techies and Silicon Valley, and that makes sense when you're building in Boston and New York, right?
You're trying to understand what's going on, the Zeitgeist and so forth. And my favorite podcast at the time, of course, was this great podcast called Reboot by Jerry Colonna. So it is a coaching company that works a lot with founders and talks about some of the struggles that founders face. And like I said, I came back to Southeast Asia and it didn't exist, right?
And you know, it's super obvious, especially when you're at home, you have nothing else to do, right? So, I don't remember 2020, it was a pandemic, right? It was like a terrible time. And so, you know, I'll just be looking to talk to people or listen. And you know, there's nothing about Southeast Asia. There's nothing, I mean, there's a lot about Southeast Asia history.
I think there's a lot about Southeast Asian expatriates, but at that point of time, there were actually very few podcasts about Singapore, Southeast Asia, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam. And I think very little from also from an expert perspective, right? So what I meant by that is, you know, that was like these news bites that would be there, but not much deep, you know, I would call it commentary or expert point of view.
And so, I think it really kind of like stuck, right? And there I was at home, it's just you know, not feeling it. And also realizing that my Overcast app was full of episodes from the US, which are suddenly looking very American all of a sudden, right? You know, and I was like, okay, you know, I don't who should I know in Southeast Asia?
Who's great? Who's inspiring? Who's scared? Who's honest, right? Like all these questions. And so as I said, you know what? I'm at home. Let me just try this podcast thing, right? And like I said, I was at home, right? And so pandemic hobby, some people did baking bread. Some people meant to ferment kombucha.
And for me, I made my own podcast because I couldn't find a podcast I wanted to consume. Right. And so I remember my first episode was very kind. I interviewed my first co founder, Kwok Tsai Chuan. We founded Conjunct Consulting together over 10 years ago. And it was just a fun conversation. It's just two buddies.
Just chit chatting about Hey JC, you know, what's your life? And what do you think? And da. You know, I kind of go back to the old episode I listen to sometimes and I'm just like, wow, I was like, so raw, so aperture, so clueless, right? Well, I was just like bored at home, right? Just recording with my best friend, you know, and my best man at a wedding.
So it was just fun, right? And then I think the first 20 to 50 episodes were actually all just friends, right? It was just buddies just catching up during the pandemic. You know, my first episodes were all like my old university professor that I enjoyed a course on, that we stayed in touch with, right?
My old college roommates, right? My housemate, you know, my founder friends. So you look at this for first 50 is very much it's really a Jeremy and friends show, but you know. And I always remember, I think I was looking at this old Instagram post. It was like, you know, a hundred people listen to my first few episodes.
And I was like amazed, right? Cause you know, you're at home and my wife is like, Jeremy, I don't want to listen to you anymore. I'm stuck with you and you're stuck with me during the pandemic. And let's not talk for a while. Cause we're stuck at home, right? So, so that's how we start the podcast, right?
That's what happens when an extrovert marries an introvert. That's the problem. The extrovert has to go and burn off the energy somewhere else.
(00:06:30) Eric Chan:
Opposites attract, isn't it?
(00:06:32) Jeremy Au:
(00:06:35) Eric Chan: Yeah.
Awesome. Awesome. Yeah. I like it that you mentioned, you know, like the first 50 is really Jaime and Friends.
That's how we got started. Let's anchor on the name, right? Brave. All right. So why Brave?
(00:06:46) Jeremy Au:
Yeah, I mean, actually our first name was actually Brave Dynamics and it was just Brave and Dynamics. I was like, I don't know. I was like, oh, you know, this is about dynamics, about movements. And then I was just like, I don't know.
I thought it was nice. Is it from Boston Dynamics? Yeah, that's like Boston Dynamics. Actually, there's, I think there's a great show, I don't know, it's called Fringe. And they also have this huge corporation, which is like this anyway, startup that becomes huge, you know. Of course, there's a secret conspiracy and plot, of course, but I think that was like General Dynamics, if I'm not wrong.
Anyway, but, you know, I just, I thought it was a nice name. And at the point of time, of course, all my friends were all around the world. And, you know, so it's just, you know, it's more general. And then at some point, you know, I sat down and I was just like, wait a moment, like, Where am I finding energy from?
Who am I talking to? Who am I most enjoying the conversation with? And I realized, yeah, it's Southeast Asia, right? It's not the U. S. Not just general leadership reflections. But, you know, I like Southeast Asia, I like tech. I think some of that inspiration but also conversation, debate I actually had with some friends, with some advisors.
And so, yeah, that's how we landed on, you know, kind of like being a little bit more clear, right? So, brave Southeast Asia. And of course, I think in the podcast, obviously they have terrible SEO, terrible search, right? So, you know, you just had to type it out, Brace Southeast Asia, you know, at least you type in Southeast Asia.
Of course, what I realize now is that I've watched, I tell people, it's like, Hey, type in Brace Southeast Asia. Turns out nobody can spell Southeast. Cause they put S East, people write South Space East, and because search is so bad, that if you type South Space East Asia, my podcast doesn't show up.
Anyway, all I'm just trying to say here is a little bit is, I think there's this overall piece which was like, energy level was like, okay, you know, I think I like Southeast Asia, etc. But then also at some point, there's a technical piece, which is naming it brave alone, which is, I think, the core of it wouldn't have been able to encompass what people wanted.
And at the deepest level, yeah, I think it was me about bravery, right? I mean, I think that's the virtue I aspire to most, right? And what I mean by that is, you know, someone was telling me, oh, Jeremy, you know, you put the Brave podcast because you're very brave, right? And I was like no. The brave podcast is I want to feel brave, right?
You know, so, so I'm in search of that bravery. I'm in search of those bravery moments that people talk about in those conversations. And I don't pretend to be a paragon. I don't pretend to be a representation of this virtue. I'm just trying to get that, right? I need that dose, right? So people are like Oh what do you mean by that?
I'm like, yeah, because you know, it's like the reason why I'm trying to ask people about their bravery moments because I want to feel braver, hearing that story twice a week, you know, I'm the first patient in line for this medicine, right, which is, you know, I need a little bit of that dose of encouragement and motivation, you know, twice a week, right?
Yeah. And so I think that's how I think the words, I think brave Southeast Asia tech kind of came together from you call it from a history perspective, from a technical perspective, but also from a virtual perspective.
(00:09:44) Eric Chan: But a misconception from listeners is that, Oh. Wow. Okay. So brave, or even like your story podcast is for us to feel like for us to be sure that we are brave or we are very gritty.
Right. But it's true. We are learning from guests. I'm learning from you as well. Right. How you share your stories and journey as well. And it's probably a good segue as a founder, right? I believe you've spoken to founders a lot and as a founder, like yourself, could you share with our audience more about starting up like the consultancy firm that you mentioned just now?
And what did you learn the most, right, in your startup journey?
(00:10:16) Jeremy Au:
Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, I built two companies along the way. And, you know, I take a step back. And I think one thing I do think about is you know, companies are hard, right, you know. And building companies is hard. And what I mean by that is, I think, obviously, you know, when I give that description of how I would explain that, you know, everything around us was once built by a founder.
But there's a lot of survivorship bias, right? Because you know, the Apple laptop, using the Dell camera, them using the road caster, you know, Mike, I mean, all these we're all built by founders, by early entrepreneurs, but. But there's a lot of survivorship bias in the sense that a lot of companies that didn't make it are not represented, right?
And so there's a very interesting dynamic where I think we can look back in time and say wow, all these companies went through all these struggles, all these dynamics, all this conflict and all this company building. And then we look at today and it was just like, okay, you know, now we have all these founders who are building it.
And yeah, I think my personal reflection is that it's really hard and I think it's really hard to appreciate how hard it is until you're like, I think you're a founder yourself, that's one, or you're like a really good friend with a founder who's willing to be honest with you about it, or if you're maybe an early, early, early employee, maybe part of the first five employees, maybe, but I think that's really, I think a lot of I think you get a lot of flack, honestly, right?
Because, you know, the truth is, when you're building something new, I always tell people, it's nobody wants the future, right? If you're in the present, and we're all in the present, and today, the world will stay the same. We want things to stay the same. And what I mean by that is, you know, there are people who already have salaries, there are people who have economic structures that are built around the present.
To build a future actually disrupts the present, right? It actually changes. and obstructs the presence that a player is. And so for people who want to build that future, actually, you know, there's a lot of fighting the status quo. There's a lot of fighting just, you know, inertia. But also there are a lot of people who are just not fans of this change, right?
And as a result, I think for founders, it's a non stop kind of conversation. about how to change life, what they're trying to represent, what their values and what they're trying to build. Right. And also executing against that belief and all of it is super duper hard. And I think that's what I've learned about building companies.
(00:12:32) Eric Chan:
Let's just double click on. Do it hard, right? Yeah. Do you share with us the, perhaps the lowest point, right? In your startup journey, and how do you overcome it?
(00:12:45) Jeremy Au:
I think there was this moment, and you know, I just had raised a capital round, and everything was done. I was supposed to feel happy in the sense that we had posted an announcement, obviously.
You know, everybody was like saying congratulations, well done, so forth, and you know, all that stuff. And I was just at home in my, you know, classic, you know, Singaporean, Asian you know, singlet and my boxers, right? You know, with my, you know, like the basketball shorts. And I was just like, oh, you know, by myself, you know, you know, at the time my, I guess, my girlfriend was a long distance relationship, now she's my wife.
So I was just all alone, and I just felt terrible, I felt empty, right, because I was just like, you know, getting all this praise, but you're just like, you know, how much more work you have to do, and so forth. And I was just like, oh man I'm supposed to be feeling happy, but I just feel exhausted after closing this fundraising round and hitting the milestones, and now we have another sprint that we have to do.
And then I remember I just messaged my neighbor, Jonathan Ng, at a time, I think, a few years behind in terms of his founder journey as well for his second company as well. And we brought him to Boston. He's also Singaporean. I just say, Hey, can I hang out? And he's yo, what's up?
And I was like, yeah, I need somebody to celebrate with. Right. Pretty late, but okay. Sure. You know, I went over, I invited myself over and then I hung out with him, right. Ordered some sushi and just hung out with him to as a mini celebration for myself. Right. In that sense. Right. And what I mean by that is just that, yeah it's a very lonely journey, right?
Because, you know, at the end of the day, of course, you have your co founders, your employees, you have your VCs that you're working with. But yeah, you know, it's just managing your own psychology is really hard because, you know, you have millions of dollars, you know, and It's really hard to build a business, right?
And there are very few people who truly empathize with what you're going through. So, yeah, that was a low point. But, you know, I figured out how to do it, right? Which is basically, you know, crawl to my neighbor's door and say, Hey, I need a friend. Laughter I need a comrade, you know, I need a peer to you know, commiserate slash celebrate with, right?
And I thought it was a, and he always likes to remember and recount and, you know, laugh about that moment, right? Because he's just yeah, you know. He's you know, years down the road, he's yeah, I just closed my round, I feel exactly like you, right? Which is, you know, you know, how do I celebrate this actually, right?
Because it's not easy. It's capital to build the next phase of the company, it's not a celebration in many ways.
(00:15:12) Eric Chan:
Yeah. Yeah. Thanks for sharing it. Thanks for being transparent. Just to connect the dots as well. As you grow the company, your personal life grew as well, in a way, right? You got married. You have two kids.
How do you manage that?
(00:15:23) Jeremy Au:
It was not easy to be honest. I mean, I think, you know, I think the truth of the matter is for me when I started dating my now wife, but you know. We had known each other for many years. I think we met each other in, you know, junior college. I was the male class monitor. She was a female class monitor.
So, you know, we kind of knew each other, I guess you wanna call it professionally , I guess, at school. And so by then, I think we reconnected years afterwards, right? When we were both volunteering together after uni, after army, you know, after starting work. So we reconnected. But I think for me, I think one of the big issues that I had to go through was I had to go through a lot of self work, to be honest.
And what I meant by that was that, you know, let's just say you know, I had gone through a personal loss of a loved one you know, a romantic partner. And so, after she had passed away, you know, I had been grieving for many years. And so, after that, I was just kind of like a hot mess, honestly, right?
I mean, I was great at work and very focused on work as a result, but I think I was just a not an available or emotionally available. Relationship partner, right? And obviously, you and I both know now, I guess we're both married with kids now, it's you know, I think there's a very male, I don't know what's the word, archetype, or confinement, or norms, which is actually, compartmentalization is good, right?
You know, I would, you know, working is very good. That's why I used to tell people, I was like, I remember I would say stuff like, you know, yeah, I'll be like, Yeah, you know, relationships are temporal. Your CV is forever, right? You know, and that's... And then I look at myself like, what was I smoking back then?
You know? So, I was just like, ah, anyway. So, the point I'm trying to say here a little bit was like... Okay, you know, like I said, I had to go through that, you know, self work, right? I had to go through you know, I went to Vipassana, you know, silent meditation for 10 days. I think about a relationship.
I had to do all kinds of like self work, you know, read all these like relationship books and stuff like that, right? And basically I think just doing something that self work to just be like, Hey, you know, what are the priorities in life? Right? And I'm not gonna say, again, I don't say this, I'm not a paragon or virtue in I don't know, domestic life.
I'm like, I'm gonna be mean. I can be sarcastic, . I don't wanna do this at home. I mean, like marriage know, marriage is not easy, right? I mean, it's not easy. So I'm not gonna pretend to be a perfect husband or perfect father, or whatever it is. Let's be real, right? Yeah. Let's be super real, right? Yeah. So a lot of mistakes made, I think, out of all your mistakes you make, I think not being able to communicate is probably like the biggest one.
And I think that's why I had to learn because I was like, Yeah, you know, obviously, I think you're a consultant. Okay, this, but then you become a founder, you're high stress, right? Then suddenly a long distance relationship. And then suddenly you're like, on different parts of the world, right? In a 12 hour time zone difference for LDR, right?
You know, nobody wants to do this, right? And then suddenly, you know, and after you have a pandemic, and you both suck each other a lot, you know? Then after that, you get your kids. Like, all this stuff is like super hard. And I think communication is the most important. And as of, you know, my current age, as of today, I think things are good.
You know, check back 8 into 10 years. If I still you know, hold my beer, I got this, right? You know, but check back 8 into 10 years whether this still is working. But I'm trying, right? I'm trying. I'm still trying, right? I think that's a good part. And I, you know, I was just, you know, lunch. I was in a bit of a bad mood, you know, over today.
I was just like, just doing some work and whatever. And then my wife came over and she just kissed me on the lips and she's headed out for lunch. And I was just like, Oh, that's so sweet. Right. You know, and I think those are the small moments, right. That you have to really appreciate why you have it. It's like celebrating little success.
(00:18:50) Eric Chan:
We we do enjoy this small moments as well. That really helps a lot, you know, in a long way. Right. And thanks for being transparent and thanks for sharing personal story. And you're going to write a note, right? In terms of communications, it's really key. Let's be real. It's not easy, right?
I'm a dad of two, married for say, eight, nine years, and then just for context for listeners, right? Jeremy, your kid is one and three, two girls. Throughout these past three or four years it's expanded from a family of two to a family of four, right? And managing that with your investments. Start up surprising.
It's okay. Okay. It's six.
(00:19:24) Jeremy Au:
Fair enough. I want my wife already. I said, why are we getting cats? And she's to help us prepare and see if we can have kids. And I'm like, we have kids, we're going to have to handle the kids and the cats. Right. And then she's no, this is going to help us prepare for the kids.
I'm like, okay. Anyway. And so now that he has come through, right, which is now we're going to take care of two kids and two cats.
(00:19:43) Eric Chan:
One question. So what is the target? How many kids? One. How many kids are you targeting? You know.
(00:19:50) Jeremy Au:
Targeting, is this like what the Singapore you know, population requirement, like trying to boost it.
Do you know, I got, I was featured in straight times while having a kid during the pandemic year, because, you know, I think Singapore straight science was like, we are so desperate for children. We need to make heroes of people, you know, who have kids. And so I was like, it's look at this Singapore, a couple, they have kids and I'm like, Featured, right?
It makes it sound so nice. I mean, you know, I mean, that's a terrible year to have kids. I mean, we found out like at the start of the pandemic in April, May, you know, I mean, just you know, the world is falling apart and so many people just flat out. Died, right? And it's just so terrible. And then we find out that pregnant of kids, and they were just like talking to the doctor as if Hey, is the world ending, right?
You know, because, you know, at that time, there was no vaccine on the side. You know, you don't know how long it's going to go for. It was just a crazy time, right? And it was just like a bit too tender hearted, or, you know, we did, you know, we had a lot of difficult conversations. I mean, we had, honestly, we had fights about it, right?
You know. We brand it as passionate conversations about, you know. Alignments. Yeah, alignment and so forth, right? And then, you know, and also, yeah, home. So, it's not as if you can go home and, you know, storm off and, you know, or around the park or whatever it is, right? It's just to be at home, right? I think two is pretty good.
But if we have more, why not, right? You know, so I'm open to it. Open to negotiation. And I think we're, and I think this time around, we know what kids are. The world's a better place. We know our careers. So, I think it's an easier conversation now for sure. 100%.
(00:21:18) Eric Chan:
Looking forward. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I'll definitely need more population growth.
(00:21:26) Jeremy Au:
All right. Cool. Cool.
(00:21:27) Eric Chan:
Cool. Let's shift gears a little bit, right? Let's shift gears to investing. So, so tell us a bit more about your investment principles. I know you enjoy investing. Also we found Moncure Ventures. So, so what are the common traits or what do I look for in companies that invest in either founders maybe?
(00:21:43) Jeremy Au:
I think that when you appreciate how hard companies are to build, then what you realize is that the founders are going to make it even harder. And what I mean by that is, you know, not necessarily harder in the sense of you know, some sort of like macho, whatever BS, right? But, you know, they got to have the perseverance, they got to have the intelligence, right?
They got to have the growth mindset, right? And they have the ability to rally, right? And that's not necessarily a salesperson, it's not necessarily a business person, it's not necessarily an engineer. Any of them or some combination, whatever it is. But I think those are the attributes that are really key.
And one analogy I often share is like when people are like, Oh, you know, that's super obvious here. I mean, shouldn't you always look for, in any job that you hire for, whether you're a product manager or an engineer or a consultant, don't you want those four things? Don't you want perseverance? Don't you want intelligence?
Don't you want a growth mindset? But yeah. But it's the bar that you're selecting for, right? Does it make sense? So, first of all, if you have decided to be an entrepreneur, you're already self selected because most people don't even self select to do it. I always tell people, it's most people self select out, right?
It's most people don't even bother, for example, bothering trying to apply to be a doctor because they know they're not going to cut it, right? And that's okay. If you don't want to cut it, then don't bother doing it. I mean, because the far worse scenario is like you're a doctor and you realize you want to do something else to your life, right?
Which is actually quite a few friends of mine. My friends are like, I'm doctors and I'm a doctor and I hate it. Right. You know, and I'm just like, Whoa, that's way worse than I used to think. Like the worst part was like you being a loser whose grades aren't good enough to be a doctor, for example, myself, you know, you know, I was like, Oh snap.
You know, I think I would be. not very happy as a doctor, right, in retrospect. But anyway, the point I'm trying to say here is like there is a self selection process when you choose to be a founder. But even within founders, there are thousands and thousands of founders, right? In Southeast Asia, there's over 10, 000 founders, right, who are self identified as a founder on LinkedIn and so forth, right?
But how many of them are actually going to get funded, right, by venture capitalists? Maybe less than a hundred, right? Say, about a year, right? So, I think there's something to be a bit thoughtful about, right, is that pyramid of work is not just It's not just good founders selecting great for great founders, right?
It's the self selection, the whole kind of like funnel in that sense. And so I think investors, and I think this was a bit less obvious when I was a founder, but investors are kind of like capital allocators, but they're also in some ways actually gatekeepers. I think that's a bit more obvious. So, you know, you always want to kind of hammer the gatekeeper of a capital, right?
And get a connection access, but they are also in some ways Some kind of like filtering mechanism, right? You can call it a judging dynamic as well. So, you can have, see that in startup pitch competitions. But there's also a filter dynamic, right? And so, it's a bit of a sorting mechanism.
It's the invisible hand of market economics where people are incentivized and trained and structured to look for the best founders, right? And so, to some extent, you know, this is actually similar, I think, from my perspective, like scouting for the Olympics or scouting for a soccer, a football team, right?
Which is, I think there's a big difference between being for example, secondary school sports teacher, which is your goal is to teach everybody, right? I'm just saying example to be fit, right? Versus on the other scale, you have like special forces, right? You know, in that sense, right? Which is that you have to look for people who self select for that.
From that pool, you have to select for that. And then even for those who are selected, you still have to train them. Onboard them, orient them, and work with them for many years before they actually become that, you know, super operator you're looking for, right? And this is more of a military analogy, but this also applies for all of your superstar athletes, right?
And I think that's really, I think, the tricky part of the language of this conversation. Everybody's oh, You know, you go to a Olympic, you know, running coach, right? And you're like, Hey, what kind of runner are you looking for? And then the guy's Oh, runs long, runs fast, a growth mindset, hardworking at practice.
Everyone's going to be like, Oh, but every secondary school kid has it, right? I mean, so. Or in some proportion of it, but it's that the relative to the field, right? In that sense, but also the objective level of that, right? And I think that's very hard. And I think that's where I think there's also, when I was a founder, I think I was very frustrated with VCs who were not able to articulate the differences of those two mindsets.
Because I mean, if you meet an Olympics coach, you're like, Oh, the you know, Jeremy can, I still work at my 2. 4 kilometre run trying to pass this year's test. Right. Because of my cardio is bad. Right. View to max is low. Right. Apple watch is boo, below average. Okay. So I know if I go to the Olympics coach, I'll be like, Oh, I know I'm not going to make the team.
Right. Yeah. I mean, but I'll be like, Oh, I'm happy to hang out with you. But I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna make the team, right? A hundred percent, I know that. Whereas if I go to a secondary school coach, I'll be like, oh, yo, you're a personal trainer. Yeah, you know, and so I think there's that dynamic, right?
Which is, I think, you know, you don't want a secondary school sports coach to act like an Olympic athlete. Then he's like a total terrible asshole, right? You know, because this guy's hey, why are you trying to be so hard on a whole bunch of people who are just trying to learn basic sports, right? Or get to the next level, right?
So, that's the incubation, you can call it. That's the, you know, knowledge sharing. I think, you know, everyone wants to do that, right? But then, I think the judging side, right? That's a very hard aspect on both ends. Because the truth is... Nobody likes to be judged, right? I hated all these pitch competitions and I hated pitching and fundraising.
I've gotten better at it over time now, right? Because I've been on both sides of the table. I've pitched to hundreds of VCs and I've now seen thousands of founders, right? So I'm kind of getting better over and over again through those reps. But still, the truth is. Do I go home or do I want to be judged by my wife?
No! Right? You know? Do I want to go on an app and get judged by people? No! Nobody wants, everybody, I mean, of course everyone wants to be judged positively. Everybody wants a star. Nobody wants a ding, right? You know what I mean? You know?
(00:27:42) Eric Chan:
One question came to my mind. So, founders?
(00:27:46) Jeremy Au:
The truth is, you want both, right?
You know, you want a great founder with great product market fit. And again, like I said, out of thousands of founders, only about 100 founders will get funded in Southeast Asia every year, right? So the truth is, the market is actually only looking for... One quadrant, there's not enough dots. Does it make sense?
Yeah. For the other two quadrants that you're talking about, which is bad founder with a good idea or you know, good founder of a bad idea, right? , actually, if I'll add a third axis, third axi is three D, you know? Yeah. Z exist Zs, right? It would be the accuracy of the judgment by capital markets or the people who are kind of like understanding this, right?
So what I mean by that is truth is. Investors are human too. They also can be bandwagon. They can have biases. They can understand, or the technology can change, or the markets can change, right? And so things can change. And so there's this accuracy dynamic, right? And so I think in the short term, I think we see lots of great founders with bad ideas, and then they end up raising a lot of money, and then they seem to like implode or fall out of the sky.
And yeah, you know, I think the truth of the matter is yeah, it's not that, well, some of it is maybe it wasn't fixed early enough. Some of it was because they were doing a good job and then it kind of fell off the band, the right track, whatever it was. But I think there is a dynamic, right, where there's, again, we talked about it, right, there's this judge function.
But the truth is, it actually, the ones that actually go through multiple rounds of funding who are eventually able to exit, right, they jump through so many hurdles that eventually, you know, the truth is, you know, even if you raise up the hundreds of people that we said, you know, that raise capital in Southeast Asia, in the US, if you raise the capital, only one in 40 would become a unicorn, right?
You know what I mean? The funnel. And it's a funnel, right? So I'm just saying even if you raise a million dollars of capital, there's only a one in 40 chance to become that unicorn, right? And so you look at Southeast Asia, I mean, I want to say, I don't go out on a limb here. I think Southeast Asia ecosystem is harder than the US ecosystem.
Let's be super real. Like everybody's walking around trying to say Oh, it's super easy. There's so much opportunity. I'm like, no, it's harder. Right? Markets are more fragmented. Capital markets are more shallow, right? Talent pools are more diffused disjointed. So, it's not to say there aren't opportunities, but we have to acknowledge that it's harder in some ways.
It's easier in some ways because of the opportunities, but it's also harder in other ways. So, it's definitely not easier than America. I don't think anybody is saying it's easier than America. That's for sure. And I think the numbers statistically have shown that it is harder than America right now. As of today, it could be easier, maybe in 10 years or 20 years, who knows.
But what I'm trying to say here a little bit is, think about it. Even after you receive your first check, there's a 1 in 40 chance, right? Does it make sense? So, the truth is, the market is pruning over and over again, right? Over and over, pruning pruning, pruning. To the point that, yeah, you know, so, so, so, I don't know.
I think for me, I remember I was like, discussing this, right? And I was discussing this with two groups of people, right? And I was like, I was talking to a group of students. And then the students were like, wow, a 1 And then all of them were like, wow, that's terrible. You know, because it's, you know, if you think about it, 1 in 40 is about the same as roulette, right?
You know, roulette is about 37 or 38, you know, numbers on a wheel. So, you know, you can say roulette is a bit more time efficient, definitely. You know, and you know, you just put one number, you put, you know, a million dollars in your savings and you go, right? But, so I think the students were like, wow, this is.
Really terrible, this is tough, like I'm going to go back to banking and consulting, you know, and then I talked to a group of founders and founders were like, Oh. 140 is pretty good, you know, yeah, that's not bad. It's like a 2. 5 percent chance of becoming a millionaire or billionaire. Yeah, I can take that chance.
I'm still young. I still have the energy, you know, the worst that could happen is I go back to a corporate job, right? And so I'm talking about these statistics, but also the mindset of that, right? It's really interesting, right? And so I think that's what I think folks have to be thoughtful about the staging of that risk, but also your mindset around that risk.
(00:31:44) Eric Chan:
Something you just mentioned is quite interesting that founders. have to be optimistic. I mean, founders have to be have growth mindset. Founders have to be optimistic because it's hard, right? It's hard to Start and run and get a funding. It's not easy. It's just an allows to keep growing hiring is so another probably an episode for itself, right?
Hiring the right people, right? Yeah. So as we wrap up this episode, right? And the question around a hot topic I'm definitely not politics this point of time but generative AI, right? So it's coming a really strong right and tell us more about you know, what are you looking around this area?
Are you looking for opportunities in this area and any other new verticals you are looking into as well?
(00:32:25) Jeremy Au:
Yeah, I mean, I think the truth of the matter is that, you know, what is generative AI, right? It's auto complete. It's language, right? It's probabilistic language. And what I mean by that is that the hype is like, Oh, you know, generative AI, you know, I don't know.
Versus what? Consumption AI? I don't know. I don't know. Consumption humans is the true opposite, I guess, of generative AI. That's me at home watching YouTube. I'm a consumption human. Revolt of the consumption humans against generative AI. But, I mean by that is that all these advances were there, right?
You know, technology, language models, et cetera. But I think what's really interesting is that we have done so much huge advances and you look at the top 50 most valuable companies, right? So many of them are semiconductor companies, including Apple and obviously the, you know, computer companies like Microsoft, which is effectively a hardware software mix.
So many of them are technology companies, right? So we've been working on this. I don't know what's the word, technology ladder for years, decades, right? And so I think what's interesting, I think it's hard to kind of take a step back sometimes a little bit, is this, right? I think the reason why generative AI has taken over the zeitgeist is because humans are coded for language, right?
And what I mean by that is, you and I are talking right now, and the only reason why you and I think we're intelligent is because we are talking words in a language we both understand each other. And that's it. For all I know, I mean, Eric, you could be a bot already. Right? And I'm just going to say this, right?
It's like dolphins and elephants are known to be as intelligent as us in many ways. But we don't look at them as like peers. Because we're just like. Eh, you don't speak English. I was like, you know, right. And, you know, and then even today, walk around, it's oh, you have an accent. Oh, it's a lower class accent or whatever it is.
Oh, you're less intelligent than I am because I have a British accent. I mean, you know, I was watching The Crown and I was like, oh my gosh. It's just I feel like, so wow, you know, I read so prom and posh. And I was like, oh my God, I need to like, unwind this, you know, I need to, where's my Hokkien?
You know, I need to like, be proud, you know. Okay. But I'm just saying but I'm just saying language is how humans communicate one another. Otherwise we just, because honestly, we only know our own thoughts and we have generalized that language to communicate with each other. And so actually I think generative AI is actually.
What's really interesting is that it's not necessarily about the compute power that's happening, right? It's not just about how they're applying statistics to make that language, right? But it's the fact that basically they're able to emulate language. And therefore, we as humans finally have the last step to believe.
That AI is human. That's the crazy part. People are just thinking too hard about this production side. No. What has happened is that we are now in the earlier stages of society now believing. I'm going to tell you this. Humans are going to believe computers are more human than we think elephants are human.
And that's hilarious because a human definitely has the neurons and everything that's going on for intelligence. Everybody knows it, right? But I'm going to tell you right now, and it's already happening. I mean, I was talking about the podcast at www. BraveSEA. com on our past episodes. And we were just talking about you know, I was just saying stuff like, okay, you know, you can have ancestral spirits come back, talk from the dead.
And I'm like, now it's already happening, right? I talked about how models is no longer a job because you can just auto complete good looking people, right? It's already happening. We were seeing that. Apple's releasing on a public beta, right, which is they can just emulate your voice, right? Characters. ai has basically millions of characters, right?
And basically people are falling in love, starting to raise children there. It's just humans, we just want language. We just want to not feel alone. Because, for us, All of us are scared of being alone, and oh my gosh, language is that hack. Because, that's why, you know, I work in Starbucks, right? Because people are walking and talking around me.
I'm a social animal, right? I want that people, that's why I'm married, I have kids. We're all social animals, right? We want to belong. We don't want to not belong. And you know what's the worst part of humans is? It's the worst part of humans. Is that they can say, you don't belong. And it happens all the time, right?
I can walk into, I'm just giving you an example, right? I don't really watch Star Trek. I watch Marvel. And, you know, I watch a bit of Star Trek, but not a real Star Trek. If I watch Star Trek Conference Con, I'd be like, after a while, everyone's you don't belong. You're not a true Trekkie, right?
You know, I'm a bit more Star Wars, right? I'm just giving you an example, right? You know, I can walk, you know, walk to Argentina, and everyone's going to be like, you don't belong. Right? Does it make sense? Because I'm not Argentinian, I mean, obviously I can belong in other ways, right? I mean, I can belong in terms of faith.
I can belong, maybe you know, Asians and people who have heritage there. I can maybe belong in the sense of being an expatriate to Argentina. I can maybe belong in the sense of business and tech and VC. But, I mean, obviously these tribes that you can have. But my gosh, internet is great at building tribes.
Reddit is an awesome trend. Every subreddit, oh my gosh, every subreddit, I feel like being embraced by the internet. You know, I go to reddit, I'm like, oh yes, r slash Singapore. Yes, all my memes are there. All my news, all my comments. Oh my god, that was so funny. I'm like, oh great. I feel so, I feel belonging in that subreddit.
Right? That's true. And obviously, I have my collection of subreddits, right? You know, r slash Singapore, r slash productivity, r slash venture capital, right? Okay, this, these are my interests, right? But language, oh my gosh, these characters is AI, generative AI, it's not generative AI, it's not, it's belonging, it's language belonging, that security blanket, right?
That weighted blanket of language. Right? 100 percent personalization. It's going to be amazing. Oh my gosh I'm waiting for the next Pokemon to happen. Is this going to be based on generative AI? Is it going to be the world's best Pikachu that actually can respond emotionally to, in life and so forth?
I'm just saying this is language. You know, I think people are just like, taking a step back a little bit. And everyone's just very focused on a business case, right? But it's really, I think, a societal case. It's the biggest change. And I think this is, I always tell people, it's you know, the birth control pill was invented by a Catholic, right, you know.
And, you know, I think he had good reasons and so forth. And I think a lot of people when the birth control pill was like, oh, you know, all the economic people was like, now people can work longer and defer pregnancy and so forth. But it catalyzed a social change. A tremendous societal change, right? In terms of women in the workforce, in terms of our stories and dynamics around family planning, around abortion, you know, around children, right?
It's just a huge amount of variations just because of this small invention, right? You know, on the birth control pill, right? I think this is what's happening for generative AI. I think there is obviously an economic case that I'm excited about, obviously, right? We can automate agents, we can, you know, draft loyal contracts.
You know, all this other stuff, you know. Just think about that world, right? There's a startup that was, you know, we were talking to and he was basically saying I want to launch a million podcasts. And I was like, what? And he was like, yeah, every podcast will have one subscriber. And that one subscriber pays 10 a month.
And I was just like, yeah, that works. You know, and it's how you make 100 million of revenue as a podcast network is, you know, if, I mean, you think about it, it's, you know, it's not impossible, right? I mean, why would I call it? But yeah, why not? But then what does it mean to you and me, right? I mean, as I'm saying, right, you know, sorry to say this, we're a bit too edgy for a lot of people already in this conversation.
We're too niche for other people. Right. Cause we were talking about Singapore and this other stuff and tech and so forth. So, the truth is, you and I are actually very awkward humans in the grand scheme of things. We're weirdos. You know, I'm a weirdo. You're a weirdo. We're two weirdos who are bonding over podcasting and tech and so forth.
And, yeah, maybe some other weirdos will discover us, whatever. But, you know what? In 10 years, you're not going to discover this weirdo. You know, you're just going to have this perfect person just hanging out with you who's just like 100 percent there, right? 100 percent personalized. Your personal best friend, your bestest best bestie, right?
And I think it's not even a question in my head. It's like the societal change. I think Generation Alpha, everybody's best friend is going to be AAI.
(00:40:52) Eric Chan:
Yeah. You know what I mean? Yeah. I think it's like equally exciting and also scary at the same time. Yeah. Right. I mean, to think about it, it's like a robot, right?
It's is that a show I robot or something, right? Like robots taking over humans and then even like robots being like living together. Humans is really. I don't know, like 10, like even 20, 30 years later, maybe like that happened, but this is. Exciting, but this is so scary at the same time. Yeah, but I believe there's a lot of valid use cases to really pick it back in using JAI.
(00:41:22) Jeremy Au:
Yeah, I mean, look at us, you know, compared to our parents or grandparents, we're heretics, right? You know, we're talking to each other over the internet and stuff in person, like real humans do, right? Real men do, for example, we're supposed to handshake and drink coffee and get a beer and all this other stuff.
That is the norm of social interaction. We're weirdos compared to them. So I think, but what I'm trying to say a little bit here is I think people haven't thought through I think people are very focused on the first order, like how do I invest in a startup in generative AI? But I think the second order, the third order, the fourth order, think about that, right?
Society, what if everybody's best friend and teacher or counselor is AI? It's all a human being guided by AI. So there's that, right? In that world, what happens then? So what is truth? You know, so for example, I think I was thinking to myself you know, once I start up the world, it'll definitely happen.
It's what I call like a real humans campaign, right? It's it's going to be one of those like clubs, like no phones, no AI, right? We just sit in and we drink alcohol like real humans do and do all the things that we can do, you know, smoke cigarettes or play poker. That's got to be a real counter cultural movement.
I think it's going to happen. It's just like a real human moment, right? Or more nature or, you know, stuff like that. Right. I think that's what I think we're starting to see off. And, you know, technology change, you know, it happens very slowly. That happens all at once. Right. You know, it's gradual. It's very gradual.
I mean, come on, think about it. 1970s, 1980s, who was using the internet, right? And suddenly now in 2020, all of us are like, bam! Heck, in America, it's 2000 people already ordering stuff online, right? 2020, you know, it's just it arrives in one day, right? It's just crazy, right? So, yeah. And it's only 50 years ago, right?
(00:42:58) Eric Chan:
It's not like super long. It's not 120, like 300 years ago. It's 50 years ago. It's like 1980s, right?
(00:43:04) Jeremy Au:
Yeah, I was, I remember I was, my favorite of YouTube clip is you know, that's this guy interviewing Arthur C. Clarke, right? And the interviewer's son is in the room and they're inside a giant room.
The entire room is a computer, right? And so the interviewer was asking Arthur C. Clarke, right? He was like, Hey, what do you think is going to happen in the future? This is all black and white. I think it was like 1960s, right? You know, he was like, yeah, he was like, Arthur C. Clarke was like, well, one day, you know, this entire room computer is going to fit.
in a device in the, in your son's hand. And the interviewer was like, what? And he's yeah, he's going to use it to talk to people around the world and conduct business and make business arrangements. And then this little kid is I don't know, seven or eight years old, right? Totally clueless about conversations, like swiveling around in his chair.
And I was just like watching this video and just laughing, right? Because, I mean, imagine watching this back then, you'll be like, oh, this Arthur C. Clarke is a total bonkers guy. For saying this stuff, and then now you look at it and I'm watching this on YouTube, right? To this thing, and I'm just like, Oh my gosh, it's going to happen, right?
So think about this, right? It's what bonkers stuff is going to happen in the next 50 years that you and I just think is stupid. I'm going to tell you this, like 3D augmented reality is going to happen, right? 100%. Is this a? 100 percent going to happen, right? It's just the devices, processing power is getting better.
Displays are getting better. 3D, whatever you want to call it, AR, VR. This is going to get effectively, totally, 100 percent fidelity. I think it's going to get there, very close to it. Right? That's one. Two is, I think, lifelike. I think we're going to see lifelike replicas. Or in fact, auto generated humans in terms of speech, language, body language, mannerisms.
Is this going to happen? 100 percent going to happen. Think about it, right? 100 percent going to happen, right? Think about it. Three is, Space. Are we going to have more stuff in space or less stuff in space? 100 percent we're going to have more stuff in space. The truth is, we're just going to have much more stuff.
It's like everyone's wow, space is full of satellites. I'm like no. There could be like so many more satellites. What's going to happen when the world is full of satellites, right? I think one day. We're going to find out there's a planet out there that can support human life. It's just a matter of time, right?
It's just a matter of processing power, looking for enough planets. I mean, statistics, right? It's got to look at all the planets, whatever it is. I think in our lifetime, I think we're going to discover a planet that basically says, everyone's going to be like, we probably think it has oxygen and water and could sustain human life.
I think someone's going to say that. And I think for me, I think that's going to be interesting because I think the moment we know that there's something doable there, Then humanity is, we love conquering new areas.
We always explore and go out or whatever it is. 100 percent humanity is going to be like, Oh, finally we have a place.
Because nobody wants to go to space. There's nothing there. But you tell me, wait, there's real free real estate. You know, there, out there in the universe. 100 percent Stanford Raffles is going to be like, rise up from the grave and just be like, okay, let's need to set up a colony on that planet, right? So we just need a direction someone go to, right?
So all this stuff, is this for sure going to happen? This is a matter of time, right? And just think about it, right? You know, it's just crazy. So to me, I think it's less about that. First order effect of this individual technologies, but think about that in that world, when all those things exist, what's going to happen?
It's the future, right?
(00:46:31) Eric Chan:
It's the future. It's the future. So let's see in 20, 30 or even 4 years time, let's come back. First to check in how things on our side. The second is how is generative AI changing the world in the next 22 years. Exciting times. All right, to wrap up, right? What is one piece of advice?
Less than 10 words. You would like to give to our listeners here who are founders and not getting term sheets, just to wrap us up in this episode.
(00:46:57) Jeremy Au:
Wow. 10 words. Yeah, 10 words. Diver building. All right. 20 words. 10 words.
(00:47:04) Eric Chan:
ChatGPT, gimme 10 words there.
(00:47:07) Jeremy Au:
Like 1 28 to, you know, two 50 to . Now, infinite characters, you are like a, you know, premium subscriber.
Oh, let's use bar. Let's use bar. 100 percent personalized. 100%. At least now you know, as of this year, 2023, you know that Jeremy is totally personalized. He's not you know, using my phone to auto generate something right now. That's right. Pre youtrification era. Fully authentic. Fully authentic, 100 percent organic.
Yes. Human raised you know, advice. I'll just say yeah, you know, we are human and we are in control of ourselves, right? And only ourselves. What I mean by that is, you know, we are human, right? And I think the truth is, you know, we're not superhuman. We want to be superhuman, but we're not. We're not AIs.
We're not companies. We're not startups. And what it means is we've got to sleep. You know, we've got to eat, we've got to be social, we've got to take care of ourselves, we have hormones, we have, you know, circadian rhythms. And so it's not a mind over body, although we are gifted and blessed with a mind that lets us do, you know, human things, right?
You know, but at the same part of time, we're just human, right? And so that means, you know, we are jealous, we get angry, we get sad, we get lonely. We get hardworking, right? You know, we can do all those things. It's all within the human experience, right? We're just, we're human. And I think acknowledging that is step one.
And two is, yeah, you know, we're in control of ourselves, right? Which is that we do have agency. We can make decisions for ourselves. And we can only make decisions of ourselves. Because we can't change the world. We can't change the news. We can't change other, we can't change other people. Which is, I think, a big learning point.
We can only say what we want to say, for example to other people and it's for them, other people to change if they want to change, right? So, I think that's the idea, yeah, you know, we're just human. We are in charge of ourselves and only ourselves. Oh wait, it's 10. It's 10 words. Oh my gosh. Words. She's got it.
Yay. It's human .
(00:49:27) Eric Chan:
We're human. We're not robots. Right? Yeah. Okay. This human can do less than 10 words. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We can't control ourselves. It's not like we are controlled by, you know, and g the coding a prompt engineering thing, which is the new thing. Yeah. So yeah, I think that's a, that is a wrap, Jeremy.
I think it's a pleasure. It's a pleasure to have you share with us. Your story, being personal, and it's a pleasure having you to share your insights as well. Yep, just to wrap up as well, one more question for Jeremy. Where do we find you? Where do we connect with you and know more about you?
(00:49:56) Jeremy Au:
Yeah. So go to www. bravesea. com and basically it's a podcast and community where we cover resources for founders, aspiring founders, VCs, and operators to basically. Think about the future of Southeast Asia Tech, but also have a no BS view about what the current reality of the world is. We have a deep sense of optimism, I guess, about building the future and making it, it happens and does transform the lives of millions of people.
So we have transcript podcasts, we have podcasts, we have discussion groups. And so those are great opportunities for us to learn from each other. and also help each other build. Awesome.
(00:50:35) Eric Chan:
Thank you, Jeremy. Awesome. Thank you for tuning in to Your Grid Story Podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your friends. Chase your dreams, live out your passion, and discover Your Grid story.