Startup Entrepreneurship Bootcamp

[Music] I think entrepreneurship is also not there for the faint of heart and I believe that there's a right of passage you need to be able to spend the time and energy and know what it feels like when there's no money in your bank there really got it dig down and see who you are what drives you and what you're trying to achieve [Music] [Applause] [Music] [Music] in the same place but tomorrow's longer and you should all every team should have one a meeting today to understand the difference between the types of people right when you look at your cash flow this is why we have two sizes right ah so good to see you good to see you too yeah so here we are in an in C AB lecture hall right connect the dots for us you are an entrepreneur investor and a visiting professor and everything began really in a tiny grungy probably Hong Kong dorm room in university when your idea struck big an econ sold out yeah so was born and raised in Canada to an immigrant family lived the typical immigrant life and had an opportunity to go overseas for my education I was always very impressed by the the work ethic of the Chinese so I thought to myself if I could go to Hong Kong and try to compete there maybe one day when I come back I'll be you know just as successful or just I'll just get my work ethic right so I was sitting in in my dorm room in Hong Kong and really didn't know what I was doing to be honest all I knew is I didn't want to take the typical investment banking consulting jobs that most of the business schools were offering after graduation so started building up doing social networking software for the corporate environment it was like six seven eight months and had the right opportunity met the right person who connected me and suddenly I am in Singapore right some people call it smart luck but you get lucky and then you have a chance and and God decides to you know shine his light on you and you have a little bit of success so I was 22 years old and it changed my life for a lot of entrepreneurs who had great success in their first try mm-hmm actually things tend to go downhill from there sure because money and success that kind of ruins that yeah when you have your first exit especially when you're young you get attracted by the fast money the fast car and sometimes the fast women when it all happened it was great from a financial perspective I remember looking at my bank account and I was like okay I don't have to eat steamed vegetables and oatmeal I was lucky that I was able to find some mentors here to me and said ash this is what normally happens don't let it happen to you and you know something compelled me to listen to them and I took a different path and I started to focus on building it again when you work on an oatmeal diet what were some of the toughest challenges I think what people don't realize is that startup in entrepreneurship is a very lonely journey so when you're successful they say it's lonely at the top actually it's lonely the whole way through but loneliness loneliness is actually a very powerful experience too because it helps you try to connect to your authentic self and I got to understand who I was and I was I was happy that I was to do this within my 20s so while you're battling this loneliness how did you build a team together obviously you've got language issues you're probably hiring your engineers over in China not in Hong Kong where labor costs are much chamber looking for people to help me I was going online looking at all these forums and there was this one gentleman in Shanghai that said hey I will help you write broken English he was working in a factory during the day and he was helping me at night it's very difficult it's very difficult when you when you haven't done it before and now when I'm looking for a team it's much easier right people know the name and they come and we have developers and entrepreneurs wanting to collaborate all the time so a lot of your company is kind of came and gone if there was interactive SG which at one point was one of the biggest digital media companies and then you also had a number of other projects so if you look at the companies that I was involved with and I invested in early it was very much around the idea is it cool can we have fun and it's typically how you know you can lose a lot of money all right so I'm not claiming that I'm a great investor because when I started off I was just doing fun stuff and I'm sitting here in Singapore and you know my money is my money so I can make those decisions and so a lot of those decisions started off from the idea phase and what I have learned it's not about the idea it's about team and execution when I teach I actually like to talk about my failures more than I talk about successes because if you need successes you can just go read Forbes magazine there's enough people to talk about they're not yeah what are your worst failures that actually give you a great foundation so we've had several companies that we've decided develop a concept and we just got our go-to-market wrong right a lot of people are not able to understand you know they'll typically say hey you know I'm gonna go into this business and it's a billion-dollar market and I'm gonna get 2% of it so I'm gonna have a hundred two hundred million dollar company and I am that's great right but more often than not people fail at that they're not able to understand the difference between the big market their addressable market and how they're actually going to tackle the market as a lot of people get excited about building a product and they have ten or twenty features and being able to go to the market and say this is what I want to do and not do ten other things and just focus on the top three things it's actually very hard to do plays on your emotions and it plays on your insecurities because you want to make sure you've covered everything what I tell my students is you need to learn from failures you've got it look at your own location figuring figure out you know how people failed and weren't able to get off the ground I'm more often than not startups have to go through a couple of pivoting phases before they actually find that product market fit and a lot of people spend too much time in their first iteration my thought process is is get the right processes in place and give yourself the best chance to succeed and also try to fail fast right get those steps going and that's what we teach part of what drives me is I do believe that we provide an experience for the students to open their mind to entrepreneurship and also give them the time to reflect on where they think they will fit in the world and what I find when I'm teaching is when somebody can uncover that what they're passionate about and they can suddenly have complete vision of how I'm going to make this concept of reality is actually a priceless experience you [Music] so you put a couple of businesses they seem sort of random so turbine Iser yeah so you get people to see how they look in turbans so I was flying around and I was randomly checked at every Airport and for me it wasn't necessarily about me being Sikh or not being Muslim it was just about listen this is our identity and I want to share it with you so the turban Iser for me was I'm gonna use digital means to share my turban experience you could turn on the phone and using facial recognition you can see what you look like in a turban and over the last five years we've had over a million downloads so we have people from all over the world non Sikhs that are using it experiencing asking questions now we don't make money off of it no people like that it's okay and it's okay because I get emails from mothers all the time saying hey my son took this app to school and the kids loved it and now they understand so what's the price of that how much how much is that worth you know for me it's priceless and that's why I do it and would you say that your investment into the Singapore basketball team the slingers that's in the same vein of thinking absolutely in Singapore I think the family getting a family together family sports entertainment having a Sunday event together that's not at a shopping mall right or not in a movie theater it's important my kids have gone every game and we have great family fun and that's value to me when I look at myself and what I've done this year am I actually doing something for other people or am i keeping all the money and you know driving my Ferrari showing off my car and making other people feel jealous of me right for me it's about that impact and and I think that's kind of where my ki Phil says now and that's where my North Star is is that same line of thinking driving you to teaching so was invited to INSEAD to be a judge of a venture competition and what happened was is the professors were like ash the students like you would you like to run a class so I took that upon myself and I started to started teaching the courses here and we built this startup bootcamp program I helped develop this course on acquisitions your first hundred days which is now the most popular of course at INSEAD 80% of all NC ed students take this course and and it's been have a look back now I haven't got my MBA yet right but I've so I around I say I'm I am not smart enough to go to NC 8 but I'm smart enough to teacher it's been 12 12 years now part of what drives me is I do believe that we provide an experience for the students to open their mind to entrepreneurship and also give them the time to reflect on where they think they will fit in the world and what I find when I'm teaching is when somebody can uncover that what their passion about and and they can suddenly have complete vision of how I'm going to make this concept of reality it's actually a priceless experience for me and it hasn't been from a financial gain because people are like ash you know are you investing in all these companies and the short answer is no I'm just trying to help these guys ignite maybe one day they'll hire my my son or my daughter you know I mean that might be nice but it's very much focused on giving them my all and facilitating an experience where they feel that they can get there get their concepts to the market the course that you set up which is called startup course yeah you've managed to pull together about a billion dollars from different corporations around the world right you have everybody from sa P to even the Singapore government institutions and so forth everybody's backing it but can entrepreneurship or even being digitally disruptive can this be learned of course the Steve Jobs born like that or was he developed into and and the short answer is it's a bit of both I think circumstances helped in terms of being an entrepreneur but every single person has the the capability to have that entrepreneur thinking mentality so are you saying that if you weren't in that tiny dorm room in Hong Kong feeding off oatmeal and steamed vegetables every day maybe you wouldn't have been able to think out of the box my parents were immigrants and I could have led a second generation person's life in in in you know middle middle middle income Canada right but I put myself in the deep end and putting myself in an environment where nobody knew who I was I had no money I didn't look like anyone not many people look like me in Hong Kong right and so that pushed my creativity right it pushed my thought process it pushed my hunger now that you are more comfortable do you have the hunger to chase after that startup dream again because you've got a number of companies I don't think the hunger necessarily goes but you start to prioritize a couple of things differently right and and what I what I admire in my journey you know you go and you make a little bit of money and you have enough right your wife's happy your kids are happy you know if you need to drive a nice car you can do that but then there comes a point in time with this law of diminishing return so my calling right now is less about me talking about my companies and how much money I'm making myself and more about how we are I'm inspiring and developing the next generation of entrepreneurs who are going to create jobs because creating jobs is what makes happy families I met ash Singh in January of 2010 we've been teaching the start of boot camp at INSEAD for a number of years and at that point ash said look I want to put this in the cloud as a teaching tool as something that has videos as quizzes and assignments they can collaborate and talk to each other and I want to build this in the clouds so that we can bring this into the classroom and so we started collaborating working on this he put a huge amount of work into it but it was you know financed exclusively by him it was not the project developed by INSEAD but it was something that he wanted to bring as value to the classroom and to the student experience until now it's a really powerful very engaging tool that anyone of any age can use ash is one of those venture capitalists that before he was a venture capitalist he was on the hungry side you know the side of the I'm not sure how this works you know I have to feed myself I have to feed my employees I have to figure out where the money's coming from I have to go to market with the product I have to figure this stuff out and the fact that he did that first and then he became an investor gives him the insight that not all investors have you know but it's the empathy the perspective the context for the entrepreneur so that when he engages people as an investor it's not just engaging them as money a lot of people have money but ashes money is smart money it understands the position of the entrepreneur it understands you know what the person is going through I'm trying to find myself I'm trying to discover myself and the best way to do it is challenge yourself and put yourself with people that are going to challenge you to question you and not not worry about a response and I have a lot of people have people every day that tell me ash you're doing something wrong right and people ask me why do you do that I'm like you need to have these people you need to have the people that you know if there's a there's a booger hanging out of your nose the first person tells you hey there's a booger hanging at your nose fix it you know instead of not saying anything [Music] [Music] I'm really I'm the founder of group stars so we help large organizations transform very traditional communications like email corporate memos into an engaging video using a mobile app and our storyboarding solution so I met ash a couple years ago now I think it was back in 2013 2014 so ash has been a personal mentor of mine for quite some time he's someone that I could just text or call or whatsapp when I'm facing a different challenge he always knows the right things to say so on a motivational level but also in a business side myself and some of the other early employees took Ash's course so to start of course online so that really helped us with the initial formation of the idea in the products just to understand the key watch outs you know when you're developing in your product and forget it out to market based on his own personal experiences the best piece of advice that I received from ash which still sticks to me today is how really sales cures all that's the most important thing at the end of the day so that must always be top of mind hey alright so here we are at INSEAD do you feel comfortable home nowadays we've already been teaching for almost a decade one of the reasons I love teaching at a place I can see it is you know I get to spend time with some of the most brilliant minds all over the world then these are the people that push you forward they challenge you in a different way and it's a very difficult thing to do I'm trying to find myself I'm trying to discover myself and the best way to do it is challenge yourself and put yourself with people that are going to challenge you question you and not not worry about a response and I have a lot of people have people every day that tell me ash you're doing something wrong right and people ask me why do you do that I'm like you need to have these people you need to have the people that you know if there's a if there's a booger hanging out of your nose the first person tells you hey there's a booger hang any nose to fix it you know instead of not saying anything or you know so you need people like that so let's talk about how your help helping a lot of startup entrepreneurs nowadays how do you mentor them most entrepreneurs have one or two roadblocks that mmm that are unique to themselves our approach is more like a startup doctor when we run our programs we want you to come up with your concepts start building your concept and look at the product itself but look at yourself and your team as well most of the reasons why startups fail is because of team and execution so if you can zero in and understand exactly what's holding these people back and say listen just focus on this product is great get your finance and order right get these pieces movie and you can move forward and if we can give somebody one two three means of improvement along with a curriculum that allows them to take their idea to an investable business it's I think it's pretty powerful I think it's something that really changes their that their mindset in terms of their their entrepreneurial track what are the toughest parts for an entrepreneur to take their innovative idea to market I think finance understanding the financial implications of startup because everyone wants to build a product every wants to pull out their their their mobile phone as they check out my app really understanding the financial implications from your personal level all the way down to kind of how to run the business is one I think people also have a challenge to really understand how big their market is for their product you know a lot of people love to say hey I'm gonna launch this product in Indonesia or China and I'm gonna have these many downloads and it's got billions of our own millions of millions of dollars a lot of people think hey this is a cool app people are gonna like it no it's more than that you need to make sure that you understand their desires their basic human desires and why they're gonna interact with your product and people aren't able to get to that level it's just not human nature to do that right you need to dig down and understand why people so what kind of skills do they need to hone in order to identify these problem areas learn how to listen people don't listen anymore people text a lot that's true people want to talk a lot they project themselves they read stuff but they don't listen anymore this is the challenge we sit down we listen you've got so many projects going on and you're spread out pretty thin a worldwide do you still have something that motivates you I think that my teaching is what motivates me it's been the undercurrent of everything that I do but why I think it motivates me because I believe that I honestly believe that I've been given an opportunity a rare opportunity to experience something and I believe that if I can take that opportunity and pass it on to somebody else inspire somebody else that when I die I will feel like I have added some value to the world no I'm still too young only what 36 36 yes my beard starting to get a little bit gray now so some people think I'm a little bit older but I I you know but I I that's what I want to be able to do even one person now I get like one email a week now from somewhere in the world saying ash you know what it worked ash you know what now I can I built my company now and I'm supporting my family right supporting my parents or I've sold a company and and and that's really powerful right because I feel like I'm adding value to other people's lives like actually doing it and so that's that's kind of what's driving me right now and I think that will continue to drive me you know we've had over 5000 students go through our program all over the world and we've continued to evolve our product and I think that yeah we have this there's a little bit of magic in what we what we do right I feel like there's a little bit of magic and and it's magical to me because when I do it with somebody when I when I when I put somebody through our program that magic you know the look in their eyes of wonder and you know that's exciting that's powerful and you know it's it's different it's an emotional feel it's something you feel not necessarily something I can maybe describe on TV it's this an emotional feel I feel good when I do it [Music]