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Conscious Business Leadership : Dr. Julian Hosp, Co-Founder and President, TenX

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This is one in a series of articles and interviews about conscious business leadership, which is about leaders creating and promoting workplaces of understanding, honesty, and compassion, for the betterment of their employees, their community, their organization and world.

Dr Julian Hosp co-founded the Singapore based FinTech company TenX, the only company worldwide that makes multiple digital currencies instantly spendable anytime anywhere by offering a debit card payment system to its users. He was named one of the top Blockchain and Cryptocurrency experts to follow in 2017. I met him at Slush Singapore and Women in Tech where he was passionate to educate the audience on a new world in finance.

To be a disrupter one has to have a philosophy of another world. What is your ideal world in terms of finance?

I am a scientist and I use the past trends to deduce ideas for the future. I look for an adaption of what can be possible. Statistically, everyone cannot be equal. There will always be a small proportion who will outperform the rest; in all aspects of life. Financially, my hope is for the ones who can’t or don’t perform to those standards, are not left behind.

My world-view changed around two and a half years ago. Initially, I was of the opinion that people who didn’t do what was the task at hand or seemed productive, shouldn’t get monetary compensation. I saw people who were involved in pursuits I didn’t see as productive, like meditating or sitting by the beach day dreaming as non-valuable. However now I am more aware, that for everyone doing something is that something they are to do. I now support the need for a minimal base income.

Are they living to the standards I set for myself? No. However, their basic living should be met if they can do basic tasks and essentially there should be no cause of suffering, where possible.

That being said, TenX is not merely an attempt to save the world, again as a scientist and business person, the business case was clear. If we are not doing it – someone else will. The future of finance is a decentralized marketplace full of financial services, that provide the lowest cost, highest security and best performance to its users. At TenX it is our mission to bring the entire financial system right to their fingertips.

In the past, there was control and regulation of people now there is less and maybe soon no control. Some people will want to be controlled and told what to do. They may want to use regulated and centralized authorities to lead and depend on. I suspect 5-10% of a population would want guidance and control. How about the rest of us? The Internet has flourished. We already see less friction of talent explosion and exchange. Peer to peer economies.

Once the access to money becomes easy and we have competition spurring results. More people will and can step up in all industries. This will lead to my world-view of a more inclusive monetary system and therefore world.

As a leader, I try to build the ideal world in my own leadership and the company I co-founded. I see myself as leader than manager. I am not as good as managing people who may need it. I tend to lead by inspiration and “wow” acts of behaviour. This inspires best in me and this allows them to express the best in them. Optimal leadership means leading by example and getting the best out of the team. My example is not the example they have to become. I need only be the best version of myself.

When did you doubt your vision and implementation? 

I hardly ever doubt the big picture but yes I did doubt the approach, many times. I had some arguments with my co-founder. I often had to contemplate that maybe other approaches are right and mine, wrong.

A dark hour of soul searching was when China banned Bitcoin. I wasn’t as upset by the ban but by the rationale behind it. Now after some insight, I see that their fear could be more around Blockchain and the decentralization track transition history. Cryptocurrency doesn’t need a centralized authority so if you take it to the fullest extent of that idea, it may have made the Chinese government rein that freedom in.

Eventually we can communities that are decentralized for passports, other forms of identification, ownership of large things like homes; as long as I have the cryptography running, no one can shut me down. Industry now leads and influences the government’s ability to act. I believe the Chinese government feels that strongly.

How did you have this vision of TenX?

I trained as a doctor and then after a year of practice, I quit. My friends advised me to go into personal development instead. I went to Hong Kong and tried many things and coached. But was always looking for a bigger project to be immersed in. I was almost lost because I found nothing. My personal lowest point was right before I met my co-founder of TenX, Toby, by coincidence in 2014 on the beaches of Thailand. It wasn’t an immediate partnership, I always have had a curious mind so I spent some time to learn more. If you look at my first Youtube for TenX in June 2015 you can see my hesitancy as I entered this industry. Do I still have doubts very now and then, yes. However now I understand better how this works and we are learning and improving every day. Even Mark Zuckerberg at the beginning of Facebook spent months if not years re-thinking if Facebook would be the idea to run with.

If you can advise an entrepreneur, what is the next big thing in this space?

Decentralization is the problem to solve. As mentioned, passports, cross-country transfers, purchasing large items if you want to get into that space and solve the problems which arise with decentralization. I love science so I am always looking at Space tech and AI too.

Callum Connects

Rishabh Singhvi & Varun Saraf, Co-Founders of Why Q

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Surprised by the lack of delivery services available for local Singaporean hawker stall foods, Rishabh and Varun started their own delivery service.

What’s your story?
Varun and I moved to Singapore in 2008 and soon turned into foodies. After completing our studies at SMU, we worked in corporate offices in the Singapore CBD for 4 years. Here, we faced the problem of long queues and found it hard to find feasible delivery options on a day to day basis. We made it our goal to help others like us, so they don’t face the same problem of finding affordable yet tasty options to eat their daily meal. The name asks all those queuing up at food courts and hawker centres a simple question – Why Queue … when we can bring Singapore’s favorite hawker food to you?

What excites you most about your industry?
The Hawker culture is the most exciting and intriguing part of the food industry in Singapore. It is deep-rooted in the local Singapore culture. There is rich variety of cuisines available under one roof, food is delicious and very affordable. We were very surprised how this part of the food industry was completely ignored by other food deliveries.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and brought up in India and have been staying in Singapore for the past 10 years.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
The ease of running a start-up and the professionalism makes Singapore my favourite city for business. It has the most business-friendly regulations, low start-up costs and takes only a week to register and get your business going.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful.” – Jeff Bezos

Who inspires you?
Hawker Uncle and Aunties are our Hawker Heroes. Most of the stalls are family-run businesses. The dedication and hard-work that they put in is commendable. They come to the hawker centre at 3am to start preparing food for the day and leave only in the evening after cleaning and washing everything.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
We are leaning so much about our hawker partners through our #HawkersOfSG series, inspired by #HumansOfNewYork. For example, one of our hawker partners was into advertising (until the 2008 recession started, after which he started one of the most popular hawker stalls in the country) while the other used to sell and ride Harley Davidson bikes (and now sells black pepper rice bowls). Their stories and how they turned into our Hawker Heroes continues to inspire us and blow us away.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I think I haven’t reached that stage in life yet where I look back and want to do things differently.

How do you unwind?
Watching and playing football 🙂

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Bali, definitely. One of the most beautiful and chill places.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Zero to One by Peter Thiel

Shameless plug for your business:
Cheapest and largest Hawker Food delivery in Singapore.

How can people connect with you?
On whatsapp at 90268776 or email at [email protected]

Twitter handle?
We’re on Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/whyqsg/ and Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/whyqsg/

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started,
built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
twitter.com/laingcallum
linkedin.com/in/callumlaing
Download free copies of his books here: www.callumlaing.com

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Entrepreneurship

Science is the Next Big Thing in Startups

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From pharmaceuticals to petrochemical processes: Newcomer companies and investors and investors alike are setting their sights on science. How the start-up scene moves beyond the mobile apps bubble…

For the last two years Silicon Valley analysts and venture capitalists are anticipating the burst of yet another bubble. This time, under the risk are the mobile start-ups which constitute the biggest share of the market. Out of 50 companies listed in Forbes’ “the hottest startup of 2015” (by valuation) only six companies are based on innovations in other-than-mobile area, one company provide cleaning services, while the rest are diverse mobile apps.

Meanwhile many products listed can be barely called innovative. A significant proportion of the listed start-ups are texting apps, apps for people search (starting from business partners to life partners) or delivery services. While those services can definitely facilitate one’s life, in general they differ from their predecessors by only a narrower audience.

Many venture investors expect stagnation if not decrease on the markets, which is why they start to transfer their capitals from start-ups offering customers software to start-ups offering specific solutions for existing businesses. Such companies are expected to demonstrate more stability in the near future.

The Market for Mobile Apps Might be Saturated

Back in 2012 a talented entrepreneur could walk into a venture capitalist’s office, say his startup was a mobile-first solution for pretty much any problem (payments! photos! blogging!), and walk out with a good-size seed investment. “That pitch was enough to get going,” says Roelof Botha, a partner with VC firm Sequoia Capital. “It’s not enough anymore.”

“I think investors are bored with investing in another messaging app. And our idea is crazy enough that it might just work. ”, has declared in 2014 Nadir Bagaveyev a founder of a start-up using 3-D printers to make rocket engines. By 2016 the company attracted investors funding sufficient to launch its first rocket.

Pharma and Biotech Start-Ups in High Demand

Currently the most successful science-based start-ups are the companies offering innovative solutions in the field of pharmaceuticals and biotechnologies. It’s noteworthy that despite the previous revelations and even judicial proceedings the list of the most expensive start-ups still includes Theranos, blood analyzing laboratory, whose story did not descend from the main pages of the global leading media from 2014.

It first amazed the audience with its fantastic take-off and then with its collapse. One of the crucial parts of the success story of this start-up is its fundamental difference from the majority of the services produced in the Silicon Valley. Unlike the others, it was not a story of yet another beautiful gadget for communication or mobile app, but the story of the scientific idea which intended to conquer the world.

The great success stories in other scientific areas are now happening on occasional basis. However certain facts allow to predict that the situation is to change soon. One of such factors is growing interest among the big corporations to attract innovative solutions from outside to develop their businesses.

Given the accelerating pace of scientific and technological development of the world, the activities of internal R & D departments are often turn to be insufficient to ensure stable development of innovative business. Outsourcing of the R&D may become the efficient mechanism to stimulate the growth of the company. And high-tech start-up can certainly benefit from it.

Start-Up Technology for the Petro-Business

In December, 2016 world leading companies in the field of gas processing, petrochemicals and chemicals announced their intentions to enforce their R&D capacities by attracting start-ups. 3M, AkzoNobel, BASF, The Dow Chemical Company, DuPont, Henkel, Honeywell UOP, LG Chem, Linde, Sibur, Solvay and Technip together created a global stage for startups and investors.

“The petrochemicals industry can and must rely on the potential of open innovations to facilitate further inventions and implementation of new solutions in all major application areas, from construction and medicine to packaging and 3D printing. Thanks to the participation of international partners, IQ-CHem is now the largest global project within the industry which attracts innovative solutions and provides for their implementation into practice,” said Vasily Nomokonov, Executive Director of Sibur, a company which coordinates the project.

Positive Experience in Chemicals and Beyond

Some of the listed companies have already gained positive experience in working with start-ups which may have driven them to elaborate a systemic approach to attract innovative companies.

At the beginning of 2016, SIBUR and RRT Global start-up reached an agreement to build a pilot plant for isomerization based on RRT Global technologies in Sibur’s Industrial Park SIBUR “Tolyattisintez”. According to Oleg Giyazov, co-founder and CEO of RRT Global cooperation with a large corporation bring significant advantages to his company.

“By cooperation with Sibur we get a huge industrial experience that enables us to develop technologies and solutions better fitted to the market demand. This advantage is often not given due attention, but we, on the contrary, see significant opportunities in it. Currently, RRT Global cooperates with several companies around the world” he said.

Another petrochemical leader BASF enjoys successful cooperation with Genomatica start-up. In 2013 BASF started the production of 1,4-butanediol based on renewable feedstock (renewable BDO) using Genomatica’s patented process and in 2015 the license was expanded to the Asian market.

Unlike traditional forms of cooperation between a start-up and a venture capitalist, a cooperation between start-up and a relevant corporation allows to minimize the risks associated with investing in a potentially promising idea where the key word is “potential” (but not “guaranteed”). While delivering services in the same field as the start-up the corporation gets an opportunity to more effectively and accurately estimate the market value of an innovative idea and to support its implementation.

Structural Changes Ahead: Outlines of A Coming Market

In the short term prospective, possibly in 2017, the global start-up market will face structural changes – both in terms of start-ups professional orientation and of funding mechanism. In the future science-based start-ups will dominate the market and will change our lives at a deeper level than the way of sending a text message or searching the restaurant for an evening meal. To be more concise this is already happening in the pharmaceutical industry, and the other scientific areas are to follow.

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About the Author

This article was written by Dominik Stephan of Process Worldwide. See more.

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