Entrepreneurship Conscious Business Leadership : Dr. Julian Hosp, Co-Founder and President, TenX Published 4 weeks ago on September 25, 2017 By Marion Neubronner Share Tweet 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. Related Topics:businessconscious businessConscious Business LeadershipEntrepreneurfinanceFintechgovernmentleadersleadershiplifemesingaporeSupporttechwomen Continue Reading You may like The Brittle vs. Ductile Strategy for Business What Kills A Startup Jasmine Tan, Director of Stone Amperor Is There A Coworking Space Bubble? Dextre Teh, Founder of Rebirth Academy Arthur Lam, Co-Founder of Synergy Comments Entrepreneurship The Brittle vs. Ductile Strategy for Business Published 9 hours ago on October 22, 2017 By The Asian Entrepreneur Authors & Contributors Companies and startups often pursue a path of “brittle strategy” and in it’s execution, it can be translated, in layman terms, into something like this: Heard about the guy who fell off a skyscraper? On his way down past each floor, he kept saying to reassure himself: “So far so good… so far so good… so far so good.” How you fall doesn’t matter. It’s how you land! – Movie : La Haine (1995) — Brittle strategy : A brittle strategy is based on a number of conditions and assumptions, once violated, collapses almost instantly or fails badly in some way. That does not mean a brittle strategy is weak, as the condition can either be verified true in some cases and the payoff from using this strategy tends to be higher. However the danger is that such a strategy provides a false sense of security in which everything seems to work perfectly well, until everything suddenly collapses, catastrophically and in a flash, just like a stack of cards falling. Employing such approach, enforces a binary resolution: your strategy will break rather than be compromising, simply because there is no plan B. From observation, the medium to large corporate company strategies’ landscape is often dominated by brittle “control” strategies as opposed to robust or ductile strategies. Both approach have their strong parts and applicability to corporate win the corporate competition game. The key to most brittle strategy, especially the control one, is to learn every opponent option precisely and allocate minimum resources into neutralizing them while in the meantime, accumulating a decisive advantage at critical time and spot. Often, for larger corporations, this approach is driven by the tendency to feed the beast within the company that is to say the tendency is to allocate resources to the most successful and productive department / core product / etc.. within the company. While this seems to make sense, the perverse effect is that it is quite hard to shift the resources in order to be able to handle market evolution correctly. As a result of this tendency, the company gets blindsided by a smaller player which in turn uses a similar brittle strategy to take over the market.The startup and small company ecosystem sometimes/often opts for brittle strategy out of necessity due to economic constraints and ecosystem limitations because they do not have the financial firepower to compete with larger players over a long stretch of time, they need to approach things from a different angle. These entities are forced to select an approach that allows them to abuse the inertia and risk averse behavior of the larger corporations. They count on the tendency of the larger enterprise to avoid leveraging brittle strategies, made to counter other brittle strategies. These counter strategies often fail within bigger market ecosystem as they are guaranteed to fail against the more generic ones. Hence, small and nimble company try to leverage the opportunity to gain enough market share before the competition is able to react. — Ductile strategy : The other pendant of the brittle strategy is the ductile strategy. This type of strategy is designed to have fewer critical points of failure, while allowing to survive if some of the assumptions are violated. This does not mean the strategy is generally stronger, as the payoff is often lower than a brittle one – it’s just a perceived safer one at the outset. This type of approach, will fail slowly under attack while making alarming noises. To use an analogy, this is similar to the the approach employed with a suspension bridge using stranded cables. When such a bridge is on the brink of collapse, will make loud noises allowing people to escape danger. A Company can leverage, if the correct tools and processes are correctly put in place, similar warning signs to correct and adapt in time, mitigating and avoiding catastrophic failure. To a certain extend, the pivot strategy for startups offer a robust option to identify the viability of a different hypothesis about the product, business model, and engine of growth. It basically allows the Company to iterate quickly fast over the brittle strategy until a successful one is discovered. Once found, the Company can spring out and try to take over the market using this asymmetrical approach. For a bigger structure, using the PST model combined with Mapping provides an excellent starting point. As long as you have engineered within your company and marketed the correct monitoring system to understand where you stand at anytime. Effectively, you need to build a layered, strategic approach via core, strategic and venture efforts combined with a constant monitoring of your surroundings. This allow you to take risks with calculated exposure. By having the correct understanding of your situation (situational awareness), you will be able to mitigate threats and react quickly via built-in agility. However, we cannot rely solely on techniques that allow your strategy to take risk while being able to fail gracefully. We need techniques that do so without insignificant added cost. The cost differential between stranded and solid cables in a bridge is small, and like bridges, the operational cost between ductile and brittle strategy should be low. However, this topic is beyond the scope of this blog post but I will endeavor to expand on the subject in a subsequent post. — Ductile vs Brittle : The defining question between the two type of strategies is rather simple: which strategy approach will guarantee a greater chance of success? From a market point of view this question often turns into : is there a brittle strategy that defeats the robust strategy? By estimating the percentage of success a brittle strategy has against the other strategies in use, weighted by how often each strategy is used by each competitor you can determinate the chances of success.Doing this analysis is a question of understanding the overall market meta competition. There will be brittle strategies that are optimal at defeating other brittle strategies but will fail versus robust. However, the robust one will succeed against certain brittle categories but will be wiped out with other. Worse still, there is often the recipe for a degenerate competitive ecosystem if any one strategy is too good or counter strategies are too weak overall. Identifying the right strategy is an extremely difficult exercise. Companies do not openly expose their strategy/ies and/or often they do not have a clear one in the first place. As a result, if there is a perception that the brittle strategy defeats the ductile one, therefore the brittle strategy approach ends up dominating the landscape. Often strategy consulting companies rely on this perception in order to sell the “prêt a porter” strategy of the season. Furthermore, ductile strategies tend to be often dismissed as not only do they require a certain amount of discipline, but also the effort required in its success can be daunting. It requires a real time understanding of the external and internal environment. It relies on the deployment of a fractal organisation that enables fast and risky moves, while maintaining a robust back end. And finally, it requires the capability and stomach to take risk beyond maintaining the status quo. As a result, the brittle strategy often ends up more attractive because of its simplicity, more so that it’s benefit from an unconscious bias. — The Brittle strategy bias: Brittle strategies have problems “in the real world”. They are often unpredictable due to unforeseen events occurring. The problem is we react and try to fix things going forward based on previous experience. But the next thing is always a little different. Economists and businessmen have names for the strategy of assuming the best and bailing out if the worst happens, like “picking pennies in front of steamrollers” and “capital decimation partners”. It is a very profitable strategy for those who are lucky and the “bad outcome” does not happen. Indeed, a number of “successful” companies have survived the competitive market using these strategies and because the (hi)story is often only told by the winner’s side only, we inadvertently overlook those that didn’t succeed, which in turn means a lot of executives suffer from the siren of the survival bias, dragging more and more corporations into similar strategy alongside them. In the end all this lot ends up suffering from a more generalized red queen effect whereby they spend a large amount of effort standing still (or copying their neighbors approach). This is why when a new successful startup emerges, you see a plethora of similar companies claiming to apply a similar business model. At the moment it’s all about UBER for X and most of these variants. If they are lucky, they will end up mildly successful. But for most of them, they will fail as the larger corporations have been exposed and probably bought into the hype of the approach. ________________________________________________________________ About the Author This article was written by Benoit Hudzia of Reflections of the Void, a blog about life, Engineering, Business, Research, and everything else (especially everything else). see more. Continue Reading Entrepreneurship What Kills A Startup Published 3 days ago on October 19, 2017 By The Asian Entrepreneur Authors & Contributors 1 – Being inflexible and not actively seeking or using customer feedback Ignoring your users is a tried and true way to fail. Yes that sounds obvious but this was the #1 reason given for failure amongst the 32 startup failure post-mortems we analyzed. Tunnel vision and not gathering user feedback are fatal flaws for most startups. For instance, ecrowds, a web content management system company, said that “ We spent way too much time building it for ourselves and not getting feedback from prospects — it’s easy to get tunnel vision. I’d recommend not going more than two or three months from the initial start to getting in the hands of prospects that are truly objective.” 2 – Building a solution looking for a problem, i.e., not targeting a “market need” Choosing to tackle problems that are interesting to solve rather than those that serve a market need was often cited as a reason for failure. Sure, you can build an app and see if it will stick, but knowing there is a market need upfront is a good thing. “Companies should tackle market problems not technical problems” according to the BricaBox founder. One of the main reasons BricaBox failed was because it was solving a technical problem. The founder states that, “While it’s good to scratch itches, it’s best to scratch those you share with the greater market. If you want to solve a technical problem, get a group together and do it as open source.” 3 – Not the right team A diverse team with different skill sets was often cited as being critical to the success of a starti[ company. Failure post-mortems often lamented that “I wish we had a CTO from the start, or wished that the startup had “a founder that loved the business aspect of things”. In some cases, the founding team wished they had more checks and balances. As Nouncers founder stated, “This brings me back to the underlying problem I didn’t have a partner to balance me out and provide sanity checks for business and technology decisions made.” Wesabe founder also stated that he was the sole and quite stubborn decision maker for much of the enterprises life, and therefore he can blame no one but himself for the failures of Wesabe. Team deficiencies were given as a reason for startup failure almost 1/3 of the time. 4 – Poor Marketing Knowing your target audience and knowing how to get their attention and convert them to leads and ultimately customers is one of the most important skills of a successful business. Yet, in almost 30% of failures, ineffective marketing was a primary cause of failure. Oftentimes, the inability to market was a function of founders who liked to code or build product but who didn’t relish the idea of promoting the product. The folks at Devver highlighted the need to find someone who enjoys creating and finding distribution channels and developing business relationship for the company as a key need that startups should ensure they fill. 5 – Ran out of cash Money and time are finite and need to be allocated judiciously. The question of how should you spend your money was a frequent conundrum and reason for failure cited by failed startups. The decision on whether to spend significantly upfront to get the product off the group or develop gradually over time is a tough act to balance. The team at YouCastr cited money problems as the reason for failure but went on to highlight other reasons for shutting down vs. trying to raise more money writing: The single biggest reason we are closing down (a common one) is running out of cash. Despite putting the company in an EXTREMELY lean position, generating revenue, and holding out as long as we could, we didn’t have the cash to keep going. The next few reasons shed more light as to why we chose to shut down instead of finding more cash. The old saw was that more companies were killed by poor cashflow than anything else, but factors 1, 2 and 4 probably are the main contributing factors to that problem. No cash, no flow. The issue No 3 – the team – is interesting, as if I take that comment ” I didn’t have a partner to balance me out and provide sanity checks for business and technology decisions made” and think about some of the founders and startup CEOs I know, I can safely say that the main way that any decision was made was by agreeing with them – it was “my way or the highway”. I don’t therefore “buy” the team argument, I more buy the willingness of the key decision makers to change when things are not working (aka “pivoting” – point 9). _________________________________________________ About the Author This article was produced by Broadsight. Broadsight is an attempt to build a business not just to consult to the emerging Broadband Media / Quadruple Play / Web 2.0 world, but to be structured according to its open principles. see more. 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