Connect with us

Innovative Asian Entrepreneurs

The Ming Brothers, Founders of The Ming Thing

Published

on

We’ve seen you guys all over YouTube but tell us a bit about yourselves.

Ming Han:

My name is Ho Ming Han, but people usually refer to me as just Ming. Currently, I create a lot of online content, act and direct. But I grew up the typical asian child way – studied hard in school and learned piano at the same time. I studied to be an architect since young but when I started the degree, I really learned what passion was and I didn’t have that for the subject. I dropped out and somehow ended up in a Psychology degree, finished it and loved it.

I’ve always appreciated the arts and actually started performing with my brother in a band since we were in high school and college. So when YouTube began for us, it was a new way to express ourselves and let out our creativity as well.

Ming Yue:

And, I’m Ho Ming Yue, or more commonly known as Ming Yue or Ming. One of the Mings from The Ming Thing, I love creating and highlighting the little things in life that we usually tend to oversee. My passions are music, film, tech & gadgets, and people.

In your own words, what do you guys do on YouTube today?

Ming Yue:

I think the easiest way to describe what we do is to call it what it is. Content creators. We make content that we share with people through the internet that hopefully people enjoy and can relate to.

Ming Han:

I would add that my team and myself write, create and produce different forms of content (usually videos) for internet use. Along the way, I get the chance to speak and consult different groups of people about matters related to online and social media as well as creative work in its new forms.

So how tell us about your YouTube story. How did it begin?

Ming Han:

Along my thesis year in my degree (my final year), I randomly decided to vlog about the horrible carpark situation in my university at that time. That required me to start a YouTube channel that I randomly named “dmingthing” because it rhymed with my name and “themingthing” was taken, so I had to use “d” instead.

Amazingly, my first vlog did amazingly well. I had a few thousand views overnight for a totally new channel (which was very very surprising). I tried a two more vlogs and it was at that time I got contacted separately by two different people, Raffi and Bryan. They were both pretty good videographers and both offered to try making videos with me. We shot “Shit Boyfriends Say” and “Alone, Forever” and released them one after the other and even more mind-blowingly, both went viral with more than hundreds of thousand views. A huge level up from the few thousands that the vlogs had.

So we looked at ourselves and said, hey.. this is working out. The rest was pretty much history.

Ming Yue: 

I still remember when I was still in England studying, Ming Han started up the channel to complain about his university’ carpark situation. He made a few more videos and when I came back to Malaysia and I joined him and we started putting all our ideas into little videos on the channel.

We’ve always been storytellers since kids, with pretty imaginative minds, so I think we saw YouTube as a way to bring those ideas and stories to life from inside our heads.

Could you guys tell us about the process setting up and growing your YouTube channel?

Ming Yue:

Ming Han made a vlog, and then some short videos with Raffi & Bryan, and then we started to put in a little more effort in those videos. We made a web-series and then more videos.

I guess the channel’s growth was something that just happened, and not something we focused on. We really just wanted to create.

Ming Han:

Honestly, I can’t really recall a “proper” process of doing all that. We just made videos and made some more videos and kept doing that! We’ve never really concentrated on the growth of the channel because we really just focus on writing and making better videos that we’d like to watch. So it was pretty nice having friends and viewers commenting and saying “Hey, you just passed X number of subscribers!” or “Your video has X views!!!”. Yeah its pretty weird but we get told how our channel is doing. Haha.

Were there any major challenges that came with trying to develop the YouTube channel?

Ming Han:

Definitely. When we started, it was really tough getting the right locations to shoot. Doors weren’t really open to us and we literally didn’t have much money at all to book places. Equipment was also really limited. For the longest time we didn’t even use any lights. But really, overcoming this was all about knowing how to use what you have. If you’re good at being resourceful with what you have and become as skilful as you can with the current setup you have, you can make things happen.

Ming Yue:

Also, Ming Han never had any prior training or knowledge in shooting videos, and so Bryan & Raffi were a big part of the channel, bringing their know-how and experience to the table.

Perhaps some memorable difficulties were that we had very limited resources and man-power, which is something we still face today. But we’ve learnt to make do with what we have, and it’s become something we live by today as well.

Where is all of this going? What can we expect from you guys in the near future?

Ming Han:

Nowadays, its more about developing the types of content we make. We’ve always held to the practice of trying new things. So we always take any chance we get to explore a different way of shooting or a different style or writing. Anything that in turn, develops our skills and abilities as well. All this is to make sure we keep growing to do bigger things in the future, be it 5 years or 15. We definitely wanna make bigger forms of content – TV series or even movies.

What are your thoughts on the Malaysian YouTube scene?

Ming Yue:

We’re in a rather interesting point of growth for YouTube here in Malaysia. We’ve actually got quite a few YouTubers that have been around for a while as well.

I think we need to be more courageous when it comes to getting on YouTube, both for creators and as an audience. There’s a lot of talk as to how our Malaysian entertainment scene isn’t on par as countries in the West, and it’s definitely a personal challenge to see that change. YouTube is rich in diversity in the States, and it’s something our local scene needs as well. Not everyone needs to be a comedy-video maker or short-film maker.

If there are people who want to make music videos, or even videos about growing vegetables, I say do it. Being Asians, it’s our strength and weakness that we’re cautious in the things that we do, and critical if it will be a success. But I think if there’s anything we can do that’s different to Asian culture, is to take a risk. As creators, we need to dive into what we’re doing and believe in it, and as content creators, we do just that; create. And as an audience, we need to be more trusting of our local content and creators. That’s going to be the biggest push that Malaysia needs.

Ming Han: 

I think its very very different. Much younger than the scene in U.S. and very segregated because of how diverse our culture is. Over there its simple and straightforward because everyone communicates in English as their main language. But here, we have all kinds of languages and dialects and cultures. Its tough to make something that caters to everyone! But its a great challenge! Haha!

What are some of the key challenges that Malaysian YouTubers face?

Ming Han:

I would say the general creative culture in the region would be the main challenge. People value and treat creativity very differently here. Its still extremely difficult for new YouTubers to make YouTubing their full-time job. Mainly because its tough making a living for it. So many people just do it on the side or maybe don’t even start at all because its tough. Even we face challenges working with bigger brands and corporations. Its an ongoing hustle trying to help educate and change their perspectives regarding online content and how its different from traditional content (newspapers, TV, radio). But I guess that’s part of how a new scene grows. And I’m thankful to be part of that.

Ming Yue:

A lot of people we’ve spoken to at events and workshops always ask one particular question when we talk about YouTube. It’s, ‘How do I start?’. And there’s really only one answer to that, it’s, JUST start.

Again, maybe because of our Asian culture, we’re a bit more timid, a bit more reserved in many ways. And I think that doesn’t have to be the case on YouTube. We treat YouTube as a playground to do whatever we want to do and can think of, and that’s the thing that the local scene needs to remember. I think that it’s not about the number of views or subscribers, or how viral a video gets or even how big a channel grows, it’s about content. At the end of the day, it’s content that keeps an audience coming back. We need to just put ourselves into what we create, and not worry about the rest of it. That’s probably a challenge in itself.


Many people find your viewers incredibly funny and entertaining, what is your secret recipe to great YouTube videos?

Ming Han:

We always make videos that AT LEAST we find “watchable”. Haha. Our main “standard” would be ‘would we enjoy it?’. I guess that’s the first step to our recipe. But to really get into that, its about being aware to what’s going on around you. Our country is absolutely rich with all kinds of comedy and stories to be told because of how rich our culture and diversity is. Its really about watching and listening to what is happening around you and making a good story out of that. Or making fun of it. Heheh.

Ming Yue:

I don’t think there’s a recipe for great videos, because if there is, we definitely need it.

Ming Han and I are the ones who come up and write the videos and I guess we both have a similar source of inspiration for it, and it’s life. We love seeing something or someone react to life and that’s what we try to put into our videos. It’s the way we react to life in ways we may or may not notice.

We recently learnt that you guys have also started CORE Studios, tell us about it.

Ming Han:

Basically, that’s the entity that we set up to do more formal work and bigger work. TheMingThing on YouTube has become our image and face into the online social media world. CORE would most probably be the engine behind it. In CORE we work on different things at once. Mostly different videos most people don’t see online because they’re for other brands and people. But you can expect a bigger team. CORE is where we get new people into the team, train and shape individuals and then with that bigger manpower – create bigger things.

What are your personal opinions on Malaysian entrepreneurship?

Ming Han:

I personally think Malaysia is a great place to begin any entrepreneurship. Its a comfortable country with affordable-ish living costs. Its not too high-stress in terms of really needing to get a job, but I find our countrymen very laid back compared to many other countries I’ve visited. I think as Malaysians, we’re always looking out for something that can help our people. And that’s what Malaysian entrepreneurship is mainly based on – serving the citizens of this country better. Be it better food, better clothes or better services, I love that its strongly and uniquely based on the needs and wants of our country.

Ming Yue:

I think it’s booming and has a lot more potential than we realize. People are starting to take risks, trying to ride the trends and really just create something for themselves. As a nation, I think it’s only going to get better in the coming years with the amount of great ideas that are coming out from the people.

Why did you guys decide to do what you do?

Ming Yue:

Passion. That’s probably the biggest influencing factor in why we decided, and even still do what we do. We absolutely love what we do and we love seeing the way people respond to it; the good the bad and the ugly.

Ming Han:

I would say that it really chose us, instead of the other way around. It just worked! And kept on working. So we kept doing it! After university ended, I was already getting a few jobs here and there to make videos for telcos and different brands. So instead of applying for a more normal (and secure) job, I decided to try this out for a year with Bryan and Raffi as a real job. And that year kept on extending!

What are your definitions of success?

Ming Han:

I’ve noticed this definition changes from time to time. But right now, its about doing what you do, effectively and excellently. To a point where people can’t deny you’re good at what you do.

Ming Yue:

I think to me, success is being able to step back from whatever you’re doing and be content about it. Not so much because you’ve achieved or completed something, but because you’re able to let go of what you’re doing and look above it, knowing that there’s just so much to be grateful for.

Any parting tips and words of wisdom for entrepreneurs out there?

Ming Han:

Take the leap. Its always a risk, but big things are always scary. I believe the younger you are, the more you should try. Of course, entrepreneurship can start at any age but start young. So you make more mistakes and learn quicker. When you’re able to be more flexible and mouldable. Just go for it.

Ming Yue:

Do it. Really, just do it. The biggest thing holding us back from succeeding, is the fact that we don’t even try. Get out there, ?igure out what you love doing, do it, and love that you’re doing it.

Connect with the Ming Brothers:

TheMingThing – YouTube

The Ming Thing – Facebook

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Anna Gong, CEO of Perx Technologies

Published

on

(Women on Top in Tech is a series of Women Founders, CEOs & Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

I am talking to Anna Gong, CEO of Perx Technologies, a leading mobile customer engagement and loyalty software company headquartered in Singapore.  Anna was born in China and grew up in the U.S., and has been in the tech industry for nearly 20 years. She has worked at large and startup companies before taking over the leadership of Perx in November 2014.

perx-logo


How did you rise in the industry you are in?

With pure perseverance and an undying passion for success. All because of the fear of letting my parents’ big sacrifice go in vain. They came to the U.S. with $500 and 2 young kids (my sister and me). They sacrificed their careers as established academic and healthcare professionals. I wanted them to be proud and while growing up in the U.S. where it’s full of dreams and hopes. I took on many challenges and tried many things to prove that I can achieve success and greatness but not without hardship, obstacles, and major discrimination challenges.

From the day I graduated from college, I started my career in the tech industry. I have never once let a mostly male-dominated industry discourage me. I also did not let rejection of opportunities discourage me either. I optimistically persevered and even acted like one of the boys to fit in and disguised my femininity at times. I was not afraid to face challenges, push backs and lean into difficult situations. I always knew if I didn’t take those chances, the opportunity would pass me by.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you? (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics.)

I wouldn’t say I wasn’t the usual leadership demographic. There are more and more tech companies being led by females, but it still has ways to go to be on the same level playing field as men.

I was actually recruited into this role by the board and I took it since I knew the mobile technology was a hot area to get into and it was a great business model. However, when I came in, I discovered that this company needed a whole new face lift, an entire shift in the way we did business to ensure we could achieve sustainable and repeatable success.

I therefore “refounded” the company and developed a whole new culture, technology platform, business and service model. You now see a different Perx. Perx 2.0.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?

This is one of the more common challenges with companies of all sizes. It has to start from the foundational ingredients such as core values and culture. Then it’s leadership and how well you instill and practice ownership, accountability but yet still make it a fun, creative and challenging environment.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

I now unconsciously support it. I believe in and embrace diversity but at the end of the day, I aim to hire the best person for the role and not the best gender.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?

I’m not sure if there’s any single handbook that teaches you to be a great leader but there are things that I believe in and practice. You have to have great vision, strong purpose, and core values that the company can buy into, support, and love by. Focus focus focus and be transparent. Lead from the front line and lead with compassion and empathy.

Advice for others?

Don’t be afraid to fail and seek advice from your community. You cannot do this alone and being a CEO is a lonely job. Find one or a few mentors. This is absolutely essential to our success and our sanity.


To learn more about Perx, please see http://www.getperx.com.

Are you a startup looking for investment? Come join me at Expert Dojo’s “Q4 Investor Festival – Where Startups Meet Investors” in Santa Monica, from October 24 to 28. Details at http://expertdojo.com/events/biggest-startup-pitch-event-usa-5-days-focus-get-startup-funded-investor-festival/.

For information about the first ever “Latinx in Tech Edition”, please see http://www.kaporcenter.org/event/startup-weekend-oakland-latinx-tech-edition/.
Save

Continue Reading

Innovative Asian Entrepreneurs

David Ng, Co-Founder of Deepo

Published

on

David Ng was born in Singapore, but raised in California. His father is Chinese Singaporean and his mother is American, so David found it in his blood to bounce back between East and West. David studied Film and Chinese studies at UC Berkeley, and later obtained a JD from Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles. Contrary to expectations, David was able to leverage his Cal degrees by working for some Film companies in Singapore (Shaw and Cathay) and a Chinese company Chinacache, where he was able to work myself up to a director out of their LA office and watched them go IPO. David is currently back living full time in Singapore, and enjoy travel, basketball and film and shopping for things I don’t need. He speaks to The Asian Entrepreneur today about Deepo, his startup.

IMG_7463

In your own words what is Deepo?

Deepo is an AI that helps marketers and editors of websites to show content recommendations easily, and to obtain reports and insights on their data.

How did you come up with the idea of Deepo?

We created Deepo out of frustration from having to educate marketers about the best way to use their data to help them engage their users better.

Could you walk us through the process of starting up Deepo?

A few of us at Gimmie a few months back for brainstorming on how we could automate tasks we were doing for our customers. We eventually decided lets copy Google who has their Google X for all the cool stuff they are working on and come up with GimmieX. We had some good attempts, but they all failed for one reason or another. However, each failure helped get us closer to realizing some of the fundamental problems our customers were facing and made us key in on two we thought we could directly help.  We then tried to turn GimmieX into a Gimmie Product, but some of our customers were confused because it was dramatically different than our full service and custom solutions provide by Gimmie.

That eventually led us down the path to decide to launch a new company, and for me personally to pass the baton to a new management team at Gimmie.

Was anything in particular challenging at the time?

Every day is a challenge. Some times we’re so tired we forget what time it is, or forgetting our keys. In the business, how do we describe something that contains parts of many other companies? How to scale from no users, to milllions and millions in a very short time frame? These were and remain some of our ongoing challenges, although we’re better at remembering our keys now!

How have you been developing Deepo since startup?

We push changes every few days doing continuous deployment, and have found some good online tools that help us do that (circleCI). We also have a semi-Scrum agile development process using Pivotal Tracker, which gives us some structure. The most important tools for our development have been a combo of Slack + Github the best tool is communication.

What kind of feedback did you get for Deepo so far?

People have been very positive about our direction, to the extent of supporting us even though they know some of the features are not yet ready because they see the value even at our early stage. We’ve really been proud we’ve been able to help some of our customers and that’s what motivates us each day to do better. For instance Rohit Saran, Editor of Khaleej Times said it was something he has never seen before,

What is your strategy against your competition?

We see a lot of siloed solutions out there for doing parts of what we do. For instance, you could use Outbrain for your recommendations. But then you’d need Chartbeat to get a dashboard of your analytics and attention minutes of how that content is performing, and Automated Insights to present to you human like written reports written by machines to share with your management, and finally Optimizely to see if your content recommendations are even helpful for you in the first place.

Deepo automates several services and takes over the role of the people who would have to use and setup them – developers, analysts, marketers. We are focused on letting machines do the work that marketers have been doing as opposed to our competitors who supply tech for marketers to use.

What can you tell us about the industry?

Marketing tech already has 29  “unicorns”  worth  USD $1B
http://venturebeat.com/2015/04/30/29-martech-unicorns-there-are-now-almost-30-1b-marketing-technology-vendors/

The market size varies anywhere from $1.5 B in 2015 to $120B.  In the next few years experts say it is worth around $32B based on increased Marketing spending as it focuses on data driven marketing.

What is the future of the industry?

I believe strongly that  digital marketers are great at strategy, planning, creative and design. However I don’t think they are trained to know how to analyze data in real time and make decisions on what content to show for every user on their site. For that, machines are better equipped, and with machine learning and advanced data science like predictive analytics, it’s now possible to automate many tasks and provide as a service.

Currently Data Scientists are in short supply, and for the lucky few marketers that work with them, more often than not in our experience we find the business prioritizes their product first over the efforts of the marketers (conversions, signups, time spent on site, etc).

In the next 5-10 years I think that the gulf between marketing and data science will decrease and eventually marketers will be making all decisions based off data with a combo team of marketing and data science backgrounds.

But before that, we are hoping some of them will want to use Deepo to act as their virtual data scientist and help them automatically show the best content and tell them hidden insights about their data.

Were there anything that disappointed you initially?

We’re too early to have disappointments !  Just kidding.

One lesson I’ve learned though from Gimmie, is to focus on customers that have a need as opposed to having to push a sale.

Initially we were targeting smaller companies with Deepo thinking it’d be easier to get started, but we realized that Deepo wasn’t always a good fit because there is no need to have content recommendations and engagement if you don’t have enough users first. So since, we’ve learned to focus on companies that are mature enough to focus on engagement as opposed to just growing traffic to the site.

What do you think about being an entrepreneur in Asia?

When I first came to Singapore from the Bay Area, I was often asked what’s it like to be a founder from Silicon Valley. Now more often than not, I hear from my friends back there whats it’s like in Asia ! I think this is the sign that the startup scene is starting to mature out here in Singapore. From Gimmie, I got to do a lot of business in the region, working in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and visiting several other countries.

For the most part, its a fun experience but one in which you feel more isolated compared to the the Valley.

There is a tendency to be more protective of ones times and ideas here, and sharing isn’t quite as common as I was used too. Because there are so many expats from all over the world, it’s really a global type setting which is a great where to learn about new business ideas and models and other cultures. Every country has their own differences and I think that applies to the startup scene.

From a Singapore perspective, with English being the defacto work language, its hard to even say that Singapore is typical of startups in  Asia. I think there is Singapore and then every other country.  In Singapore, its not common to see other startups while shopping, or seeing your friends who are dating someone in another startup.

It’s a really vibrant scene and for the most part very helpful. In the other countries there are really small clicks where everyone knows everyone. I’ve met so many great people though its really been amazing and have played basketball in almost every country I’ve visited with other statup folks!

Now that the industry is more mature than even 3 years ago when I moved back, I’ve seen now  2nd generation web and mobile enterpreneurs who are giving back to the community. I’ve been lucky for instance to have people like Dennis Goh from Hungrygowhere fame help mentor me over at Wavemaker.

For me personally, as I said in the opening I think I can get by equally in the Valley or here in Asia. However, if I didn’t have my background, I’d say that starting out in the Valley is easier because you’ll learn, fail and succeed faster just because the competition is so high you are forced to bring your A game.  In Asia, things are a bit more relaxed which suits me fine, but you have to continually push yourself to achieve because  there just isn’t the same level of competition.

What is your opinion on Asian entrepreneurship vs Western entrepreneurship?

US style is all about competing and overcoming the odds, innovation and big ideas. Asian stye is more about surviving enough, making money, and if lucky get to dream big.  I think that’s not always true, but for the most part people here tend to want to solve local problems as opposed to global ones. The good news is that with more investors investing in the region, people can start dreaming big even in Asia.

What is your definition of success?

Success for me is what difference I’ve made in helping others.  Have I helped my customers. Have I helped my colleagues, have I helped my investors. Did I make my family proud?   In the end you don’t measure success yourself, but rather those around you will tell you.  Sometimes it can be measured in milestones, other times it might be in the intangibles like giving a helping hand when they are down. I consider anything I do to making a positive difference in the world and providing new ideas, new innovations as a measure of success. Money should just be a result, but not the yardstick.

Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?

I made up my mind long ago, that I have strong opinions and ideas. For me being an entrepreneur is all about self expression, to be able to jump off any cliff I want at any time. If I try whats the worst that can happen? I fall down and fail. But If I work 8-5 for a large corp or to work in a law firm its about the grind and happiness comes from money, and thats not what motivates me. I’m more of an intrinsic rewards type of guy, so nothing is more rewarding than starting up something new against all odds with a bunch of people I like working with.

For me its all about the daily grind. I actually already wrote about this here:
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/what-means-show-up-work-startup-david-ng-%E4%BC%8D-%E7%AB%8B%E4%BC%9F?trk=prof-post

In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success?

Vision, Passion, Execution. If I had to rank I’d say

Execution, Passion, Vision in that order.

You can be a dreamer but in the end you need to get S done. I have always had the passion, and at least some form of vision even if blurry ! For me my entire focus now is on execution.

Make every day count, and stay level when you fail and succeed. Own your own work rhythm and don’t ever compare yourselves to others good or bad.  No idea is impossible if you have the right team and commitment.

As a leader you need to have conviction and charisma, and the first person you must convince above all else to step out there on the court of entrepreneurship is yourself.  Once you go out there onto the court, the fans and everyone else in the stadium don’t matter. Some might not like you, the opposing team is out to get you, and some teammates may even doubt you.  So you have to really be passionate with enough drive to block out everything else, and focus doing things you love and that starts with self conviction. From there you can start to convince others to share your dream.  In the end work hard and you will get respect, people will remember your name win lose or draw.

deepo-logo + slogan_Dark Blue BG

Connect

Continue Reading

Trending