Entrepreneurship Khailee Ng, Founder Of Says.com Published 4 years ago on June 4, 2014 By The Asian Entrepreneur Editorial Team Share Tweet Khailee Ng is a technology entrepreneur who co-founded GroupsMore, a leading group buying company acquired by Groupon in 2011, and SAYS.com, a regional social media advertising and news network. In October 2013, following the completion of the merger of Says Sdn Bhd with certain subsidiaries of Catcha Media Berhad, Rev Asia was formed and Khailee was appointed Chairman to the Board of Directors. Khailee has also invested in numerous startups in Malaysia and the USA, and mentors young startups as entrepreneur-in-residence with the global seed fund and incubator 500 Startups, as well as Founder’s Institute. He studied business and marketing in California at San Francisco State University and University of California Berkeley, and University of Technology, Sydney. His success at a young age earned him the HSBC Young Entrepreneur Award (Best in Asia) and an invitation by the US State Government into the prestigious IVLP, joining notable alumni like Tony Blair, Nicolas Sarkozy, and Mahathir Mohamad. Today, The Asian Entrepreneur is priveleged to speak to Khailee Ng about his work and views on Asian entrepreneurship. What exactly is Says? Says.com is a social news network. We curate different news sources into a single news story and our readers share it through social media to reach more than 2 million Malaysians monthly. Half a million of these readers don’t read any of the top 4 online news portals. The social media generation seems to really dig our approach. How did the idea for Says come about? Our friends and I realized that: 1. To get the full story surrounding a particular piece of news, you have to visit many different sites 2. Most news websites are full of words, and carried very few pictures or video So we created a news site that summarized the words into ‘bullets’, but gathered all the images and video together Could you walk us through the process of starting up Says? We stared doing one thing. Kept doing many things. And never stopped. What has it been like managing the business since? The team that manages Says.com is young, driven, super smart, creative and make for brutal executors. They take great care of the business, ensuring the workplace is an environment where the very best people want to work, an environment that sets people free to do what needs to be done. Did you find anything particularly difficult during the startup? A lot of entrepreneurs brag about how hard their life was, and the media loves writing about this. My view is that difficulty is relative to the size of your ambition. If you think small, small problems affect you. If you think big, it takes a big problem to affect you. When things are tough I’ve always encouraged my team to think bigger and find new solutions. I’m fortunate this has made things easier rather than more difficult. The tough times we go through are short lived and we always end up looking at them as just another day at work. Was it hard to build the visitors base initially for your website? The first 12 months was slow. We spent a lot of time winning our readers over one story at a time, challenging our assumptions, and iterating on our product and approach. During Malaysia’s 2013 General Elections, we received a lot of really positive feedback on our coverage. Eventually, people got hooked on our style of news. A considerable number of our stories would get up to hundreds and thousands of reads in a week. And now we’re growing so fast, we see a chance to beat the traditional news websites and be number one. What is your strategy against your competition? Our only competition is our complacent selves. We focus on being better than we were the month before. Have you developed any industry insights that you could share? News that isn’t shared across social media isn’t news worthy. The real front page is not the front page of a newspaper the paper’s landing page – it’s what people see when they load their Facebook or Twitter. How have you managed to stay relevant in this industry? That’s not a concern of ours. We want to stay valuable; value creates relevance. Too often people associate relevance with being new or current. We focus on what drives value in news. We’re not the fastest news source, we don’t even have exclusive reporting, but we have the most complete account of a news story, displayed in an easy to view format that can be scanned at speed. People get a lot of value very, very, quickly. We try to do this better and for more people, and the way we deliver this value might evolve as content consumption habits evolve, but we focus on being valuable. What does the future hold for Says? You may see our approach translate to more verticals, and to more markets, if our approach adds value there. What do you think about startups in Asia? Many startups in Asia are trying to answer big problems and go after big opportunities. I invest in many of them via the Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm 500 Startups – I take care of their Southeast Asia fund – and am really excited about where all of this is headed. What are some personal principles or personal values that guide you and your career? I am very skeptical of advice and conventions people lazily accept as true. I like trying to understand the deeper truth behind situations. People think I’m just being a contrarian, but really I’m just being curious. What is your definition of success? You wake up feeling you’re doing exactly what you’re meant to be doing that day. Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? I didn’t. I like creating things. Business just happens to be a useful vehicle for achieving that. It’s a means of gathering resources, people, and energy to create things I can’t create on my own. What do you think are the most important things entrepreneurs should keep in mind? They are the biggest limitation to their own successes. The moment they grow their thinking, grow their access to resources, grow their access to knowledge, their businesses will grow too. In your opinion, what are the keys to entrepreneurial success? There’s a whole bunch of things one can only start to describe, but continuous learning does stand out as the one thing people overlook from time to time. Connect Website: http://khailee.com Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/khailee Facebook: www.facebook.com/khailee Twitter: https://twitter.com/khailee Related Topics:asiaasianasian entrepreneurasian entrepreneurshipbusinessEntrepreneurentrepreneursEntrepreneurshipFocusgovernmentkhailee nglifemalaysiaMarketingnewsonlinesays.comsays.com founderstartupstartupsStorysuccesstechnologythe asian entrepreneurvalue Continue Reading You may like 10 Effective Funding Models for Non-Profit Startups Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings Women on Top in Tech – Pam Weber, Chief Marketing Officer at 99Designs Renata Brkić William Chin, Founder of Mummy’s Market How We Can Innovate the Legal Industry like Elon Musk Callum Connects Malcolm Tan, Founder of Gravitas Holdings Published 1 day ago on December 15, 2017 By Callum Laing Malcolm Tan is an ICO/ITO and Cryptocurrency advisor. He sees this new era as similar to when the internet launched. What’s your story? I’m a lawyer entrepreneur who owns multiple businesses, and who is now stepping into the Initial Coin Offering/Initial Token Offering/Cryptocurrency space to be a thought leader, writer (How to ICO/ITO in Singapore – A Regulatory and Compliance Viewpoint on Initial Coin Offering and Initial Token Offering in Singapore), and advisor through Gravitas Holdings – an ICO Advisory company. We are also running our own ICO campaign called AEXON, and advising 2 other ICO’s on their projects. What excites you most about your industry? It is the start of a whole new paradigm, and it is like being at the start of the internet era all over again. We have a chance to influence and shape the industry over the next decade and beyond and lead the paradigm shift. What’s your connection to Asia? I’m Singaporean and most of my business revolves around the ASEAN region. Our new ICO advisory company specialises in Singaporean ICO’s and we are now building partnerships around the region as well. One of the core business offerings of our AEXON ICO/ITO is to open up co-working spaces around the region, with a target to open 25 outlets, and perhaps more thereafter. Favourite city in Asia for business and why? Singapore, since it is my hometown and most of my business contacts originate from or are located in Singapore. It is also a very open and easy place to do business. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received? Be careful of your clients – sometimes they can be your worst enemies. This is very true and you have to always be careful about whom you deal with. The closest people are the ones that you trust and sometimes they have other agendas or simply don’t tell you the truth or whole story and that can easily put one in a very disadvantageous position. Who inspires you? Leonardo Da Vinci as a polymath and genius and leader in many fields, and in today’s world, Elon Musk for being a polymath and risk taker and energetic business leader. What have you just learnt recently that blew you away? Early stage bitcoin investors would have made 1,000,000 times profit if they had held onto their bitcoins from the start to today – in the short space of 7 years. If you had your time again, what would you do differently? Seek out good partnerships and networks from day one, and use the power of the group to grow and do things together, instead of being bogged down by operations and going it alone from start. How do you unwind? I hardly have any time for relaxation right now. I used to have very intense hobbies, chess when I was younger, bridge, bowling, some online real time strategy games and poker. All mentally stimulating games and requiring focus – I did all these at competitive levels and participated in national and international tournaments, winning multiple trophies, medals and awards in most of these fields. Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why? Phuket – nature, resort life, beaches, good food and a vibrant crowd. Everyone in business should read this book: Rich Dad Poor Dad by Richard Kiyosaki Shameless plug for your business: Gravitas Holdings (Pte) Limited is the premier ICO Advisory company and we can do a full service for entrepreneurs, including legal and compliance, smart contracts and token creation, marketing and PR, and business advisory and white paper writing/planning. How can people connect with you? Write emails to [email protected], or [email protected] Twitter handle? @malcolmABM — 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 Continue Reading Entrepreneurship Women on Top in Tech – Pam Weber, Chief Marketing Officer at 99Designs Published 2 days ago on December 14, 2017 By Marion Neubronner (Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.) Pam Webber is Chief Marketing Officer at 99designs, where she heads up the global marketing team responsible for acquisition, through growth marketing and traditional marketing levers, and increasing lifetime value of customers. She is passionate about using data to derive customer insights and finding “aha moments” that impact strategic direction. Pam brings a host of first-hand startup marketing experiences as an e-commerce entrepreneur herself and as the first marketing leader for many fast-growing startups. Prior to joining 99designs, she founded weeDECOR, an e-commerce company selling custom wall decals for kids’ rooms. She also worked as an executive marketing consultant at notable startups including True&Co, an e-commerce startup specializing in women’s lingerie. Earlier in her career, Pam served in various business and marketing positions with eBay and its subsidiary, PayPal, Inc. A resident of San Francisco, Pam received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania and MBA from Harvard Business School. Pam is a notable guest speaker for Venture Beat, The Next Web, Lean Startup, and Growth Hacking Forum, as well as an industry expert regularly quoted in Inc., CIO, Business News Daily, CMSwire, Smart Hustle, DIY Marketer, and various podcast and radio shows. You can follow her on Twitter at @pamwebber_sf. What makes you do what you do? My dad always told me make sure you choose a job you like because you’ll be doing it for a long time. I took that advice to heart and as I explored various roles over my career, I always stopped to check whether I was happy going to work every day – or at least most days :). That has guided me to the career I have in marketing today. I’m genuinely excited to go to work every day. I get to create, to analyze, to see the impact of my work. It’s very fulfilling. How did you rise in the industry you are in? I had a penchant for numbers and it helped me stand out in my field. This penchant became even more powerful when the Internet and digital marketing started to explode. There was a great need for marketers whose skills could span both the creative and the analytic aspects of marketing. I capitalized on that growth by bringing unique insight to the companies I worked with, well-supported with thoughtful analysis. Why did you take on this role/start this startup? I’m not sure this is relevant to my situation as I had been a marketing leader in various start-ups and companies. I took on the role at 99designs because I was excited by the global reach of the brand and the opportunity the company had to own the online design space. I especially liked the team as I felt they were good at heart. The challenge I’ve faced in my time at 99designs is how do I evolve the team quickly and nimbly to address new challenges. The work we do now, is very different than the work we did a year ago and even the year before that. There is a fine line between staying focused on the goal ahead and being able to move quickly should that goal shift. Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industry or did you look for one or how did that work? There is no one I’ve sought out or worked with over my entire career as my “mentee” needs have changed so much over the years. There are many people who have helped me along the way. For example, one of my peers at eBay, who was quite experienced and skilled in marketing strategy and creative execution, taught me what was in a marketing plan and how to evaluate marketing assets. As I have risen to leadership positions over the years, I often reach out to similarly experienced colleagues for advice on how they handle situations. How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him? I learned early in my career that it rarely hurts to ask for advice. So that is what I have done. Additionally, there are people that are known to be quite helpful and build a reputation for giving back to others in advisory work. Michael Dearing, of Harrison Metal and ex-eBay, is one of those people. I, as well as countless others, have asked him for advice and guidance through the years and he does his best to oblige. Finding mentorship is about intuiting who in your universe might be willing and whether you are up for asking for help. That being said, generally, I have found, if you are eager to learn and be guided, people will respond to the outreach. Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent? I generally look for a good attitude and inherent “smarts”. A good attitude can encompass anything from being willing to take on many different types of challenges to working well amongst differing personalities and perspectives. Smarts can be seen through how well someone’s done in their “passion areas” (i.e. areas where they have a keen interest in pursuing). I try to hire those types of people because in smaller, fast-growing companies like many of the ones I’ve worked in, it’s more often than not about hiring flexible people as things move and change fast. Once those people are on my team, I try to keep them challenged and engaged by making sure they have varying responsibilities. If I can’t give them growth in their current job or in the current company, I encourage them to seek growth opportunities elsewhere. I’d rather have one of my stars leave for a better growth opportunity than keep them in a role where they might grow stale. Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why? I consciously support diversity. When I am hiring, I am constantly thinking about how to balance the team with as broad a range as possible of skill sets, perspectives, etc. to ensure we can take on whatever is thrown at us, or whatever we want to go after. 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 going to assume a great leader in my industry to mean a marketing leader in a technology company. I think a great leader in this industry is not afraid to learn new tricks no matter their age – it’s the growth mindset you may have heard about. I have a friend who inspires me to do this – she purchased the Apple Watch as soon as it was available, and was one of the first people I knew to use the Nest heating/cooling system. She’s not an early adopter by most definitions, but she adopts the growth mindset. This is the mindset I, too, have sought to adopt. In my field of marketing, it most recently has meant learning about Growth Marketing and how to apply this methodology to enhance growth. Independent of your industry, I think a growth mindset serves you well. Advice for others? I have been at 99designs for 3.5 years. During that time we’ve invested in elevating the skills and quality of our designer community, we’ve rebranded to reflect this higher level of quality, and have improved the satisfaction of our customers. Our next phase of growth will come from better matching clients to the right designer and expanding the ability to work with a designer one-on-one. 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