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Khailee Ng, Founder Of Says.com

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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.

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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.

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Connect

Website: http://khailee.com

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/khailee

Facebook: www.facebook.com/khailee

Twitter: https://twitter.com/khailee

Entrepreneurship

Women on Top in Tech – Espree Devora, Creator, Podcast Producer, and Host at WeAreLATech.com

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(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.)

Espree Devora is known as “the Girl who Gets it Done”. She created WeAreLATech.com, a hub for entrepreneurs to connect to resources in the Silicon Beach community, which hosts the 1st podcast focused on LA Startups. She is also a podcast Producer and Host of the show, Women in Tech Podcast. The purpose of the show is for every listener to walk away feeling ‘If She Can Do It So Can I’. She calls it “actionable empowerment”. In 2017, Espree was listed by Inc Magazine as top 30 Women in Tech to follow.

What makes you do what you do?
Being an entrepreneur is in my blood. Some days are epic highs. Others are incredibly uncomfortably low. It’s not an easy day to day life, but living with a sense of purpose is an extraordinary gift.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?
Being myself. Pushing through my fears to be positively vulnerable. To live as though I am always mentoring even though I may not know who’s paying attention.

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’ve always loved media production. It’s a creative art form that can have long lasting positive effects on the audience who absorbs the content I create.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work? How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him/her?
I do now have a mentor I look up to to be my most powerful self. We met at a conference and we speak regularly to work past my self-limiting beliefs and to build an abundant life, both spiritually and professionally. My mentor’s name is Debra Hockemeyer.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?
I seek out integrity and a moral compass code. I want empowering solution mind teammates who value our company culture.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?
Yes, because we’re human.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?
Lead with vulnerability, let your audience share in the progression of your journey.

Advice for others?
Your “intuition is your oracle”. Walk your own path, don’t try to be someone else. They had their journey so it’s time for you to create your own journey now.

People crave connectivity, not celebrity. So rather than trying to look big, instead focus on creating immense positive impact in each person’s life (be it customer or partner or friend)

My Mom always says every “No” is one step closer to a “Yes”.

We want to continue to build connective technology, produce meaningful media and create unique offline experiences in the startup space to move people from online digital relationships to high quality offline relationships.


If you’d like to get in touch with Espree Devora, please feel free to reach out to her on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/espree/

To learn more about WeAreLATech.com , please click here.

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Callum Connects

Darvin Kurniawan, Founder & CEO of REIDAO

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Darvin Kurniawan is impressed by blockchain technology. He believes it will change the way we live in the not so distant future. His business, Crowdvilla.io is using blockchain technology to change how society owns assets.

What’s your story?
I was trained in computer science and I went on to appreciate the many facets of business. I delved into multiple industries, which equipped me with the many skills to become a ‘jack of all trades.’ This allowed me to see things from various points of view and to identify opportunities and potential risks.
I heard about bitcoin for the first time in 2011. It was very difficult for me to understand back then. I revived my interest in blockchain technology near the launch of the second most popular blockchain, ethereum and I have been involved ever since.

What excites you most about your industry?
Blockchain has a real chance to change how we live as a society. This is not just as a business or start-up, but a way of life.

What’s your connection to Asia?
My grandfather came from China to Indonesia. I was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. I moved to Singapore for university and have stayed here since then.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore, for its efficiency, and very clear rules and regulations. Not to mention the relatively competitive tax rate.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
“Just try it out.” So simple, yet many fail to appreciate the fact that surveys and questionnaires sometimes just don’t work.

Who inspires you?
Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a writer. He inspires me because of his ability to see things the way they are. He articulates points that I knew existed, but I couldn’t explain. That’s what makes me drawn to his writing.
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok), a politician. He is able to say what’s right, no matter what!

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
A blockchain AI project by SingularityNET. It’s going to change how we live if it goes mainstream.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have been more persistent in my endeavours. I learnt the hard way. In many cases, what was needed was time.

How do you unwind?
I frequently take a long stroll.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Lombok, Indonesia. It’s not as crowded as Bali, with similar, if not better beaches. It’s perfect for a quiet time and a short getaway.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Shameless plug for your business:
It’s more than just a business. It’s a movement. Crowdvilla.io is changing how society owns assets. Through blockchain technology and the ability to create digital assets, we can create digital assets that mimic and govern a real estate utilization model.
Imagine if there was a hotel chain where the buildings or assets were owned indirectly by the community, and the hotel’s mandate was to make itself available for the community to use. Removing all the middlemen, we can immediately give better value to the community.

How can people connect with you?
[email protected]

Twitter handle?
@darvink

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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