Raising money

I get asked a bit from friends and from people in my network about how to raise money or checking in on is A better than B when it comes to raising money for your startup.

When I came across this article today,  it resonated with my usual reply to people – anyway you can that works for you is the right way to raise money.

In other words there is no one way or the perfect way. The goal is to raise money in some reasonable fashion that allows you to reach your goals. Maybe it is an accelerator, maybe an incubator, maybe you bootstrap, maybe you get some from your family or maybe – you take some from a VC. 

Point is – only you can determine what works for you and don’t let anyone tell you it is wrong or not the normal way – there is no normal way.

Find a path that makes you happy.

OTT nuttiness in Australia

I wrote this earlier today so it is fitting that this data is out about OTT in Australia.

In other words some of these countries do not seem to think that it is a winner take all type of thing in video and my guess is that when one wants to stream you cannot get everything you want from one provider. This is no different than say cable or terrestrial TV – there are many channels. Same with OTT – there are many providers and it takes 2-3 of them to get all the content you want.


Picked up on this article by Steve Blank over the weekend – such a good read.

I have worked at a few places in my life – startups, corporates, corporates in decline (Yahoo) and joint ventures masked as vehicles for corporates to try and stem declines (HOOQ). All of them share critical components but the corporates trying to deal with disruption can be very interesting. They don’t have it easy but they also continue to display the classic behaviors that got them to where they are in the first place. 

I notice in the local space that there is not a lot of investigative journalism into the big corporates around Singapore. I am guessing it is too touchy of a subject or maybe doesn’t drive page views. Hard to say.

Having just left HOOQ I would like to say a few things about it since I am asked many times why I went from startup land, Spuul, to pseudo startup land – HOOQ. 

Let me list a few reasons:

– I wanted the chance to get to know Singapore Inc. more closely.

– I wanted exposure to Sony and Warner.

– I was generally intrigued by the concept – 2 big studios work with local telco to try and do something cool in OTT.

– The plan had a solid model – the plan that is. The execution – not so much.

I went into the gig with my eyes wide open. I would learn, I would network and I would gain much needed experience on how to deal with a big corporate giant, actually three of them, trying to innovate. I would have a seat at the board meetings – huge learning opportunity. Boards can help a lot if done right.

Lastly, most importantly for me – I would try and see if I could buck the trend of a large corporate trying a new way to innovate but normally failing. The model had the right ingredients – a joint venture versus a subsidiary, good partners, a worthy business to go after and funds. Most startups don’t have these ingredients but then again most startups also don’t come with any baggage. Usually startups have a green field advantage and the right to make plans as they go whereas a joint venture is immediately plagued with too much funds, large parents to make happy and long range planning processes.

Frankly – it is too early to tell what will happen. Right now the market for OTT in emerging markets is early days. It is all about funding, posturing and moon shots. Obviously Netflix and Amazon will be the largest global players. As I keep saying to folks who constantly ask – who is the Amazon of India – Amazon. Just wait and see.

However folks tend to only thing big and forget that there are some healthy niche businesses out there – take Spuul for example. Doing well, but most folks only want to hear about big fund raising or other PR noteworthy milestones as examples of success.

For video we tend to think of Netflix or maybe YouTube. Right now the YouTube of emerging markets is YouTube. The Netflix for emerging markets – is also probably YouTube cause free and piracy are still the leader around the emerging markets. The idea of building out a robust, and profitable, paid OTT service for the emerging markets is still a work in progress.

HOOQ has a shot but iFlix appears to have the early lead. Will guys like Rakuten, Alibaba and HotStar emerge to try and go big? Don’t know yet. Will Netflix and Amazon slowly take over? Possibly. Will Google eventually get it right around the globe when it comes to premium content? I think not likely. Apple – well, they just seem to suck at emerging markets when it comes to payment models so I am not hopeful.

The race is on. I will continue to armchair quarterback it and share more insights as I go.

Doing versus saying

Lately been getting back into Seth Godin’s blog. Always a nugget or two in there.

Amazing his daily consistency.

We just came off a 3 day offsite at Jungle and we had some great, even heated discussions. As a new team we have a lot to learn about each other and we have much to discuss about our future. 

In my own life and work journey I keep thinking about my impact and my mark.

Realizing more and more that people love to talk – love to tell you about stuff but more and more I feel like talk is cheap. I am not saying this about just other people either – I am saying this about myself as well.

When I think about SeedPlus and what we are working on I realize that all I, or the team can do, is be able to look back after some periods of months, maybe years, and use our portfolio to speak for itself. 

It’s a scary thing to think about it but it is true. It’s a long game.

So stay tuned for portfolio announcements but note that it will take many moons to see the fruits of our work.

Choose wisely…

If you don’t already follow Suster on snapchat then I’ll give you a chance to go get that done now – that is if you use snapchat. 😉

I always appreciate when he writes though – here is one of his latest posts.

There is so much in it to dissect. Much of it I think is a phenomenon unique to the USA given the startup climate there and the proliferation of funds. When I look at Singapore and the regions I am focusing on, this type of frenzy doesn’t really exist yet except for a few deals. However there is a lot to learn from what Mark is saying.

I am going to pause here for a few disclaimers. I am totally new at what I am now working on which means I approach it with a beginner’s mind and with the realization that going slow is perfectly acceptable. I have a new craft to learn and it would seem that being in a hurry would just amplify my mistakes

I plan on blogging more as I share lessons from my new craft and as I try and explain what it is we hope to accomplish at SeedPlus. I am also not speaking for my team here since SeedPlus is a team effort. 

Just a reminder on our launch here.

Another post here on my personal journey.

Given all these disclaimers, I would like to share some of my own personal beliefs. When we launched SeedPlus the initial reaction was that this is just another seed fund. I have been hesitant to retort this much since I believe that actions speak louder than words. I am also trying to listen more, learn more, speak less and perfect my craft.

Yes – there are a lot of seed funds in the region. Is there room for more? Sure. Simply put – the region has so much growth in store for it that there is no end to the need for capital or for more successful startups to take the region to new levels. I feel there is no better time to work on global startups from Singapore starting from their seed stage.

Our goal at SeedPlus is to invest with conviction, bring our operating experience to the problem, and think about the long term potential of the startup. I know this a long game and it will take time to bear fruit. Therefore anything I say at this point is just sharing since the only proof of our work will come later. Given this, I feel quite strongly that we offer something unique to the region but again time will tell.

So just as the startups should choose wisely, at SeedPlus we also feel the same way about how we choose who to invest in. It’s a long game for anyone truly serious about creating a successful enterprise.

Enjoy your Sunday!