Week in Review: Can Joel Neoh get his startup groove back?
By Karamjit Singh March 20, 2015
- Immediate challenge is to raise funding without giving up too much
- Alibaba’s Jack Ma reminds us that dreams are more powerful than tech
CAN Joel Neoh regain his startup mojo? That’s the question on my mind amidst all the buzz over his quitting Groupon after four-and-a-half years, to launch his next startup.
Will he have that same clarity and razor ability to zoom in on problem issues when he is in the trenches of his own startup, instead of having the luxury of flying into a troubled market as in his Groupon days and getting a bird’s eye-view of a problem, evaluating feedback without being emotionally connected to the business?
While the overwhelming majority of you will have no doubts that he can make the transition successfully, I will reserve judgement for now. Decision-making aside, his biggest challenge will be that he will be operating with limited resources while aiming to build an Asian business.
Interestingly, this is a self-imposed limitation – because one thing Neoh will not be short of is funding. Already his previous investors from his startup days in 2009 told me that they had called Neoh to make sure he would let them invest in him.
How about that? A venture capitalist calling an entrepreneur and asking to be allowed to invest in whatever startup they are planning!
That’s what having a track record as an entrepreneur and then a successful leader of the Asian operations of a US-listed Internet company does to enhance one’s stature and to inspire confidence.
But Neoh is well aware of the trade-off in taking too much money – you have to give up more equity in your company.
And yet, with him planning to launch with an Asia footprint from Day One, he does not have the luxury of taking too little money either.
Whatever amount he takes, I am already quite sure he will set a record for having raised the most amount in the shortest possible time since launching. Right now, that bragging right belongs to the Kaodim founders.
Yet, with all the messages of support he has gotten since Digital News Asia (DNA) broke the news of him leaving Groupon to launch his own startup, I suspect he will not be short of top-class talent from across the region wanting to join him, with compensation being secondary to the excitement of being part of his core team. That will help him with keeping costs tight.
Meanwhile the aptly-named Cradle Buzz conference that is still going on today (March 20) was well worth attending for me. You get to meet so many people from the ecosystem in one place. And Cradle Buzz had Neoh as its keynote speaker. It was a case of buzz generator Neoh at the buzz event!
Do also read Goh Then Eu’s article on Alibaba founder Jack Ma, reminding us that it is our dreams and not the technology that changes the world.
And Gabey Goh, our Singapore-based editor, writes about how services-based startups are becoming a hot space in Malaysia and Singapore. I wonder if this will pick up in Indonesia, specifically Jakarta, as well?
Have a restful weekend and a productive week ahead.
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Cradle Buzz platform for regional collaborations
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