Sunday, November 14, 2010

Moving on to

After 2+ years of mucking around on Blogger, I am moving this very irregularly and infrequently updated blog to my own personal domain, See you there!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

2009 in perspective

It has been 12 solid months since I last wrote an entry. For the occasional reader that visits, here's a quick recap on what I have been up to in 2009.

Keeping busy
2009 has been an extremely busy year despite the downturn, with my personal startup Fredrik Marine IT Services Pte Ltd having doubling its revenue and keeping the entire team busy across Indonesia, Singapore and South Korea. The team also

As Azione Capital moves into it's 3rd year of operations, the task of professionalizing the firm has been taken up by 2 very capable and invaluable individuals, Dennis Phua and Janice Yip. In 2009 alone, these two dynamic individuals focused Azione's portfolio startups, engaged key partners and optimized the structure of the entire firm.

In the spirit of enterprise, my father (who is an above-knee amputee) started up a small provision shop in a suburban district in Singapore, while my mother decided to give it a shot in the property market.

I have been busy mentoring young entrepreneurs, giving speeches on social enterprise, sat on various advisory boards for entrepreneurship and judged on various business and social enterprise competitions in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. At the same time, I am still hosting the "First Thursdays" Singapore Entrepreneur Meetup sessions at Rocky Masters cafe as a melting pot of entrepreneurs in Singapore.

I found that 1.) having Kaspersky Internet Security 2010 is akin to using your computer while wading in molasses, 2.) downgrading to Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 with my 2010 key is perfectly painless and 3.) the speed increase is clearly seen. So if you are on KIS 2010, do yourself a favour and go with KIS 2009.

Having nearly 6,000 namecards is not a funny thing; one doesn't even know where to start. Compound that with the fact that the entire office is constantly meeting new people and the problem compounds exponentially. The Cardscan Executive is one of the best investments I made, where the entire process of converting the namecards is painless and (dare I say) brainless, with a near-100% proper allocation of fields like company name, position, emails and all. It beats paying for a temporary staff that typically gets the filing wrong and still takes more time and money.

Moving forward
2010 brings with it both excitement and promise yet at the same time, with anticipation comes "butterflies in the stomach". It is a year where we deliver on promises, begin new initiatives, establish new ground and take on new roles. It is a time that we will have our fears and yet not be afraid. It truly is the best time to be alive.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Remembering the source

There is a Chinese saying 饮水思源 (yin shui si yuan) which translate to "When you drink water, remember the source of which it came from". In this ever-liberal world where self-centeredness and the flagrant discarding of values is seen as a virtue on the "god of self-expression and personal fulfilment", it is a rare breed that truly exemplifies the spirit of ethical and responsible business, and never forgetting that it is never about just one person or oneself.

Miami banker gives $60 million of his own to employees (read full article)

Lots of bosses say they value their employees. Some even mean it.

And then there's Leonard Abess Jr.

After selling a majority stake in Miami-based City National Bancshares last November, all he did was take $60 million of the proceeds -- $60 million out of his own pocket -- and hand it to his tellers, bookkeepers, clerks, everyone on the payroll. All 399 workers on the staff received bonuses, and he even tracked down 72 former employees so they could share in the windfall.

For longtime employees, the bonus -- based on years of service -- amounted to tens of thousands of dollars, and in some cases, more than $100,000.

At a time when financial titans are being paraded before Congress to explain how they blew billions on executives' bonuses even as they received a taxpayer bailout, the big-hearted banker's selfless deed stands out.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Leading by example

Some of my peers within the industry scoffed at my idea of living within my means, and in the continuing efforts to impress that same spirit onto my portfolio startups, saying that living large is "essential".

The rise of pseudo-entrepreneurship, and the latest bubble (in my view) of "Social Entrepreneurship" as defined and run by intellectuals is a growing worry, where the basic tenets of entrepreneurship of value creation, working within one's constraints and the respect of business ethics is rapidly being eroded by cunningly worded arguements in order to justify one's undeserving existence. Think "Animal Farm".

Having a servant leader that truly leads by example, that is a key lesson that I hope businesses would learn from this recession.

Monday, February 2, 2009

How to say goodbye

The Actual (better) MTV here:

A week back, I was asked why do I write about my personal life on this blog; it was said (as quoted from a friend of mine) to be "unbecoming" of a professional Venture Capitalist to look weak, even unprofessional.

My reply was simple. Like any of my startups, we are all living, breathing humans. We have our faults, our flaws and our problems unlike the glorified and oft-glossed image of "entrepreneurs" that have all the time in the world to party, blog and live the high life. My startups and myself have bore the pain of problems in family finances, the anguish and pain in our relationships, the emptiness when hope and passion wanes. Yet we all soldier on, some of us falling along the sidelines at times, some others giving up in despair.

So why the topic of "Saying Goodbye"? More often than not, we always welcome new beginnings and the wonderful hopes that comes along with it (like now in the Chinese New Year) but we neglect to look at the endings, to learn, to close and to move on. It is with this intention that I hope to remind us to look upon our endings in a different light, and with renewed hope for the future, both in our ventures and in our lives. Have a very Happy Chinese New Year ahead!

PS. For the 3 startups graduating in the coming months from Azione Capital, this is for you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Quirks in a day of a Venture Capital Firm - 21st January 2009

Happy advanced Chinese New Year to one and all!

One pet peeve I have is when someone honestly and deliberately does not take the effort in doing things right, particularly when they are in the full capacity to do so. Not only does the subject sound like a typical Nigerian scam email, the entire message reeks of laziness, namely:
  • the name (this message came to me from LinkedIn, the writer has to actually click into my profile, and at the message screen, my name would again be displayed in the "to" box, I doubt he can actually miss seeing my name)
  • the acronyms (just what are you expecting a potential employer to know what is "opp")
  • the manner of the letter (looks just like an sms chat)
Job seekers, read and learn.

SASI REDDY has sent you a message.

Date: 1/28/2009

Subject: Dear

This is Syamsundar Reddy
is there any opp SAP BI
Ihave 4yrs exp in SAP BI
if any i sthere plz revert ..

Syamsundar Reddy

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Fiction is sometimes truer than fact

I dreamt up an entire fable lividly while sleeping in this Sunday after working late in the office yesterday on a contract format for a new startup and a technical paper to be used to bid for a government project. For posterity sake, I am documenting whatever I remember of the story here; I can't recall the earlier parts of the dream before this fable.

The vivid part of the dream started with this german chap telling a story. Saying that he normally carries a backpack filled with mixed seeds "to maximize collaboration within nature" or something to that effect, of which he scatters them along his way to school (or was it work?) but he always never scatters any into a particularly rocky path he passes, only scattering at the ground just before and after the rocky path.

One day, he noticed that a shoot, something like a bougainvilla sprouting out from the furthermost corner of the rocky path. Not possible he said to himself, the rocks are barren. Yet as the days pass, the shoots sprouted and grew further into the rocky path. Without complaint and without pain, the bougainvillas grew out from the rocks, clearing a path for other plants to grow, of which they did slowly and steadily, eventually converting the entire rocky path into a lush greenland.

It was around here where I woke up. Somehow this parable put into my dream gave me insight into what I am doing and facing at the present, perhaps it might do the same for you.