In the last few years, more tech companies are scaling up across Asia and beyond. Alongside this, we see an influx of Chinese companies escaping the intense competition back home. 

We used to hear narratives such as “So-and-so market is just like China 5 years ago” , “We have experienced operators to launch new markets” – most of those who made such comments  have been burnt. 

We often talk about product localisation as a key success factor (or reason for failure), but behind that is culture, people and leadership. But how to balance all these in multiple markets, while adhering to the time pressure in scaling tech?

01VC and Momentum Works co-hosted a closed-door exchange session on 26 October where over 90 investors (LPs and GPs), founders and corporate executives had frank, in depth discussions on these topics with some of the most seasoned veterans in the scene. 

Ian Goh, Founder of 01VC, greeted the guests through video link, as he was still working on a few deals in Shanghai before closing the difficult yet fruitful year. 

Jianggan Li, CEO of Momentum Works, gave the keynote address where he focused on the hurdles facing investors and entrepreneurs building global companies, and how to overcome them. 

Blake Larson, former Global MD of Lalamove, flew all the way from Dallas Texas to the event in Singapore, where he shared his personal stories building, operating and expanding a global team, as well as the people, cultural and leadership reflections in the process. 

Chua Soon Ghee, Senior Partner at Kearney, moderated a panel of experienced operators and investors on the topic of “secret weapons of tech companies venturing globally”. Panellists include: 

  • Xinhua Liu, Venture Partner of Gaorong Capital and former Chief Grotwh Officer of Kuaishou 
  • Weihan Liew, Venture Partner of GGV Capital, and founder of Main Games
  • Mark Niu, Co-founder of Biofourmis 
  • Shaolin Zheng, Co-founder of Next Billion AI, and former head of Beijing R&D Centre, Grab 

Interesting fact about the panel is that everyone is (or was) an entrepreneur, and resonates with the challenges of operating a company, especially in the current macro/geopolitical environment. 

The second half of the panel, which was open to the floor, became especially interactive. Questions from the audience ranged from “whether to plan for regulatory challenges, or deal with them as they come by” to “Is there a huge disconnect between founders and investors on expectations for the SEA region?

We are glad that the guests enjoyed the 3 hour event, together with the networking over the course of the afternoon. 

As we promised at the event, to foster an open and frank discussion we would not reveal the content of the discussion in public (no, not even chatham house rules). Nonetheless, a lot of the insights and personal stories were consistent with what Ben Horowitz wrote in his book “Hard thing about hard things”: 

“Whenever I meet a successful CEO, I ask them how they did it. Mediocre CEOs point to their brilliant strategic moves or their intuitive business sense or a variety of other self-congratulatory explanations. The great CEOs tend to be remarkably consistent in their answers. They all say, “I didn’t quit.””

Momentum Works, together with 01VC, will host more online and offline dialogues in the coming months on current and everlasting issues concerning the tech and innovation ecosystem. We will keep you posted about the open ones through our newsletter (which you can subscribe here).

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].