Entrepreneurship & Lean Startups / Startup Events

[STARTUP ASIA] An Open Letter to Southeast Asian Founders

Khailee Ng Startup Asia 2014

We’re at Day Two of Startup Asia 2014, a two-day conference from 7 – 8 May for entrepreneurs, investors, media, and people across the Asian tech community. Held at Biopolis, we have to say that it has a been a blast so far. After two days of flitting around the conference floor, we’re running low on steam. But towards the end of day two (today), Khailee Ng, Venture Partner at 500 Startups came on stage and blew our minds with his candid and engaging keynote presentation, Dear Southeast Asian Founder.

Khailee delivered his presentation with colourful illustrations of his own rise to startup-stardom and anecdotes of his personal trials and challenges while trying to make it in the gruelling startup scene. He shared that in order to create more Southeast Asian success stories, new startup founders need to “wake up” to a few key things. 

Khailee Ng Startup Asia 2014

1) Be able to detect what a “shit-hole” state of mind is

A shit-hole state of mind, as defined by Khailee, is when you are in a mindset of lack: that your home country does not have enough talent, investors, customer, etc. His advice to startup founders? Recognise this mindset, and do something about it. Don’t just complain and bitch about your current situation without actively taking action to make a change. Khailee raised the example of him making the conscious decision to grow the tech talent pool in Malaysia where he is originally from, instead of giving up on it. He believes that a small decision can have a ripple effect on the society which we live in.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Silicon Valley state of mind, where you are in a state of complete abundance. Putting that into context, it’s the optimal state of mind where you feel like you are able to acheive your own potential for succeeding as a startup. He advises startups to make the choice to adopt the Silicon Valley state of mind wherever you are based out of, and as for Southeast Asian founders, he believes that there is no reason at all to be in a shit hole state of mind and hate on your own country.

2) Learn to execute at the speed of the Internet

This is the attitude that you as a startup founder or someone working in a startup should adopt. It is the attitude of wanting to get things done quickly, to the point of getting things done now. A good example is sending out an email to a contact you just met. It’s easy to say, “I’ll email you later tonight or tomorrow!” but in a world where smart phones rule, what’s stopping you from seizing the moment and sending out that email immediately? You are now living in the speed of the internet, and so you should to operate at the speed of the Internet (within reason of course).

3) Do whatever it takes to make your dreams come true

In an almost child-like manner, Khailee convinced us that sometimes dreams do come true, so dare to dream bigger! If you can’t even sell yourself and your idea, who is going to believe in you, seriously? And there’s a part two: You should really be prepared to do whatever it takes. He closed the sharing with the advice that we should all be open to do whatever it takes to transform yourself into whatever identity you need to take on to success. This may mean picking up whatever skill that is necessary to keep yourself hustling and keep your business going on. Afterall, it’s just so much easier to lament and say, “Oh but I don’t know how to do this and that.” Go pick up that skill, or try something new, otherwise there is really nothing you can pin the blame and regret on when things don’t work out the way you want it to.

Great advice from a great entrepreneur if we may say so ourselves, and certainly a most befitting way to wrap up two days of startup buzzing and bring us back down to earth.

If you want to find out more about Khailee, follow him on twitter @khailee, and read his thoughts at www.khailee.com.

Image credit: Joelle Pang

Note: Article originally posted on Poached Mag.

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