We’ve had great luck speaking to some of the most exciting and interesting people in the region or at least connected to Southeast Asia. Here are some of the most interesting thoughts and responses our entrepreneurs have shared about different aspects of Southeast Asia.

These aren’t the most flattering nor sugar-coated versions, but we need to hear the truth. Always.

William Gilchrist, CEO, and Founder of Konsyg.

Will (2)

William shared his thoughts on how the region undervalues salespeople.


I can’t tell you the number of times where I have heard someone say to me, “I could never do sales I am sure I would hate it,” or, “I don’t have the personality for sales, I am not aggressive enough nor am I mean enough.”

Read William’s interview here.

“Sales” is a bit of a bad word in this region and the idea of someone saying that they are a “salesman or saleswoman” comes with a bit of a negative connotation. I wouldn’t say this occurs only in Singapore but throughout Asia Pacific.

In my opinion, it is due to a lack of knowledge from leaders on the real purpose of a salesperson.

Companies know sales is there to “generate revenue” but very few invest in proper methods to empower their sales teams to achieve their expectations.

I think that in order to increase the sales talent pool, there needs to be a clear focus on carving out lucrative opportunities for young individuals to learn sales from more experienced representatives in the market. The current tactic for companies is to throw new sales hires into very high expectations after a 12 week “ramp up” and then place borderline cut-throat consequences thereafter. Doesn’t sound very fun to me…

Kaikai Yang, CCO, and Co-Founder of Energo Labs

kaikai-yang-800-600Kaikai shared her thoughts on the renewable energy market in Southeast Asia and how the markets are going about it.


I would first comment that globally, there are significant barriers when it comes to renewable energy financing. What’s alarming in Southeast Asia is the “chicken and egg” problem that this may create. An increasing number of projects are grabbing international headlines because of their unbankability, which in turn leads to other ripple effects, which shake investors’ confidence and negatively affect market sentiments in the region. This is the perpetual vicious cycle that the region is entrapped in.

Read Kaikai’s story here.

Secondly, miscalculations of the risk factors, inadequate checks and balances, and weak regulatory structures are the main contributing factors to the unbankability problem. Investors would prioritize companies who have conducted thorough due diligence, prepared the right documentation and deal structure when they consider extending financing to renewable energy projects. Given the Southeast Asian landscape, what’s most important is the inclusion of detailed timelines, checkpoints, and specific project milestones — these should be explicitly outlined and would help boost investors’ confidence in a market where project delays and regulatory changes are rather common. Ultimately, it is about laying a strong groundwork where project milestones can be tangibly measured, so that progress can be made accountable. Companies and organizations that are transparent and meticulous about such reporting standards would fare better in Southeast Asia.

Beyond project financing, it’s also important to shift away from a one-size-fits-all framework when developing renewable energy projects in Southeast Asia. It’s not about replicating use cases from global best practices and trying to force fit that to the Southeast Asian context. When entering Southeast Asia, a flexible yet pragmatic go-to-market entry is necessary. When doing business in Southeast Asia, one would notice that certain taken-for-granted norms from the Western world have been re-written. I believe that this is where Chinese companies may have a slight advantage – we understand what it is like to navigate regulatory complexities and to do business in a highly dynamic environment where clearly defined business relationships, or guanxi is a defining principle in any project.

Christopher Quek, Managing Partner of TRIVE

Chris-TRIVE-t-Shirt-2_800x700Chris took time off the recent rebranding of Tri5 to TRIVE Ventures, to share his thoughts on the Southeast Asian startup market.


For the rest of SEA, the markets are disparately different from Singapore. The SEA is still focused on marketplaces, eCommerce, and logistics, where the markets are fragmented and ripe for disruption. There are less deep-tech companies, with the exception of blockchain companies in the areas of finance and energy, where blockchain is becoming a dominant platform to help the unbanked and un-powered populations.

Read Chris’s full interview here.

These markets are still very complex due to social, economic, political, technological setups in every country. But I see very vibrant entrepreneurs, especially in Vietnam and Malaysia who are making progress despite difficult odds.

David Bobis, Head of Digital Marketing and Partner, Studio Culture

david image 1David shared his thoughts on hiring top quality digital marketing talent in Southeast Asia.


I believe the talent is out there – you just need to keep finding the best way to find it. Do you believe you’ve advertised in the right channels? If so, have you looked at your ads? Look at the analytics to see how many people have viewed your job ads compared to the number of people who have applied. Perhaps there’s something about your job advertisement that’s turning people away – could you add more focus on employee benefits or improve your headline? If you’re getting too many low-quality applicants, it could be the requirements of your ad – try to add qualifiers to your job ads, such as short tests or screening questions. Prior to organising an interview with them, you can also email applicants some pre-testing questions.

If you build it, they will come. Another way to gain top talent is to be a great business (easy done, right?). Sometimes it’s just not about salary. Talented people want to work for a great business with a great culture and strong vision. Think of how you can communicate this via your marketing and brand image.

Read David’s full story here.

If you can’t find them, create them. You can also groom your juniors to become the guns they were destined to be. One challenge with recruiting more senior people is they may be stuck in their old habits and unwilling to change to your culture. You may also find yourself recruiting job hoppers who skip through as many jobs as possible to raise their incomes as quickly as possible. You don’t want a job hopper in your business – you want long-term, committed people who will take your business to all new heights. Molding your promising young juniors to be key members of your enterprise who truly understand the way you run things can be highly rewarding for everyone involved.

The next step is to look overseas. If there’s no talent in your town, look elsewhere.


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