Author Archives: Admin

Japanese Venture Capitalist Firm Pivoting to South East Asian Startups

Innovation Weekend Winner

Japanese venture capitalist firm, Sunbridge Global Ventures, is aggressively moving into the South East Asian startup scene, which has exponential growth over the last couple of years.

Like many savvy incubator investors, Sunbridge Global has recognized the scene is to hot to miss out on. What is more, and unlike Japan in many sectors- it remains relatively unsaturated, as this excellent “opportunity map” from TechinAsia shows:

SE Asian opportunity map

Sunbridge Global is partnered by some of the biggest corporations in Japan, such as NTT, Kao, VEC and in the US with the likes of Amazon. Last week at the Innovation Weekend at Singapore, hosted by Sunbridge Global Ventures. The winner, StudyPact, and the runner-up Haystakt– both taking the new crowdfunding fad to new and unique levels. Both projects qualified for attendance, and a chance to pitch, at a Tokyo-based pitch contest in December of this year. Joining them will be the winners and runners-up from pitch contests in Boston, London and Osaka this year.

Sunbridge Global, along with many other established and up and coming venture capital firms in Japan- are evolving from being traditional VC types, to “incubators” who provide platforms and guidance to startup ventures. With their Jannovation Week in Silicon Valley, they are investing in companies all over the world, such as the US platform AnyRoad. It is surely a sign of the times that the new way of approaching investment in South East Asia, with many collaborations between Japanese and Chinese VCs and technology firms (such as LanguageCloud, which Sunbridge Global also invested in)- will not be overly influenced by the older generations still harboring grudges over events which happened over 75 years ago, such as the nanking massacre. The younger generations are not only tech savvy and forward looking, along with awareness that previous generations didn’t have (e.g: the environment, health, etc)- but they also recognize that socially aware entrepreneurship and staying connected to their fellow men and women around world, without censorship, is the best chance the world has for peace and prosperity for all.

    Getting Others to Talk About You

    The biggest part of my new job as Community Manager for PicApp is to find people interested in what the company has built and get them to use it or at least talk about it. This has proven far more difficult than I ever could have imagined.

    Even if you have a great product, you have to find ways to cut through the noise to get their attention, and even then, most bloggers are very apprehensive due to the constant battle they need to participate in against spam.

    Network

    The first piece of advice that just about anyone gets when it comes to promoting anything is to network, but if you are new, or even a reasonably well known person online with a new product to talk about, it can be very difficult to network.

    Some might think that I had an easy time promoting PicApp thanks to the contacts I made while blogging full time, but you would be wrong. Most of the people I know aren’t really able to help because their blogs don’t fall within the niches that can really use or discuss PicApp, and so while I did have some help from friends, much of what I had to do was from scratch.

    Find Thought Leaders
    One of the best things that I have done in my attempts to get people to talk about what I am doing is to focus in on the thought leaders. They might not run the most popular blogs, but they sway the opinion of a group of people, and that is very valuable in building any brand.

    To find them, go to blog directories, blog search engines, and top blog lists and look for the top blogs in the niche you want to gain exposure in. For the longest time, I contacted some people that I know well listed higher up in the 45n5.com/top100 list, as they are other blogs in the same niche as this one, and I thought I would have a better chance of them recognizing me, and as such, being easier to approach.

    Ask, Don’t Tell
    When starting out networking with people, if you want them to look at something, make sure you write in a passive tone, and ask them, rather than telling them. If you write your e-mail, instant message, twitter, or other digital message in a way that doesn’t sound friendly, happy, and interested in their benefit first, then most likely your correspondence will hit their trash bin.

    Don’t Spam
    Keep track of who you contact, and don’t contact them again. If they didn’t respond, they probably weren’t interested. If you continually contact them, you will just be seen as another spammer, and bloggers will rightfully call you on that in their blog, making you and whatever you are trying to get attention for look bad.

    Don’t Pressure
    Remember, even if you have the best product in the world, you need their help more than they need whatever it is you want to talk to them about. Bloggers don’t like to feel pressured into anything, and their spam defenses go on overdrive when there is an inkling of urgency or pressure.

    Your communications should respect their time, their focus, and their busy schedule. If they are unable to participate, you shouldn’t be making them feel like it would be a mistake, but instead be understanding.

    Make Friends

    The biggest help that I received early on was from my friends. Even people who ran blogs outside the normal target audience of the PicApp service took up a call to arms for me. Some of them did it out of kindness and friendship, while others I traded with. I used my skills in writing, WordPress, and other things I know to barter with some of my friends, making it more of a mutual deal, rather than me just “using” them.

    Nothing Wrong Reciprocation
    Some people that I have talked to think that it is kind of rude that people only do things for others when they know they will get something in return, but this helps takes care of those in society who continually leech off the backs of others for their own needs.

    To do something helpful for a friend may free up the time they need to do something for you, and it becomes mutually beneficial, especially when they have skills or resources you are lacking and vice versa.

    Work Together Towards Mutual Goals
    Pretty much anyone publishing content online has a goal. It might be a small one or a very large one, but if you can find ways to work together with friends towards a mutual goal, sometimes that is the sweetest collaborations of all.

    I have worked with a friend before on a link bait that would highlight his site, but was published on my site. This gained me traffic, links and exposure, of which was then filtered through to him. It was a great way to help each other out and worked out beautifully.

    Attend Events

    There are so many conferences and events for pretty much any niche or topic, and participating in one way or another can really drive eyeballs to the work you are trying to do. You don’t have to be a big sponsor to have events pay off dividends in building a brand, but you do need to have some sort of presence at an event to make an impact.

    Research Events
    It can be really intimidating going to events for the first time, as every event is different. Each conference and event that I have attended has a different dynamic, audience, and sets of groups. Navigating these can become much easier with a little preplanning.

    Will you need to bring business material, marketing handouts, technical information, or just some business cards, pens and paper, as well as a smile and a firm handshake? Bring the wrong things and you will be unable to market yourself or your products effectively.

    Ask Bloggers in Similar Niches What They are Attending
    One issue I realized early on is that there are more events and conferences than you could ever possibly know about, and they aren’t always promoted well, and so asking friends, network connections or even competition which events they are attending will help you build a list of events you might want to attend.

    I can’t even list the number of conferences I have found out about thanks to word of mouth through my network connections, and most of them were only told to me once I specifically asked what was available or what they were planning on attending.

    Contact Interesting Attendees and Schedule Meetings
    To make the most of each and every event you want to attend, make sure to find out the guest list, and try to schedule a few meetings. There will be lots of networking between sessions, in hallways, and afterwards, but it can be hard to get two words in sometimes unless you set some time aside. I make sure to try to do this in a casual way with friends and network connections, but it is something I am still working on myself.

    Making sure to set some time aside where the focus is completely on what you wanted to discuss can mean the difference between a memorable meeting and a quick in-the-hall discussion.

    Ask

    If you don’t ask people, you’ll never open up the possibility that they will say “yes”. There are many bloggers who I barely had a relationship with that I asked to look over PicApp and provide me feedback. Some decided to do it privately via e-mail, and others published about it on their blog. Both responses were very helpful, and were a big part of the upcoming advances in the PicApp platform.

    If I hadn’t asked them, then I would not have had the information that PicApp needed and wouldn’t have been as effective in my job.

    It never really hurts to ask, as the worst thing they can say or do is nothing. Even negative press through contacting people you don’t know well can be handled, and might point out things that friends and network contacts were too polite to say.

    Conclusion

    Getting people to talk about PicApp and the great things they are doing is definitely much harder than coming up with blog posts ever was, and while I think it is only getting harder and harder to stand out from the noise and get messages out their to the people and audiences you hope to inspire and connect with, I still believe that with patience, persistence, and planning, anyone can get their message heard.

    Blogging Annoyance: Rant About Newsletters

    Why would I subscribe to your e-mail newsletter that is just your RSS feed and here and there some special notes sent to my e-mail inbox when I already subscribe to your RSS feed? Sure, it makes your subscriber count go up, but it doesn’t really help me in any major way.

    Sure, it gives you an opportunity to up sell me on some affiliate products or services you might have, but those things rarely help me with my blogging goals.

    You should be happy that I subscribe to your RSS feed rather than punish me by making me get the same information two different ways so that you look like you have twice as many subscribers.

    The race for subscribers is silly, and if anything, you are making people deal with both information overload and saturation sickness, which then causes them to unsubscribe to all things that they decide are no longer necessary.

    Add value to my life, add value to my blogging, and stop trying to spam me with your content over a variety of different services so that you appear to have more unique subscribers than you really have.

    Stay Away From the Obvious

    I was talking to a friend recently and he wanted me to help him promote an article on a web development subject that was, in my mind, very old news. It was an article on xhtml tables versus divs.

    I knew what the article would say before ever even clicking the link and of course, after checking it out, I was right.

    I told him my thoughts on the article and he was a little taken back. He thought it was a good post about something that beginning users wouldn’t know.

    My advice to him was to stir up controversy and stay away from the obvious. Everyone is fighting over the obvious ways of doing and saying things.

    If the article had said that complex designs were leading to using too many div tags and that while tables were still not the answer, understanding the use of other xhtml elements could streamline code and build a better, more semantic site, then I would have been impressed.

    When you are tackling a subject, you need to find your hook. You need to find something that will set you apart from everyone else. If they are all applauding a piece of software, go over it with a fine tooth comb, and point out its flaws. If they are all loving an application for one reason, then try to find a different reason why it is good.

    Our jobs as writers is to teach, inspire, translate and open people’s eyes. If your post is nothing but a repeat, you loose the opportunity to captivate the people that stumble onto your site, and transform them into repeat visitors.

    What steps do you take to stay away from the obvious? Let me know in the comments below.

    Freelance Work: Full Time Frustrations

    I have been working on freelance work for almost a week now, and I have to say that I really don’t understand how people can make a full time living this way. While it is nice to have variety, and some choice in what I do, dealing with the almost random pay, and random number of work hours each day can be quite difficult.

    Also, after writing two posts today for someone else, I almost didn’t feel like writing on this blog. While I believe that is only because the topics of this blog and the blog I wrote on have fairly similar audiences, I still am reminded of why I have decided to change my career path yet again. I want to write, and I want to enjoy writing. I want to create something, and build something that I can be proud of and maybe even build equity in.

    Working for other people can mean getting paid, but building equity can mean enjoying a lifestyle.

    How do people work freelance full time? Am I missing some meaningful reward that my varied salary positions will never give me?