The DS3 family. Teik Guan is wearing a yellow shirt. Photo: DS3
For twelve years, Tan Teik Guan has been carrying the weight of the company and its employees on his back, first as DS3‘s CTO and then as CEO in 2006.
One wrong move could affect not just his 50 employees but also their families. It’s a huge burden to bear, especially since a startup lacks the stability of a large company.
“I didn’t just have my own kids to think about — all my employees are like my children,” he said.
But his reprieve finally came. In April this year, the management successfully sold the Singapore-based IT security firm to Gemalto, a multi-national corporation in the same industry. DS3 has been making profit by selling authentication software to banks.
While the specifics of the deal cannot be disclosed, he and the other co-founders, Zvi Efroni and Kelvin Teo, are happy with how it turned out.
For Teik Guan especially, who left his cushy government job to join an unknown company as the first employee post Dot-Com bust, the rewards were especially sweeter.
“Oh my gosh, it was a huge burden off my back,” he said. Read more
From left: Tien Dung Le, Jason Lusk, and Thuy Nguyen. Photo: ClickSpace
Jason Lusk first came to Hanoi to work on a freelance project but ended up becoming a co-founder of ClickSpace, one of the first coworking spaces in Hanoi, Vietnam. While there, he spent time connecting with expat talents in Hanoi: entrepreneurs, consultants, freelancers, and the trailing spouses of diplomats and NGO leaders. All of them were seeking opportunities to connect and work together.
Unfortunately, Hanoi did not have much infrastructure for collaboration. That was why ClickSpace was born: to provide a comfortable, contemporary workspace where talented expats and Vietnamese can work, connect and collaborate.
We spoke to Jason via email to find out more about his story, ClickSpace and his thoughts on the startup scene in Hanoi. Read more
William Vu Huynh, co-founder and CEO of Vietnamese dating site Noi.vn, has been preoccupied with one question ever since he started his venture in 2008 with Phung Tien Cong: How do you get shy Vietnamese men and women to connect online?
Being able to tackle this problem area was the key to Noi.vn’s success. While William says that many have tried and failed, Noi.vn has managed to build itself into one of the country’s largest (if not the largest) online social dating networks.
While he has declined to reveal financial figures, he says that Noi.vn has some 750,000 registered users, out of which there are 400,000 monthly actives (currently growing at 2 percent month-on-month). From all of them, over 4,000 couplings and over 500 weddings have resulted.
From this strong base — aided by funding from YAN Group and IDG Ventures in mid-2010 — Noi.vn is moving to consolidate its position by catering to different niche markets and entering even more platforms. Read more
Sometime in the middle of last year, a certain Stephanie Sutanto emailed the early stage fund that I used to run, asking for internship positions. I told her that we were no longer looking for people but SGE was. I also told her that I was scooting off the next day and would be completely uncontactable for two weeks on a meditation course so we would have to chat immediately. We did, and therein lies the story of how Steph joined us.
Now Steph is back in Los Angeles in the USA, completing her college studies but she continues to help us here at SGE.
It has been awesome having her and I thought you should know more about this dynamic young lady. And, for our readers in LA, do reach out to Steph to find out more about SGE and Asia’s tech scene! Read more
We love working with dynamic, talented and passionate folks and one of our latest additions to our team, Albert is just like that.
SGE welcomes Albert Mai on board our team, focused on scouting the Vietnam startup scene.
I first met Albert in Singapore many months ago and he is now back in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, running a startup and helping the local community grow through events. To help you to get to know Albert better, we have a mini Q&A with him here. Read more
Updated: 17th January 2012
Image: Silicon Straits
After running Neoteny Labs as Principal and making 24 investments since May 2010, James Chan has announced on his blog the rebranding of his early-stage venture fund. It’s now called Silicon Straits, reflecting the narrow bodies of water that flow through much of Southeast Asia.
The change affects Neoteny Labs Pte Ltd, the Singapore-registered entity that was part of the National Research Foundation’s Technology Incubation Scheme (TIS), a government startup co-funding initiative. Neoteny Labs will continue to exist as an offshore Limited Partnership.
James unveiled the new development not long after Neoteny participated in a USD500K seed round in Burpple, a Singapore-based startup that has created a mobile food journal and discovery app. While Joi Ito, the General Partner of the fund, will continue to maintain its existing portfolio with James, he will be focused primarily in his new appointment as the director of the MIT Media Lab. Read more
Meng savors wine and cheese in the new JFDI premises on the fifth floor of Block 71. Photo: Yvan
Meng Weng Wong, a serial entrepreneur, founded JFDI with Hugh Mason in 2010 with a vision of nurturing the untapped entrepreneurial talent in South-East Asia. You just have to spend 15 minutes with Meng over a glass of wine to realize how imaginative, passionate and dedicated he is about this mission. His dreams are gargantuesque in scale, but, at the same time, concrete and actionable.
After graduating from UPenn, Meng spent his early career in the United States at pobox.com, where he helped to pioneer email by building the foundations that Hotmail and Gmail are still using today. He also co-founded Karmasphere, a big-data company.
Helping to create an innovation ecosystem from scratch, like Meng is doing at JFDI, takes guts and inspiration. It’s an important task: High-tech entrepreneurship, especially in ecosystems that don’t have a legacy of successful startups and communities that inspire, teach, and support, can be difficult. Read more
Fun is a rather quaint way for an investment firm to differentiate itself. But Terence Tan, an investor at TNF Ventures, is pretty serious about fun — and always have been. A competitive player in golf and tennis, he once overextended himself over a tennis game, fell and suffered a concussion, then lost his sense of smell.
This paradox of having serious fun permeates TNF’s culture. They’re managing money on behalf of NRF, a government body in charge of scientific research, yet they organized a poker tournament at their launch event. They wore gaudy red and white polo tees that made the event look more Resorts World than Marina Bay Sands, yet gave a Powerpoint presentation to introduce the firm.
It’s a signal that they don’t take themselves too seriously, but are hungry about making the right investment bets. It image seems befitting for a team of successful corporate and entrepreneurial types who’ve got it made. They don’t really need to start another fund, but for one reason or another, decided to. Read more
Singaporean Haresh Khoobchandani, a Microsoft veteran, is now in charge of operations in Thailand, a company press released announced. The new managing director of Microsoft Thailand is replacing Birathon Kasemsri Na Ayudhaya.
Haresh has over 15 years of experience in the company. Before his current appointment, he was the COO for Microsoft Indonesia, where he helped the subsidiary achieve over 30% growth. He was also the CMO for the Asia Pacific Consumer & Online business, as well as Senior Director for various portfolios across Singapore, Malaysia, and Asia Pacific.
He is said to possess a strong track record in sales, marketing, and leadership of large teams.
Haresh’s predecessor, Birathon, set the vision of Microsoft Thailand to improve the lives of 70 million citizens through technology.
He helped the subsidiary win a CSR award from the American Chamber of Commerce in Thailand. It was recognized for the BETTER project, which raised IT literacy among the Thai workforce, and for rallying customers, partners, and employees to help the country recover from the flood crisis.
Birathon was also in charge of the Windows 8 launch in Thailand.
Michael Yap, deputy CEO of the goverment’s Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA), and executive director of the Interactive Digital Media Programme Office (IDMPO), has left the organization to pursue his personal interests.
The IDMPO is an inter-agency outfit that runs iJAM, a microfunding and mentorship scheme for startups.
Mr Yap will be replaced by Yeo Chun Cheng, the current assistant chief executive of industry at MDA. Before joining the organization, Mr Yeo had a 20-year IT industry stint. He had worked in Silicon Valley, heading several engineering departments at different startups.
At the same time, Lim Chin Siang has been appointed director of IDMPO and will assist Mr Yeo in the running of the Office and its programs. He will have approving authority for current projects under i.JAM incubators.