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17 - How being sued at 13 years old led to building startups in Asia with Ryan Shuken of MOX & Chinaccelerator

“He bought cocacola.com & sold it for $2million. And I thought, that’s so stupid, I could do that.”

Ryan Shuken started his life as an entrepreneur at a very young age and he now shares his years of learnings as the Program Director for Mobile Only Accelerator (MOX), a start-up accelerator that focuses on Android applications in developing countries. He and his team work mostly with start-ups that already have their product and now need to grow it in multiple countries around the world, often at the same time.

Ryan (33) was born in California & moved to China when he was 18. He started his first business when he was 12 years old, just as the internet was starting to become more widely adopted. He bought web domain names of neighborhood businesses and waited for them to sue, before counter-suing and settling on terms to sell the domains, all accompanied by his mother of course. He went on to teach himself to code and also to clone popular websites as he crafted his own path through entrepreneurship.

Once in China, Ryan studied International Trade and Culture and then had short stints at other colleges around the world, before settling in Shanghai and working with The China Startup Pulse, then Chinaccelerator, and now MOX.

Ryan says he has done all of this with the support of his family, most of whom also run their own businesses. Then we dive into how this fuels his motivation to help other startup entrepreneurs realize their dreams.

In this episode:
+ How MOX’s program for startups works.
+ Buying domain names when the internet was young.
+ Making web clones with people you meet on the internet.
+ Why Ryan moved and the lessons from living in China for more than 15 years
+ ‘Secret Co-founders’ and the importance of discussions.
+ Can anyone be an entrepreneur?
+ Accepting weaknesses and making up for it with hard work.
+ Getting perspective through failure. Then using these perspectives for mentoring.
+ Teachings of rapid iteration, reduced risk, and building for the customer.
+ How problem solving and focus helps a messy ‘backstage’ look polished and perfect to the outside world.
+ Home brewing beer
+ A new community podcasting space in Shanghai

Links:

SOSV (MOX and Chinaccelerator):
https://sosv.com/

The Original Content Room (The OC) podcasting studio:
Located in Shanghai, People Squared, 28 Yuyuan Dong lu, building 3
[Not currently public – add brandon-owens on WeChat to get connected to Ryan for more info]
http://www.people-squared.com/hero_center.html

The Lean Startup by Eric Ries:
http://theleanstartup.com/book

Ryan’s Twitter:
https://twitter.com/rshuken

Ryan’s Linked in:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/rshuken/

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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16 - Managing a company while being an introverted CEO with Ronan Berder of Wiredcraft

“Managing people is still an enigma for me”

Ronan is founder and CEO of a successful app-development agency in Shanghai called Wiredcraft, which has offices in Asia & Europe.

They eventually found themselves working on projects in the international development space, such as building apps for the South Sudan referendum and other projects for both the UN & the world bank. Now they’ve focused more on larger corporate clients like Starbucks.

He was born in the south of France and moved to Tahiti when he was young, moving around a lot as his family was working in the army. He has spent many years in the US as well.

He considers himself a massive nerd, all the way from childhood through to studying math & physics later in life. He leads his company as a very intelligent but fairly introverted CEO who has to balance how to manage others & constantly be in social situations.

 

In this episode:
+ How he started his company as freelancing that snowballed into a proper company
+ Differences between building an agency vs building a product
+ Underestimating what it takes to build a product
+ Differences between design & engineering
+ How to sell the methodology by almost making an agency itself into a product
+ How he used drinking as a crutch to handle introversion
+ How he designed experiments to figure out how to interact with people better when he was young
+ Challenges of managing people as an introvert
+ How a lack of sugar coating leads to misperceptions of arrogance
+ The effects of alcohol on introverts networking

Links:

Linkedin:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ronanberder/

Wiredcraft:
https://wiredcraft.com/

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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13 - Why Kevin Chen left finance to tackle the global language education market as CEO of Italki

“After 10 years, some investors joked you should have IPO’d or died by now.”

Kevin Chen is co-founder and CEO of Italki.com, a language learning social network and marketplace for connecting teachers & students for private classes. Before that, Keven also cofounded Famento, which sought to use social networking to help families record and share their family history.

Kevin is a reformed finance guy who spent several years working at Merrill Lynch & Lehman Brothers in London, New York and Japan. We speak a lot about his personal backstory and how he struggled to work in an environment that while mentally challenging and interesting it was ultimately unsatisfying.

We talk about how he made some of these big career decisions, the interactions with family about it, a cross-Asia backpacking trip and eventually moving to Shanghai with no plan, just a feeling that it was the right place to be.

Kevin is a really intelligent guy who’s in a somewhat unique position of a managing an extremely cross-cultural team in China with a Chinese cofounder. We talk about some of the unique challenges he and his cofounder face when trying to set a company culture while also rapidly scaling from a small, lean team to more than a hundred.

In this episode:
+ How “Liar’s Poker” got him into finance
+ Working in finance in NYC vs Japan
+ Using solo travel to reflect
+ Being a first-time founder
+ The desire & importance of documenting family history
+ Should people become chatbots after they die?
+ His motivation to start Italki
+ Challenges of building single company culture in multi-cultural business
+ Being a “bridge builder” cross-culture CEO
+ How to handle rewarding early loyal employees vs new staff needed to grow

Books;
Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
http://amzn.to/2uwvZ38

Mr China by Tim Clissold
http://amzn.to/2wReRSo

Wild Swans Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
http://amzn.to/2uR8g8U

The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur) by by Hannu Rajaniemi
http://amzn.to/2vPSrnG

The Hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz
http://amzn.to/2fC7Lh3

Linked in
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinchen501/

Email him
kevin at italki.com

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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4 - Ben Whitter - HR Employee Experience - The Beertelligence Podcast

“Fuck this podcast, order me McDonalds, I’m on my way to meet with HR.”

Ben Whitter aka Mr Employee Experience™, is CEO/Founder of the World Employee Experience Institute. He started out working in hotel customer service in Spain before transitioning into employee training & development roles.

After working across many sectors in the UK, he landed a large organization in the UK where he then started focusing in specifically on the role that HR plays, or doesn’t play, in organizations. He set out to motivate companies to focus in on the overall employee experience and streamlining the HR parts of the organization to focus on that.

FYI – This episode was recorded early Saturday morning instead of our normal afternoon sessions. Hence how slow & rusty we are starting out.

 

 

In this episode:
+ Momo’s hungover podcast idea
+ Spain customer service on a small island
+ How to deal with angry customers
+ How “being seen” is so important for the service business
+ Why isn’t HR a business leader
+ How “people are our greatest asset” are usually full of crap
+ Designing companies from ‘pre-hire to retire’
+ Airbnb stepping up on employee experience
+ Does HR need a re-branding?
+ How Airbnb is doing well with designing the office environment & spaces makes a big difference in trust & belonging
+ Adidas setting up a think tank about the future of work
+ Google setting up an area for staff to create new business & investments from internal funding
+ Use of employee engagement surveys vs continuous feedback loop
+ The importance of trust & transparency
+ Unique changes in the Chinese workplace
+ How staff decided to cut pay instead of firing people, which becomes a trust building exercise
+ Challenges at building company transparency in Chinese companies
+ The other executives who should move into HR / Employee Experience
+ Tesla’s progress on employee experience in China
+ Is Holocracy part of the solution?
+ Is unlimited vacation a good idea?

Mentioned in this episode:
AirBnB Chief Employee Experience Officer
https://www.airbnb.com/careers/departments/employee-experience

Google’s Area 120 startup incubator
http://fortune.com/2016/04/25/google-area-120-startup-incubator/

Life at SAS
https://www.sas.com/en_us/careers/life-at-sas.html

Netflix’s culture of Freedom & Responsibility:
https://www.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture-1798664

Employee Experience Seminar in Europe:
http://www.icongroupltd.com/agenda-employee-experience-seminar/

Find Ben online –
LinkedIn:
https://cn.linkedin.com/in/benwhitter

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/TsunamiLeader

Personal website:
http://www.benwhitter.com

Company website:
http://www.worldeeinstitute.com

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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