It’s hard not to be “super excited” after having listened to the thoughts and experiences of Brian Wong from KIIP. In short, it’s all about “being able to execute”, “sometimes using your gut feeling”, because as Brian said, “if the data is available to you then you may be too late…”
On 6 August 2016 the Startup Grind Hong Kong hosted Brian Wong, CEO and founder of KIIP, for a fireside chat at the Garage Society. The chat was led by Keith Ng Co-Director of the Startup Grind Hong Kong chapter.
Right out of the starting block it was full speed ahead when Brian took the stage together with Keith. Brian was in Hong Kong on a pre-release tour for his new book “The Cheat Code: Going Off Script to Get More, Go Faster, and Shortcut Your Way to Success”. As of today, 7 August I have pre-ordered my copy of the book that will be released on September 6 2016 on Amazon.
Over the two-hour chat Brian covered a number of interesting topics, not all of them related to the book, with many of the topics valuable to any business, not just a start-up. Here are a few of Brian’s pointers…
Venture Capital – it’s a numbers game
At an earlier event at Infiniti LAB we listened to Ben Nader, the Founder and CEO of Butterfleye. Ben said in that talk that getting the Venture Capital (VC) was both a question about connections, but also a numbers game as he had listed 100 VC companies to contact and he got his first “yes” at number 75.
Brian echoed this in his speech at the Startup Grind where he said that you have to be very active and seek out contacts on LinkedIn and/or to “cold e-mail them”. If you don’t know a person’s e-mail address, then write the most obvious one on the “To:” line and then the different variations you may think of on the “BCC:” line. Brian also said to use exclamation marks “!” and really push your message.
We may all come from different generations and different background and different locations. There is nothing wrong to be more like Brian, to be even more forward and even more excited about the product or service you are to sell. If you are excited – then you can make someone else excited too!
But even if looking for Venture Capital may be a numbers game, there is no reason to be complacent when you meet “VC number one”. Make sure you make every contact count and be as prepared as you can be. Practice you pitch on your colleagues and friend before you head out. It may be so that “if you ask for money you will get a recommendation, if you ask for a recommendation you may get money”.
Sell your vision – repeat yourself
Brian was asked about his role as a CEO and founder of KIIP and how he motivated everyone to move forward. We cannot but agree with Brian’s advice, “sell your vision”, and that you need to continue to “repeat yourself”, again and again, so that all your colleagues understand your vision.
It is sometimes easy to think that what is clear in your mind is clear in everyone else’s, but most often it is not, and you need to work on the message even if you may feel like a parrot.
Get the right advisory board
At any company there are many decisions that needs to be taken, some of them are of strategical importance that may mean the difference between success and, well, less of a success. Brian pointed out the importance of having a good advisory board from the start. People that you can trust, but also people you can trust to be brutally honest if they don’t agree with you and the way you plan to go.
Find your customers
Another topic that Brian came back to several times during the evening was how to find customers in general. It was a very popular question during the Q&A session as well. In the introduction to the seminar we learned about KIIP and its core service, which is related to advertising.
Brian shared with the audience his experience with CMOs in regards to finding a brand to work with his “rewards-based” brand advertising initiative. He noted that many of the Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) may have had a set plan for their advertising and may not be willing to change their set strategy. But as soon as one CMO leaves and a new one takes up that positon, then you have the chance, because often the new CMO may be open to ideas the previous one was not. So a conclusion from this may be: it’s good to keep an eye on the classifieds i.e. the job advertisements, to see if, for example, a CMO position is posted at the company that you want to sell to – because when a company is looking for someone new, then it may also be a new opportunity for you.
In the Q&A session, Brian also pointed out that you can ask a client for advice instead of selling directly to this person, and then when you have this person on-board you can work your way forward through recommendations from this person who now know your product.
If the data is available to you then you may be too late…
Another question that came up during the Q&A session was the lack of customer data for some applications. “How to make a decision if the data is not available”. Brian said that sometimes you have to trust your gut feeling. He also said that if the data is available then you may be too late as you are no longer first. At the same time, it is a good question if you want to be a pioneer or number two or number three. We think there is a balance to be found where you can use a 2nd or 3rd place to your advantage.
Be super excited
As noted above, it was “full speed” ahead from the get-go when Brian took the stage. And when you listen to Brian, it is hard not to become “super excited” as well. Brian has a wealth of experience and the rapid pace in which he delivered his thoughts made us smile and filled the audience with energy. So I look forward to the 6 September when Brian’s book is released and I get my kindle copy.
/Jens and Gushi
At the pen for Ripple Effect Consultancy
Startup Grind Hong Kong: https://www.startupgrind.com/hong-kong/
Garage society: http://thegaragesociety.com/