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Mikaal Abdulla

After 15 years of working for someone else Mikaal Abdulla finally got smart and started his own company.
Wyn and Larry, Thanks for the different points of view and its always welcome. Wyn, if we assume the best talent is employed when you bring them over to your startup in China - were you able to convince people outside of the founding team to take equity in lieu of a market rate salary (e.g. an engineer takes lower compensation he/she can get at a large company for reduced salary + equity)? This is one important indication of risk tolerance. I don't intend to make sweeping statements but my experience has shown me that the cultural aversion to risk in totally rational in Asia. For one, individuals are typically supporting family and there is no social security system in most geographies. Furthermore, there is immense pressure for couples to save for marriage. This makes it incredibly challenging for young people to make a decision to defer education and/or a stable salary and future. In the US, people don't have the same perspective. Its not atypical for students to pay their own expenses after the age of 18 with no further support from family. Also, they don't typically have the same pressure to support their family financially. So if I am going to make a generalisation, I do think its MUCH easier for an American to assess risk/reward and join a startup than a counterpart anywhere in Asia. Yes, Hong Kong has a great business environment and it should logically rank highly as a dynamic startup hub but it is not. It is a very avverse environment and I don't think its reputation as an entrepreneurial market outside of real estate investing or franchises is warranted. Just my opinion. Mikaal

Commented 2 years ago on

There is No Glamour in an Asia Startup
Hi Lars, Thanks for the message. I think I have been 100% clear that starting with mobile makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. That said, those startups that put themselves in the box of being a "mobile company" are going to smacked when alternative channels present themselves. Mobile is not the end game. For years we were buried in endless tech press that promoted the false concept of "social" as the holy grail. Now we see venture capital firms raising entire funds around their "mobile thesis". What a load of bullshit. I wonder how their "social thesis" has worked out for them? Why, because just as social is a feature and not a category, I believe we will come to see mobile as nothing more than another screen. Strategy and vision go hand in hand. An example. If I am a "mobile commerce app" I should be dead scared when Apple launches its TV. The tablets and phones will get left on the charger as the TV delivers a more compelling and interactive experience. Am I going to fiddle around on my mobile device or make purchases directly from my TV? On my TV now I can click on the knives I saw someone using on Top Chef, get the specs in 42 inch glory, immediately get feedback from my friend who I know is watching and purchase in a click. Google Glasses has even more exciting use cases. Is the TV a PC? Are Google Glasses a mobile device? No...they are just another screen. Those businesses that build a seamless customer experience and ubiquity will win. Those companies that live or die by mobile alone will probably die. How many social networks do you know that are making money? Just because 100,000 were built around the hype does not make it smart. Mobile as a strategy is another hype cycle in my opinion (aka bullshit).

Commented 3 years ago on

I am Calling Bullshit on Your ‘Mobile Strategy’
Rahul, thanks for your thoughtful counter argument. I think focus is necessary for any business. A focus on mobile has very rational advantages. I think it makes sense to find product / market fit with focus and that achieving ubiquity is a long road. My point is that I think startups that define themselves a mobile business are going to face very rapid competition from alternative channels. I think defining ones strategy and business model (commercialization and monitization) behind a single channel is a huge mistake.

Commented 3 years ago on

I am Calling Bullshit on Your ‘Mobile Strategy’
Tuyen, very well said!

Commented 3 years ago on

I am Calling Bullshit on Your ‘Mobile Strategy’
Thanks to all for reading the post and commenting here. Picking up on a point Matt made. I totally agree that mobile is so often discussed in the context of "killing off" the PC, etc. I think Matt is right. At the end of the day it will simply come down to efficiency, convenience and usability. Connectivity & consumption will be made available in ways we can not even imagine today.

Commented 3 years ago on

I am Calling Bullshit on Your ‘Mobile Strategy’
Thanks Sambung. Happy to see you have the same view. Sometimes I think I am alone. My favorite are Venture Capital firms that raise entire funds around their "mobile thesis". Nonsense....The world will look very different in a few years with new channels we probably have not even thought about.

Commented 3 years ago on

I am Calling Bullshit on Your ‘Mobile Strategy’
Thanks Gregy and Dino. Yes, 100% online. Anything I can't track...I don't like. Notice how its the media that you can't track such as print, TV, billboards, etc that are always the most expensive!

Commented 3 years ago on

Killer Banner Ads and Landing Pages: 3 Tips for Asian Startups
Keller and Ryan, thanks for you kind feedback. You are 100% right that I should have covered the importance of A/B testing your campaigns and landing pages. I am a big fan of Optimisly for this A/B testing.

Commented 3 years ago on

Killer Banner Ads and Landing Pages: 3 Tips for Asian Startups
Hi Poh, you are right. Nothing is more valuable than talking directly to customers to understand their problems. Not until you fully understand the problems can you define solutions. Some times we get so focused on "hi-tech" we overlook the incredible value in picking up the phone or a face to face meeting with customers.

Commented 3 years ago on

Killer Banner Ads and Landing Pages: 3 Tips for Asian Startups
Danny, thanks very much for your kind feedback. I love sharing ideas (right or wrong is up to you) and it continues to be useful. I will write a second post on search marketing soon. Thanks again.

Commented 3 years ago on

Killer Banner Ads and Landing Pages: 3 Tips for Asian Startups