In this episode of A Founder's Life we will be talking to Henek Lo who is the CEO and founder of Hype Asia, a Venture Builder that has helped high growth startups scale in Asia and China markets. With Henek's success in the business world, tune in to learn more about what Venture Capitalists look for in a startup, and how to successfully scale a business from one of the top experts in the world.
Thanks for having me back. Good to be on.
Thanks. You know, we've known each other for a few years. I first met you when I was a tenant at WeWork. And you are the head of Wework in Asia, before that you were the head of Airbnb in China. I'd love to know a little bit about your background and how you took those strengths and move that into building your own business.
Yeah. Yeah, thanks. Thanks for that. Yeah, I remember those days in 2016 -- We work in Causeway Bay and that was a fun time. So I definitely have a lot of fond memories from those days. Like, I mean, just a bit more background for myself, you know, we're both from Hong Kong, you know, we're entrepreneurs here. And, you know, I always like to say that almost reverse entrepreneurship a little bit, where I just started with a lot of these large tech companies that had a lot of product-market fit was able to raise a lot of funding and like worked with them first and kind of worked backwards to see how like all different stages work, right? How you act in series A all the way to like a late stage venture company. So having that skill and having that experience kind of helped me a lot in terms of how I want to shape my own. And I think first and foremost is, I didn't want to just be a pure investor or a venture capitalist, I just want to really want to stay involved in building. And really my main experience to offer is really getting a lot of tech companies into Asia. So Hype Asia, the first two years, actually, sorry, the first three years, I really focused a lot on working with companies around the region that wanted to expand their business into China, into Southeast Asia, Korea, Japan. And that's why it's very valuable to a lot of startups that are especially not from the region, but also startups are from US, Europe, and so on and so forth. And I worked a lot with those companies, specifically on helping them get into a new market. So for example, Carousell, we launched them in Hong Kong, built, operated, and then scale the team out here, got a steam reselling platform, took them into China, helped them build and scale and hire a team and all that stuff. And that was like the basis of my business. So I think, from day one of Hype, it was always, you know, me and my co founder, Martin's dream to be able to build a house of ventures in the house of different companies under one one roof. And the reason for that is, we see a lot of startups are funded by investors every day. However, I think there's a lot of investors who will help these startups in a very indifferent degree. Right, you know, some will just be like connecting people, you know, getting them partnerships, BD pointing them into the right, hiring candidates as an example. But for us, we wanted to go a lot more hands on, like, how do you structure the company? How do you build the culture? What is the business model, all those things we wanted to add to a portfolio? And I will say last thing is COVID was a big catalyst to this, right? You know, when we first started thinking about building whole brands, which is like mid 2020, was actually when COVID hit the hardest. And then we moved quickly into this as well, because at that time, the world was kind of in a stencil, you know, nobody was doing much, you know, everybody was kind of just waiting and seeing the market. And we took that as a clue to actually launch our own company. So you know, the ones that you mentioned, you are doing a quest is something that we started, you know, mid of 2021 and started building and that's, that's how I got here, man.
That's amazing. I mean, for most founders, you know, one of the biggest obstacles is fundraising. Right? I mean, how do you as a founder, you know, approach fundraising, and what do you look for as an investor? And I'm asking that from a perspective of being an investor yourself, like how does someone find the right match?
Look, I think there's many different pieces and ways that people do it out there. I will say for myself specifically and I'm mainly a seed investor or a very late-stage investor, I really invest in the middle. And the reason for that is we're seeds. I think generally, I look for founders that are kind of portraying a very exciting idea, something that I can relate to, you know, kind of like how I first met you back, right? I think, gini, we shared that I had a very similar idea. And then you guys actually executed it. And I was like, that was a no brainer for me, because I was already interested in that realm, I already know that that's something that I wanted to explore. So with people being dedicated, and someone as passionate as you and Ray, that made it, you know, quite seamless for me to want to get involved. Second, in late stages, mainly because I think they're typically companies that are pre IPO, that are ready to go. But I think getting access to these companies, the harder part of it, but because of my network of a lot of entrepreneurs and people in this space, I'm able to get access to some of these deals. So that's the way that I think about it for myself. As for companies, I think it really depends on the stage that you're at. So you know, if you're a seed investor, sorry, if you're in a seed stage, and you get investors, like, hey, you guys are typically too early for me, you know, I can't get in right now get more traction first, and then get in. I will say to an entrepreneur, you probably shouldn't waste your time with those kinds of conversations, because the investor already made it very clear what their thesis is, what is the stage they want to get in? So also be just tuned into that right? Know what stage you should look for what type of investors and what is the reason for involving those investors. A second way to think about it is that an investor is very knowledgeable in your space, either from their personal background, or they have built something similar, and they can really have a lot of value to give. And I will say, for an earlier stage, like I would say, seed a bee, really look for investors that want to help because they can't help. They either have the time to help, they either have the resources to help or they have content through their own path. And they can teach you a lot of things and really handhold you. When you get to mid-stage, you're really looking for VCs that can help you scale, right? Because at that point, you know, funding is the main thing that you want to conquer. And so can these good names get you more access to other fundings because they can validate your business model? Lastly, I think for late stage guys is really just like, okay, then I think either an exit is imminent, a liquidity event of some sort is imminent, getting different types of investors that will do well in the public market as an example. Well, so get you there. But I think that what I said is probably the more technical part of finding fundraising, but at the end of the day as an entrepreneur, I just think you just need to get along with your investor very well. Like, you know, you just need to be able to speak to them, you need to be able to candidly share good things and bad things, I think, usually a big flag for me is when you share bad things or frictions. And there's like a lot of questions that come and these questions sometimes could not be, are not aligned to what you're doing. Like they're freaking out sooner than you are, in a way. But to me, entrepreneurship is about conquering hard problems, right? So if you have no problems in your business model, why would you need to go fundraising in the first place? Again, so it's really kind of getting yourself into. Can you get along with that investor? And can you be yourself and their investors, because ultimately, they're investing in you? And your business and whatnot? So, you know, that's maybe a short version of how I think about it.
Yeah, and that makes so much sense. I mean, like the entrepreneur investing in you is, is a resound, is a really the metric that resounds with me and resounds a lot when it comes to building the business as well. When translating your personal values, your vision and experience and expectations into a functioning business takes a lot of time. You know, it takes a lot of effort and expertise, right? You know, how important is a company's culture? And how do you establish it?
Oh, man, this is a topic that's like, you know, they're near and dear to me, because I joined Airbnb back in 2012. The company lives and dies by its culture. And I still always say I used Airbnb, which means that I'm still friends with a lot of people there. Either they have left the company, they're still there. I still keep in touch with the founders and talk to them. But they spent enormous amounts of effort to build what we call culture. For people. I think culture can mean many different things. But to me, I kind of cope with what we call a bunker test. If you can stay in a bunker with somebody for like seven days, right? And you come out and you two are still friends because you talked about everything cut off from the rest of the world. That generally is a good sign. Because again, like my point just now being able to, you know, be candid close to investors, be able to talk to your co founders or your colleagues on a more personal level because you actually have similar traits and similar personality is very important. Because I think what culture means to me is when everything is good, and going, culture seems like a moot point. Because everything is like all, you know, roses and everything is great. But when, you know, I want to say a different word, but you know, when something hits the fan, you know.
The shit hits the fan.
Thank you, I can curse. The shit hits the fan, that's when you really test what that person is about, like, how did they react to certain things? Are they with you when bad times, just as they are in good times? And so, you know, your question in terms of like, how do you roll, roll it into a company, I will say, two lines of thought here. Some people are just more outgoing and extroverted than others. Believe it or not, I'm actually an introvert. So when in the early days of my startup career, it was harder for me to learn how to recruit because I was not as good as you know, being in a corporation before my startup life, maybe have told me a little bit. And, you know, made it harder for me to express myself and like, you know, be more human in conversations, I gradually learned that more and more, but you know, one obvious one is like, if you're a founder like that, try to find a co- founder, that's your opposite, right? That can compliment you, that is a person that will look through many things, go over the bare minimum to get to know somebody, right? I think that's first. Second is, I think, you know, every company should have some form of culture or core value that they can define. And, you know, you know, I don't think there's any need to write essays on it. But I think there should be a few core values or principles that you want everybody to carry. And, you know, one of the companies I've worked with before, every performance review, in addition to all the other work stuff, they actually have core values as part of the review, then you can actually see whether or not those people exhibit those kind of values. And that will tell you how well you actually hired because if everybody ranked quite high on those things, you're hiring very consistently. Lastly, I think, just really think about what environment you want to surround yourself with, right? I mean, for myself, I'm excited to come to work every day, because I think, kudos to our recruiter, she hired a very good team. That gives me that energy every day. I mean, you notice in Hong Kong, we went through a couple of tough years. And you know, I think being positive and optimistic right now is the second most important thing ever. And unfortunately, in these types of markets there are also downturns, right, things don't work out as good as you know, you might plan. And I've seen my team come through with many amazing kinds of values and culture during this time that uplifts me as well when I come into the office. And I think that, to me, is what culture means.
That makes a lot of sense, and having a good attitude, staying positive, you know, these are such important things for founders, you know, you have to lead by example. Aside from those things, like, what would you say are the skills and qualities that a good entrepreneur has?
There's many, I'll try to say three. I think there's always the magic number. I think the first one for me is to be a pathological optimist. I think this is the hardest one, but also the most required. Unfortunately, if you're an entrepreneur, and you're trying to solve a big problem, a meaningful problem, whatever problem that you've picked, I guarantee you, it's probably hard. If it's not hard, someone else has probably done it. So if you know, just like why many people out there don't end up executing and an idea is because they always find reasons for why not to do it. And you know, it's not because I'm having this conversation with you Vic, but I've told you this before, I think you actually have the strength. I think you're able to be an optimist and think about the opportunity versus what will drag you down. And I think that's important because you know what pivoting is a big part of what we do. In the startup life, if one thing doesn't work, you go to another you go to another and these things kind of tear you down, man. Like, if you don't have that mentality to be positive, I think you know, even the best of the entrepreneurs and the best companies that we see today won't even exist. So I think this is the number one thing is like how do you be positive even when all odds are against you? Because that test is how attached you are to your idea, and how persistent you are to solving it, I think that is definitely one. Second could be a little bit counterintuitive. I think a good founder, or good entrepreneur needs to admit when they're wrong when they are not doing something right, or they committed to finding out something, but they realise that, hey, why am I going to in a miles an hour into that wall versus you can actually easily avoid that wall by doing something else? And I think that is a really important trait, because translation on the other side is whether or not you're listening right to people around you. Are they telling you, you know? Or are you just blind to not listening? I think there's a fine line between being stubborn, and a fine line in terms of not listening to other people, because like, certain things are not going but I think being but I admit that you're wrong. Learning from it, getting stronger from it, pivoting from it, I think it's an extremely important one. Lastly, I think maybe it captures a little bit of the first two. But I think just being candid, being candid in terms of their thoughts, I think. You know, don't get me wrong, being candid and being mean are two different things. Okay. But sometimes I think people may shy away too much about what they really think. And then not be able to deliver that to either their teams or their co-founders. And I think that's usually when bad things start breaking down. You know, in a startup team are the very early days, say, the first two years, you're in a team of sub 50 people, if you can't be candid, or be transparent to this group of people, I question that there's something wrong again to that culture. Right? So again, being able to be straightforward, honest, you know, I always tell my team, like, I won't get offended if somebody tells me a dumb idea. Because that makes me think twice before doing it, right? But if I really ended up executing it anyway, without listening to them, there's only two outcomes, either I was right, and they were wrong. And we have a conversation about it afterwards. Or I was wrong. And they were right. And we have a conversation about it afterwards. But either of which I think shows that you have a good enough relationship with your team to be able to surface these things and address these things and then solve these things. Yeah, so I come through those three.
Yeah, those are great. Those are great points. I mean, just to sum it all up, like, what advice would you give someone who's trying to be an entrepreneur, someone who is coming from zero, someone who's trying to start something new? What would be the number one thing that you would tell them before starting out?
You know, I, I had a really, I met a really good investor recently, who unfortunately, I can't mention his name. However, I hope he hears this, and I can give him credit. But he asked me How well do I know myself? When I heard that, I didn't really understand it. 100%. And like, you know, after digesting it for a couple of weeks, I started to understand the power of this question. Where if you want to get something started for the spur of the moment, oh man, and you're an entrepreneur, you're in for a surprise. Because it's likely going to be a grind, it's likely going to take a very long time. Not everything's going to be on the up and up all the time, there's gonna have, you're gonna have shitty days, you're gonna have days that it's gonna beat you down. And I think that question basically asked How well do you think you would you treat situations or how well do you know you can handle situations when it actually happens to you, right? which means that if you're, as an example, someone that has a very low tolerance for running into a wall, or things not working, you know, I might say, entrepreneurship may not be, or at least the first two years of a startup life may not be the most suitable for that particular person. Because during that time, that's going to be a lot of mistakes. So second, is really thinking about how well you thought of an idea. Right? Again, just having a spark of an idea is great. The first 15 minutes you talk about something that you're super passionate about, right? You know, one example I can give is Brian Chesky from Airbnb, right. I think it was in the fourth year or fifth year that he actually started getting traction with this company. And there's a very famous quote, where he launched Airbnb or air bed and breakfast three times, at the very beginning, because the first few times nobody noticed him, right. So he launched it three times. And I think that speaks to a lot about his energy and like his commitment to his business, because from starting it all the way till the IPO Road in 2022, sorry, 2020. It was a 12 or13 year process. And he's still the CEO of the company. So it's not like he got to IPO, there's a magic finish line that he has that he's still running his company. But I think that really speaks to how well he probably knew himself in terms of being persistent and being consistent in solving the problem. So yeah, how well do you know yourself? I think it's a very powerful question.
Yeah, I mean, that's super important. And I guess, to look at it from another angle, you know, for you, yourself, knowing what you know, now, what would you have done differently when you were first starting out?
I was a trained engineer. So I always say that Hindsight is 2020. Because you can always do that. So my first answer is actually, I wouldn't change anything. Because I think how I arrived at where I am right now is a sequence of all those things that have happened in my life, right? Different hardships, things that worked well, things that didn't work well, it kind of got me to where we are. But actually, I thought about it a little bit deeper. And I think the only thing I really would change myself is I will probably get into the startup game a little bit earlier. I, you know, we came out of school at similar times. And I think at the time, I must say venture capital wasn't as cool as it is now. Right? Whereas back then it was more like, go get a job, you know, go get into a big for big, whatever, right? And you learn, learn, and you'll get to a stage where you can make enough to solve problems, right? Or, like, do something on your own. But, you know, I wish someone had told me, like the difference of experience of corporate life, startup life, broke it down for me. And I would arguably have started my startup career a little bit earlier. Because there's, once I get into it and meet a lot more entrepreneurs in this space, I just think it's much more positive. People look at the upside here, right? It's like always, how do I build more versus I think a lot of established companies often look at the downside of things. How do I manage to not do so much right? Or if it's, if it's good, how do we reap the most out of it? I don't think that is a good way to think about every single problem in life. Right? I think there is definitely a lot more information now to get people excited about startups, you know, even podcasts, like these, you know, information that you can look up now to read. I think it was a little bit less available back in the day for us. So I just I think if I think about it, I really would have thought to get into venture organza startups a bit earlier in my career.
That's a great answer. You know, for myself, I started I came out of school, and I started a business really early, but it wasn't like a startup, it was more of like an SME, you know, we're in the real estate business doing fix and flips and, you know, financial crisis stuff in the US the real estate stuff, right? But, you know, I'd love to hear what you think about the differences between like SMEs and small businesses and startups. Like, what is the expectation that people should have when starting a business?
Yeah. It may not be mutually exclusive, but I'll give my take on it. I think startups and venture capital are often mixed into one pot, right, is that you have a big idea, you have something that can be explosive, and it's like solving a huge issue. But in order to scale it, in order to go fast at it, we get venture capital in order to run faster, scale faster, reach that goal faster. But at the same time, again, you know, you can go as early as just an idea, from incubation of an idea where you have nothing to show for and you might be able to get some money and people are betting on you as a person that can execute. So I think startup and venture capital and equity have a speed component to it. Where not all economics need to make sense all the time. Right? Where you can afford to like a lot of SaaS companies out there or a lot of to be fair, a lot of consumer companies even in the last 10 years, there were probably bleeding tons at the very beginning, and they can have a road to profitability over time, some even after they listed as a public company are still not profitable. Right? So I think that captures like startup venture capital and equity game for me, where I think SMB or kind of to your point, when you first started your first company, you're probably a very good business where you have revenue coming in your cost basis makes sense. Your top line overcomes your, your bottom line, and you have profits, you're able to calculate that you're able to, you know, be able to make sense of like this will potentially either sustain your company or yourself and is a really good business, however, I must say, is what I just described investable. It's a question mark, right? Just because you have a good business doesn't mean that venture capitalists or an investor wants to invest. Because remember, venture capitalists exit from equity. So your equity needs to be able to come in a good story, a good growth, a good valuation, in order for you to go on, where again, for the SME part, sorry, with exactly what SME part it can just be a good business, but it may not be a very attractive investable business, right? I think that I see a clear difference between the two. And also for the SME part, you can control your growth at any time, you can go slow, you can grow fast, again, because without venture capital, then you have to make your money to be able to do that. And I think that, you know, talks about how good the business model actually was. But there's nothing wrong with doing one or the other. I just think it's a different game. I think a different path is a different game. So you know, just know what your business is good for? Is it easy to fundraise or raise money there? Recently, I've heard some startups that probably didn't raise any money for the first six, seven years of their lifetime, they just figured out a great business, but later found an angle to be investable on, or like a venture capitalist approached them and actually invested into them too quick, we equip them with even a larger war chest to do something. You know, so there's also that example. So this is why I say it's not mutually exclusive. But it's like, what kind of path do you want to take as an entrepreneur?
Yeah, that's a really good segue into a couple of questions I have on financing of business, you know, like, what kind of path do you have, you know, what kind of path you want for your business? You know, one question I have is, like, aside from venture capital, how do people capitalise a business? You know, how do people, you know, get the initial seed funding to get off on the first foot? Especially for startups, especially those who are looking to grow and scale really quickly?
Yep. Yeah, I think you know, you know, for myself from getting out of school all the way till now 15 plus years now, I think the environment in Hong Kong as an example, has already changed quite a bit, where even if you want to get started, there are a lot of grant programs, government programs that can get you started now incubation, I think Hong Kong still needs to adapt more, but at least we're going down the right path. So that's a very powerful way to get started. Second, is that even just looking at all these banks and finance firms, right now, a lot of them are attuned to this business model as well. And they're giving a lot of like, easier access to capital in that form. In financing form, it really just depends on what kind of business you're running. So as an example, if you're a DTC investor today, banks, sorry, if you're a DTC operator, today, direct to consumer, and you're selling goods, a lot of banks are willing to give financing on just purchase orders, right? You know, you need to purchase your next order. And that's a large chunk of your balance sheet. A lot of them have moved earlier and earlier and earlier, but back then, you have to prove like, you know, three, four years of solid traction before you can actually get a loan. But now, I think that it's a bit risky in the market right now, where some of these finance companies or banks are willing to start a little bit earlier. Lastly, I think it's just like, you know, the venture capital, I think, I think all your listeners probably noticed very well, there's so many ways to access that, right? You can be in a think tank, you can be in an incubation, you can be at an accelerator, you can even just build your own product market fit and your own MVP, and then get funding that way. But I think the last two years specifically, I feel like that is getting a little bit more popular among startups. And also, you know, that gives if you will, right, because they realise that equity financing is not always the right way to raise money, you know, your dilution and all that stuff to think about. And sometimes if it's truly a cash flow problem, you know, that could be a good way as well. But in terms of starting up your own thing from you know, from negative one to zero, let's just say, I think, you know, all that I mentioned are very good ways to get your business capitalised.
Yeah. And talking about capitalising your business. You know, valuation is like the key word when it comes to, you know, equity financing. You know, it's essential to, you know, valuation is essential to determining how much investors will give you and for how much of the company, you know, my question is like, how does a company that's, you know, maybe one or two years in how do they find their valuation, how do they negotiate that and you know, how do they increase their valuation so that it's, is that make it more attractive or less attractive to investors?
I must say this is one of those mythical conversations that there's no like, dictionary kind of a definition of how to do this. You know what, when I first entered a sort of game, you know, learning from a lot of like other tech companies, tech entrepreneurs, it was much harder, I must say, back in like the, you know, like, 2012, 2013 time where you're basically getting your valuation through certain multipliers that you hear in the market, right? It's kind of finicky, right? You're just like, oh, they raised that much like 5x over revenue, these guys raised TEDx oversells, these guys, right? And using that as a basis of an anchor, to justify a certain thing. However, I must say, with the multipliers or like, how you justify your valuation really depends on the investor. So if you have an investor that, you know, investors in deep tech and SaaS and the multipliers of businesses, which is normally higher, they will give you a higher valuation, because that is their game. If you have, you know, trying to pitch the same, like, play to the consumer oriented investor, they might not be able to justify those high multipliers, because they're not used to that right consumer, you know, might be, you know, two 3x and at most time 4x. But it I think that's purely because of what they're used to. So I think, you know, going back to my earlier answer, you have to find the right investors for the right business model, they will give you the right valuation, because they're benching it all to the right players, if you're mismatching that you jeopardising trying to convince somebody that is very hard to convince, I think that's hard. Second, is maybe a little bit more of a grounded way of thinking about it. Because I used to be in finance, and I used to be an engineer, so I just happened to be good at spreadsheets, and really just documenting entire finance books, if you will, right, having a clear way to show revenue, momentum, cost lines, what you can do to shave certain things off, having that basis is really important, because then that gives you a sane way of dictating what your fundamental numbers should actually fetch you, right? Because that, to me, is the baseline. At the very least, my number is saying this right again, but to be clear, if you see company, I have no numbers, then you're just your story will dictate everything. Your question is like, if you're one to two years into it, then I think you have to be able to show for some reason, right? If you want it yours, and you don't have anything to show for it, I think that's a bigger red flag than anything. So you know, being able to do that. It is very important. And lastly, I think this is very hard to learn, man. But, there are some people who are just better at storytelling than others. And so, you know, you have models, you always have those conversations in the market. Like, why, why did this company validate this and people didn't understand that, because you know what, maybe you just didn't spend a good 20 days with that founder, and didn't know what kind of vision that person has and how far they want to carry it. Because I must say in the venture capitalist game, that matters, right? How well you tell that story. And like how well you preach that story, and like believe in that story. But I think it does come down to one thing, generally people who are more passionate and more dedicated to what they're doing. Investors can see through that, and are often more willing to give those people more help. Because as I said, if you're funding somebody and you know, in the first example, downtown events they're going to be out, then that may not be a very good investment for the long term. But if you know someone that will like just truck through it will continue to persist and continue just you know, what we described, described as grit, right and just like grit through and just get it done. I think those guys usually compete in higher valuations as well. Because you know, people believe that this person can do it. So I think there's various different factors from the stage that you're at the way that you've documented the fundamentals, your company, and finally, the leaders of the company, the founders of the company, how they tell that story? I think all those things come into play.
Yeah, so true. I mean, like the, the key factors like MRR growth, you know, tech months, you know, payback. All that stuff is really important. But, you know, you've seen these guys tell amazing stories, and they just build the FOMO right? I mean, in the community. And you know, and I've seen a lot of these, a lot more equity investors now and a lot more and there's not enough startups invested. But I'm wondering, do you think that's sustainable? Right? Like, do you think that in the long term the power remains with startups or investors?
Look, it's an ecosystem. And I think the key notion of that word is that one can't live without another. That's just a fact of life, right? You can't start a business with no money. Or you could if you're selling a skill of some sort, right, then my thing is like, don't get venture capital, right. But if your business requires some, some form of capital to get to where it needs to go, I think it definitely requires both sides. So I think it's really tough to say, does it reside with an investor or an entrepreneur, every single case, I've seen many different companies I've seen is something different, right? There's always a different mix of how that came about. So again, you know, my only thing to a lot of people out there looking to start their own companies is just really that question. Ask yourself, how well do you know yourself? How good a storyteller are you? How good are you on the fundamentals? How good do you know your business is going to do well? And not do well? Do you have the numbers to justify all these things coming into play, and then you come and put that together into the best way for you to tell that story? I think, first of all, right. And, you know, even in the whole, the whole world right now, right? You know, web one, web two, web three, you're already seeing the web through stuff changing, right? Where no longer do you need to dilute your company down to like, you know, but back in like, 10, the last 10 years, it's like, Oh, I'm gonna raise this round, I'm gonna dilute 20%, I'm gonna do XYZ, right? That's kind of what you're talking about now, but point in case in the market right now, you maybe don't need to do that anymore. You know, you know, all these like, tokenomics. And things are happening in the market, a lot of them don't actually dilute any equity, actually. Right? It's a different way that it's gonna look how well that plays out. I think only time will tell. I do think that the market is changing. I think, you know, to your question about, will there be startups? Sorry? Would it be with the founders? Or would it be with the investors? I think what theory is a good case is that if you have a good project man, like, you know, you it's definitely with the creators, or the people who was creating that concept, because people aren't using real money to buy these things, right, your real tokens real crypto, real fear, to get in. And genuinely, they're going in for something not too much more than a white paper. Right? to get started. So you know, you can see it shifting. But I think the ecosystem is that if you do that, and you don't deliver what you want to deliver, that time will also tell, reputation will tell, the price of your coin will tell or the price of your equity will tell. So again, it just needs to be a real business. At the end of the day, it doesn't really matter how you get to it. It just needs to be a real business. And if that business is very scalable, and very sellable, that valuation will come and I'm sure the right investors will meet the right operators as well.
Yeah, and of course, you know, it's a lot of experimentation. And you mentioned grit earlier, you know, it takes a lot of willpower and a lot of effort to have that grit to get through the hard times. And, you know, what we've seen a lot is mental health starting to take centre stage when it comes to startups and founders, you know, how important is mental health to you? And what are the things that you do to take care of your mental health?
Oh, man, I think it is also a close-to-heart topic, especially in the last three years of Hong Kong. I think you know, the last year really has been quite a tough time, especially with the most recent wave as well. I think this is personal, right? This is my view on it. There are people out there that can ignore everything and just grind day and night, right, to achieve it. My favourite story to use and when people told me like, we use Whatsapp since maybe version 1.0. WhatsApp, right, that founder has always been talking about, you know, because Facebook gave them like a $4 billion deal if memory serves me correct. But he also went through super hard times. And I think his family and or himself were on food stamps, or at some point, right to prove a concept to prove his idea. But my point here is, that guy knew his grit and knew what his bottom line is and what he was willing to sacrifice to get there. And lo and behold, he was successful, very good for him and all that stuff. Right. But you know, I always ask people, can you do that? Like, I'm not sure if that is the right way. So I think for everybody, they should understand their own limits. And I really don't think entrepreneurship is meant to destroy everything in your life. Your relationships, your work life balance, you know, what's the point if you get there and you can't be healthy or can't be happy about it, right? In a way, like, why be an entrepreneur, it's just gonna make you depressed. Right? It's, it's, it's not for everybody. So some people that I've seen, I think this is the most powerful kind of entrepreneur that they really have, they will give it at all, because I think sometimes having options is a bit of a curse as well, when you have only one path. And you know, that is the only way that is very powerful because like dedication, the persistence is real, and that's the only way to do it. But look, if you have three kids, or you have a family to do, then I think there's something there, right, you got to be, you got to have a check in once in a while to see where you are in your life. So I think the only way to do this really is you have to, again, surround yourself with a good co-founder, a good team that can tell you when they think, hey, you know, maybe something is is over the line here, or like there's something wrong with with certain people's mental health on the team or something like that, you know, we always call out each other that, hey, we think you should just take the weekend off, you should take weeks off whatever, right? These are what good co-founders and good colleagues would do to each other. We support each other. It goes back to how well you know yourself and whether or not you can balance everything. So I mean, balance is still the key point, you have to do everything balanced, that cannot be a very extreme one or the other. Either. You can be extreme, and you can take it or you can't. And you don't do that. And I think there's different ways to create companies. Another founder, the founder of Shopify, and still the acting CEO today for a massive list of companies. I think there was an article that was about him that he never worked more than eight hours a day or something like that. Right. That was like a principle he had. Right. He just, you know, from day one, he started. I think that's also very hard to do. But I think he made a mental decision that that's what was important for him in his own life. And I think that is a crucial factor to a successful founder or CEO or entrepreneur.
Yeah. Got it. Well, I think that's a great point to end the podcast. You know, you know, all of us need to take care of ourselves and make sure we're doing the right thing for ourselves. But I think that's a great message. Anyways, Henek Lo, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really appreciate your time and thank you for your insights as well. Thank you.
I hope so man, and thanks for having me on the show and stay healthy, and I'll see you soon. Cheers. Cheers.
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