Hong Kong versus Singapore

This is a good read :: http://ventureburn.com/2014/08/hong-kong-and-singapore-meet-the-evil-twin-startup-ecosystems-of-southeast-asia/

I won’t really dig into the startup issues cause my experience with startup land has mostly been from the HQ of Singapore. When I lived in Hong Kong, many moons back for about 5 years, I was focused on enterprise software and at the time Hong Kong made more sense. We were looking to grow in North Asia and Hong Kong was the better location for that. I think back in those days everyone felt that the “gateway” to China was Hong Kong. Now it seems the gateway to China is going to China. So for some the need to be in Hong Kong makes less sense than it did before.

Singapore is sometime’s known as the “gateway” to other parts of SEA region. Again – if you want to focus on Indonesia, you can just setup there. However maybe it is better to establish your HQ in Singapore for various legal reasons. Of course if you are looking at a regional play – Singapore makes a great base for SEA – easy to argue that this is a better place to setup than Hong Kong. It could be that for startup land the North Asia, SEA/South Asia split still plays out. You want to tackle Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan? Hong Kong makes a good base. You want to go for India, Pakistan, and SEA? Singapore is the better choice.

However – maybe you plan on going after the globe, this is what Spuul is doing, and you still need a home base in Asia. For this I reckon that Singapore is the much better bet than Hong Kong. Again here I am not commenting on the HK ecosystem or the I want to live there and do a startup. Or I find HK is a better city for me so I plan on doing my startup there. Great. You should do it wherever you want. That is the cool thing about doing a startup – for the most part location doesn’t matter. I will write some more about this though since I have some stuff to debunk from this article :: http://thenextweb.com/asia/2014/08/23/time-founders-southeast-asia-accepted-location-used-advantage/.

So back to the I want to tame the globe and I plan on living in Asia – which place is better? Hong Kong or Singapore? I think for this decision to be made one has to dive into some of the practicalities of living – not just the startups issues. On this note I think Singapore is the only choice. Reasons:

- The air is much cleaner. Hong Kong air pollution is epic and worsening.
- Much easier to have a family in Singapore. Yes – not all startups are devoid of real adults, with families. Singapore is easier to manage a family than Hong Kong.
- Public schooling is English first in Singapore and much more modernized. In Hong Kong an expat must put their kids in International Schools unless they speak Cantonese as their main language.
- Permanent residency is much harder to obtain in Hong Kong. Seven years of residency and employment prior to applying. I got my Singapore PR in less than 3 years of working in Singapore.

I am sure there are other issues to consider or even good reasons to refute the list above. Local people may not need to factor any of these issues but I would argue that startups are global in nature with employees from all over the world. These employees will look to settle, have families and for this – Singapore is the obvious choice.

App store hell…

I have written about this before and just had another experience with Apple that reminds me how broken the whole process is.

First off Google is broken but in another way – Google let’s everyone and everybody publish anything – you can steal an app, pirate content and break lots of rules but you can still publish on the Play Store until someone alerts Google. Then they may take it down but not always. Google should change their process to vetting every first time app from each developer. They check the app and if cool it hits the store. If is is not cool the developer needs to address it. If they don’t address it the app is not published and this bad mark, so to speak, is remembered. Developer tries to publish another app under the same account and the same process is repeated. Once said developer is allowed to publish a valid app then Google let’s that developer publish without anymore reviews. This would help, but not alleviate, some of the crap in the Play Store. It won’t fix it but at least create some barriers to entry. God knows there are enough apps.

On the Apple side the issue is broken the other direction. Here we have an app that has been around for a few years and still go through the same process as a new app or new developer. We have the normal review time and all that jazz. What is worse is our history means nothing and Apple does make mistakes. Their reviewers don’t always read the notes and reject the app due to not reading the notes. We lose days when this happens. Then we have to either leave rejection comments or republish the app – thus waiting the same review period. Developers should go through the review for a new app and maybe till the .2 or .3 release. Then Apple should let the developers publish at will until they do something wrong or break a rule. Then they are back to square one with some rules for getting out of the review doghouse. Not saying this is a perfect solution but something is better than waiting a week or sometimes two to publish an update to a mature app due to reviewer incompetence.

Let’s also note that this review process does not ensure quality around apps or keep the crap from proliferating in the App Store. Tons of crap and zombie apps in the App Store.

Either way I am baffled that two companies making billions off of phones and apps can’t spend some time fixing the developer process. Just Silly.

How I try to Product Manage… (part 1)

I am usually brutally honest. I am the first to answer I don’t know when I don’t and when I think I know I tell it like I see it. I probably need to take my own advice here more often and getter better at the soft middle of knowing and not knowing. Hell – we all can get better at what we do right?

That being said the role of product management is like a craft one hones over time. I don’t think it is easily taught and I don’t think it is easily learned. It comes with time, experience and lots of mistakes. I excel in the lots of mistakes category so I guess in some sense I am still learning and trying to improve.

I try to listen to lots of podcasts, still haven’t found a good PM podcast, and I read a lot. Plus – I try lots of products. I use my own as well. Personally I am always baffled when you hear people give product advice and you find out they don’t use a lot of products apart from the main ones everyone uses. There is no right or wrong when it comes to product taste since it is a taste and I think taste improves with experience. So I like the school of hard knocks when it comes to acquiring taste – you have to have built some things and you have to have used a lot of things. Of course this is not relevant to the folks who have an idea and build their own stuff – I think that is a different form of PM. I wish I was talented enough to have the coding skills to build my own stuff but alas I don’t. Probably never will.

All that being said I am always looking for tools and techniques to get better at what I do.

Over time I keep settling on the same stuff:

- email
- dispatch
- evernote
- asana
- slack
- spreadsheets
- keynote

I use lots of little things for idea tracking or idea generation or I guess note taking, but still don’t have something I love:

- paper with the paper stylus
- vesper
- IA writer
- probably other things I can’t remember and also just a normal notebook

So I use the tools to manage the team and other tools to convey ideas to the people in the company. I guess then the rest of it is the things I use to manage myself, my ideas and my communication. Communication is so huge and this is why slack is just taking off like a rocketship. Communication is key. Really interested to see how slack will tackle email. Asana is partially tackling email but I will admit that a lot of my interaction with Asana is actually via normal email.

Looking for any comments or ideas on this stack of ideas or products.

I will follow this up with a post for how I manage the team so to speak. Or shall I say unmanage them…