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Jaime Ng on Founding Asia's First Podcast Advertising Platform, Leading Incumbents vs. Startups & Catalyzing Change

· Podcast Transcripts

"In an incumbent, you end up dealing a lot with your traditional counterpart, helping them to understand you a lot more, whereas in startups, you actually have to innovate fast enough, to show enough confidence to your board that you can move into certain riskier tangents and not face the fate of becoming obsolete in the market." - Jaime Ng

Jaime Ng is the Founder and CEO of MatchCasts, Asia's first audio podcast advertising and analytics platform for brands. Founded in 2019, Matchcasts is funded by Entrepreneur First [EF], a global talent investor, supporting the world’s most ambitious individuals. EF is backed by some of the world’s best investors, including the founders of LinkedIn, DeepMind and PayPal. MatchCasts makes audio podcast discovery, analytics and advertising simple for brands. It helps brands and podcasters take the pain out of finding the right podcast to create campaigns that resonate with audiences. As of 2020, Matchcasts has 1.6 million podcast titles under its database.

Before MatchCasts, Jaime was a technical and data-driven Chief Marketing Officer [CMO] with over 18 years of experience working in the US, UK and SEA. She has built MarTech and AdTech platforms for top companies including MediaCorp and TripAdvisor. Most recently she led both marketing, product and technical teams as CMO in RedMart and NTUC Link.

Jaime graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Economics from the National University of Singapore. Aside from her full time career, she also angel invests and writes on a blog .

You can find her on her LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/jaimeng

 Jeremy Au: [00:02:09] Great to have you on board, Jaime.

Jaime Ng: [00:02:11] Hey, thanks for having me, Jeremy.

Jeremy Au: [00:02:13] It's really interesting to have another podcast expert, but also a digital transformation and marketing guru here on the podcast.

Jaime Ng: [00:02:21] Thanks for having me. I mean, you're pretty much more of the podcast expert. I've only been doing podcasts for what, one and a half years?

Jeremy Au: [00:02:30] Well, I started out in the pandemic, as well, so I've got to say that I'm a more junior podcast than you in this respect. That being said, we've both had long experience in the technology industry, which is what we're both experts in. I think it's interesting to talk about that. Let's just get started with hearing your journey in your own words. How did you first get started in tech?

Jaime Ng: [00:02:52] Great question. It really goes back to, I would guess, the first internet. I actually got exposed to probably the internet when it was what, 1995? Very young for a lot of probably listeners now, but that was called the World Wide Web then. And I actually was doing computing in NUS, but it was C++, and then I majored in economics. But I really got interested in this whole World Wide Web thing. And you're really basically getting started HTML within a day. That got me really hooked. NUS basically gave us a free modem and we connected to the internet. So, I would say I was very lucky I was part of the first wave.

And then after NUS, I went into a different route. Even though I graduated in economics, I was really interested in media. I actually became a producer and was doing production for a while, decided to do film production in the US. And that's why I went to the US and did a diploma in film direction. Obviously, I didn't become a film director, but that led me down the other path.

I was always thinking that I could have two paths, either but one being that if I'm successful with media, I'll become a director, or doing some commercials and TV. But, on the other hand, I was very tech savvy at that time. I felt that that was really booming. And when I was in the US I saw the boom.

Immediately right after my graduation I tried to work in production. That didn't really lead to anywhere. But thankfully, I found a company called TripAdvisor which was starting out at that time. Obviously, that was one of the early startups that was based out of the US and very close to proximity to where I was based. And started working in marketing there, and it just became a lifestyle. Back and forth I've been traversing between US and Singapore. After Trip Advisor, I've come back to Singapore a couple of times to work in Mediacorp. And then went back to the US to work in MySpace. And then coming back to Singapore again, working for companies like RedMart and then, NTUC Link.

Long story short, just crossing continent, learning from both places. Been based in Southeast Asia for quite some time now. I forgot how many years but, really excited by what's happening here in Singapore.

Jeremy Au: [00:05:06] Amazing. I feel like you're selling yourself short, because you were an early employee of TripAdvisor, which we all know about, everyone in the world. I was in the middle of Turkey, and all the restaurants had TripAdvisor stickers on the front. I go to the middle of the forest in some places and I see TripAdvisor. And then, you were at MySpace and then leading their marketing programming. And then after that, you went RedMart again, another fast growth. And now a market leader in the grocery space in Southeast Asia. So you definitely have done that stack of work, honestly.

Jaime Ng: [00:05:43] Yeah. Interesting. I mean, obviously TripAdvisor wasn't the big giant that you thought it was now. I mean, think of that time. I was in a very interesting space. I made my, I would say early fortunes, you might have heard of a company called GeoCities. I was actually an early investor in that company. It was bought over by Yahoo for $19 billion. And that was a time where it was the first wave of internet. You probably have never thought of that.

But yeah, it was interesting. I mean, I saw literally the growth, the rise of many tech companies and the fall of many tech companies. In 2000, there was even the company called Fetch, that was very popular in New York. Basically, it died because at that time, the infrastructure wasn't right for it. But it was reincarnated in a form of Deliveroo, FoodPanda and Uber Eats. You could see that, sometimes certain technology has its own trends and, timing is actually of the essence really when you looked at the whole landscape. So, very interesting, I would say, of a career path. Really enjoyed doing this sort of work around Southeast Asia, as well as US.

Jeremy Au: [00:06:53] For so many people, they must be wondering to themselves, how do you pick them? Because, you've been able to pick good companies to join, good companies to invest in. I mean, I still remember setting up my own GeoCities page sometime ago. How did you go about? Was it because of luck, or is it because you felt that there was a good feeling about it? Any signals?

Jaime Ng: [00:07:13] Yeah. I think it's both. I would say luck played a really big part of the early investments. I was exactly like you. I was a big fan of GeoCities. I remember I wasn't really a tech person. I was an economist. I was in the arts and the science. And when I got into tech, everything interest me. So I created really, probably at that time the HTML website, that was very, very popular. And that got me interested in GeoCities. GeoCities reached out and I went and start working with them as a moderator. And then from there, actually I saw the opportunity of it growing. I didn't expect it to become something what it was, but after it IPO-ed, I think within months it was bought over by Yahoo. And Yahoo at that time was literally Google of today, Google plus Facebook.

I think luck had a lot to take with it. Then subsequently, obviously, with the gut sense, I think, sometimes if you're passionate in an industry, you do have a bias. But at the same time, I think it gives you a lot of exposure into the industry that may be perhaps other people might not have. For example, if you were very early on in tech, you learn to spot the trends, the potentials, the possibility.

But obviously in the early days, you didn't have as much data points to look at. I think now evaluating even companies, startups, you have a lot more data points to look at. You look at trends, you look at variety of everything from CAC to even how fast it is growing. Is the industry a competitor landscape? So on and so forth. Which, I think in the past, when you were early days pioneer, you didn't really have any of that to bank on. So yeah, luck, and I think just a very strong gut sense, is probably what I relied on most.

Jeremy Au: [00:08:57] What was it like in your first days joining TripAdvisor? What was it like your first day, your first week, stepping into that office?

Jaime Ng: [00:09:05] It was cold. I remember it was out in Boston, Newton, so it was cold. That was what I remember. It was very unstructured, but you expected it. Because I remember before joining TripAdvisor I was doing film. But film, interestingly, had a very good sense of structure around production, so everything is very meticulous. Filmmaking in US is extremely meticulous and extremely process-driven. So then I went to the startup and then everything was a bit chaos. I remember taking up the train up and then having someone meet me, drive me to the office, because I didn't drive when I was there.

And then I pretty much spent the whole week, trying to figure out, talking to different people, understanding the processes, understanding what's happening. And then basically, ran outside of my JD (Job Description) , start getting involved in projects, which I think is interesting.

I remember those were the early days. Web was really new. Not many people had really a background in the web, but I was already creating websites. I was roped into the web team. And then on the other hand, I didn't have that much experience with marketing, but there was already discussions with some of the hotel chains that was coming up. I got myself plugged into those discussions. I think it was just really me putting myself out there with the team, and then getting involved in projects I think would be interesting. I didn't think of it from a portfolio building standpoint. I really thought of it as, "Hey, that's interesting. That's something I haven't done before. I would really be interested to do that."

And I think my experience previously, I mean obviously media helped a lot. In essence, marketing and media at that time is synonymous, goes hand in hand. That helped a lot. That opened doors for me to be valued members in those teams. That's really how I survived my first week, and then continued there for two years.

Jeremy Au: [00:11:03] What's interesting is that, you've also been able to, not just work as a marketing leader in these, now brand name companies and startups, but you've also worked in a tic-toc fashion, with the tic being the US side, but also work on a toc, which is the Singapore-based legacy players or incumbents, right?

Jaime Ng: [00:11:23] Yep, absolutely.

Jeremy Au: [00:11:24] Tell me more about that. How does leadership differ in these two different types of companies?

Jaime Ng: [00:11:29] Yeah. Interesting. I mean, they're very, very different. If you look at legacy business and startups, I would say almost night and day. The big difference was this: I think in the traditional business, I didn't go in as a traditional corporate leader. I went in trying to be a catalyst to make changes. Looking back at my Mediacorp days, I was there actually driving the very first streaming platform. I don't know if you remember, there was a service that Mediacorp released called MOBTV. It was actually, I would say grandmother, grandfather of the Toggle.SG that you remember today. It was actually the first streaming platform in Singapore. It was basically the first to be able to download, pay a subscription, be able to download videos.

But remember, those were the days that we had the 56K modem. So it literally takes you about an hour to download an hour of serial, of a episode and you can put it into your machine. And at that time we didn't have iPad or iPhone.

I remember the very first commercial that went out was Zoe Tay and Tay Ping Hui. Somebody was just watching them acting on the show, and then you realized they were watching it on a Creative machine. That was the background on that. I didn't go into Mediacorp to become another marketer. I actually went in to start up this division for them, which they have no idea how to do, combining my background as a media person, as well as my experience in the internet.

Similarly, I went to, obviously NTUC Link, which was my last role to be a catalyst after having my stint at RedMart, to really help them look at ways that they could transform their business, going from a loyalty reward program to a more, I would say, all-encompassing ... Almost in some ways similar to the work I did in Liftup, but to build a lifestyle-driven, lift up program in an NTUC link.

But the challenges is this; that I realized in my corporate legacies thing, is that the challenges of it being similar is the financial side of things, and I would say the real commitment to change. So in startups, you have that where, if you're actually running a different trajectory to what you have actually spoken to with your investors or board, you actually face it in resistance. In legacy companies, that actually is the same. That is probably the most similar. So you will want to say, build a service that may be loss-making and you hope that that investment pays off. But then there's always the time and runway that you can actually continue to invest in, and a legacy business sometimes because they're, I would say less risk prone, gets into that problem whereby they're not sure they will continue. And then that's when project falls apart, commitment falls through, and they no longer have the desire to make the changes that they originally wanted.

And those were actually a lot of the failures that I've seen in the legacy company. And similarly, in startups, I would say it almost mirrors the same thing. Look at MySpace. We were at the top of, I would say the peak. We were the equivalent of Google and Facebook. We could have bought both of them and became this giant. But instead, what stalled was investment. Committing, the board not going and buying up these companies, or resistance to perhaps investment. And then, at the same time, being sold to a more traditional company that didn't understand you, and they're having to deal with the board in a very different way.

In some essence, they are the same. They face the same fate if they're not careful, but essentially two very different kind of businesses. In legacy business, you end up dealing a lot with, I would say, your traditional counterpart, helping them to understand you a lot more. While else in startups, you actually have to innovate fast enough, to show enough confidence to your board that you can move into certain riskier tangents and not face the fate of becoming obsolete in the market.

Jeremy Au: [00:15:38] That's so true. I think it's a classic analysis of how corporates, both large and small, whether you were a startup one year ago or you were a startup 20 years ago, at the end of the day it just boils down to people and committees and human culture.

 Jaime Ng: [00:15:54] Absolutely.

 Jeremy Au: [00:15:56] The decision-making stalls. It's difficult to incubate innovation within a company, regardless, right?

Jaime Ng: [00:16:02] Absolutely.

Jeremy Au: [00:16:03] And I think one interesting thing is that, of course, now we've seen that birth of... as a result of that culture, where large companies are now much more willing to acquire companies, to acquire new geographies, new startups. Because I think there's a growing realization that they're not able to, at some size, properly incubate or create a teaming and buy-in necessary to actually launch something of their own.

What do you think about that? Is that a sweet spot for timing for the right acquisition, to get to the next level of innovation?

Jaime Ng: [00:16:34] You're absolutely right. I'm very much pro acqui-hire. I think if it's done properly and companies that actually acquire startups ... So you just can't buy and then once you integrate without having a lot of changes. Classic case; MySpace got bought up by News Corp. That was actually the first sign of downfall because trajectory start changing News Corp, starting to inject certain elements to where it started to inject its own purview to this tech startup, which it didn't quite understand. But it bought the startup -which is MySpace- at that time for that same purpose, because it didn't understand technology. But instead of really learning from the tech side of the business, it actually went the other way. That learning was probably one of the biggest corporate failure, I would think.

The second thing, obviously, if you look at Singapore, companies like Singtel have been acquiring a lot of different companies. But if you look at recent reports, it hasn't been very successful in integrating a lot of these startups into its business. So I'm actually pro acqui-hire when I actually see a really strong, innovative company acquiring a young startup and integrate it within its services. That makes the service even stronger.

Obviously, case in point, Facebook acquisition of Instagram. And then its acquisition of WhatsApp completes the ecosystem in such a way that it's in your everyday life. And then Google acquisition, Waze, into its Google Maps, and using that to really empower its Google Maps. If you look at acquisition, what's done differently in these two companies, is how well you actually integrate the business. While acquire-hire I think is an amazing way to really bootstrap or rather kickstart your legacy business, you really need to take that step, especially, I guess this is my experience. And I want to share with a traditional company or legacy companies. And if you intend to go and acquire a startup, bringing that into your fold and then making it look like everywhere else and every department that you have in your company is not going to work.

The right way to look at it, is either you continue to let it run separately, but conscientiously look at your business, how it can integrate. Or really use that company to really be the catalyst of change within your organization.

Companies that started really doing that quite well, that I can see, obviously DBS investment into hackathons, and acqui-hire kind of program actually really helps its innovation process. But most recently, StanChart, its desire to go into a different type of banking with SC Ventures, seems interesting. I think legacy companies are learning, but the right mix of control over innovating together is kind of... the balance, it's still something that they are looking at.

Jeremy Au: [00:19:26] Yeah. I think that's so true and perfectly encapsulates the reality, which is that acquirers have to resource and keep the independence of the acquisition. Because, if you're making that bet to hire the whole team and take on a price, they're also taking on their vision of the future, which is something that is a difficult conversation to have. And I think I've seen so many of my peers who have been acquired, struggle to have that conversation. Which is, we're not saying that this current business isn't profitable. We're not saying that. We're just saying that there's a future we're trying to build. Otherwise, why did you acquire us?

Jaime Ng: [00:20:04] So true in that. I mean, it should be a shared common vision of the future, not one going one direction while leaving the other in the lurch, and then going the other direction. I think it's combining together and forming that joined vision of the future together.

Jeremy Au: [00:20:21] So, with your eye and ability to spot great companies in advance, to either join or invest, you've also recently over the past one-half years been building out this Asia First platform for podcasting and advertising. Why did you pick this problem?

Jaime Ng: [00:20:38] Yeah, great question. Because it's a hard problem to solve, I think. And I've been doing it for 18 months. It's still a very, very tough problem to solve. Audio advertising really is stuck in the '80s, when I first looked into it. It really started when I was at [EF] . And I wanted to come up with an idea that is something that I want to work on for the next couple of years, and really grow it. And at that time, obviously with my domain expertise and EF's focus on domain expertise, looking at areas that you can make a real impact and difference. I was looking into the marketing side of things. Everything else was, been there, done that, not interested.

Then I stumbled onto... obviously, I was in Hong Kong at that time doing the EF program. And I was really inspired by Himalaya, which is [喜马拉雅] , probably one of the most dominant audio player out in China. I was looking at it, and I was looking at the West, and looking at how podcast advertising is really growing. Since, I think 2016, the uptick has been quite phenomenal, and then brands are starting to come in. There are also companies that producing great shows like the Serial, Daily, which is trumped to be New York Times' biggest show, and actually turned it around as a company.

So I'm looking at that. Then I realized I'm starting to speak with advertisers that are really early investors into podcasts. With that conversation, I realized it was really just very manual. They take weeks to basically identify the right podcast for their market. And then they spend the next couple of days sending out emails to each one of these podcasters, trying to get their rate card, trying to understand whether they can actually work with them, sponsor their show or buy a pre-roll or mid-roll .

This really got me thinking, why is audio still so traditional, so manual? If that's the case, then it's almost impossible to scale. And then looking at that, I decided that, look, this is really interesting. Almost going back to my early GeoCities, Yahoo days where I was digging up gold. I feel like I was an early gold digger into this audio industry. And I'm trying to find that right mix of company, right type of problem to solve. And I found it in MatchCasts, which is basically building a platform that enables and scale up podcast advertising.

So in essence, what MatchCasts really do is, we help brands identify very quickly the right podcast or the right podcast shows that resonates with the audience and brand. And then enable them to actually build a campaign very quickly, and launch that with the podcaster in mind. In essence, think of it as very much your Facebook for audio & Google AdSense for audio advertising.

Jeremy Au: [00:23:23] What's been interesting is that you've also as a result, transitioned in your role, from an early employee to an early executive, to digital transformation executive and catalyst. And now, to becoming a founder and CEO. How has that role transition been for you?

Jaime Ng: [00:23:41] It's been interesting. I think it's very empowering. I think I've almost built up my career to get to this point where I can put all my experience and probably all my attention or resources into this one problem that I'm trying to solve. But also at the same time, I think like any founders, it's always a rollercoaster. I mean, emotionally you're on a rollercoaster on a daily basis because you face problems firefighting in one area or facing another problem. You would get long bouts of basically non-activity trying to really get as much attention and awareness to your startup. And then versus, suddenly you get lucky with a few conversations with your investors as well.

So yeah, it's never easy. Look, I would say in essence that I haven't really been able to really rightly leverage, I would say a lot of the other experience into entrepreneurship. But that's given me a lot of, I would say, shield to make it better and to avoid that rollercoaster. And then I think it also has given me the right experience to spot and identify problems early on or areas which I think will be, and then solve that. In essence, probably everything that I did, does not directly affect the business I'm building right now, has led up to this point.

Jeremy Au: [00:25:02] Awesome. And what do you think has been the shift you think from yourself from a skill and day-to-day perspective? Do you find yourself doing more email? Do you feel like it's more lonely? I'm just curious, because I think there's so many people who are going to be feeling about that asking themselves the same question.

Jaime Ng: [00:25:21] Absolutely. It's lonely. I mean, and further add on by the fact that I made the decision to be a remote-first company. So obviously we have teammates in Singapore and then we have people in Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Indonesia. Basically all around Southeast Asia. No one's really working together, even though we're working on MatchCasts. We have daily stand-up, daily calls, but it's not the same as going next door to your colleague and solve a problem.

But we did that intentionally so that we're not confined by the talents that we can recruit within the region. And then obviously the other, I think as MatchCasts grow, I think it gives us a certain sense of freedom of being able to kind of work from anywhere without having any constraints.

But it is lonely. When I first did MatchCasts in Hong Kong, I was basically in my apartment. And just working on it day in and day out, didn't really go anywhere. I didn't really travel. And then that had to go up to Beijing to talk with some of the folks, like Himalaya, learning from the experience. And then the rest of the time I'm also in the apartment.

It can be lonely. It's a lonely journey, but I think it's important to have a good network of people that you rely on. Obviously, network of entrepreneurs, like yourself that I speak to, or of my other alumnis I speak to with EF. And then also, because I also angel invest, I speak to other startups I'm investing in of exactly the same problem. I think that that is really, really super helpful, so you don't isolate yourself in a corner and then realizing that you're the only one that has the impression that this is going to work.

Separately, I think it's also important to talk to, either your competitors in this case, MatchCasts, it's because of the fact that it is a podcasting advertising platform. We speak to brands on a regular basis. You speak to podcasters on a regular basis. And that actually helps us actually identify what actually is the area that they would really like to see, and build our product against that. Those conversation makes you feel less lonely, when you're building your product roadmap. I think having those right conversations actually makes you feel less lonely as you keep working on it.

Jeremy Au: [00:27:32] What's interesting is that, as you shared that about the community you're building virtually and remote-first across Asia is that, you're also choosing to do that with a medium of podcasting. It's just a way to bind people and our emotions in virtual space. Are there any specific podcasts that you like or admire in this Asia ecosystem?

Jaime Ng: [00:27:56] Yeah, I would say, not a specific podcast, but I've been observing trends obviously in around Southeast Asia. And you're right, podcasting is a very tribal thing. Building podcasts in Asia, you add everything while podcasts advertising the excitement of podcasting. In US, it's tremendous. Basically very little effort to be done there. Basically, you're a podcasting company. Everyone is almost a podcast expert out there.

But in Southeast Asia, you really have to go through many conversations to find the right people that are really knowledgeable about the industry. And they don't have as much experience as you would imagine, perhaps someone in the podcasting industry, like doing podcasts in US has, but it's a growing tribe. And the tribe itself is finding its own identity. To be honest, I think Southeast Asia podcaster are finding its own identity. They're finding their own voice.

And by voice, it could be multiple languages. I mean, if you look at one of the biggest difference in Southeast Asia, it's probably the different languages that not everyone that listens to US podcasts listens to a Southeast Asian podcast, ever. And then if they listen to you, a Southeast Asian podcast, what Southeast Asian podcast are they listening to it in? If they are Thai, are they listening to it in Thai? Is it in Tagalog in Philippines or Indonesia? Bahasa in Indonesia? And these are growing localized tribes that we are looking to find. And that's what MatchCasts' strength is, is locate, I would say, these countrys' language tribes.

But the difficulty I think is actually, if you look at podcasting, is that it is a voice. It is an influence of your voice. And it's social media influencers that's using audio. And traditionally, there aren't a lot of data around audio influencers. And looking at that makes the problem of a whole lot more complex, which is why I think addressing MatchCasts and building MatchCasts, is a really huge problem statement. But it's also exciting because the upside of the industry is huge. And if you look at the trajectory of audio advertising around the world, it's growing tremendously. And I think it would just be time for when Southeast Asia really picked up on that trend.

Jeremy Au: [00:30:11] When you look at the future of podcasting in Asia, what do you see those trends to be? I mean, maybe first question is, do you see people consuming more podcasts? What other trends do you see in the future?

Jaime Ng: [00:30:25] Yeah. On the consumption, you always assume that it's a given, but actually I think podcasts in Asia has very weird dynamics, because we really start off with listening to radio. And traditionally, if you look at markets like Indonesia, Philippines, and even Vietnam, do they actually know how to differentiate between a radio show and a podcast? It might be actually very unconscious. It might be that they were used to listening to terrestrial radio for music that they had no control over. And now going to a player where they can control and create playlists and listen to it, and actually choose content that they want to listen. They might not instinctively think of it as a podcast. They will just think that it is just a changing of the way they consume audio. I think looking at it, it's in some of these markets, that's what we're seeing, the change, or rather, the change of habits of consuming audio versus podcasts.

And then podcasts become very popular because they have limited time and they want to just jam themselves with information rather than just music or other forms of audio. And that's when podcasts started increasing in terms of its listenership. And that trajectory we have seen around Southeast Asia as well.

But to actually define the term podcast and Southeast Asia, it's also still complex because a lot of the listener may not actually know what it means that when they are listening to say, a show that doesn't come from terrestrial radio, but that is actually a podcast show. That said, trends-wise, I think Southeast Asia is pretty interesting. Unlike I think in markets like US, which tends to have certain categories very popular, perhaps in daily news, as well as in entrepreneurship and business. In Southeast Asia, actually you see that people are crafting more like society and culture type of show, which is basically a personal journal. They are talking about things around them. They're actually sharing that with their tribe. Separately, they are also producing high level quality content in horror, in comedy, in gaming, that you don't see as much as in the Western world.

And the other influence I would say is, interesting aspect is, I always think that Southeast Asia is going to be a dynamic pool of the way people consume audio. They would think of it in the Western world where you have Spotify for audio, and then you have Audible for audiobooks. And then you have other form of audio content, like the way newspaper are starting to embed their own reader.

Southeast Asia is also influenced by the way Himalaya does it, which is the super app for all audio, which has basically your music, your podcast, your audio content, article read-on, and Audible on it. So they will also go that route, which is, they don't differentiate between any form of audio content, but see all of them as one form of content. And that is going to be an interesting dynamic, to see how that develops within Southeast Asia.

Jeremy Au: [00:33:23] Yeah. I think that's a tremendous insight, which is that the West looks at this, like you said, by the startup and the distribution model and format. Whereas, exactly you said for someone who's picking up for the first time, is this audio? It's a radio with the ability to pick and choose for more niche content, and it all blends together. Sometimes I listen to music on my commute, sometimes I'm listening to fan fiction, and sometimes I'm listening to business along the way. And I think that's how I think most people are consuming.

This last question is, as we wrap this up, what resources would you recommend for people who are considering a journey similar to yours? And there's so many ways they can look at your journey, right? From US to Singapore, to US, to back to Southeast Asia? From executive to founder from early employee to catalyst transformation? How do you think about the resources that people should pick up along the way?

Jaime Ng: [00:34:22] That's a great question. I think the younger generation, the millennials, are really good at making this a more deliberate, conscious effort. I think where I was growing up, we didn't really think of it that way. I was a little bit unique in that. I was the odd one out, so I was going against the flow. But one thing that guided me, was always to keep it something that I'm passionate about, and that is interesting.

The real reason I got into media in my early days, because I watched TV a lot and I'm a big fan of a lot of movies, and I wanted to make that my career. So when I couldn't get into Mass Comm, which was the first time it ever became a university degree, people were jamming to join that. I couldn't even get in, I remember, with the score I had, but I found other ways. I was studying economics, but I was doing concerts on the weekend. I was writing for The Rich, which is the NUS newspaper. I was basically forming other, I would say career decisions that were outside of what my degree would have given me.

Similarly, when I was doing any type of startup, either as an employee or as an executive, I always keep my eye out for something that is interesting, that is happening out there. I wasn't locked in or phased in, into what I was doing. I was looking at what other people were doing. Obviously when we were building MOBTV, we looked at what YouTube was doing. We looked at what Netflix was doing. We looked at the next trend that's going to happen within the video streaming industry. And you look for trends like that and you keep yourself excited.

The best advice for anyone who is really young, starting out in their career, keep the attitude of learning. Keep the attitude of being passionate. Find something that you're passionate in. Find something that you're really excited to wake up every day, because a job is really hard. You're going to be working eight hours or more, probably 10 hours, 12 hours. And sometimes even on weekends on that job. You want to be passionate about it.

 Second thing, you want to keep learning. You want to keep learning in such a way that you don't have to be asked to learn. You'll actually want to learn. You ask to learn things that people didn't tell you to. Go and ask someone who is doing marketing, if you have no marketing experience, how to do marketing. Offer your service up for free by doing social media posting for others. And that's the best way to learn.

If you're mid career, then the best advice I can say is, keep yourself abreast of what's happening around, either your industry or outside of your industry, complementary industry. Look at what's interesting and do the same thing. Go out, spend maybe a weekend learning about coding. Spend your weekend learning about UX/UI design. Spend your weekend even learning accounting if you think that's something that's going to help you in future either as an entrepreneur, as a founder. Spend time learning digital marketing. And you will realize that the skillsets that you have sometimes outweigh the experience or the credential that you might not have.

And then last but not least, if you're an executive looking to go into entrepreneurship, find an industry that you're, again, back to the same theme, passionate about, wanting to solve that same problem. And speak to as many people in this industry and validate your solution, validate your problem statements. And figure that right mix of how you're going to first start your company, and go to ask people that have experience in entrepreneurship for advice. And people right now under the COVID-19, they are actually more than willing to help you, because everyone is locked down and want to share their experience with others.

Jeremy Au: [00:37:55] Awesome. Thank you so much, Jaime.

Jaime Ng: [00:37:57] Thank you so much for having me here. It's great speaking to you, Jeremy.

Produced by: Tan Yong Quan

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