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Jingjin Liu: Sexual Wellness, Empowering Female Founders and Destigmatizing Taboos

· Podcast Episodes,Female Founders,Sexual Health,Singapore,Start-up

 Deep, deep inside, when you are in a small circle, there is still a very huge insecurity & uncertainty. And this is nothing that you can just like; let's make a woman Business Club, let's make power poses, let's make career advice, lets ask for 10% more salary, none of this superficial narrative would actually help. So it has always been a calling to me, okay, what angle could you potentially target when you build a business that truly empower women to build their confidence and then it becomes sexuality. - Jingjin Liu

Jingjin is co-founder and CEO of ZaZaZu, the first personalized sexual wellness hub in APAC that synergizes education, digital services and products to help women own their sexual wellbeing. At the start-up, she is responsible for leading its strategic development and business execution in the region. As a FemTech entrepreneur with a deep passion for positive impact, Jingjin aims to empower women to own their sexuality and aspires for ZaZaZu to become the top sexual wellness hub in Asia. 

Prior to ZaZaZu’s inception, Jingjin spent more than 10 years in the entrepreneurial and automotive scene. During her previous tenures, she has led global product management teams, driven portfolio turnarounds and built organisations from scratch, across a wide range of geographies such as Germany, China and US. 

Jingjin has a master’s in industrial engineering and business management from the Technical University of Braunschweig, an EMBA from INSEAD and is fluent in three languages: English, Mandarin, and German. She is also currently Entrepreneur in Residence at INSEAD and Board Advisor at The Analysis Company. 

 

Jeremy Au (00:30):

Hey Jingjin, so good to have you on the show!  

Jingjin Liu (00:32):

Good afternoon Jeremy, thank you so much for inviting me.

Jeremy Au (00:34):

I am really excited not only to hear your journey as a founder, but also because you're tackling a relatively taboo subject in Southeast Asia, which is really about female and sexual wellbeing, which is even hard for me to say out loud sometimes, because I'm just like, Okay, what's the right set of words to use without seeming too awkward. Just by me pausing, it made it even more awkward. So that's a great start to this podcast!

Jingjin Liu (00:58):

Normally, people get very excited, actually, you know, when they hear anything about sex is such a taboo space, but such a curious space as well. So this is actually a podcast conversation where you should have a glass of wine beside you. And to loosen a bit, you know, the awkwardness? 

Jeremy Au (01:15):

Yeah, so talk about it for sure. So for those who don't know you yet, how would you introduce yourself professionally?

Jingjin Liu (01:21):

Okay, so my name is Jingjin. And professionally, I am the CEO as chief everything officer for the company ZaZaZu. We are the personalized sexual wellness hub in Asia that synchronizes education, curation of products, and then engage the female community to help women to own our sexual wellbeing.

Jeremy Au (01:42):

Awesome. And you know, I love what you said chief everything officer, which is the honest truth of what it means to be a founder, for any startup in the early stages. So when you say chief everything officer, what does the everything encompass right now at ZaZaZu?

Jingjin Liu (01:58):

Today is actually great example. It encompass really, from pitching infront of investors, getting the money to make sure that the money or there are enough funds in the company towards who order fulfillment as today, getting the product, making customer service online and packing the orders, sending it to customers, and occasionally have a social media engagement with influencers, really the broad range, I think, if you think about a corporation, it would be all kinds of functions you could imagine from purchasing to investor relationship to sales and marketing. That's everything. 

Jeremy Au (02:34):

Yeah, that's what I miss about working at a big company is like for every one thing, someone else can handle it. You just do your thing. Right. So what's interesting about you is that, you know, before we go into ZaZaZu and talk a little bit about, you know, sexual wellness, you've also been a previous co-founder, in Germany and China. So I'd love to hear a little bit more about that founding story and how you went about doing it in the early days. And then obviously, we'll move the story a bit further. 

Jingjin Liu (03:01):

Sure. So very often people ask me, especially when you have been a serial entrepreneur, I exited this company just in 2019. We were bought out. And people always ask, wow, what actually encouraged you to go down the entrepreneur route, and what made you to leave a corporate life? My true version is that it just happened to me, actually, it's not like I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I grew up in China, I went to Germany when I was 16. And chose a sector and industry that is very male dominated, which is automotive industrial engineering sector. Because I knew as an Asian Chinese woman with a background with some speaking three languages, and with all the diversity ongoing, you will actually make a great career in the Western Europe. And I started my career actually in the corporation in Siemens, and recognize that how slow a process I mean, very common is nothing new that corporations generally very slow, but the German cooperation is really, really, really slow. So that does not fit to my personality at all. And then there was one time three years down the road, we were in the fair, and there was a this Chinese guy barely understand any English and barely can read words and came to me say in very bold Chinese,  “Hey girl, I want to buy these things, who do I approach?” And I was like, Okay, this is a big company. And he looked like a farmer. I was very biased. And he turns out to be one of the biggest country manager for an agriculture firm worth billions of dollars in China. And they are not in first second, third tier city. They are in the 17th tiers of city in China where the government doesn't have any influence on. So he actually took you know the villages, and took the people together and then found a firm to create agriculture, tractors and so on. And recognize that this self-made man, he recognized that they need made in Germany quality, or they need better quality from engineering from supply perspective. And he made it all the way without speaking any English and to Germany and attended the fair and to see how can he actually get access. And of course, you can imagine the cooperation is not that easy. You have to have minimum order quantity, you have to have a card, you have to, have to, have to. And then what occurred to me, then we had conversation, he said, You know what, everything what I heard from you is that I am a salesperson, I have tons of money here, you are a big company. And you don't want to take me as a client. So whats happening here, and this made me think, and I grabbed my friend at that time who worked for BCG. So you know what, there are lot of SME. SME, of course, obviously, in China's different dimension, we talk SME, and there are loads of this kind of manufacturers and dying to have made in Germany quality, but because their general size is so small, and they don't have access because culture barrier, language barrier, many, many barriers. So why don't we find a company and consolidate all of them, this guy obviously had all the access. And then I am the middleman. I know the German market really well, the industry speak the language. And my friend at that time co-founder knows that everything around finance, business model, and so on. Why don't the three of us sit together and act as a middleman and consolidate all the volumes and become a big customer for the big clients? Yeah, this is how we started and we made at that time, if you ask me, what is VC? I was think about something with DVD or something. We got a loan from the bank. And at that times, way back in 2008, things was fairly simple. You get a loan from the bank with the interest and you kick it off. Yeah. And then eventually the company become a 5 million euro sales company. And we sold it for 12 in 2019. And yeah, it was quite, it was quite a ride. 

Jeremy Au (06:50):

Wow, what an amazing journey. And there you were building across Germany and China. And so what brought you to Singapore? And then you started off at the Antler program. So I'm just kind of curious what brought you to Southeast Asia. 

Jingjin Liu (07:04)

It was indeed it was two mandates, one of the things that we thought okay, in China that we have limited reach. And that's how we're 10 employees, we were extremely profitable with this business model. And we couldn't expand further in China. And we thought, why don't we move to Southeast Asia. The hypothesis at that time was you look at SMEs, which countries really look like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia. So the hypothesis I made at that time very arrogantly is that when you speak the same language, the mentality is quite similar, which is completely wrong. It's what we said, You know what, let's understand the SME landscape here in Singapore, let's work with the manufacturers. Since we speak the same language. I can introduce maybe in Germany technology, let's try to expand the ASEAN and has always been my dream to attend a business school, which is INSEAD. 

And they happen to have a location here as well. So at that time, we were without kids and I grabbed my husband saying “If not now, when then? Let's go!”. So that was the time I think that was a very bold decision, we moved to Singapore, and then I applied for INSEAD and then start through a part time MBA program at that time, and then start to understand the landscape in the agriculture tractors sector. And just to realize that the mentality is very different and people are very compared to the Chinese farmers; People are rather risk averse because you live a very fairly comfortable life compared to rural area in China. The sales and everything did not work out, we could not expand at that time. And very luckily; it was then our one of the biggest client we have in China decided to that he wants to expand to Germany and then he obviously acquired us and saying yeah, let me get access to Germany. 

Jeremy Au (08:53):

Awesome. What an amazing ride. So that's how you ended up continue to found scale and off course move countries at the same time? Yeah, so it's really interesting. What's your time like INSEAD? I mean you know a lot of people have fun there as well. Any good stories of INSEAD?

Jingjin Liu (09:08):

I think it says what the school, the why I chose this school is totally because its diversity, is really you can meet a doctor, I have classmates as un-business related as a doctor towards to someone from the defense industry here in Singapore, from the military, from the hospital, you have a great broad range of profession and country wise, a function wise, profession wise. So it's I think that diversity will expand your horizon in many aspects of life. 

Jeremy Au (09:36):

So there you are, and you decide that okay, I want to be a founder again. So why did you decide to do it again? 

Jingjin Liu (09:50)

I think it was, it sounds you know how women always say because I was so lucky. That's why I had so huge success. We were very lucky. I think at that time the three founders each of us has 100% leverage our strengths and capability, this make that company at that time possible. Very sufficient. It was less like a roller coaster rather like okay, we did the right thing. And then we were at the right time. And in Chinese we say that all the stars are aligned. And it was a success. So it made for me entrepreneur journey was never a hardcore, bounty, roller coaster journey. We had, of course, disappointments and many hurdles, but it was never, it had never occurred to me that it could be that hard as this company, for example. So after the company was acquired middle, June 2019, I thought, Okay, now you could, at that time intrapreneurship happened to you. It was not my passion, to make agriculture happening to equip tractors and dealing with farmers, and it was not my passion. And so I was looking really inside. Okay, what was your passion? If you were to start a second company, I didn't consider my skill set. As such, it has always been a very deep, passionate calling for me to help women, to gain innate confidence. I mean, I grew up in China, and I was a very odd kid, my parents was not around. People always call me a ugly duckling. At that time, because I had very when I was a kid, a very small eyes, my skin was you can see very dark for a Chinese, you know, I come from Beijing. And I was actually quite badly bullied when I was a kid. So I was never able to build certain confidence. And then when I moved to Germany, when people could openly talk about many, many things, such like sexual wellbeing, such like sexuality, such as who you are, and then the individuality was more celebrated than in China. Okay, let's all be good in maths, Chinese. So I want to do something that empower women to really build in their competence. There are many, many women like me. And when I was in the corporate steel, I run actually ASBO at that time, in parallel, I was the first female marketing director in the automotive firm when I was running ASBO at the same time, at that time, in Germany, different than to Asia, Western Europe, very few percentage women really make to the senior level or C suite level, majorly, because they inform you, simply don't need the money. In Asia, if my parents didn't work, we couldn't feed ourself, right. And at that time, if the few women who have been there, done that belong to a very exclusive club at that time in Germany, what occurred to me that even most of the women are better educated than men, they look great, they speak eloquently. Deep, deep inside, when you are in a small circle, there is still a very huge insecurity, uncertainty. And this is nothing that you can just let's make a woman Business Club, let's you know, make power poses, let's make career advices, lets ask for 10% more salary, none of this superficial narrative would actually help. So it has always been a calling to me, okay, what angle could you potentially target when you build a business that truly empower women to build in the confidence and then it becomes sexuality. It was rather I was looking at what kind of aspect you know, women take care of their, we discuss amenities about food, about drink, about beauty, we spent so many things on outside dresses, makeup, and in sexuality, one of the most important physiological needs in human nature. Nobody is taking care of that. So then this is how we actually started to dig in a little bit. Okay, well, how is the potential generally in femtech, in sex tech, and then just to take us discover this is such a greenfield area in Asia, and the potential and it's such a growing market generally, in growing industry globally. 

Jeremy Au (13:46):

Wow. Thanks for sharing the arc about how you discovered a problem and something that you wanted to tackle and I think as you saw from the the top of the show; You know, there's so many words or phrases, we call it; intimacy, wellness, sexual wellness, femtech, sexual wellness, so there’s lots of different ways to talk about reproductive health, couples wellness, I've seen it as well. So there's a lot of words, I always joke sometimes it's like, you know, education is always caught edtech, right? how healthcare is this constant like digital health, health tech, right? And when it comes to sex, it is like so many words. Describe, you know, they've all like a just try not to use the word sex at all. This is backing away, right? It's just a problem, right? So why is it that people are dancing around the word, dancing around a concept in every circle? 

Jingjin Liu (14:37)

I think cultural impact is the biggest reason at the end of day, especially and I mean generally sexual boundaries not only for women's also for men, if you just look at the journey when you grew up anywhere in the word, sexual education in school is rather a biology class. So here's the egg, here's the sperm, and there's the baby. And that the process as such is generally not taught in school. And in Asia, we have interviewed many schools, even a teacher they feel uncomfortable to talk about it, but eventually, you know, we grew up and then in higher education, in university, you meet someone, you will have your first time. So how is the first time look like for women especially; for men, it's like you have never learned how to play tennis. Now you have to play in the pro-leagues. How to do that?  And the first we have done a quite big interview here in Singapore, understand the landscape, understand how people obtain their knowledge around sex, because how do you know it? Except Google it, excepts asking your friends, most of knowledge for men came simply from porn, and the other percentage came from their friends. Whereas for women is rather I asked my friends, I Googled a little bit. I tried a little bit and there is no sophisticated education to tell how do you actually be intimate. How do you make the first step? So at the end of the day, when it comes to the act, he did not know what he was doing. She didn't know what she was doing. When the act is done. What's for the man is okay, now that you have become it's evolution from turning from a boy to a man. You remember the movie, you know, American Pie? And for women is rather okay. Did I get STD? I lose my virginity to this guy. My first time. Did I get pregnant? It was extremely painful and you left actually was shame. This is actually our very first encounter in human nature with sex. This shameful experience makes sex very shameful act generally. And I think this is actually globally quite similar. In Singapore in Southeast Asia, generally, with countries with colonial or Victorian influence has a bit more stigma compared to communist countries like China or Vietnam. 

Jeremy Au (16:57):

Yeah, that's so true. And, you know, obviously, that two paths one is about how we learn educated about it. And second, I think we're starting to talk about some of the gender differences and how they approach this topic. So at least for the first part, you reminded me I forgot about this, I was an all-boys school. And we had a human reproduction class in biology, of course, it was the first ever class and poor teacher, Miss Pua, and she came in and started teaching the thing. I was joking,  I sat at the back right 

Close to the back, right, because if you sat right at the back you’re a troublemaker, but even close to there you get little less attention. I was cracking a lot of jokes. And then everybody started laughing. I don't remember what it was, I don't think was very sophisticated jokes, but it was about the eggs. You know, it wasn't a crude, but it was just jokes about something. And then the whole class kind of lost control all these guys was just laughing and rolling around. And the poor teacher cried and ran away from the classroom. And then, I felt so bad. It was a very funny topic for a teenage boy. It's because we were so uncomfortable about it. So we were joking about it. Anyway, I do remember that I apologized to her years down the road. And she remembered, you know

Jingjin Liu (18:10):

I think that you make a very good way to make a long lasting impression when you crack jokes about reproductive health. 

Jeremy Au (18:17):

Yeah, it was, I think it's a picture of like the egg and the sperm headed towards I can’t remember, I wish I could remember what the joke was

Jingjin Liu (18:23):

She will remember it, I'm pretty sure.

Jeremy Au (18:25):

Yeah, she remembers it. And obviously, I think the second part I talked about is obviously, it's interesting, because we're talking about the gender differences. And I think one reason why I was also kind of struggling the initial terminology was because when we think about sex tech, for example, it almost feels like there's also two other ways to look at it, which is like the male point of view, or at least the pornography side of it. And then the other part you're talking about is female femTech, or female intimacy. So it's interesting dynamic, where we're talking about sex as an activity or domain, but also there's a very gender lens on it. Right. And so sometimes your femTech Sometimes your sex tech, right?  And those are not exactly the same. And it causes that terminology. So could you tell me more about how the femtech angle on sexual wellness and intimacy is different from the general worldview of what sex tech is?

Jingjin Liu (19:17):

Right, I think sex tech at the end of the sub-subject from femtech. The bigger term would be femTech. FemTech, why is there a Tech? Its at the end of day when women want to run their business, but (has to be) funded by men. They had to add the tech into it. So the investor understand that it's actually a business behind it. So femtech is at the end of the every single; Around female health, reproductive health, it could be of course the focus is rather in reproductive health but also in breast cancer for example, health care, generally everything that specifically women only have and this is everything around femTech. And because the history of our medical history is that everywhere around the world women were not doctor from day one, women were housewives, where it's in the medical area. Women reproductive health generally women health, female health, is very undiscovered.For example the the organ clit, I mean, it's so funny we talk so open about it is something I was passionately talking about clit, about vagina, about all these words, people were like, Ahhhh, you could be so whoever's listened to that I apologize for that already. But the organ clit, for example, is only discovered in the early 90s. So the function is there any function, there's no function, and then female pleasure is the only organ actually in any in human anatomy, that has no other functions, but maintain pleasure. I think that generally everything FemTech women know or a woman can be anything could be CEO could be housewife, it could be time for women to do some things never be better. And then women start to realize that they are not a significant part of their life in terms of health is actually not underdiscovered. So if we can't ask men, which led to the start-up industry, let it be the funding industry. Investors; we can't let men dictate the terms, because they don't understand our body well. So let's take this matter in our own hands. And especially, for example, let it be menstrual health. This is a very big space, menstrual health that every girl goes through that whole life, menopause, every woman while reached that stage, and how to make your life better today, because we live significantly longer than 30, 40 years ago. So when menopause hits, does not mean that your life is over, you still have 20, 30 years ahead of you, how to make the best out of that time, or their menstrual health 20% of women couldn't be productive because they suffer monthly from the menstrual pain. So there are great ways to build to have to track your menstrual health, to track periods. All these kinds of things make actually you more productive, let it be for also for the working force. So femTech has become I think, in the meanwhile, sex tech only focus on sexual wellbeing but generally for the reproductive health that it'd be everything what women uniquely own would be in the FemTech space. 

Jeremy Au (22:15):

Wow, that's a lot truth there. So basically, we're talking about how a lot of the female biology has been overlooked, right, yeah, recently discovered. And so we were talking a little bit about it from now, obviously, the menstrual cycle is a big productivity pain. But also, it's underserved as a problem, in many countries around the world. Yeah. And then, you know, goes all the way to what you talked about in terms of like sexual wellness for women. But also, I think we talked about reproductive health and childcare and so forth, there will be further down the line, right? That's like very unique to women in terms of the fundamental biology that's kickstarting this process. When you think about all of this, why is it that people don't want to talk about it? I don't know. I mean, for me is obviously stigma, right? Even I felt that coming in was like, Okay, can we use the word sex? Versus a, b, c, right? How do we think about why people are uncomfortable talking about it? 

Jingjin Liu (23:13):

I think because it's very private part of our life. I think generally, of course, social stigma is like, if you look at Maslow's demands pyramid, at the bottom is the most physiological needs. It's eating, drinking, sleeping, go to toilet, and, sex. And if you look at actually all this kind of aspects. Before, 20 years ago, when you talk about you have a certain mental issue my father had suffered from depression. 20 years ago, it was okay. He said “That's not a sickness”. And well today, if you don't have a burnout, you don't have depression, thats kind of uncool. You know what I mean? So in such an exhilarating way, and this is the same about sex. I mean, we all come from sex. And I think this is very, really good question. I mean, we have done a lot of research, and then from different countries, why some countries are more vocal about sex while not the others. And at the end of the day, is, I think it could be this is something that human fundamentally thinks it is dirty and it is very private, and or religious device. There has been many, many misconceptions in this space. And we society somehow evolved to where we are now. And I think this is like the best answer I could give. There is, I think the social influence, social stigma has lasted for 1000s of years, and it has just evolved the way it has been now. So it's not I feel like it's a really crappy answer, actually. But I think it's a stigma, if I would have to say that. 

Jeremy Au (24:45):

Yeah, I mean, there's good phrase you said, right, which is like we all come from sex. Which is true, right? You know that. And I also remember as a kid going ewwww, I don't want to know. 

Jingjin Liu (24:54):

So dirty, somebody’s kissing…

Jeremy Au (24:56):

And then you're like, Oh, wait like I exist because of this. So I think, obviously, just these two, what you talked about is like as a result is overlooked in terms in the business world, where you talked about some of it where in a lot of decision makers are male. So if they don't understand the problem, then they don't understand the solution, if they don't understand the solution. They can't fund or invest ways for that solution to come into existence to solve the problem, right? And it's bad, obviously, for women who’s reproductive or menstrual needs are not being served for and they don't have a solution. And I guess is also bad for people because they don't make money because it's a giant problem. Yes for half of the world. They're like, Yeah, let's figure out how to target people based on this persona. Let's divide that persona even more, and target that sub persona. And then let's target this tier two, tier three city, but let's forget about 50% of the world, right? So why is it that at the business world, you just paying a $ signs for them? And then they're like, Okay, I get it. Let's do it. Why is it that business decision makers are really incorporating that into their thinking? 

Jingjin Liu (26:03):

I think you already rightfully said that the biggest problem is that in the VC world, the decision maker, that'd be the LPL that'd be the GPRC men, and you can't relate for problem that you don't encounter, that you can’t feel yourself. Let's talk about erectile dysfunctions, I tell you half of the men will understand immediately. It's just because it could be a problem, it could be potentially a problem, that something that you could think, it could occur to me and that you take my manhood away. 

I am in an entrepreneur in residence in sales. So I coach students and start-ups and also to help them to scale their business, especially female founder and in the automotive industry, we often sit you know, with some of the VCs that work with us angel funds, and they hear pitches. And I often sit in front of women that pitch for femtech. And very often you see is both sides. Firstly, men to understand and women don't speak the right language. I made a LinkedIn post out of it and a lady who wants to tackle menstrual. And she has suffered significantly from not eating well, not understand her body well and three to five days of her months is she cannot even get up and this towards carried through the pregnancy. So it became a passion. And so she built a app, how to track your menstrual health and make your menstrual health more bearable. She started so there we were in the jury and I was the only woman around five men it was for an angel investment round. And she started very passionate vocal about “Don't you just hate these days where you have crammed and you cannot get up our bed?” And I was like, “Okay, no, they can't” If you would  change the angle to your daughter. Look at the man too. They have daughters, too. They have mom too. They have wives. The pitching angle just I mean, this is just very small things that make your problem more relatable to your audience. And at the same time, of course, the men here in that case, if they don't have daughter, they don't have wife, they could potentially sync up. Yeah, I hear that menstrual health during that month of days. My girlfriend's always in bad mood. But that's it. So in the moment, the dollar signs already gone. Because you can't see the dollar. Why should I, my girlfriend would never use another app just to track her menstrual health because she might not have it at all. So I think the biggest problem, is so women don't speak the right language yet in the FemTech space. And men cannot relate to the problem that women are focusing on or pitching. 

Jeremy Au (28:26):

Yeah, that's a lot of truth there. I think it takes two hands to clap. In this side, you're right to say it's not just an issue for the men who don't really understand. It's also interesting for you to share that for any group that's outside of the mainstream, right for any minority, whether it's in this case, gender, but also based on nationality or culture. There's also an aspect where you need to build out that bridge right of communication and articulate that connection to make it translatable, right? Yeah, I think you did a great job explaining with an example. And I see that all the time. It's not just a FemTech issue. I mean, there's so many founders that you and I both know who pitch and all the other founders are like, Oh, that's quite obviously not the best way to articulate it. Because we're like, standing away from the problem. And so you're like, oh, that's unclear. And then after that, I go home, and I'm like, okay, maybe this product I have is very clear to me. But is it clear to other people, right, go off and ask other friends and say, Hey, that's my pitch sound clear? What advice would you give to women who are looking to tackle FemTech? How should they go about learning how to better articulate the problem in a way that's understood by the counterparty? 

Jingjin Liu (29:37):

I say at the end of the first thing, I always say most importantly, is to speak the language that your audience speaks. When I pitch to anyone I try to understand I mean, now are they in Google, social media, your life is an open book, you can easily find out whether they have daughter, they have wife, they have mistress, if you want to pitch a female problem. And then of course, ideally you pitch to a female VC or female fund or a fund that actually has female representative. I mean, for example, every audience let we see, that'd be Insignia, Sequoia, people that who have approached me now are all the female GPs in the venture partners in this funds. When I start with the problem statement, they already understand what I'm saying, because they are facing the same problem. Where I was I had this occasion with, someone was really interested in what I'm doing. And then so let's have a conversation. And I started, I've made the mistake started with the same narrative as well. And he was like, I don't see that as problem, we have my wife to be frank, we are very sufficient, we're very good in what we're doing. I don't think that's a problem. So in this way, you already cut the conversation there. And then you obviously was hearing, you have a very complete different angle, how he can make it more relatable to him. Generally, I think speaking the language of the audience, extremely crucial. But I think also for women, I coach a lot of women, most of the women what they do, almost always wrong, is to undermine theirs success, is so we only have, I just coached recently, someone, she came with a great pitch deck, about baby turbine, actually. And I coached two founders at that time, one was a guy came to the session without prepping anything and just say the billion dollar industry he's targeting. He doesn't even have an MVP at that time. This lady came very humble, thank you extremely about your time and talk about another the business the market everything well, she prepared and she said, but I don't see I can seek funding. I'm a very small business, we only have $200,000 sales. I almost fainted at that time! Now, like $200,000 sales, you make it sound in a moment, you are not even making any dollar sales to me! And this happens to a lot of women not to proudly and confidently talk about success, because they don't know what success, because for her in her head, a big business is a billion dollar business, a million dollar business. And I am not even halfway there. And I think that's actually speaking the language and don't undermine your pitch, speak the right language, and then be proud to have doing this. I will say the most important thing for the FemTech industry. 

Jeremy Au (32:06):

Yeah, I love what you said about firstly, being confident, and secondly, doing the preparation work to know who the other party is, for us my last company was in early education. And it was very simple that we kind of realized the pattern after a while. If you didn't have children, you did not understand a problem, especially if you're a guy. If you were female, and you didn't have a child, yet, you still understood the problem, because you knew and heard stories from other people about childcare availability, and so forth. And if you are a parent, a new parent, male or female, you understood the problem instinctively. But what was interesting was that people, who are very senior didn't really understand the problem, because they grew up in a time when childcare was very cheap and available, and oftentimes, their spouse would stay home, to take care of the kid, right? So they didn't understand why childcare was even a category to buy actually, took it for granted. Exactly took that someone would stay home. Whereas every millennial who was a parent today kind of knows like, that's not possible, because everyone's a dual income household. And what's interesting as well was actually if they would be millennial parents, but if they were too rich, they wouldn't understand the problem. Because for them, it was like, you know, we can hire a full time nanny, and we can just have a helper 24/7, right? Wouldn't every mother prefer to do this or stay home? And so they forget about this in-between category of people who are frustrated with the current childcare, but have to get childcare? Because they have to work right. And yeah, that's an interesting dynamic and does interesting where I was like, okay, not I know this after pitching hundreds of folks let's focus on people who have articulated, like you said, on their blogs about parenting challenges, or they have a family or things like that. And then they understand problem, right? Like, why is childcare, a prerequisite for oftentimes the mother to be able to go back to work and is a prerequisite for the family to be able to afford things? So definitely understand a lot about that preparation side. Let's talk about a confidence thing a little bit. How did you build the confidence to be this second time founder, but also a founder in this taboo topic called Sexual wellness. So you really kind of like disparage, power poses and breathing exercises and stuff. So I clearly know it’s not like  that, but I'm just wondering how do you do this, you just prep? What are you doing to feel confident and be able to, be brave in the articulation, of what you're trying to go after? 

Jingjin Liu (34:30):

I see it at the end of the day, I mean, this is not a great advice, but it's like if you fake it till you you make it. I'm a firm believer in that. I really have to say that. It's very often I think it's we generally have a lot of thoughts, Women generally taught themselves, I mean, just look at the looks like, let it be social media, we have so many pressures from outside to look good, you need to be the good mom, the good girl in school, the good friend, the good wife. And I think all these kinds of things make women generally less vocal. So if you can't demand things and we just simply didn't grab like that. And then you somehow have to overcome. And I think in the founders perspective, what's your best alternative? Unless you can fundraise the damn thing yourself, or find alternative ways of raising money, or come from a rich daddy family and then get the money there! What's your best alternative? And you have to convey your message. And if you don't even believe in whatever you're doing, and can't convey that, confidently, nobody's going to fund that. And then your company will die. And then where is this going? So every time before I speak , firmly believe in what I'm doing, as in most of the women. I mean, come on, what's the point of building something you don't you even believe in, most of the women are not in for the money, they're in for the mission, the passion, the calling, and if you truly believe in that, then you should convey that message. I think a lot of things can be worked on how to convey the message. But the fact that you have to say things confidently, you have to build your confidence. Before any pitch, or before your pitch to anyone let it be friend, let it be VC, let it be actually anyone really have the vision where this company should be going. It's never the about the IPO. But for me, it's like every woman one day can confidently convert their sexual needs to their partners, encourage their societies to know for pleasure, to understand our body needs and feel confident in our skin. I think every time before I go to any pitches, I will repeat where I see my company in the future, how my company going to change the world in that way. And then our start-up pitch, you will always have the numbers or you don't have a lot of sales, the gross margin is not good, or the bad things are somehow still in the backend. But at the end of day, especially early stages in seed stage kind of founders it’s about you, it's about the vision, it’s about how you build a business. I think that's it yeah, fake it and you’ll make it. 

Jeremy Au (36:54):

I totally agree with you. And I also am a big believer in it. Because at the end of the day people are going evaluate you based on your posture, your behaviors, and if you are able to behave in a way that a confident person does, you will slowly become more confident and you will show that as well. And I am a big believer in that as well. I think it's interesting, because you talk about in confidence, etc. And I definitely noticed I'll say like in terms of podcast guests cancellations, obviously, people always cancel in order to reschedule. But so far, interestingly, this might just stick only to the female guests also, one who are saying like, I don't think I'm good enough for the show. Yeah. And I'm like, always email back and I say, Well, I'm inviting you, because I did my research. I think you definitely should be on the show. Anyway. It is what it is. 

Jingjin Liu (37:42):

Yeah, no, definitely. I think and that's actually a very fair point. And I think self-rejection, is that for women is very, I mean, it's in everyone's head now self-reject, oh, let's not approach this VC. We are too small. You know, when Cass said “Jeremy actually would like to, you know, ask to be on the show”. I was like okay. Normally, they only interview founders that have already successfully raised their seed round, they were like, did you actually tell him that we are just starting stage. So even with this myself, you self-reject first, and then it's in everywhere. Every woman like women very specifically in her head, you are just not good enough. But the question is, When are you going to be good enough? And if it's up to women, you will never be good enough to be on any show.

Jeremy Au (38:25):

Yeah, I mean, there's a fair point. I mean, I reached out because I felt like this, you know, I was doing some reflection. I was like, Okay, what are the topics that I feel like not really talked about right, in Southeast, Asia and so forth? And I said to myself, well, you know, obviously, I've heard about Jingjin, I've heard that she's been an articulate and confident communicator, but also leader. And so I was like yes, I do normally interview people who have at least raised at least one founder funding so far. But this is a no brainer to have a conversation. And thank you so much for taking the time to share this and being brave to share about this topic. I'd love to ask you as we kind of wrap up in the last chapter here. You've kind of hinted at a couple of tough times along the way. Could you share with us a time where you face challenge or obstacle, and that you had to choose to be brave.

Jingjin Liu (39:11):

I think I went through this very recent event, it's like when  I mentioned also before Cass and I, we actually met in Antler at that time when INSEAD and Antler collaborate a lot. I always knew I want to start a business with someone majorly because the success we had with previous company, you are the correct good co-founder could make or break the deals. And that's why I chose to go to Antler, for example, and then I met Cass at that time very actually, quite unfortunately at the very end of the program. And as much as Antler was very vocal about sexual wellness, in a way, they were very convinced there's a big space behind it. But they were not confident that we as a team could actually go down that route, although we made it, and then they had a very candid conversation with us and saying, “You and Cass you don't have a digital marketing background. And you are not an app developer, either. So you are all-rounder, but you are not tech or digital marketing. So how are you going to be make this business big?” And I think that, you know, that many points that they mentioned, were fair. And many of the points they mentioned that time down the road today, retrospectively, was right. But I think that I was okay in talking to Cass at that time saying, let's make a product market fit, if Antler invest that’s good down the road, if it doesn't invest, it's already shows that it won't work. And after that, Antler ultimately didn't invest. And we still made the decision to go down the road, knowingly that we do not have the perfect capability to run this business. Many things are missing, let it be tech development, let it be health issues, that it be digital marketing space, I mean, some of the very essential skill set or capability that are needed to make this business a unicorn. 

We don't have that actually. And but still where we are today, I mean, a year down the road, we have achieved a hell of a lot. And I think at that time to make the decision to go down that route with Cass with someone that I'm confidently believing in that I think that's a decision I never regret and be very brave and very proud of. 

Jeremy Au (41:21):

Wow, thank you so much, Jingjin, for sharing about that. And I really appreciate you, just really being so open about everything. So starting to wrap things up here, I want to kind of summarize the three big things that I learned from you. And I really appreciate, I don't know, the first of course, will  founder journey, as someone who grew up in China, move to Germany, started sales, and then figure out that first opportunity and then had that you described it as a straightforward path to build out a company, after that leaving and moving countries and then deciding to set up a new company. So I really appreciate that whole aspect around that professional art and I think it so clear to see you've been so structured and meticulous about building your skill sets, but also the business decisions you've made along the way. So just super amazing. The second part I also really enjoy actually was the view on sexual wellness and FemTech. I personally learned a lot and how you thought about the different aspects in terms of terminology, but not also in terms of the stigma that's associated with it. But also like the gender differences between how we can look at sexual wellness and also talking more specifically about Fem-Tech, I would say as a category in its own about why it's overlooked, and the business opportunity that's there. And the third thing that I really enjoyed actually was actually zooming in a little bit more about how you're thinking about a problem, about philosophy to it, which is being confident, which is about being outspoken, which is about being able to communicate well and translate that for the other side, which is all great tips, I think for every founder is thinking about how to articulate something that's not well understood to something that's more well understood. And I'm very happy that you're bringing up this topic and making sure that people understand it, and paving the way for other female and future founders as well. So thank you so much. Jingjin.

Jingjin Liu (43:14):

Thank you so much, Jeremy for being so brave, and then make this topic really a series of podcasts. And then I think sexual wellness. I mean, I take it in meanwhile, for granted because I talk about this all day. But really like you said when we started this conversation, and you start to say okay, she's saying the word sex out loud, are very comfortable with someone you have even barely met and, and then really to be so brave to carry out this podcast and let people to hear about the story of ZaZaZu and why sexual wellness and Fem-Tech is a great space to invest as well. And then just maybe last point from my side, I should just have recorded what you just said the summary. And I think every time when I feel less confident, and in my roller coaster journey, I mean the down point, and just going to replay that and think yeah, you're damn awesome. Thank you so much for that. 

Jeremy Au (44:04)

You are damn awesome. Thank you. 

 

 

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