Smartphone Shipments to Grow 5% in 2016 -APAC is Leading the Way

According to Canalys, global Smartphone shipments are set to grow by about 5% in 2016.

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The great news about this report are the following growth projections for the APAC region:

  • China: ↗️ 13%
  • India: ↗️ 21%
  • Philippines: ↗️ 26%

Smart phone penetration in these markets remains low, meaning there is a big opportunity for vendors. Growth in established markets is harder to find[…]

Source Canalys Report on August 15, 2016.

 

THE SWAPIT PERSPECTIVE

swapit_marketing-chart-growSwapit is a true Asian startup. We’re based in Hong Kong – Asia’s World City – and we’ve launched here locally at first. From the onset, we’ve made it very clear that Swapit will go out of Hong Kong and into other markets. Swapit now supports 148 currencies, multi-locations, Android and iPhone and shows phenomenal growth locally in Hong Kong. Yet, we will definitely go out of Hong Kong and into other densely populated markets.

Smartphone growth rates in China, India and the Philippines are extremely encouraging for us. They clearly demonstrate that there is still a lot of growth left in those markets.

MOBILE ONLY … is the Swapit way to success.

swapit-blog_238-mobileFrom the onset, we wanted to build a truly mobile marketplace. We never even considered to have a full blown desktop website to publish your items, browse items and purchase them. We just believe the world is changing. While “web” is still in people’s minds and many people do like browsing website on a desktop computer (myself included), we also believe that the young generation out there will be truly mobile. Hong Kong for example has a smartphone penetration of more than 200%.

Think of it this way: In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web. Everyone born in the 90’s and 2000’s are now in their teens, 20’s and some are soon reaching their thirties. They have never experienced a day on this world without the Internet.

In many parts of the world like the above mentioned China, India and Philippines, people’s first – and probably only – contact with the Internet will be on their mobile phone. Many will probably won’t never own a proper desktop computer – maybe a laptop at some point, but pretty much all will own a smartphone. They are using it day in and out with extremely high engagement rates on their favorite apps.

We are building Swapit for that future. A future where mobility is everything, where consumers do all their major transactions on and with their phone, where online-to-offline (O2O) transactions are as common as buying a bottle of water at 7-eleven.

 

Have you tried Swapit yet? Give it a try: http://get.swapit.la/now

 

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Pitching to Harvard Business School Alumni

I am not very good at pitching. In the end, I am a tech guy and a product person who likes to see a creation come to life and put a smile on our customer’s face. Yet, from time to time, I have to get in front of a crowd and tell them about Swapit. Our vision, our approach and our strategy to move forward. I don’t mind that much any more to speaking publicly. It was much harder about 10 months ago when I had my first public appearances for Swapit.

Last week I got invited to talk about Swapit to the Harvard Business School Alumni at our friendly co-working space CoCoon.

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It was a very intimate setting with a quite interesting audience of 30 HBS alumni. Obviously, they all have strong business background and therefore, it was great to get their feedback on our platform and the way we approach our business.

From the event, I have not gotten any direct / promising leads in terms of partnerships or investors out of. However, getting feedback from folks with a very business-savvy and numbers orientated point of view, is invaluable. This is quite similar to the many discussions I have with actual potential investors or business partners. There might not be a direct benefit associated to that time and effort spent on these meetings and pitches, but indirectly it helps a lot when you get back to work the next morning and you realize you have to narrow your focus even more.

While, we are building Swapit to solve a very particular problem in densely populated places like Hong Kong, we need to make absolutely sure, that Swapit moves towards market domination, revenue generation and profitability. At all times, though, we need to make sure we are bringing people together in the most efficient and most enjoyable way. Every time we put a smile on the face of one of our customers, we created a moment of success. It’s not monetary success, it’s a success that shows appreciation and joy. If you’re looking at the top 10 global consumer brands, that’s exactly what they are creating every single day. And, that is what ensures they remain such large well-known brands, which everyone loves. By making people happy that use your product, you are set for success in all means possible.

Right, I also like to give stuff away for free.

Building A Business Means Every Team Member Is Replaceable

When we are talking to investors, there is a lot of talk about “the team”. That is important, because only the right team, which is skilled, motivated and passionate, can execute a vision properly. In the end, most startups fail because the team stops working together. So it’s important to have the right team on board.

However, I truly believe: Every Team Member Must Be Replaceable

Don’t get me wrong, it is important to get key personnel on board. It is essential to have the right person for the right job. And it is very important to do your best to keep that talent in your company for as long as possible.

That being said, it is absolutely essential to build a sustainable business that functions whether you have this key personnel on board or not on board. At first, this might sound contradictory to the belief that key personnel is essential to the success of a business, but if you give it a deeper thought, it is actually in line with it.

Let me give you an example: I am German. I grew up in Germany and got my degree in Computer Science there, before leaving for China 10 years ago. In Germany the common Computer Science degree holder stays with the same company for an average of 11 years. That’s a quite recent statistic, by the way. Perhaps that’s related to the labour market in Germany or to the not so attractive opportunities in other jobs or it’s just the nature of the Germans; who knows. In Hong Kong however, the labour market is very flexible. There is a lot of competition here and we small startups compete for talent with large multi-national corporations that have deeper pockets. Furthermore, especially the younger generation is in many ways more flaky. They might leave 1 month, 1 year, 2 years after you hire them. What do you do then?

It doesn’t matter if you run a startup or an established company. You never ever want to be in the situation that the departure of some of your key personnel causes an implosion of your business. Remember? Most companies fail because their team stops functioning together.

I recently wrote a blog post about my thoughts on A Product Doesn’t Equal A Business. When you are working on building your startup into a real business, many pieces need to fit together. I believe, one of the most important pieces is: You must make sure, everyone in your business is (more or less) easily replaceable. That includes all employees, key personnel and even the founders themselves. You can not allow to end up in a situation where a key person leaves and your business suddenly can not function anymore. May that person leave due to professional or personal reasons or you have to let go of him/her or *knock-on-wood* due to health reasons. Who knows, anything can happen.

My goal for swapit is, to work with the best team for the job we need and want to do. It is also my goal, that every such team member is replaceable and swapit will continue to thrive anyway.

Wanna join the largest mobile marketplace for trading pre-loved items in Hong Kong? Check out swapit: http://www.swapit.la

Thoughts On: A Product Doesn’t Equal A Business

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I noticed this post by Jeffrey on Facebook and the discussion that came along with it. I absolutely agree that a product does not equal a business. In fact, it is — or it should be — common sense.

I have been building products, thousands of products for mobile over the past decade. Of course, it’s not just me. There is always a great team behind that! Yet, I have been building only a few businesses and one of those has failed so far.

“It’s easy to build products.” one person said. I do agree, it’s easy to build a product – any product. But it is hard — very hard — to build an outstanding kick ass product. Because without that, you won’t be able to build a business around that.

I am a true believer that a successful, sustainable, scalable and repeatable business can only survive with an outstanding product that is built to solve a very specific problem of its particular target audience. If solution that product provides, adds enough value to its users, which they are willing to pay for, then you are on the right path to build a business around that product.

Yes, there are many folks out there, who just keep building a product and another product and another product, and they never really build a proper business around that. While that might not be economically sustainable, I do have huge respect for them. There is a passion that drives them to create those products which they feel very strongly about. Eventually, it’s got to pay off, though. Otherwise, you’ll run out of money and you won’t be able to pay the rent anymore.

Swapit is a Product First, a Business Second

At least for now. While swapit is gaining more and more traction, it is completely free to use. We don’t charge any fees for posting items, nor do we take a cut out of the transaction when an item is sold. For the foreseeable future swapit will remain like that.

Again, building swapit into an outstanding product first, is our main priority right now. While this includes, of course, features coupled with our unique value proposition, it does mainly come down to building a liquid marketplace. If you have an outstanding product, but no one is using it, how will you be able to build a business with scale around that?

If you take a quick look at two giants in the IT space today: Google and Facebook. Both have started with their product first and for quite a long time, both of them didn’t have a clue on how to monetize their product and build a sustainable business around that. For both it eventually came down to advertising and they are both now advertising giants in the media space — so they practically turned into media companies disguised as hip tech companies.

When I look at swapit, I can see many angles we could monetize it — even with keeping our promise of free trades through the platform. In my eyes, the right path of monetization makes the difference in a successful business plan. While we are currently not focusing on that (we’re in marketplace liquidity building mode), we have some very interesting and potentially extremely profitable directions we could go towards with swapit. Only one of those directions are premium service, which we will be charging on top of our free service in swapit will provide enough added value to our user to activate them and turn them into paying customers. We are absolutely confident we are on the right track to complete our product roadmap and exit our public beta with premium services and a sustainable business model in place. That’s the point where a decade of experience in building apps and businesses comes into play 😉

Tried swapit yet? Download for free: http://get.swapit.la

A personal take on quitting the matrix

I just read Simon Squibb’s article “Quit your job, you are in the matrix!”
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Simon is CEO of nest.vc in Hong Kong)

It’s a short, but great motivational piece to leave your boring corporate gig and start “Living in the real world where you control your own destiny is the only life to live!” Even though, I have personally never had that corporate work-life experience, I do absolutely agree with Simon. Right after graduating from university in November 2004, I moved to Kunming (China) in January 2005 and have been living the own-destiny life ever since.

1423799997446Sometimes people think that having your own company(ies) just means being your own boss and leaving early every day. To be honest, I do leave our office early (5pm) every day nowadays, but that is mainly because I want to be home early and enjoy some awake time with my newborn daughter – who just turned 1 month! That also means though, that I am usually at the office before 8 am every day and there is practically no “off work” time. Luckily my BlackBerry Passport can go 2 full work days without a charge!

Having your own company – whether it’s a startup that you’re trying to kick off the ground (think swapit), a business you are working on to get shipping ASAP (think Sky Drone) or a business you have been running for almost a decade (think S4BB Limited) – is hard work. It’s exhausting and time consuming. You need to rush some things and you need to wait a lot of other things — now I can say it very much feels like parenthood. My wife (who runs her own boutique production house) likes to say it’s like production day on a movie set: you’re waiting to hurry. Of course, when you’re out of the matrix and your own business is on the line every day – there is no time for waiting. There is always something important to do and more often than not, you find yourself thinking about priorities. Which of 42 important tasks are more important? Which one to do first? Priorities are essential.

But let’s not get side tracked here; back to the Matrix and leaving it. What Simon and Nest do in Hong Kong is very interesting. I have seen him talk several times at events, on TV and even pitched a different project to a jury (including Simon) in person about a year ago. I was not successful with my pitch back then. Perhaps I chose the wrong city in the UK for my example? As we all never stop learning (hopefully), I do believe I learnt from at least some of my mistakes and will try the next attempt soon. So be warned, I am trying again Simon. Perhaps I even make it past the pre-screening and can actually present in person. I promise, I won’t talk about Sheffield this time which was an honest coincidence last year 😉

Anyhow, if any of you are still hanging around in your corporate job and you’re thinking about starting something new, something actually exciting (it’s enough if you’re excited about it!), but you are not sure, take a look at Simon’s article. Perhaps it encourages you to take the leap. Honestly, what’s the worst thing that can happen? You could fail and you then have to go back to your corporate job.

I fail every day in something and just try to not fail at the same thing again. I love every mistake I make, because I know I only make it once!

If you want to know more about mistakes, check out http://postmortem.hk

While you’re at it browsing the web, make sure to request an invite to our invite-only beta of swapit: http://swapit.la