JJ Ang, the Chief Financial Officer of Sendo.vn. Launched in March 2012, Sendo is currently one of the largest C2C marketplaces in Vietnam with a GMV of over US$1 billion dollars annually.
Prior to this, JJ had over ten years of investment banking and fundraising experience and worked across the globe in countries such as New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Peru, and now, Vietnam. He had also co-founded a merchant bank based in Singapore, which the company had raised close to a billion dollars of growth capital for different management teams over the course of four years.
Listen to the full discussion here:
Connect with the Guest:
JJ Ang: Linkedin
Some of the highlights from the podcast:
- How the COVID-19 crisis-affected Vietnam’s ecosystem
- Opportunities and challenges for e-commerce platforms
- Fundraising & Investment advice
- Technology investment during the crisis
- Dealing with investment and valuation during a crisis
- The situation of the job market today
- Importance of leading by example and communication
- [01:26] Can you tell us a little about yourself?
- [03:45] Started my career in investment banking and corporate finance, I decided to head back to Singapore with my partner to start our own venture, a merchant bank that focuses in M&A and capital raising which collectively we raised over one billion dollars of capital growth funds for different management teams. And in October, last year, I joined Sendo as their CFO.
- [05:09] How do you see this current situation, the COVID-19 crisis affecting Vietnam? What are some of the opportunities and challenges for the ecosystem?
- [09:11] I do see this whole lockdown situation as a big opportunity for e-commerce platforms and demand for customers spending online and internally for companies to increase and improve their operational efficiency.
- [11:53] Everybody is facing the same dilemma of should I be growing, should I sustain or should I cut cost? What’s your take on this topic?
- [14:59] Whenever you have to make hard decisions involving cost optimization measures, leaders need to take on by example and then leaders need to communicate actively with your employees.
- [15:46] Do you think innovation should be a focus in the midst of this crisis? Do you have any advice that we could learn from?
- [17:22] Yes I think companies should not shy away from innovation. In the past two to three years, we have been able to consistently and steadily improve our conversion rates by more than 10% to 15% per year due to technology innovation.
- [20:15] I’ve actually met a lot of entrepreneurs who were facing difficulties in securing investment at this point since the market sentiments are really soft from the investor’s end. You’ve been raising funds and managing investments all across your career, can you share some insights on this topic and some advice for our founders?
- [23:26] Fundraising is often more heart than the head. Always look at the term sheet and always approach investment with open eyes and understand all the different terms that you are entering into beyond just the valuation.
- [24:58] Do you think startups should be raising funds right now, given the market conditions? Or do you think they should wait for a better time to come?
- [26:31] Unless they are already close to the finishing line, you must always be prepared to go back to the guys who know you the best. That is why communication with existing internal investors and shareholders is so important.
- [27:51] How has this crisis been affecting the job market? What are the most in-demand skills in your point of view today?
- [30:05] Beyond just picking someone for a specific skill set, I think the most important skills that we are looking for in terms of our employees are resourcefulness and problem-solving ability.
- [31:04] Emerging markets actually have a very young workforce. How do you keep things localized while balancing your local talents and expat talents?
- [34:29] I read in a separate interview of yourself that you mentioned a regular salary earner vs. an employee that takes ownership and how to do it. Can you share more about it?
- [35:56] If you’re gonna be focused on just communicating to your team, but not leading by example and not actually showing that you’re doing it yourself, then, unfortunately, that’s going to be very counterproductive.
- [37:50] How has the experience of work from home been for yourself and Sendo while managing remote teams?
- [38:35] It’s a balance of communicating right and delegating, at the same time, empowering your leaders.
- [40:26] Is there any silver lining that you see within this situation and do you have advice?
- [40:45] The more uncertain the situation is the more it creates new opportunities, so embrace the volatility and the uncertainty because it is going to improve yourself and the organization.