Don’t believe work culture is important? This story might change your mind.

Here’s one of the most viewed TED talks from Jay Wilkinson, CEO of Firespring, a company that you may never have heard of before in Malaysia, but it’s also a company that was included in Inc magazine’s top 50 small company workplaces in America.

He shares his story from the way he first got it wrong, and how he eventually changed to make sure he got it right.

I hope every entrepreneur embraces the importance of having a good work culture. Remember that you will never be able to outspend huge corporate companies with big marketing budgets. So work culture is also how your business is going to attract the best talent, and ultimately succeed.

You have to hear this story.

Three biggest lessons transitioning from corporate to entrepreneurship

Wow, tomorrow it will officially be three months that I have left employment. Seems like ages ago. During this journey into entrepreneurship, I have made so many new friends, learned so many new things, been through hell and back, yet I’ve never felt so alive in a long long time. I just wanted to share the top three lessons I’ve learned during this transition, and I hope it will help anyone who’s thinking about leaving their corporate jobs to go into a startup.

1) You are the brand

The transition has to be one of the most humbling experiences I’ve ever had in my life.

When I was in a large corporate company, it was very easy for me to hide behind a big brand name or a big title. I would go around and I knew I belong to a big branded organisation, and expected people I meet to give that little bit more respect, even if not to me, at least to the company that I represent.

Now I have none of these. I only have me, I am the brand, and people will decide whether they want to talk to me based purely on the impression I leave on them. In fact, if anything, people know I have no brand and no track record, and you have to work even harder to demonstrate that you are a good credible person that they can work with. Even before I left employment I thought I knew and expected this. But when it actually happens, you realise that you’ll never really know it until you leave all that behind.

2) Without a company brand, if you want a decision made, talk to a decision maker

Many may be surprised by this, but CEOs and Founders for the most part can actually take much more honesty than someone who is employed in a company. What do I mean by this? I’m very transparent when I’m talking to someone about Wobb, on areas that I will focus on, and areas that I anticipate may be a problem. And here’s where founders and employees typically react differently.

A founder or CEO understands the startup process, they know there are uncertainties that no one can predict, and there will be many problems ahead. And because of that, they actually appreciate it when I tell them what problems I expect to face. Their BS radar is so strong, that if someone was to try to sell them the perfect vision, they know that they can’t trust you. So as long as I’ve thought about the problems, and have some good ideas on how to tackle them, they will see that as being credible and trustworthy, which is someone that they can work with.

Contrast this with an employee. Employees don’t like uncertainty, not because they don’t understand you, but largely because they are not in a position to put their company at any risk, just because “I trust this guy”. They want to hear the perfect vision, and without a brand, or with uncertainties in the future, they will probably decide that they won’t even talk to their CEO about it, so the message never reaches the decision maker.

Always go straight to the decision maker.

3) Collaborate with everyone, even if you think they are a competitor

When you are in a large corporate company, collaboration with other companies are typically the decisions of the people who sit at the top, and therefore cross company collaborations are few and far between.

Not in the startup world. When you’re small, everyone is your friend. Doesn’t matter if you compete in some areas, people understand that collaboration gives everyone more strength. Because at the end of the day, if you don’t work together to help each other grow and move quicker, or spend time and energy fighting each other, you will just be eaten up alive by the larger more established companies.



What’s it like to work in a startup?

I was moderating a casual panel discussion yesterday at MaGIC’s startup career fair, and joined by some well recognised people in the startup scene, Josh Teng (, Aaron Gill (MyTeksi), Joash Wee (Between) and Izwan Ismail (VLT Labs).

And while these are all very well respected leaders in their companies, the entire conversation was really chilled out, and you can tell that people that work in startups know how to have fun and don’t take themselves too seriously all the time. I think that’s a great trait of startups, because even your leaders are young, and it’s much easier to relate to then, and that really adds on to the appeal of being in these companies.

Biggest lesson? Startups care deeply about work culture, it’s the best advantage they have of attracting good people, and because of that, people who actually work in the startup environment can truly experience what it’s like to be part of a team that’s trying to change the world.


I’ve qualified for MaGIC’s e@Stanford program!

The ultimate biggest news I received today, I was notified via a phone call this morning that I’ve qualified for MaGIC’s e@Stanford program, where they will send a group of 20 startups to learn from the best at Stanford University and also network with entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley!

After going through a pretty tough pitching competition, I am so so happy that I actually qualified, and was even super flattered when I was told that my pitch was one of the “top top favourites by all the judges”. I thought I talked way too fast to try to squeeze everything into 4 minutes.

Wobb has been operating for about a week now, and the response has been overwhelming, with all the write ins I am getting from employers and good comments from jobseekers who browse the site, I think I really might have something pretty awesome going on here.

Looking forward to e@Stanford!!