Starting an office for a tech company in Singapore
Hi! I’m Veronica. I’m a mom and serial entrepreneur.
I was a leadership recruiter at Google handling all the senior hires across Asia Pacific region for business as well as engineering teams. After I left Google, I took on the challenge of setting up the Singapore office for Juven, a tech startup from Hong Kong.
Combining my network in tech and also my entrepreneurial experience with my own (Edazen) food company (Crunc-a-Mame) where I had previously done business development selecting distributors and pioneering new channels, I’m now the CEO of Juven South East Asia in Singapore.
While both Google and Juven are tech companies, there are many similarities and differences between the two! Perhaps this comparison will be interesting for people considering job offers from tech giants as well as from start-ups!
What is similar?
Young and energetic teams!
Both Google and Juven are full of young people, and I am at least 10 years older than the average person at these companies.
Well anyway, age is just a number. It’s all about having a growth mindset!
Being proactive goes a long way
Speed is the essence of technology, as it is in any technology company. This is all the more true for a tech startup. But in both companies, I appreciate the need to act quickly and decisively. It is better to act fast and makes some mistakes than to be late to the game! Fail fast!
My time at Google trained me well in adapting to new tools. All of them are cloud based and allow users to collaborate from remote sites. At Juven, we use Jira, Slack, Zeplin, Zoom, and of course our very own Juven platform, just to name a few of these cloud-based tools. I would say that most technology companies these days, great or small, all work on cloud-based tools.
What is different?
The biggest difference between the two companies has to be this. Google is already a highly profitable and well-established giant in the business, whereas Juven is a startup that is only coming to two years.
I found myself “more hungry” at Juven, treasuring each and every client conversation to make sure the business can move forward. When success does happen, and I manage to show clients the value of the platform, the satisfaction is that much higher, given the greater challenges!
Support and Company Systems
While Google prides itself for being lean (Directors shared executive assistants!), Juven Singapore only existed on a sheet of paper when I started. After one last strategy meeting with the Hong Kong team, I flew back to Singapore to find myself starting from 0. My first order of business was to find a workspace.
My tendency at first was to try to do everything myself, from visa application, to accounting, to generating payslips. However, once I analyzed how I was using my time, I quickly switched to outsourcing this to a provider. I free up my time to do more productive things, while the outsourced party gets some business. Win-win situation!
While I remember fondly the times in Google when I can just file a ticket and someone else will come and take care of the things (file and forget!), I also enjoy the fact that the Juven team is still creating systems.
Faced with a need for a CRM system, the team in Hong Kong and in Singapore (by this time we had a team of 2) contributed our views on what we envision our CRM process needed in order to select and decide on a suitable system.
We are shaping things as we go. The experiences are invaluable.
Meetings and Reporting
As much as Google advocates short meetings and less management interference, it has now become a huge company. For my previous team, we had weekly report updates, numerous approval processes, and 1:1 meetings. All of this did cut into productive work time.
At a start up, and especially for a remote office, there needs to a high level of trust. We still have one weekly catch-up meeting, but that’s it. Reporting will become more later on but for the early stage, it is all about doing the work. That is what I signed up for — to do sales and marketing and not to generate reports and sit in internal meetings.
If there is something I miss from my Google time, it must be the free food! I certainly learned a lot from my time at Google, but compared with working in Juven — being highly trusted with responsibilities, pioneering into an entirely new market, being in a team that strives for survival (as well as excellence!) — my start-up experience has brought a sense of closeness and adventure that I did not experience while working at Google. And that, I dare say, has made it all the more worthwhile!