Thomason Chan is a Lifetime Entrepreneur and the Founder & CEO of Singapore-based Great Full, a cloud kitchen platform.
In this episode Slash CEO Andries De Vos and Thomason Chan discuss the topics of success measurement, selection criteria for co-founders, building a portfolio and team philosophy for people management.
Website URL: https://great-full.co/
Thomason’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/thomason-chan/
Podcast host, Slash CEO Andries De Vos and Thomason Chan cover a great deal of topics, such as:
- Measuring success and catching the industry wave to ensure success
- What a co-founder needs to have in them to succeed
- How venture building compares to parenthood
- What a good HR philosophy looks like
Listen to the Podcast
When you take on a new project or venture, what are the criteria you measure it by?
First, you need an opportunity, and you need to launch – these are two fundamental things. The launch that is your first niche market. Those opportunities come from conversations, finding out the problems and immersing in them. It also means immersion into that opportunity and that industry, which means dozens of connections leading to the launch.
Wouldn’t it make more sense to focus primarily on one sector, and be a sector specialist?
This is also a personal journey. I personally made the mistake of jumping sectors too fast, trying progressively more difficult things, and 5 years later I came back to a sector and realized I should have never left it. One piece of advice I would give is from the book called “Smart Ones,” – leverage your experience and how people view you to switch from one industry to another.
Was the sector jumping a result of intellectual curiosity, lifestyle aspirations, ego, or just commercial interest?
All of those things, equally. I sought out opportunities, which were in what I thought were insufficiencies in my life and our world. It was also about how far I could leap in other industries and immerse in them.
What do you optimize for and what is your measure of success?
It’s about us taking our template as the type of professionals we are and taking it to other places. We feel that it fits, and then we put together other pieces. But we need depth in detail, and you can dig deeper into an industry, solve increasingly more complex and lesser-known problems as you move up the layers. You also have to look at your industry in terms of its potential – I mean, catching the wave. You could work as hard as you can, and you could definitely make a million-dollar company, but it won’t get you to a 100+ if you don’t involve trends and popularity in the process. Pattern recognition in terms of how the industry is going makes your life easier.
What are the criteria you look for in co-founders?
This applies to finding co-founders and portfolio building: the only thing I’ve ever looked for in anybody is hustle, a superb amount of it that will surmount hill after hill and not stop. You can’t motivate somebody and teach them; you need just to be teaching and they need to be picking up at the pace of 200% and using it right away.
How do you build a portfolio and build a team around yourself?
You trust other people and you leverage your strong suits. For you, it’s tech, the understanding of how to structure and build a startup. In every portfolio company you’ve built, that’s a whole piece off somebody’s mind, and they can focus on their own industry. My advice is to never make your portfolio managers deep dive into areas to learn a new skill set. Bring an expert to elevate the process; industry hopping is hazardous, so you need an expert to know the ins and outs. The fundamental, underlying basis of all of this is skin in the game – not just equity but money in the company itself. Beyond that, you need to divide it between what you do yourself and what you do for somebody else.
Let’s talk about happiness. What can an entrepreneur learn about being a good parent?
Well, testing and iteration don’t solve everything in the world. Startup and parenting are completely different things. With startups, I used to demand perfection, but then I took in a couple of novices who had a lot of hustle and let them screw up my company for months at a time. For my kids, you try to teach them something, and then you expect an outcome, but no way. It’s like an 18-year teaching cycle.
Have you ever thought of setting up a nice lifestyle business that generates a couple of millions a year as opposed to a rocket ship that requires external financing to get to a market-winning position?
It’s all about personal balance. For me, a win is a win. Even small things like finding a market fit are a joy.
Let’s talk about productivity in the context of having to manage resources and multiple projects. What’s your philosophy for managing people?
First of all, manage the people above you and below you. People above you have to look at investors, clients, users – they all have to love it. People below you should know what you expect out of them, manage them so that they can manage themselves. Find tools, resources, and leverage every possible thing you can.
Your philosophy is to give people a massive amount of empowerment, even if it corrupts, because the damage they’ll do is limited and if they come out on the other end, their ability to deliver value and their loyalty to you are so much more exponential. How did you establish that approach?
It just happened. They need to have the hustle, they’ve got to have it in their bones. Secondly, and I want to explain this with a story: imagine you take your dad’s car, and you crash it. How sorry would you be toward your parents for the next year? Thinking back to the times in my life when I had significant success, it’s because of failure or a missed opportunity. You reflect, and it’s the negatives that push your bar up. Be it a minor or major stress, it makes you better. Give somebody that trust, make sure they know what’s expected of them, let them take it from there.