Graham Brown is the founder of Asia Tech Podcast. In this conversation Graham tells us about his journey from an AI graduate in the 90’s, when there was no demand, becoming an entrepreneur in several industries, going into semi-retirement to travel the world, before being lured back to the world of entrepreneurship in Singapore.
“If you were into music they were all made by Japanese companies and you had a stereo at home, which was Japanese and you watched it on a Japanese TV, and we learned about Japanese cars, samurai and ninja. Wow! This world just blew me away and I wanted to be part of that and I looked at where I grew up and just wanted to get out.”
The failures that often accompany entrepreneurs before the overnight success.
“We went from people playing like 10 to 15,000 dollars to speak, to be on a conference, to sponsor it, to be on that. To like the next week nothing. Crickets! just wants right to be on that they like the next week nothing crickets sorry. That completely went belly-up. So he has a wild ride. That was the second business”
This is the first time that Graham has appeared as a guest and the conversation was recorded in the studio of Asia Tech Podcast, where I also appear as a guest host.
So now without further delay lets begin.
As well as:
- The first radio style interview in 2002 with an employee of Hewlett-Packard who later became the founder of Angry Birds.
- The break into marketing, founding a property company, a telecom company.
- How the switch between different Industries is an essentials part of peoples lives.
- His life in Japan in the 1990s, returning to the UK and determined to start business even with no connections in entrepreneurship.
- The big break to start his own business, a phone number in the newspaper and making 120 calls a day selling Financial Services
- The lessons learned from working in a tough environment
- Are you joining a cult? Overcoming the disheartening response from the people around him.
- Silence and the quest for self-improvement.
- The type of person that ended up in Japan in the 1990s
- Why Graham idolised Japan and a graduate in AI 20 years too early, so go teach English in Japan just as the bubble bursts
- 2 years in Japan
- Returning to the UK after two years in the late 90s as the UK economy picks up.
- The rumours of people walking out of university and picking up good jobs in the city.
- Unable to get that job in the city so taking the job selling Finance in the city as a stepping stone
- The first business building computers with his best mate and a marketing strategy based on what he’d learned in finance making hundreds of calls a day.
- Building Computers the business fails after a year and his friends returns to a job
- Graham left with the debt but determined to go as an entrepreneur with the debt paid off 10 years later.
- The second business 1997-98 organizing meet-ups in pubs on the internet, meeting people on ICQ.
- Reasons why around 2000 people started getting interested.
- How confusion led to conferences appearances in the USA and opportunities with CNBC on the topic of Mobile and WAP commanding fees of $10–$15,00 to speak on a conference panels and then the following.
- The effect of the Dot Com crises.
- The third business the firs and only at the time to research “mobile phone usage with young people”
- Rejection by Nokia but accepted by Disney, MTV, Intel, European Union, United Nations and the published UN report “Children and Mobile Phones”. (https://www.unicef.org/adolescence/files/SOWC_2011_Main_Report_EN_02092011.pdf).
- The reasons why this business was a success why he got out with as much cash as possible, where he put the cash and selling the business to his partner and then sitting down with his wife and explaining what he wanted to do next.
- A father selling ancient Japanese Scrolls around the world and why his wife understood the entrepreneurial world.
- 2012 semi-retirement so let’s travel the world. First stop New Zealand, then Fiji, Hawaii, California, Florida, Cypress and back to London. Flew out the next day without even telling his mother to the Canary Islands.
- Eventually settling in Lanzarote with blue skies, white houses, palm trees and a passion for Iron Man was ignited.
- How his non Spanish speaking wife enrolled their son in a none English speaking local Spanish school.
- 2 years in Lanzarote, iron Man and slow Internet connection next stop Japan, Island of Okinawa.
- Wanted to get his son to learn Japanese.
- 49 minutes
- The difficulties of living on the Island of Okinawa, which led to a quick exit to Mainland Japan
- On to Kugune makaigan and the bronze budda, and the surfing capital of Japan near Mount Fuji for two years. Leading back into the world of entrepreneurship by doing favours and keeping busy.
- Brief dabble in the podcast world with Founder FM, which later evolved into ATP and the need to go to where the action was as there were few startups,
- Now in a financially self-sufficient state the first thought in his mind was semi-retirement to Thailand, Phuket before he was turned-off this.
- The next thought was the idea of Singapore, which he put to his family, which would require full commitment.
- The questions of what makes him happy, the struggle and doing something or the life in?
- The link between the excitement of making a full commitment that involves financial risk, burning bridges, risk, not trundling along, with the pain of Iron man.
- Taking on a leadership role in pulling together podcasters in Asia.
- The drive that comes out of proving the doubters and the voices telling you it can’t be done wrong
- The pain of the teenage years creating the fighter and the motivator of producing of amazing things.
- Graham’s vision for ATP in five years being the MTV of the startup ecosystem in the same way it changed the music industry for black music artists such as Michael Jackson and hip-hop.
- The aim to bring amazing stories of people that are not recognised.
- How to convince entrepreneurs to become self-promoters and reach out to VC’s and investors through story.
- His belief that pitch contests are the wrong way to get entrepreneurs to tell the world what they do.
- Give the unheard entrepreneur a voice
- How do entrepreneurs startup, hire and connect with fellow podcast hosts.