Why I decided to join Hustle Fund

After almost 6 years at NerdWallet, and having had the chance of a lifetime to build a business from scratch with my friends, I was looking for something that would engage me in a similar way. In Drive, Daniel Pink write about Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose as the key elements of intrinsic motivation, and I realised the NerdWallet experience was special because it hit all there intrinsic motivation buttons:

  1. the feeling that we were solving a big problem, bit by bit (Mastery)

  2. we were helping real consumers (Purpose) , and

  3. we were charting on own path every day (Autonomy)

In joining Hustle Fund, I have the opportunity to build an asset management business with two great friends that I trust and respect; invest in a region that I’m extremely bullish on, and work with smart, motivated people every day who are trying to build big, sustainable businesses. Eric, Elizabeth and I believe that we are at the beginning of a multi-decade journey to build an investment firm that is firmly focused on enabling all entrepreneurs, regardless of resources or location, a shot at receiving funding and coaching. We are obviously just at the beginning of this journey, but it is feels amazing to have vision alignment with partners.

I believe in the potential of Southeast Asia - the underlying macro factors that make it a great market for people to start and grow businesses in. It’s a region with a young population, growing middle class, and annual GDP growth in excess of 5%. I’ve had the opportunity to meet investors and entrepreneurs throughout the region, and can feel the palpable excitement and eagerness to try new business models and bring new solutions to customers. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of building the ecosystem that can nurture cool new businesses!

 Celebrating the close of Fund 1 and the opportunity to work together! Demonstrating remote life =)

Celebrating the close of Fund 1 and the opportunity to work together! Demonstrating remote life =)

What I've been doing since leaving NerdWallet

After nearly 6 years building NerdWallet, I left at the end of March to move back to my home country, Singapore. It's been nearly 18 years since I first arrived in the US to start university at Stanford. I never imagined I would be here so long, and now it's time to begin navigating my return. 

My motivation: I have an almost-two year old daughter - I want her to experience growing up in a safe place, surrounded by family in a geography that is poised to experience a ton of secular growth. I want her to know what real char kway teow tastes like =). I don't want to worry that she's going to be shot in school by some crazy person. =(

People's reactions: 

  • My American friends: "What a great adventure! Is this forever? Can we come too?"
  • My Singaporean friends: "Huh? Why you come home? California is so nice" 
  • Singaporean taxi drivers: "Why? In America, don't have to work can collect welfare, what" He refused to believe me when I said that being poor in America is actually pretty terrible
  • Singaporean civil servants: "Good, nice to have Singaporeans come home" 

My process: I've been spending the last 5 months traveling in the region, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, meeting entrepreneurs and investors, trying to build a mental model of what I think is exciting and fun to do, and where I can be of service. I was basically choosing between a) joining a company, b) starting a business, and c) raising a fund. After over 100+ conversations, I finally decided to join two of my oldest friends, Elizabeth Yin and Eric Bahn at their new pre-seed fund, Hustle Fund. More on that decision in my next blog post! 

Upcoming blog topics:

  • Why I joined Hustle Fund
  • Why operators should do angel investing
  • Why women should take more risk in their portfolios
  • Communication - why you have to say everything more than once, in multiple channels

Communities and the Cul-de-sac

"Wouldn't it be great if we could all be neighbor with our best friends? We could come home from work, trade stories over a glass of wine while watching our kids play together?"

This is the vision I tried to sell my college friends after we graduated, because once we scattered to the far-flung corners of the world, or let's face it, once some people moved to the East Bay, it became increasingly difficult to get together on a consistent basis. With every additional child, the logistical coordination burden becomes even more overhead. Which means you see each other a few times a year even though you may leave geographically not that far from one another. 

Living in close proximity would:

  • Reduce coordination overhead
  • Create happy collisions
  • Lower the bar on performance

With Amanhapa* we have the privilege of living with two wonderful friends with whom we share a garden, a garage, a laundry room but also so much more! We have impromptu cocktail hours, dinner parties and long walks with dogs. We get the wonderful intersection of shared friends being able to run into all four of us, our house as a natural meeting point for others coming into town and the real feel of an intentional community being built. 

When we first embarked on this project, folks were fairly skeptical; but I think over the years we've won people over with shared meals in the garden, lively parties and of course generous pours of wine. 

 

*See hapa residents for full story.