with Beta Fellow – betafellow.com
Guest: Thomas Chuang
About the Guest
VP of Finance and Strategy @ Belong
Ex-VP of Finance @ Wish, from Series B to IPO
Ex-VP of Operations @ Wish, rebuilt global logistics
Experienced investment analyst @ GGV Capital
Thomas was born in Taiwan, went to Singapore for school. After that he also went to school in the USA, then work and stayed there for ~20 years now.
Before going to wish, Thomas was an investment analyst at GGV. There are a lot of opportunities to learn and understand what questions investors tend to ask. After 5-6 years, Thomas wanted to really learn how a successful company is built and get his hands dirty.
Why Wish – When Wish was founded, it realized a huge underserved consumers. Both founders, Peter and Danny, both with an engineer background and they really focus on their product. The north star of Wish has always been bringing affordable products to consumers.
Evolving roles at Wish – Thomas’s role at Wish changed overtime. When he first joined as a non-tech person, he built the foundation of the finance, and took burdens off from the founders however he could. As the company grew, his role became more defined, which was mostly financing and fund raising, while getting into operation.
Major Obstacles – Anti-counterfeiting was one of main problem Wish had early on. Wish proactively solved this problem by building relationships with Apple and other name brands and setup policies together. The proactive problem solving goes a long way.
Difference between Chinese and US ecommerce – Wish is about bringing Chinese merchants to rest of the world. The impression is Chinese ecommerce is light years ahead of the US ecommerce, except Amazon. We tried to learn from Alibaba back then.
Fund raising – Fund raising is a set of motions. Investor look for the product market fit and other factors. It depends on the founders and the team to have the product done right. And of course, it will be an iterative process. Another important thing is to know your numbers down cold. Fund raising is building credibility too. And VC are good at sensing wrong for fake numbers.
Lessons on cross boarder ecommerce – First thing is to figure out which market is harder to address, and know the value chain really well. Being able to identify strategies is important, but execution is absolutely crucial.
Cost of shipping issue – cost of shipping is becoming higher and higher every month and it’s a big problem for Wish. Thomas came in and used the first principle thinking. Identifying who are the players involved, and then understand their perspective to work with them or do something different on our side. It turned out we need to get to the basics of shipping, break it down and solve bit by bit.
Favorite entrepreneur: The Cold Start Problem by Andrew Chen
Favorite startup/idea: Every one! Every startup is incredibly hard and like all of them. Especially interested on how blockchain can help remove middle men, and give back to consumers.
If you start your career again, what would be one thing you do differently: buy bitcoin! Just kidding. To be serious, I would talk with 10X people and share my ideas with them.