Deb Kan

Being Patient - Deborah Kan, Being Patient

In this episode, I speak with Deborah Kan about her work to build Being Patient. Born from her own need to understand the disease, Deborah called on her background as a journalist to build a platform to help bring clarity to the families of Alzheimer's about the challenges, research, and treatments.

While operational for less than a year, Deborah's community is already beginning to come together, and through this interview we dive into how she has approached the development (And delivery) of the content, how she is building community, and the importance of remaining impact focused.

To learn more about Being Patient, please see the links below.


"I really wish people would ask me how many lives have you helped today? how many people have you helped today? For me, that's a better measure of success."


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Deborah Kan

Deborah Kan is a new media entrepreneur, media speaker and award-winning news anchor and journalist.

Executive Editor and Founder of Being Patient, she seeks to redefine health media by creating single-subject platforms around specific health topics. Being Patient is launching a news site this July solely dedicated to covering Alzheimer’s disease.

Kan was previously the Managing Editor for News Deeply’s Women & Girls, launched in partnership with the Gates Foundation. Women & Girls seeks to cover important female issues in the developing world, around health, education and crisis and conflict. Previously Executive Producer at the Wall Street Journal, Kan launched the Journal’s video and multi-media operation in Asia and grew it into a substantial operation, spanning nine countries throughout the region.

Follow Deb and Being Patient:
Website: https://www.beingpatient.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beingpatientalzheimers
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deborah-kan-36b2716/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/moms_got_alzheimers/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Being_Patient_/a>


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

RICH: And so welcome back everybody. I'm here with Deborah Kan, who is the founder of Being Patient. It is a new media company that is basically trying to help those with questions about Alzheimer's to answer those questions about he research. She trying to develop a community. It's really engaging and learning from a personal issue. So thank you very much for your time. Greatly appreciate it.

First off can you please briefly introduce yourself. Your personal history and then also what your working on now.

DEBORAH: Ok, so my name Deborah Kan. I'm the co-founder and actually, sorry again I'm the founder and executive editor of Being Patient. Being Patient is a media company, a health media company where we are building single subject platforms on longer term illness to really go deep into a topic and give people the right type of in formation they need that is completely editorially independent.

GETTING STARTED
RICH: Great, so how did you get into this. Like what's your personal background and what drove you to start this new company?

DEBORAH: So, I was an editor at the Wall Street Journal and worked there for quite a few years. I was responsible for video and multimedia in Asia and building out the video operation. At that time, my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. I didn't know much about Alzheimer's. I actually didn't really have any contact with Alzheimer's other than friends who had told me their grandparent or their parents had suffered from the disease. So I didn't' really know a lot about the disease. I did what most people do which is to do a simple Google search and found that that lead to actually more confusion around making sense of where this disease is at, where the research is, is there going to be a cure? All of that information I found it very hard to figure out on one page. It was like you would get bits and pieces.

So I decided...actually I didn't have..I started to call people as a journalist would and I was calling researchers. I was calling all sorts of people and asking them questions about this disease and I ended up mapping it out. I mapped the pathology of the disease and I started to plug in information that I had found out through talking to so many people. I learned very quickly a lot that wasn't readily available to me or in a comprehensive way.

THE CHALLENGE

RICH: What was the problem? You said you had pieces. I mean everything's on the internet, it's all available. Is it just too much? Too conflicting?

DEBORAH: Part of the problem is there is too much information out there and it's hard. We've almost lost the ability to give people basic information and knowledge. Instead we just grab articles and they come at you so quickly, right? I found, especially when you're talking about a disease that doesn't presently have a cure, there's so much research out there but there is a lot of contradictions. That's what makes it really difficult. For example, one research study would say drink two glasses of wine it's actually really good for your brain. It clears the plaque from your brain. It offsets the onset of Alzheimer's. Then you'd have another study that says don't drink at all it's really bad for your brain.

That's how main stream media will cover these topics because they are not in these topics deeply, right? They're covering them on occasion. So it leads to a lot of confusion. What I found is there was no one who was making clarity of the topics. So with that example, there's actually a lot of differences in those studies, right? There's the difference in demographics. There's the difference in location. There's the difference in you know how they were measuring drinking. There's just a lot of differences.

So our editorial approach is actually one where we give people the information we feel is necessary in the context of where the disease is at.

ADDRESSING UNIQUE USER NEEDS

RICH: In that sense you mentioned the demographic of some of these studies are always different, so for example. Would you say that in a sense you have to make your way through the information knowing the context of your own, say your mother, being from a certain place at a certain age of a certain ethnicity, like the different biometrics. Is that helpful sothat you can make your way through? How are you trying to make sure that people get the right context for their situation.

DEBORAH: Ok what we are doing is creating an entirely different media model. Prior to launching Being Patient, I spent almost a year just surveying the community of patients and caregiver, primary care doctors and researchers. Understanding where information was failing people and depending on who you spoke to, the case was you know most of the patient care giver population were angry at their primary care doctors because they felt like they weren't getting the time and the information they needed to truly understand.

I mean you get a diagnosis of Alzheimer's, it impacts the entire family. It's not just the patient. How do I deal with this disease? Is there going to be a cure? Where is this disease and what does this mean? How does it present itself. So we mapped where information was failing people. The researchers for example told us that they didn't have enough connectivity to the care giving population. The caregivers hold a wealth of information to them. So there there...when we mapped all this out in the information problems, we found a lot of it was connectivity. It was addressing the right type of information.

So actually what we've done is we have a constant feedback loop. We not only go out to groups that we've aligned ourselves with now to tell them that we're there, but we go into their forums and we say, give us your questions and we'll get the answers. So our editorial directive actually comes from a community of people in need of information where they are directing us on the topics they want to know about rather than us telling them what they should know about.

RICH: How do you do that? Like what is the best medium for people to learn and feel like they are getting the right answers, but also in a way, like....

DEBORAH: Well, and that's why we feel like what we do is we're explaining the research to people in a very digestible way. I mean part of the problem, and what we've found interestingly enough, people...a lot of people assume that oh when you're in a disease like Alzheimer's people don't care about the research unless you have answers so what's the point. But what I have actually found is that's not true. People do care. They care, but they don't understand, right? And so there is no place they go where they can, where they feel like that makes sense now, now I understand it. So we produce a lot of our own content, but some of it is aggregated. When we aggregate content, we always put our editorial ...you know we always put context around it. So, you know when we feel like there is more explanation that's needed, when there is context needed and how it relates to the disease or what aspect or how science is approaching this, that is where we are providing the context.

RICH: How important is it for people of this community to see people that they recognize from their own challenge, but then also have access to the doctors that make...can they ask you questions and you can then ask them?

DEBORAH: Absolutely and that's one of the things we do. We call it "you ask we got the answer." So,and you know you mentioned a gentleman with early onset named Brian ______ he is featured in a podcast that we've created. The reason why we're featuring stories of patient and caregivers and hence the name Being Patient, is I've often feel like a huge conversation exists about how health and a disease like Alzheimer's. But the patient's voice is often in the background. So I felt it's really important to not only elevate what their need is for information, but elevate their voice into the conversation on health. So, it's this happy marriage between giving people a platform to tell their stories, but also giving them the answers to the information that they are seeking.

BRINGING EXPERIENCE & TOOLS

RICH: How did your background as a reporter help to you know...what tools were you bringing to this that were just immediately...I'm going to do this, I'm gong to do this so you can start to build that platform.

DEBORAH: So I think a couple of things. One was you know I've always been very entrepreneurial and I've only worked in the context of big companies for launches. So years ago I was hired to launch/start TVs first English news cast and that was a whole launch. Later, I went to Thomson Reuters to launch Reuters Insiders. Which is a proprietary financial news channel for Reuters. Then I was hired by the Journal to launch the whole video operation in Asia, which didn't really exist. So I have always been extremely comfortable taking nothing and turning it into something.

I...when I was at the Journal and I was realizing there was a huge opportunity in health that wasn't being addressed and I was experiencing that first hand, I kept thinking that this was the...this was something I wanted to do. This was something I could do because it was an information problem and I know how to solve information problems. Interestingly enough, I never worked out of the context of a big company, so in the year where I was formulating how to do this, I worked with this company called News Deeply. They build single subject news platforms and I launched in partnership with the Gates Foundation a whole platform on woman and girls in the developing world.

So that actually gave me that year, gave me the skills that I needed to fill in ok...like I've always worked for organizations tat had huge followings and huge platforms for me to address the content, but now when we launched Woman and Girls, I learned quickly how you cultivate a community around a topic and bring them to your platform. So that was hugely useful.

RICH: So you get to play a little bit with somebody else's issues that you were....and bring those skill sets and learn through that.

DEBORAH: Yeah. Completely. It taught me a lot. You know that's in part, I'm very grateful to News Deeply because our model is a little bit different from what they are building, but it really taught me about how you get people on your platform and you engage them through information.

ON-BOARDING NEW MEMBERS

RICH: I mean you have Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, a blog and a podcast. What are some of the lessons you've learned about how you bring them onto the platform and are you trying to get them onto all 6? Or are you...is there a major one? What are some of the tactics you've learned through this?

DEBORAH: You can't get them all, all there at one come. But what you can do, you can engage them on one that will hopefully turn into unique views onto the other one. But what we've learned quickly is, you know what's been amazing to me is the huge amount of support I've gotten. We're only two months old. The thing I wasn't expecting was the scientific community has really rallied behind me and a lot of the associations have because what I'm giving to the equation is something they're not given, which is really credible good content that's editorially independent.

So what I've learned is those people, you have similar intentions, right? Our intention is to get better information to people. I'm the content creator. They have a platforms with huge followings. So it's the ability to have them incubate you and so I become a content creator almost to help some of these organizations. Therefore, growing my base. But I think with media in general, it's like you need to have a clear cut strategy, but you're not going to be...you're not going to be everything to everyone. It's just impossible.

DEPTH OVER SPEED

RICH: That's actually....cuz a lot of people would run into the fire right now and try and do it all. It sounds like you're guarded in a sense like you don't want to dilute the quality of the content and maybe fail....what are some of the things you struggle with in terms of how fast you go? You must want to answer these questions for people as fast as possible, but also make sure that you do it in the right way for them because it is such a personal thing. What are some of those balances at?

DEBORAH: This is where we are at right now. We are putting, I mean we are only two months old, right? In some ways it's a really fun time because we are testing different things. But again, we're going to let the community tell us which direction to go in. What works, you know then that's the direction we are headed into. The Q & A, what we're trying to build right now is my instinct from people asking...we're already being viewed as an authority on the matter so people are automatically sending us questions. I got a message from a reader who wanted me..asking us if we knew of any scientific studies on a specific herb that he used that really helped with his mother's hallucinations, right? You know, right away we got an answer.

So it's that type of connectivity and having people view us as a credible source to give them good, reliable information. There's surprisingly a lot of mistrust in this space. I think that's along the lines to look at fake news, not so much fake news. It's not so much blatant fake news, but what you do believe and what you don't you. What's attached? Like everything we report on is attached to a credible study. We're not going to put anything out there that maybe someone thinks this works, but who knows. It has to have a substantial study attached to it.

KNOWING WHAT WORKS

RICH: Then how do you think from a business model, the media system right now is really struggling to find its next business model. How does this dynamic challenge you or how is that your opportunity going forward?

DEBORAH: Well, I have a approached this and whether it's right or the wrong way to do it is I'm not going to be specific about my business model until I know exactly what's working. So we have, I have a great...I have several great advisors we're on the phone probably with one of them every day. We're hashing out different scenarios. For me though, my mission is to leave the information free and open to all. I don't want to put it behind a lock and key. I want people to have access to this information.

One of the things we are modeling out is, is there a room for a premium model for this where we enhance that connectivity through virtual and live events. But again, we're so early that I'm very much focused on growing the traffic and understanding what's working before I say this is our business model.

RICH: How do you know it's working? Is it because the website numbers are going up? Because you get more questions.

DEBORAH: Yes. All of the above. So what we're tracking is we are tracking how many likes and followers we get. We're tracking how people are utilizing our content. How many subscribers we're getting for our emails. It's early days, but I have to say that I had the instinct that there was a huge need and the numbers are proving that. Our growth is incredibly healthy for a two month old company. Yeah, I mean we're you know, we're plowing the course. You know we are seeing on a weekly basis about an 8-10% growth. In media numbers, that's huge. But again, we're still early days. So is that great sustainable? I think it is and I hope it is. So we will see.

SUCCESS

RICH: Last question. What's success for you? As you look out. I know you are only two months old, but....what's success for you?

DEBORAH: I'm so glad you asked that question because I was having this conversation with my husband and I say you know the weird thing about being an entrepreneur is the first thing people ask you is what's your business model? What's your business model? You know, I never got into this to make a billion dollars. That's the farthest thing from my mind. I get frustrated sometimes because I'm confronted all the time with what's your business model? How are you going to modernize this? I really wish people would ask me how many lives have you helped today? How many people have you helped today? For me, that's a better measure of success. It's not, it's not oh are you going..how are you going to turn this into the next unicorn. Maybe you're not supposed to say that as an entrepreneur, but it's truly how I feel. I'm not doing this to be the next unicorn. I'm doing this because there is an entire population of people who need better information.

So if I can change just a percentage of those people and make it a better place for them when they're going through a disease, along term illness such as Alzheimer's, then I think that's success.


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


Weekly News: Vegans Get Rich, What is Beef, and the Need for Small Farms

With so much going on in the realm of sustainability, entrepreneurship, and innovation, and only a limited amount of bandwidth for professionals in this space, I have created this post to highlight articles that I feel are (1) important, (2) relevant, and (3) interesting in the areas of social innovation and entrepreneurship.

If you have an article, or event, that you feel needs to be mentioned, please do so in the comments section.


Why we need small farms - An awesome photo piece on small farmers. Individuals, and collectives, that supply up to 70% of the world's food.


A China Veggie-Selling App May Be Worth $7 billion - Being a "mission driven" entrepreneur is business.


Vegan Company Reportedly Sets Sights On IPO


The “Beef” With Plant Based “Meat” Product Labels - No one said changing the world was easy, but this article seems to suggest that some of those barriers may be coming down.


Worker-owned co-ops are coming for the digital gig economy - An interesting article on the future of the gig-economy and organizations.


social innovation podcasts

Recommended Social Innovation Podcasts

Over the last few years, as reading has taken a backseat to video, a large number of awesome social innovation podcasts have begun to spring up.  Many of which offer excellent insights, or interviews, on topics of sustainability, social innovation, and entrepreneurship.

The below is a list that I have put together, knowing full well that there are many others.

Change Creator: Better Business. Better Life. Better World. - By Adam Force
Channel Tagline: Redefining Good Business
Channel Overview: The best way to learn how to change the world with a business that matters is from game-changing entrepreneurs that already are. Listen in as Adam Force talks with some of the most impactful people on the planet to bring you their strategies and insights for success.

Most Recent Episodes:


The Voices of Social Change Podcast - By Joshua Schukman
Channel Tagline:
Channel Overview: Want to add a social mission to your business? Have a for purpose organization that you want to grow? Maybe you’re launching or have a dream of launching just such an organization??? If any of this fits you, then this podcast is for you!

Most Recent Episodes:


Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs - By Fergal Byrne
Channel Tagline:
Channel Overview: At Inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, we talk to experienced and successful social entrepreneurs and change makers, committed to building a better world. Our aim is to share the inspiring stories, to explore the highs and the lows, learn how different social entrepreneurs have kept inspired, and draw out insights to help social entrepreneurs at all stages on their journey.

Most Recent Episodes:


Ethical Business - By Fair Marketeers
Channel Tagline: Inspiring People Doing Inspiring Things
Channel Overview: Every week, we interview a leading business mind to get the latest ideas and inspiration for reducing our impact on the world. No junk, just compelling stories about how they got to where they are and how you can learn from their experience.

Most Recent Episodes:


Positive Impact - By Alexandra Black-Paulick
Channel Tagline: Creating a Positive Impact on the World
Channel Overview: Movers and shakers across all industries looking to solve the world’s biggest problems through leveraging the power of business. Explore the countless different models and creative innovation that these changemakers deploy to help empower, motivate and inspire.

Most Recent Episodes:


Business With PurposeBy Molly

Most Recent Episodes:


Social Entrepreneur:- By Tony Loyd

Channel Tagline: Positive stories from underrepresented voices, focused on solutions.
Most Recent Episodes:


More Than Money
Channel Tagline: Business talk revisited. The podcast that challenges you to listen with your conscience.
Most Recent Episodes:


Global Goals Cast - By We Are All Human Foundation
Channel Tagline:
Channel Overview: Global GoalsCast is a podcast that inspires and empowers listeners to make the world a better place by sharing the stories individuals, companies, and organizations that are advancing and achieving a more sustainable world.
Most Recent Episodes:


The Bonfires of Social Enterprise - By Romy Kochan,
Channel Tagline: The Podcast show about social enterprise!
Channel Overview:  The Bonfires of Social Enterprise podcast began in March of 2015 with an intent to document the social enterprise development in Detroit. Host, Romy Kochan, began the journey with storytelling in mind.

Most Recent Episodes:


Stanford Social Innovation Review -
Channel Overview: Audio talks and lectures by leaders of social change

Most Recent Episodes:


one billion - By Civilla
Channel Overview: This podcast is an inside peek at their journey as they work to create positive impact in the lives of one billion people.   Stories are captured in real time and shared out weekly. Key themes include: civic leadership, social innovation, philanthropy, human-centered design, change work, government, and courageous leadership.

Most Recent Episodes:


Impact Boom -
Channel Overview: Impact Boom searches the globe to find the people, stories & inspiration to help you create maximum positive impact. We interview world-leading social innovators, entrepreneurs, changemakers, designers, educators, thinkers and doers who share Insights, ideas & inspiration. As long as these leaders are focusing their efforts on creating positive social and environmental change, we'll make sure you hear about it.

Most Recent Episodes:


Seng Choon Koh

Employing the Unemployable. Profitably | Seng Choon Koh, Project Dignity

In this episode of Entrepreneurs For Good I speak with Seng Choon Koh, founder of Dignity Kitchen, an organization whose mission is to build and return the dignity to the disabled and disadvantaged through vocation.

When I arrived to meet him, I thought I had the wrong address as his office is literally in the middle of a hawker market that serves as a live training ground for a wide range of "unemployable" individuals.

It was a wide ranging interview, and one that gets super tactical in areas of process, business planning, and remaining grounded during the tough times.



From 0 to 25 you learn. You get your degree, you learn
25-50 you earn. You earn your money. You earn your reputation
50 onwards you must give back


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Koh Seng Choon

Mr Koh Seng Choon is the founder and Executive Director of Project Dignity, Singapore’s first social enterprise for the disadvantaged and people with disabilities.

The aim is to help these people regain a sense of dignity through their work. Project Dignity comprises of

  • Dignity Kitchen – hawker or street training centre for disabled and disadvantaged
  • Dignity Mama – second hand bookshop managed by the mothers and their challenged children
  • Dignity Cottage - bird’s nest processing for lower functional disabled youth
  • Dignity Meal – free meal for foreign workers and the poor
  • Dignity Angels – engages professional to support charities and corporate in their corporate social responsibilities

Mr Koh Seng Choon is an engineer by training and holds a MSc in Computer Integrated Manufacturing. His career spans UK, USA, India and China. Authored of three books – Elements of Success: Business, Elements of Success: Education and Elements of Success: Living – of which the first book mentioned is a best-seller in India.

He is also the owner and management consultant of Christopher Benjamin Consultancy Services which help Chinese companies to develop business in India and Indian companies for the China market. He is an adjunct lecturer at SP Jain School of Global Management.

Follow 
Website: http://dignitykitchen.sg/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sengchoon.koh
LinkedIn: https://linkedin.com/in/kohsengchoon


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


Weekly News Roundup:

With so much going on in the realm of sustainability, entrepreneurship, and innovation, and only a limited amount of bandwidth for professionals in this space, I have created this post to highlight articles that I feel are (1) important, (2) relevant, and (3) interesting in the areas of social innovation and entrepreneurship.

If you have an article or event that you feel needs to be mentioned, please link it in the comments section below!


For Business to Be Good, It Must Be Good for Everyone - Be The Change


Thai Beach Is Closing ‘Indefinitely’ Due to Overtourism - The Points Guy


New Paper on Deep Adaptation to Climate Chaos - IFLAS


The Future Innovators Index 2018 - Vanity Fair


Seaweed’ pencil shows untapped economic potential of marine resources - Algae World


Impact investing is booming–but not nearly enough to make radical change - Fast Company


Christoph Langwallner

Aspire, Discover, Translate, and Scale Innovation | Christoph Langwallner, NAMZ

Since meeting Christoph Langwallner nearly three years ago, I have come to understand that he is one that sees the biggest challenges that we face as opportunities to disrupt markets, and I wanted to find out about his process.

Already in a position to reach more than a billion consumers, he has built an organization where aspirations lead to discoveries which translated into products, that can then be brought to the market. It is a process that is codified throughout the organization, their exploration processes, and is a driving force for his 20+ team.

It is a quick, and highly tactical 15 minutes, and I recommend it for anyone that is still in the ideation phase... or may be stuck between a couple of great ideas, but only have the resources to execute on one.


Turnover is vanity. Profit is sanity. Cash is the only reality.


About the Entrepreneurs For Good Series

Through this series, we speak with Asia based entrepreneurs whose mission it is to bring solutions to the environmental, social, and economic challenges that are faced within the region to learn more about their vision, the opportunities they see, and challenges that they have had to overcome.

It is a series that we hope will not only engage and inspire you, but catalyze you and your organizations into action. To identify a challenge that is tangible, and build a business model (profit or non) that brings a solution to the market.


About Christoph

Chris is a serial entrepreneur with a solid track record in Austria, the UK, Russia, India, China, Singapore and the ASEAN region.

In 2014, Chris co-founded NamZ – a bio-science based, consumer minded incubator who, in in less than 5 years, enabled the establishment of three differentiated subsidiaries each equipped with an IP portfolio and its own set of competitive strategies.

  • The first, is about to profoundly change the way 2.6 billion instant noodle portions are being made through a three-stranded technology which will make the additional deforestation of about 130,000 basketball courts worth of primary forests redundant.
  • The second, will replace coconut sugar through the novel use of the tall perennial true grass of the genus Saccharum.
  • The third, is the 28cubed direct-to-consumer skin care brand that makes use of molecules commonly used in foods and beverages instead of syntethic ingredients, and delivers their products in a 100% recycled plastic dispenser..

Through these three technologies, and their products, the NamZ Group is on its way to be experienced a billion times!

Follow Christoph
Website: http://www.NamZ.com.sg
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christophlangwallner/


About Rich

Driven by the belief that change begins with a single step, Richard Brubaker has spent the last 15 years in Asia working to engage, inspire, and equip those around him to take their first step. Acting as a catalyst to driving sustainability, Brubaker works with government, corporate, academic and non-profit stakeholders to bring together knowledge, teams, and tools that develop and execute their business case for sustainability.

Follow Rich
Website: http://www.richbrubaker.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rich.brubaker
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richbrubaker
Snapchat: http://snapchat.com/add/richbrubaker
Instagram: https://instagram.com/richbrubaker
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/richbrubaker

Contact Rich
social@richbrubaker.com


Full Interview Transcript

RICH: So welcome back everyone. I'm here with my good from Chris from Namz. Just had an amazing interview with this...I'll call him a serial entrepreneur. What he's doing here back here, future of food, also outside the body looking at resources and how to better allocate them. We just had a great discussion about how you approach a business, how do you get ....how you build your team and how you try and scale to where you become the real market and market disrupter and everyone follows your standard.

INTRODUCTION

RICH: Thank you very much for your time. Do me a favor and give me a little bit of your background as a personal introduction.

CHRIS: MY name is Christopher Langwallner. I am the co-founder of a company called Namz. We are a science/bioscience based organization that looks into disruptive technologies for what we called the outside and inside of the body in sustainable manner.

CORE IDEA

RICH: What is the core idea and what is the disruption you are hoping to bring to the market?

CHRIS: The core idea was to basically say, there are big companies out there who try to come up with sustainable approaches with regard to what we call the inside and outside of the body. That means personal care products as well as food and beverages. However, doing something different in a multinational is almost impossible or very, very slow moving. So we decided to basically say lets take an opportunity to step outside of such an environment and lets look into opportunities with an unmet needs. Wherein you can actually say if we could resolve it, if that were to happen, what if we can resolve it, what would happen? How would we actually impact.

What we did was try hard for about a year, 9 months to come up with 15 ideas and we launched a company and took 12 ideas into the lab trying to say ok, how do we approach this? What is it that we have to do or can do with regards to technology advanced and sciences, applied sciences in particular in order to fulfill or meet these unmet needs particularly on a consumer basis. That within the view of being sustainable.

RICH: What are the issues that you are dealing with? What are scarce resources that your most concerned with?

CHRIS: We are all living in a world where, we all know that by 2050 we will be 9.6 billion people, whatever depending on which reference point you are trusting more. We are going to be that many people and we need to increase the production capacity by about 70%. Now if we have to do that, the approaches that we had in the last century are not available to us anymore. They are more luxurious because we could actually take the forest down and just increase acreage in order to increase production. That to us is not available anymore particularly because, particularly in the context of food security, water scrutiny and energy security.

REALIZING THE BEST IDEAS

RICH: You mentioned that you start out with 15 ides, you brought 12 into the lab. Generically without getting to technical about your secret sauce here, what's the process that you took from going from 12 to the 1 or 2 you knew had the most potential that technically could deliver to the market that you could get your big Z...which is your scale.

CHRIS: It took us 4 years to be able to communicate that. I think what it really runs down to is our strategic pillars that we call aspire, discover, translate and size. In order to be able to filter something to apply a filter of ideas, bringing them forward and getting them from ok I have an idea, and you try out an approach and you probably have an discovery. You identify something new to use or an invention. That may or may not have any great economic value at the end of the day.

So what we are really, really trying to hard at the beginning of each and every single project to ask tough questions what if. Also, allow yourself at the beginning of a project even before you go into the lab, to dream about a different future. Travelling in your mind. We call it aspire, dream. Travel into that future and say so if our technology truly can make markets, meaning disrupt the market, how does that future then look like? How would the industry behave differently? What is our role then? I think that is one key aspect of it.

Then we take it forward to what we call a discovery phase. Whereby we say let us talk to consumer. Then we start it off talked a lot to industries and industry players. But we very quickly figured out and we learned that talking to individual brands, you get a very, very biased few. The biased few from an angle, from a few of the brand and how the brand of that particular potential customer fuels the world. That maybe consistent with a larger needs within the consumers, but it many, many cases it isn't. It is very, very tainted in a way.

So we do a lot of that work to start with. We are working together with recognized people in the industry. We have people in-house that are doing consumer insights. Then we take it into the lab and say if that is a true unmet need, how can we actually, what can we do in order to help a process and new way of doing things to come about in order to really be able to disrupt?

This discovery process and the aspiration are aligned to it may take years. Once we hopefully win and say that there is something that we can take forward, we then look into can we carve this out? Can we create a subsidiary company? Can we equip subsidiary company with different skills? People that are actually good with translating science into how to process factories, and so on. Then lastly, scale it up from there and go on the market and succeed.

SUCCESS

RICH: What does scale look like for you? Hop do you define success of a product or an innovation that you bring out of this lab? What is your big goal?

CHRIS: I think the moment we wake up in the morning. We come to work because we would like to be experience a billion times. We are on the path to be experienced 2.6 billions times a year., which is great. Now we can actually drill down and can we now create, can we replicate what we've done with this first partner to be able to be experienced a billion times in a quarter, in a month, etc.

That's behind that aspiration aspect of being experienced a billion times. If I were looking tomorrow, the financial aspect of it. I would say lets try to analyze it to what's the minimum size required to actually make markets. So that your technology finally becomes the norm, the standard, the status quo at some point and time. So that you have the technology, the go to technology and how can you leverage from there. That will be more of the aggressive a business aspect of it.

RICH: What's that number? How much of the market to you have to own before you really that impact that you want?

CHRIS: If you look at the entire life cycle of a business it would be about 30% of the market. Whether or not we ever get there, who knows. But unless and until you aim high, how can you get there in the first place?

STAYING FOCUSED

RICH: Between achieving 30% and today still in the lab, how do you keep yourself kid of mindful that's your goal, but keep everyone moving on a day to day basis in a grid?

CHRIS: I don't think it's me. I think actually its the folk around me. Because what we've done in this business we've set out the company and how it functions like a system I keep on telling everyone I am not the CEO, the project is the CEO. If the project needs a particular CEO because the CEO has a particular skillset or experience, so be it. Take over. Run with it.

That helps you tip toing on each other, helps you be focus, helps you stay alert, that helps you having your big goal in eyesight. So, I would not to do justice to what we stand for if I would say it is me. No, it is not me at all. I'm just one of many here who are really driving this project.

RICH: When you're going through this process you hit this challenge you know that on the other side there is something amazing. How do you get yourself through that, that challenge? Like you can't get the experiment to work. You can't get the team to buy into your idea. What's a process for you to get through a challenge that's worth getting through?

CHRIS: I never find it difficult to be self motivated. An experiment, a failed experiment is just a data point, it's just one learning. It's just saying ok, this approach didn't work lets try the next one.

SUPPORTING ECOSYSTEM

RICH: Do you have a support network outside of this albeit investors, advisors, friends, family, things like that. That you're able to call on when you have a questions that can't be answered by yourself or by the family in the company here?

CHRIS: Yes, we do have. We are fortunate to have what we call the three F's behind us. We are first to family, the friends and the fools. This is a support network that we have that the function is supporting partners, sponsoring goals. The function is counselors, advisors. They are here to ask the difficulty questions. They are here to ask those questions we haven't asked yet.

I don't think any single person, any single companies own right can be successful unless and until you built this ecosystem around you. The ecosystem includes not only the three F's as I've explained, but also the partners that work with you on saying, hey I have an appetite to translate my business.

RICH: If you were going to be advising the 25yo Chris who is entering the market, food entrepreneurship, what advice would you give him to just take it to the next level?

CHRIS: The 25yo Chris. I think the 25 you Chris didn't have a problem of taking risk. That was always the sort of aspect of mind I probably scared a lot of my family members on the way. But I honestly I think as an entrepreneur, I have done an MBA throughout my career and what you learn doing an entrepreneur is that you can quantify risk, or you think you can quantify risk. Therefore, if you think you can quantify risk, you become more risk adverse than you should be as an entrepreneur.

At the end of the day, 25yo Chris I would say take the risk and make mistakes. Learn from them. Implement a better of yourself and don't believe you have wisdom. It is a collaborative approach that brings people forward. It is not a single person. You can have an idea, but unless and until somebody else picks it up. Like in football or soccer. You can have the ball all 90mins without scoring a goal, but if you have a team that helps you out, you could win the match. The same is with a company. Your really have to think like that.

I think that's what's really, really important. Of course, then comes the more tangible aspect of becoming an entrepreneur. A crucial aspect of being an entrepreneur is always making sure you're not running out of cash. The best idea can become meaningless the moment....the best idea, the best business proposition can be meaningless the moment you run out of cash. If you are lucky, somebody else takes over but then you're not enjoying the fruits of your labor.

So cash management is of utmost importance. Always make sure you are not running out of it. I have learned in my past that turnover is vanity, profit is sanity, cash is the only reality. That holds true for that sort of entrepreneurship.

I think theses are the core aspects of really being daring to go out. Daring to go out and if you start something with friends, make sure you are ask the right questions. Make sure that you have an honest approach to things because...Actually I didn't tell you, but my very, very first entrepreneur exposure was with two other friends and we failed because we didn't ask the right questions. We only burned cash. That's life.

ORGANIC VS INVESTMENT LED

RICH: Some of the most valuable lessons I ever learned was actually through a crisis of cash flow management. I'm a completely organic entrepreneur. Everything is about how much I can sell. How much I can sell. How may I can reinvest. In that vain, you've taken on external funding and you also put all your own in. What is the balance for you? Organic vs Investment?

CHRIS: I don't think that we have a formal 90/10, 10/90, 80/20 whatever it might be. I think all formulas we would like to work on in what we call strategy partners. Money that is of strategic importance.

We at this point in time are not it the capital market that seeks venture capital funds neither private equity funds because that particular industry is not really yet geared up to support an agri kind of food setup. Particularly in this part of the world. Maybe not the part of the world, but I don't know the ecosystem in California and places like this. Probably there is money that is better suited for that sort of industry. But here, it isn't.

You don't want to go into you know getting a license, a factory license takes you 9 months and then you have a funding you who wants to sell you in like 12 months. It just doesn't work. There is a misalignment from what the cash wants to do to the business aspects are. So I think the expectations with regards to the cash management of what the cash ought to do for the business has to be considered very, very smartly. If that is align, doesn't matter who owns what stake, but what's the value that we can generate. It could be something very, very small, but hugely big in terms of return. It could be very, very small loan, but a huge return on something that is greater.

The recipe as of now for us is work with strategic partners, you can call it smart money. In the true sense it has a to have a strategic impact on the business. Just bringing in money for the sake of bringing in money ends up with managing balance sheets and P&Ls and it doesn't really help you on the project.


For more interviews from the "Entrepreneurs for Good" series, check out the playlist here.

Stay tuned for more clips and full interviews in the coming weeks.


Weekly News Roundup: Impact Investing, Smart Devices, and Social Change

With so much going on in the realm of sustainability, entrepreneurship, and innovation, and only a limited amount of bandwidth for professionals in this space, I have created this post to highlight articles that I feel are (1) important, (2) relevant, and (3) interesting in the areas of social innovation and entrepreneurship.

If you have an article, or event, that you feel needs to be mentioned, please do so in the comments section.


Champions of Impact Investing - Barrons
While impact investing, and impact investors, has been a topic for some time, the reality is that there have been few transactions to date. Through this article though, you will gain an understanding of some of the personalities and the infrastructure that are behind what I believe will ultimate bring "the movement" into full force.


Smart device gives elderly and disabled more time to cross Hong Kong’s busy streets - SCMP

With many of Asia's cities greying, there are a lot of daily challenges that cities will face in supporting this population. In HK, that means testing a system that will slow traffic down so that the elderly can safely cross the road.


Al Gore: sustainability is history’s biggest investment opportunity -

While an Inconvenient Truth is what many will know Al Gore for, his work through his fund (Generation Investment Management) is something that I believe will help build the business case for sustainable investing. While small in size, the fund has produced well above average returns through their selection process and interest in taking on active board positions. This article provides some insights into his mindset and process.


Chamath Palihapitiya, Founder and CEO Social Capital, on Money as an Instrument of Change

More than a hour in length, this candid fireside chat with Chamath Palihapitiya at Stanford is illuminating, and should give a lot of people pause. For me, I can honestly say that a few of his comments have led me to question (1) is what I am doing in Asia enough and (2) if not, how do I pivot activities to have a larger impact.