Brothers Daniel and Justin Kan flew in from Silicon Valley to the TechSauce Summit in Bangkok, and we talked to the pair for an exclusive interview. Daniel is the founder of Cruise Automation, a self-driving car technology startup recently acquired by General Motors, while his brother Justin Kan is a partner at Y Combinator.
Justin thinks that South East Asia is a potentially very lucrative market in the next five to ten years: a huge population who are accessing the internet for the first time via mobile devices, and want to buy goods and services using those devices.
What mistakes should early-stage startups be most concerned about? "Running out of money, the number one cause of startup death," quipped Justin. The risk is that budgets expand to fill the amount you have raised - the challenge, therefore, is to have the discipline not to solve your problems by spending more money.
We asked the brothers how a startup should decide on which vertical to focus? "What do you actually want to work on?" asked Justin. "You're going to have to spend your time working on this thing. If it's not something you care about, you're probably not going to do a very good job".
Daniel added that keeping the startup mentality in a growing startup is important. Cruise Automation has doubled in size in the past two months. They've split into smaller teams, run more company events, changed management structure, though he admits you can't be a startup forever. Justin observed that founders should lead by example: "employees and staff are going to do what you do."
The brothers were excited about opportunities in the region. This was Daniel's first trip to Thailand, but we're sure it won't be his last.
Reporting by Matt Mayer, Techsauce team