EP 197 – Kenneth Lou – co-Founder and CEO of Seedly – Money Is Often a Very Taboo Topic

by | Apr 27, 2022

The Asia Tech Podcast enjoyed chatting with Kenneth Lou, a co-Founder, and CEO of Seedly.  Seedly helps make personal finance relevant and simple for the masses.
Some of the topics that Kenneth covered:
  • Growing up in an academic environment that nurtures entrepreneurs
  • Starting Seedly in a dorm room at NUS almost 7 years ago
  • Somehow always being passionate about finance
  • Meeting his co-Founder in Silicon Valley
  • Getting initial funding from East Ventures
  • Starting Seedly as an expense tracking tool
  • Seedly evolving into a community and content platform
A couple of other titles we considered:
  1. Is It a Project?
  2. How Do You Save and Invest?

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:00
Too much to do and too little time. Okay. Are you ready? Yes, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Today we are joined by Kenneth Lou, a co founder and the CEO of Seedly to the show. We’re welcoming Kenneth to the show, Ken, thank you so much for sitting in my virtual garage today. How are you doing?

Kenneth Lou 0:23
I’m good. Thanks. Thanks, Michael. And thanks for having me on the show.

Michael Waitze 0:26
It’s my pleasure. I was listening to Marc Maron, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Marc Maron’s podcast, it’s called WTF I don’t think I have to translate what that means. But a lot of people actually drive up in a Obama actually did this, they drive up to his house or drive up to his street and go into his garage, which would, which is his studio, and they chat to him. So I feel like this is my virtual garage. Anyway, thanks for doing this. Awesome. And some at some point, I will have you in a studio in Singapore, for sure. So we’ll do that, too. Anyway, before we get to the main part of our conversation, I want to get a little bit of your background just to give me some context.

Kenneth Lou 1:04
For sure, yeah, happy to share a little bit about what I’ve been working on, for a large chunk of my life so far. Also, I think, when it comes to my upbringing, here in Singapore, it’s a very unique place to grow up to me because of the way that education system is structured and how it tries to nurture entrepreneurs, but also do it in a very academic and very rigorous way. Yeah. So I’m 29 going 30 This year, and I’ve been working on CD for the best part of the last six to seven years now. Wow. And yeah, it’s been a while here. And I think the cool thing is that we started Seedly in, sort of like, also a garage in some sense. We started in our dorm room, back in NUS and then us Okay, so my co founder and I, we were both students of the overseas colleges program, which is essentially a school that is designed for entrepreneurs who house within Singapore is one of Singapore’s top universities. Yeah. So that was how we started. And I guess the problem came along, because finance was always the thing that we were passionate about. And we feel that a lot of young people have problems with your finances. So yeah, that’s a long story short,

Michael Waitze 2:27
a lot of people have problems. A lot of young people have problems with their finances. So this is one of those things where I say like, how come they don’t teach you that in school? Do you know what I mean? Like it’s such an executor of your life, like how much money you have, what that money is actually worth, where the money comes from, what money really is, I want to ask you this, though, because I’ve never heard anybody put this in into this context. And just for your knowledge, my first time in Singapore was December 1990. Well, before you were born, apparently,

Kenneth Lou 2:56
before I was born.

Michael Waitze 3:00
But I want to understand this right? Because back then Singapore was still kind of at the end of its manufacturing of electronic stages, right, like creative technology still was still like a real company. And, you know, obviously, now it’s turning more into a financial center. So by the time you were at university and us, which is probably the best university in Singapore, if not in the top one, I don’t know how to say it right, the right way. Yeah. But what was it that interested you so much in being an entrepreneur? And also the other question is why do you think that there’s such a rigorous attempt in Singapore, to birth entrepreneurs?

Kenneth Lou 3:39
Yeah, it’s a great point you brought up Michael, and you correctly pointed out that in 1992, outside the early part of 2000s, Singapore has been very much a manufacturing hub. So there was there were a lot of semiconductor industries here. You had Apple, who are building their first phones here in Singapore, before moving over to Malaysia. And I’d say that really shown the power of how an environment can really shape industries and people because you know, the policies are very, very friendly towards having enterprises come to Singapore to be their regional HQ. And since then, the knowledge economy has shifted web, the web came about. So 1.0, web 2.0 And now web three as well. But in that sort of tsunami of tech department saw that there was a very important need to have local startups and individuals taking this because we have very good resources when it comes to knowledge and when it comes to training entrepreneurs, So therein lies the wave of like the next level of innovation and you have like carousel you have like Shopback you have like all the early signs right looks great recently who went for an IPO. So those guys started like just 10 years ago. So I will say that it’s like the wave that we are right now on and then there will be a next wave. I’m very sure of that as well.

Michael Waitze 5:09
Yeah, well, I mean, all we need is a few more exits in Singapore and in the rest of Southeast Asia to create that base of money, where founders who have exited say, I want to take some money and not just give it back but reinvested into the environment that helped create me if that’s fair, right, and you’re right, we had companies like Redmart, which we don’t talk about that much anymore. One of the original innovators in the E commerce space and also Luxola in the US at fashion, in the makeup space, I can’t remember what that’s called cosmetic space. I don’t use a lot of makeup. So fair enough. I’m allowed to forget that. But back when you started, right, what year was it? 2016 2015. You were still in school?

Kenneth Lou 5:47
Yes. Yes, I was in my last semester about prior to doing that. I was actually hanging around a lot at this place in Singapore called block 71. I was going to I’m not sure if,

Michael Waitze 5:57
yeah, block 71. So I’ve been there. So that’s what I wanted to ask you. Did you go to block? 71? Did you sit there and see like wave makers? Office, you go up to the third floor and look at all of the venture capitals that are there, but also all the companies that were founded there? Sorry, go ahead.

Kenneth Lou 6:12
Yeah, definitely. I was spending a lot of time there. More level two. So level two, there’s this hot desk area where you had carousel when they were three men team. Right. You had shot back when they were like a two man team. And you know, the likes, I think there was zopim there as well. They were hanging around a lot at block 71. And also on campus. Yeah. So I think the the long and short of it is that it was a very, very targeted approach from the government to actually create a space where people could come and feel and experiment. So it was my last semester, sir, it was my semester before entering university where I went there and look for internships. So I was I was over there knocking on doors, talking to people asking if I could come and work for free. Right? And majority said, No. But you know, there were one or two that said, hey, why not? But from there, I had idea to another thing, which was to startups before Seedly, so I was working on little projects on the site trying to work with all these startup entrepreneurs and all

Michael Waitze 7:21
Yeah. Where did you come under this impression that young people didn’t understand how to handle money? Right? I think a lot of this is family related at some level, right? Like if your family and it can go both ways, right? Your family can be wealthy, but you still as a kid might not understand like, where that money comes from, or what to do with it. And frankly, if your family’s poor, you may actually be better at it, because you have limited resources, and you have to figure out how to manage it. But somewhere in the middle, right? I think where most people sit, it’s like, there’s a little bit of money there not enough to invest. So I’m just gonna spend it kind of thing like, what was the idea that you and your roommate had?

Kenneth Lou 7:57
Your co founder, I think? Yeah, exactly. To your point, which you brought up on the idea of upbringing. And, you know, in a very Asian context, money is often a very taboo topic. Sure. So it’s not often brought up in dinner conversations, it’s not often brought up in lunch conversations, and let alone school, right. So you’re not taught any of this in your schooling days, not that it really mattered. So because the context is important. So if you don’t have a lot of capital to invest, if I taught you that in school, it will also not mean a lot, because you can actually do the investments, or you can actually get a credit card, for example, or invest your CPF. Right. So all these things only make sense when the time comes. And most of the time is when you start working. You get your first paycheck. And then you’re like, oh, okay, that’s cool. Like, what do I do with this? Yeah.

Michael Waitze 8:59
I remember when I remember when I got my first paycheck, I knew exactly what I was gonna do with it, start paying off my student loans. I want to ask you this. So you started when you were 24. So have you ever had a job at like a company or not really? Right? Because, yeah, you’ve never had a Jesus

Kenneth Lou 9:14
this is it? Yeah. No, I mean, if you if you think of national service as a job, then yeah, I will say that, in some sense, it is a job like a corporate hierarchy.

Michael Waitze 9:26
Right. You didn’t say, Well, exactly. You will be here. I’m going to work at OCBC or I’m gonna work. No. Government said you’re gonna be in service. Yeah. And you just had to decide like, which part of military service you’re going to.

Kenneth Lou 9:39
Exactly. Yeah. So in terms of a formal job? No, I’ve I’ve not had a formal job. But I would say so. So a little bit of that naivety right. Going out there and trying and figuring out along the way. Yeah. Which is, which has been helpful so far. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 9:55
Yeah, for sure. I mean, look, I don’t think anybody should ever have a job. To be fair, I had one of the longest I admitted, practically destroyed my soul, which I say a lot. What was the idea around Seedly? And did you birth this at school? But did you actually work at block 71? At anytime working on seedlings? That would be kind of cool.

Kenneth Lou 10:15
Yeah. So if I would sort of go back to the story a little bit, I met my co founder in the valley. So he was actually there, doing a year program at Stanford. And then I was there just visiting, you know, as any techniques would do. The Computer History Museum is a must, right. So I was there for two weeks, just bumming around just trying to talk to as many as many people as many people as possible. And that was amazing. Because one of the persons that I met was him. And from that whole experience, we basically came back, he was actually working on this idea to help people track their money on phone in an automated way. So we could pull transactions from your bank statements and sort of help you visualize where your money’s going. Yeah. And I think that was like the starting point where I knew some investors from my previous experience doing another startup prior. So the first investor was east ventures will probably ventures was like, you know, I’m going to find you like, $80,000. I don’t I don’t care what you’re going to do just do something with it. And then we were on our way. Yeah, it’s always that awkward period between like, is it just a project? Or is it like a job? So then it became like, Okay, this is serious now. So we’re gonna, we’re gonna actually double down on that. Yeah,

Michael Waitze 11:33
yeah, like, I’m just looking at my whiteboard, it says, like, starts as a starts as a hobby ends up as a project morphs into a business kind of thing. Right? You just

Kenneth Lou 11:41
do exactly. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So yeah, that was that was obviously a large chunk of the early days. And to your point, we also did work at the launch, but we were blocked 77, because we actually joined Shopback for our as well. So quite a funny story, they here tell me. Essentially, we were raising our seed round, like seed series, a round. And back then my co founder was actually the first software engineer intern in shopping. So there was a connection there, because we were both helping people save money for Shopback small to help them understand how to save while spending. So you get cash back for us is about how do you save and invest? So we decided to come together. But our brand remained intact all the way through to two years ago, where we actually joined another group. So we were actually sort of resolved in some sense, or rather, we change ownership to a Hong Kong based group this time.

Michael Waitze 12:44
Yeah. What does that mean? Wait, so were you part of Shopback? Before? Did I misunderstand that?

Kenneth Lou 12:49
We were we were Yeah. So we were actually wholly on only two years into our journey, which is quite quick. Yeah. So we actually so first time to Shopback the group. That was in 2018. Okay. And then in 2020, which is two years ago, we will actually so from Shopback to compare Azure, which is now called hyphen group. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 13:12
Okay. Yeah. Okay. So what does that mean? So how many people are on your team? And do you run it separately from the rest of the hyphen group? Or what’s the status?

Kenneth Lou 13:21
Yeah, we run entirely as individual brands. So we have our own tech team. We have our own marketing team, our own commercial team. Our total size is about 25. And then in the group side of things, there’s about 400 of us, across Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 13:41
That’s interesting. And at some level, I guess you have to have some kind of benefit from the scale of having a group that has 400 people in it. There’s got to be best practices or human resources and stuff like that, that benefit you. Yeah, so So what exactly does Seedly do, like? How does it work? Who uses it? Yeah,

Kenneth Lou 13:57
so we’ve evolved quite a bit since the very start. So initially, we started off as an Expense Tracker, sort of tool. But along the way, we’ve evolved into more like a community content platform where users can come they can share reviews about financial products they’ve been using, they can share their thoughts and discussions around, you know, how to get out of debt, how to invest their money, and everything in between. So credit cards, loans, so all things around finance, we will likely have conversations happening on on the CD platform itself.

Michael Waitze 14:30
So you a media company.

Kenneth Lou 14:32
It’s a UGC company. So UGC stands for user generated content. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah. So yeah, I will say we are not a media company. But we do create content. But there’s also like, leveraging of what users are saying, to create the content alongside us. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 14:50
So what’s the business model? You make money off of people watching their content? Do you have your own YouTube channel, like how does that work?

Kenneth Lou 14:57
So we do a lot of advertising and also So what we call as business accounts. Okay, so one part of it is actually just pure play advertising. So by having a lot of eyeballs, so every month, we have about more than a million eyeballs in Singapore alone. So that’s one big part of it. And the second part of it is when it comes to, FYI, so financial institutions or FinTech companies who want to engage the community, we actually charge them a recurring fee every month to manage certain features of the account.

Michael Waitze 15:29
Got it? So what’s your view on the sort of preponderance of experts on YouTube that are giving out financial advice? You know what I mean, like people that don’t necessarily know what they’re talking about, but feel like they can get a good group of people together? And give financial advice? What’s your view on this?

Kenneth Lou 15:47
Not mentioned tick tock, as well, like, yeah, tick tock, tick tock. Yeah. So my view of it is actually quite a unique one. Initially, I was a little bit a little bit disturbed by that, especially in in 2020 2021, that was the peak of it, people were having too much time at home. You know, in the, in the US, they had, what we call stimulus, the stimulus packages where everyone was handed out fun coupons, right, find coupons to go and invest per se. And that’s where it sparked the whole, you know, rally in the bull market, the government was printing too much money. But I will say this year alone, is where, you know, the start of year there was this massive crash, right? There’s this famous saying of the settlers and the tourists, not sure if you heard of this thing. So the idea is that a lot of the times when really things go badly, like when things go south, you actually see who are the ones who stay, and who are the ones who actually leave. Yeah. So the people who stay who are staying behind are really people who want to ride it out with with the majority of people and not just stay for the good times, or rather, like are here for the good times. But see now in bear markets, you get to see who are the real creators or the content creators out there? Well, sure.

Michael Waitze 17:02
I mean, everybody, everybody benefits when there’s froth in any market. Right? But exactly. You have to kind of be there when the market crashes and see who is still there. Right. Like when the storms over, you look around and be like, Okay, I know that girl, she’s still here. She must be smart. Kind of thing. Yeah. Yeah. Because because

Kenneth Lou 17:21
it’s not easy, right? Like users and people will comment. Yeah,

Michael Waitze 17:25
it’s super hard. But like, what’s important to you? What’s the message you’re trying to get across to people? If you have a million eyeballs, right, you can put Justin Singapore out of what a population of I mean, pick a number 6 million, 7 million pick a number. But still, it’s a pretty good percentage of the people in Singapore paying attention, right? And if some of those millions people are babies, they’re not going to pay attention anyway. Right? Yeah. You never know. Yeah, but the point is, what are you trying to get across? What’s the message you’re trying to get across to these people? And how do you know if it’s being effective or not?

Kenneth Lou 17:57
I think one of the main message we want to convey is the mission of helping you make smarter and better financial decisions every day. The idea is that you don’t need to be an investment banker or private banker to make financial good financial decisions. You can be an everyday Joe. And we always have this favorite sort of quote, is that choosing between a bowl of noodles from the coffee team just down the road, which is like a hawker center, or choosing a bowl of ramen that costs you $20. Right? That is a financial decision in itself?

Michael Waitze 18:32
It is yes, it is. But how do you know? In other words, how do you know? Or how do you define what a good financial decision is? Because you’re right, like I can go down to a food store and get killer noodles, I mean, just killer, you know, for $1.75 or 250, or whatever it is, you’re right, or I can go to eat potato and have like $20 for noodles. Somewhere in the middle is probably better. But that even though it may be tax deductible, it may be a business lunch, you know what I mean? Like how do you know? Or how do you define what a good financial decision is? And then how do you convey that message to people so that they can get a better understanding of what it is? Do you know what I mean?

Kenneth Lou 19:09
The way they will look at it is that you need to build up your own financial framework or your own financial principles, per se. We have Yeah, we have, like a baseline CD finance framework that allows people to make sense of the money from the way we see. So we actually broke it down into five pillars, right? Their savings, insurance investments, can’t remember the other two, but it’s a framework that we often let people know that you know, this is a good baseline to start off with. But feel free to feel feel free to add on to it or remove or subtract based on your like financial situation.

Michael Waitze 19:46
Yeah. So do you read the book principles by Ray Dalio?

Kenneth Lou 19:50
Yes, I saw the summary. I didn’t read through everything. But I saw a summary of that. Yeah. Is it a good book?

Michael Waitze 19:56
It’s a super book and I highly recommend you read books. Both of them, right, because it’s two, it’s about business and about life, but the point he’s trying to make, and it sounds similar in a way to what you’re saying or trying to say, and that is, you know, certainly has principles, you don’t have to abide by all of them. But you have to have your own financial principles. Because if you just go through life with no principles, in business, in life, or in your own finances, then you like my my girlfriend in college, his father once said to me, you can either live life or let life live you. Yes. And if you don’t have any principles around how you’re going to manage your finances, and you’re letting your finances live you per se right. So you don’t have to have the same ones that I have. But you have to have something. Is that fair?

Kenneth Lou 20:43
Yeah, it’s very fair, one of the earliest topics that came into our minds when starting CD was also the idea where, to your point, if there’s so much distractions around, right, there’s a lot of noise when it comes to money. Right? So you have a friend who might tell you, or a family member tell you say that, hey, why not go and gamble? Because, you know, that’s the surest way to getting a million dollars. And then likewise, you have another point of view, which is like a warren buffett point of view that you have to stay invested for the long run, right? You have to dollar cost average when the market is going down. Those Those voices shape your decisions. And that’s just investing. There’s also spending, right, so they’re spending when it comes to taking public transport versus a Lamborghini or Mercedes in Singapore. Yeah,

Michael Waitze 21:32
I did this yesterday. This is actually a real thing. I was at emcor TA for dinner. Okay. It doesn’t mean anything to you with the people that live in Bangkok will know what this means. Is that a big, big fancy mall for dinner? Right? One of my buddies, his wife treated me to dinner super nice people. And I know what it costs to get him on the BTS, it’s 45 baht. And it was late, it was like 830 or nine o’clock, and I’m like, I’m just gonna take a grab home. So I pump in grab, and it’s like 254 baht, and I’m like, six, six times the price. Yep, of public examination. And I was like, I can’t do that. But just can’t do it, not because I can’t afford it. But because the value comparison just doesn’t make any sense. Do you know what I mean?

Kenneth Lou 22:18
Exactly. Yeah. So to that same point is really your value system, your financial system? And yeah, so he made the decision for you, right, because there are principles which Michael has, which may differ from James might differ from Tom. Right. Everyone has a different system who, who might value convenience over price? And then they will just double down on that? Yeah. So yeah, yeah, that’s a financial decision. At the end of the day.

Michael Waitze 22:44
It is though, but I guess if you frame kind of so many things that people don’t think of as financial decisions as financial decisions over time, they do. Make sense. The Japanese have a saying Right. Chitty got to motiva Yama, Yama do not own it just means like, if you gather enough dust, it turns into a mountain right? So this is an important thing to think about when you’re talking about your finances. What do you think about recent things that are happening in the financial world like Bitcoin and cryptocurrency and just like these recent trends that are happening, so much news about it, right? In other words, when I was growing up, I didn’t see ads to buy stock, but now I see ads everywhere I go to buy bitcoin. And I think for people that aren’t involved directly in the financial world, it’s got to be confusing, right? Like, if it’s okay to buy it. It’s like, here I can buy like a candy bar and some bitcoin. It just feels weird.

Kenneth Lou 23:34
Yeah, so to the point on what trends we’re seeing is a natural occurrence or rather natural evolution that I’ve seen in the last six or seven years that finance is becoming 100 times more accessible. Naturally, there will be two sides of the coin, right? As if anything in life, but to the point of accessibility, it’s way easier to just snap a finger say I want to get, you know, one stock of apple one stock of Tesla, or you don’t even need to buy one stock fraction and by fractionalize, yeah. So that’s naturally happening. And if you compare that to what’s been happening in the crypto world, in essence, is becoming like a game because yeah, people, you can try to try to win the game by trying to do better than others in the game, which is, you know, what makes humans competitive in that sense. So it’s natural that it’s happening, there will be a lot of repercussions. But there’s also a lot of positives that will that will come from it. Like I I fully fully believe in that.

Michael Waitze 24:39
So I mean, look, accessibility, financial literacy, all these things are really important, right? And I think in every transition period, there’s going to be bad, lots of bad, right? But even if you go back and look at the founding of if you go back and you look at the founding of Wall Street, there was a lot of bad back then to exact King lot. I mean, there’s a lot of bad today too. But a lot of regulation has taken care of a lot of the badness that was in the markets initially, right? I think it’s gonna happen across the board. So as things get more liberalized, and as more people get access to it, they’re gonna have to be more kind of controls around it. But again, this idea that if you have your own financial principles, it shouldn’t help you take care of this, I think more than more than not, but you’re right. There’s it’s massively gamified and feels less like an investment market and more like a I don’t know, like a casino market to

Kenneth Lou 25:30
casinos. Just me. Yeah. Yeah, I agree. I agree. I think investing is just one side of it. I’m not sure if you’re familiar of what’s happening the debt space in the consumer debt. So

Michael Waitze 25:42
you don’t think by now pay later? Like, which?

Kenneth Lou 25:44
Exactly, exactly to that point, right. It’s basically a reskin of credit cuts. So it’s a reskin of the same concept, but making it a lot more accessible to younger audiences, which has its pros, but also has a lot of cons from that. Right. So everything has both sides of the coin. So

Michael Waitze 26:05
yeah, I mean, let’s just like, you know, there’s this old saying, write everything in moderation, nothing in excess. There’s nothing wrong with BNPL. When I was a kid, we used to call it layaway, right? So my mom would go buy something she couldn’t afford. She didn’t pay for it four times. And then she’d go pick up the jeans she wanted to buy for me initially. Now it’s a slightly different because you can use technology to have it at scale. So there’s way more access to it, which means Yeah. You just you’re just making different decisions. Again, back to this idea of do I get the noodles at the at the local Hawker standard while you go to eat pudo and like, pay way too much money for ramen? So this is a constant battle going back and forth? Yeah.

Kenneth Lou 26:41
Yeah. Yeah. So so the, the concept we brought up layer is layer it

Michael Waitze 26:46
lay away. So what you do is you’d go, I want to buy these pants, but let me lay them off to the side for like a month or six weeks. And every week, I’ll pay for four and a half dollars. And then you know, six weeks later, I paid what 24 $27 Now I can get my jeans kind of thing. Yeah, B and P is exactly the same thing. It’s the same thing. It’s just broken up into four payments. And yeah, yeah, I don’t know. And there’s no interest payment on it. But it’s not free kind of thing.

Kenneth Lou 27:18
Yeah. So it’s like credit, right? I mean, credit cut where you you earn from like the 2% interchange fees from the merchants. And then I think there’s a different side of the game is that they’re trying to win over the market share from credit cards, because young people, their first point of credit won’t be a credit card anymore, it will be a buy now pay later. So things are changing. So like stocks brokerages, I’m sure you’re you might be very familiar used to charge a very hefty brokerage fee for every transaction. Now it’s three, right?

Michael Waitze 27:50
So good. But let’s be careful about this, because I wrote this down in my notes before you got to this. And I just wrote down one word, and that word was Robin Hood. So sure when I first joined, you know, Morgan Stanley, in 1987. Equity commissions, particularly for bulge bracket firms, like Morgan charging institutions were like three or 4%. And you could do these massive portfolio trades and still make 2% on it. Yep, commissions have collapsed to zero or even for companies paying for flow. But I want to be careful about this idea that it’s free.

Kenneth Lou 28:27
Yeah, because it’s not really free, right. It’s fun running. And just

Michael Waitze 28:31
a tricky way of telling because remember, and this is for better or for worse, right. But in the old days, let’s say you had 10 institutions did all the all the trading on like the New York Stock Exchange. Right. But now you can have everybody in there brother doing it. So you can definitely lower the cost. But it also means that the amount of financial literacy that goes into every execution decision, every trading decision is so much lower on average, which means that I can tell you, there’s no commission on it. You trade for free. But what I’m not telling you is then that I’m consolidating all your trades into one massive trades, and then selling it to Citadel so they know what’s happening in the market. So they can make a risk trade decision, and make a ton of money and then kick back some of that commission to me, which is to Robin Hood. So your trade is maybe free to you, but actually there’s a whole bunch of costs associated with it about what you’re not aware.

Kenneth Lou 29:23
Exactly. Yeah. I mean, that was the big Yeah, totally with you on that. Okay. So, again, to the point we brought up earlier, right, there’s always two sides to every piece of innovation. So consumers may look at it in one way, but then, you know, they’re not looking at the other side. Another example is credit cuts, right? So credit cuts. One big topic of the community is that you get all these cashback and rewards and mouse. But I think what’s not clear to a lot of people is that in fact, the people who are not using credit cards are paying for your mouse. So you probably aware that you know, every merchant charges an additional 2% 3% Because they want to cover for the fees. Sure. And yeah, so I think that, you know, there’s always one side that is not clear to a lot of people, and then people only see the good stuff, which is it’s free money back.

Michael Waitze 30:16
Yeah. Yeah, there’s no such thing as free if there’s a corporation involved. That’s a session for a different time. You do this thing called the Seedly, personal finance festival. What What was the idea behind like having an event? And is it online offline? And have you been doing this for a while now? Or is this a new thing you’ve been doing since COVID? Like, just tell me a little bit more about this? Because I’m curious.

Kenneth Lou 30:41
Yeah. So the idea for it came about in 2018. When we saw that in Singapore, there was a huge uplift in, in in the interests around money and like finance, and specifically mes was doing this thing called the FinTech festival.

Michael Waitze 30:58
Yep. Massive 20,000 30,000. people show up. It’s huge.

Kenneth Lou 31:03
Exactly right. And to that same point is very b2b focused. So all the all the sponsors, or the speakers are telling you to use their API’s to, to use, you know, it’s very, it’s very commercially focused. And it hit us that hey, you know, there are more consumers than there are businesses at the end of the day. Yeah. Right. Like, and shouldn’t there be like a platform for consumers to come and learn from right, so we start off with a why not, let’s do this consumer finance event and let’s make it really objective and not salesy. Because a lot of consumer finance events turned out to be very, you know, here’s what you can do with your money. Here’s the top trick to help you ace, you know, the alpha, right. Yeah. But we want it to be, you know, how do you save money? How do you invest? Simply and not get scammed and a big chapter fee for it? So we charged like $10? Yeah, the first one, we had 1000 people show up, physically, which is massive. The second, we did it at Suntec. So the whole level four. Yeah, it’s just flooded with people. And it’s

Michael Waitze 32:16
surprised by how many people sent signed up to it.

Kenneth Lou 32:20
We weren’t we were Yeah. So we were and we were not in some sense, but because we knew we ran like 300 packs, events, we’ve run 500 packs event and we were like, Let’s try to do 1000 packs event and people actually showed up. So we were like, okay, you know, that’s a very clear problem statement that, you know, you don’t know where to get finance, Personal Finance information, objectively. Yeah. So that was the first year. Yeah, so that sort of first year went well, and then COVID hit. So that was right, like upended all the plans we had in 2020. So from there on, you know, in 2021, and 2022, which is this year, we actually doing it virtually. So virtually, we reach like 5000 6000 people concurrently. So it’s on the platform that we actually got caught my spirit and allows us to interact with audiences as though they were physically present with us. What’s the name of the platform? My spirit, mi si P ad? Yeah. So it’s quite interesting, because they are also a fellow local startup that basically tried to model closely after virtual platforms, like hopping like Eventbrite, and yeah, I think that really took off in 2021 2020 21. And then we are rolling with that wave as well.

Michael Waitze 33:41
Got it. So when is the when is this year’s event taking place?

Kenneth Lou 33:46
It’s happening on 23rd and 24th. of April, which is in a few days time,

Michael Waitze 33:50
probably that soon? Yeah. Exactly. Interesting. And how many people you still expect to get five or 6000 people virtual? And are they all from Singapore? Are they more regional, more global? How does that work?

Kenneth Lou 34:02
Yeah, I would say like 90% of them are like from Singapore. The remaining 10% are like friends or friends who are who might not? Who might want to learn about the more generic stuff like investments. We have Cathy Wood, who will be who I’ll be talking to this Saturday. Who’s So Cathy wood from invest. Okay, I’m not sure. Yeah. So do we have a minister from from Singapore? So we have some define investors who are going to talk about crypto. And yeah, so see, as a whole, we have pretty interesting speakers who are willing to share their thought process with our audiences. And yeah, we’re happy to host them to share their ideas to the world, much like how you’re doing this as well. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s the power of the internet. Right? It helps you get you know, your ideas up.

Michael Waitze 34:52
Yeah. So I think it’s changed the way I don’t even want to call it an event. Right. It’s just changed the way that information can be disseminated. Yeah. And I was having a discussion with somebody this morning about the difference between being an Actor in a Play. And being a movie actor, there are multiple differences. But one of the big differences is that when the play is over, like it just kind of dies there. Yeah, and the only people that really have seen it are the people that were in the theater that night or during that week that it runs. And for better or for worse, a movie is there kind of forever, because it’s either printed on film or digitally distributed, and it’s just there forever, which means that way more people can see it, even if they don’t see it instantaneously. Over time, it just dribbles out to the masses. And I think that this is the big difference between having an event where 1000 people attend at Suntec, which is really awesome. And having have some kind of virtual information dissemination, gathering where 567 1000 people can have it. But if it’s recorded, and you can’t stop anybody necessarily from recording it on their own laptop, if they just sit there and press record. Yeah, that means then is that it’s kind of like, it’s not really Greenfield information, because it’s probably topical. But it means for the next few months that anybody can watch it at any time. And it’s just so much more powerful. Yeah.

Kenneth Lou 36:15
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. So again, the COVID situation, even though now it’s come to over two years, since but is really taught people to live in a in a new way. Right. So I mean, this, this events used to be physical, you have to be physically present to do a recording. But now we’re just, you know, jumping on the call and saving for events and content. Right.

Michael Waitze 36:40
Exactly. Exactly. The world’s going to continue to evolve that way. I don’t want to talk about the metaverse until you get to that later. I really want to thank you for doing this. Kenneth Lou, a co founder and the CEO of Seedly. I learned a lot. This was actually really, really interesting. So I appreciate you coming and doing this today. Thank you so much.

Kenneth Lou 37:00
All right. Thanks. Thanks, Michael for having me.


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