EP 304 – Daniel Lim – Pi-xcels – We Created Our Whole System to Be Augmentive

by | Nov 29, 2023

The Asia Tech Podcast welcomed ⁠Daniel Lim⁠, the Founder and CEO of ⁠Pi-xcels⁠, a technology company that specialises in digital receipt issuance, offering an eco-friendly alternative to paper receipts for retailers, corporates, and any establishment that utilises receipts.

Some of the insights I learned from Daniel included:

  • The Value of Embracing a Non-Linear Career Path
  • The True Power of Collaboration
  • The Value of Shopper-Centric Data
  • Augmenting Existing Systems for Greater Impact
  • Balancing Perfection and Good Enough

Some other titles we considered for this episode, but ultimately rejected:

  1. A Shopper-Centric Experience
  2. From Geeky Hardware to Transformative Software
  3. Unlocking the Potential of Offline Retail with Innovative Technology
  4. Enabling Seamless Experiences and Empowering Shoppers
  5. How Pi-xcels is Enhancing the Shopper Experience
Read the best-effort transcript

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

Michael Waitze 0:05
Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Daniel Lim, the founder and CEO of Pi-xcels is with us today. Man, thank you so much for joining the show. I want to give the listeners a little bit of your background for some context. And then I’m going to talk about why you named the company Pi-xcels , but also why you spell it this way too, because I kind of like it. But anyway, go ahead, give us a little bit of your background first.

Daniel Lim 0:27
So pretty much in much older founder, unlike others who did it in your 20s and 30s. And we in my mid 40s, I had an undergraduate degree in computer science, finance and economics, graduated during SAS, another Asian financial crisis, lived through four or five, ended up being a trader for the likes of JP Morgan, work for Goldman Sachs, and then was in the trading industry for 10 years. And we decided in my late 30s, that you know what, I’m not interested anymore. And I went to complete a master’s degree in data science to kind of like going back to my computer science roots, which was what really made me happy when I was a young kid.

Michael Waitze 1:05
So this just proves you’re like, twice as smart as I am, if not more, because I did the same thing. You did it. It took me over 20 years before I was like, You know what, I just don’t want to do this anymore.

Daniel Lim 1:16
Michael, I wish I was smart. But the kids I went to school with in college, and the computer science guys I was studying with my God, those guys are, you know, responsible for all the innovation that we’ve seen in the last 10 years. Right. So I wish I was half as smart as them. But thank you for the compliment. Yeah, but in

Michael Waitze 1:33
a way, isn’t it always useful to not be the smartest guy in the room? I know, that’s kind of an overused phrase. But I do like that. Look, one of the things that I loved about working at Goldman, right, all joking aside, was that the team of people that were around me were so smart. It made me think about the world in a different way. And it must have been kind of similar for you in university, but also later on in life, right? We can joke about whose IQ is higher, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter. Yeah.

Daniel Lim 1:56
Yeah. I mean, what happened with a lot of smart people is that they tend to specialize. Well, I wasn’t given the opportunity. I wasn’t intelligent enough, maybe or, you know, my life just led me a different path is that I ended up being a jack of all trades. So what I’m doing currently, it’s like my ninth industry, I think. So when I graduated with those majors, I didn’t end up in banking, I started working for a logistics firm, then went on to work for glass manufacturing, reinsurance, then landed a job in equity research with common, and then landed a trading job at JPMorgan and then moved on to many other things.

Michael Waitze 2:32
Talk to you about the name of this company. I like how the pie is separated by a dash from the X CLS, can you just tell me? Yeah, they’ll tell me why. The company

Daniel Lim 2:41
started as a bunch of geeks right playing around with hardware and software, which we can talk about in a little bit. But I think, so we decided that it was gonna be a fun thing to do, like, you know, one of those pseudo names or something like that. And so we put it up that way. And we’d registered the company and gotten the domain name, income, you know, some of the commercial marketing people, and they almost want to kill me. It’s just like a disaster. Like, yeah, well, here’s my head of comms Joanna, she’s a lovely lady. She is she’s like, you know, that hyphen, people doesn’t like to type hyphens. So it’s very hard to get to the domain name, which is kind of effect. And it counter intuitively does what we do, which is create seamless experiences. But our domain name and company name actually is not seamless. It’s not.

Michael Waitze 3:30
Part of my brain looks at it and thinks of the word pie, which is inherently mathematical. And that’s what it makes me think of when I look at it. That’s one of the reasons why I liked it so much, because it makes me think about technology and data in a specific way, just because it looks like pie to me. Was that intentional? Or was that just

Daniel Lim 3:46
not intentional? So actually, PII stands for people intelligence, Excel. Yeah. So kind of like the, like I mentioned to you like a geeky name. And, and then there’s many other reasons why we did it. But you know, that’s one of the main reasons and we laugh about it nowadays. But I think every time you know, my head of comms has to tell me about me. Get rid of the hyphen. I’m like, do you know legally, how much is

Michael Waitze 4:13
that? Let’s not do that, actually.

Daniel Lim 4:16
Yeah, exactly. Let’s not do that. Right now. We’re too young as a company to spend that kind of money.

Michael Waitze 4:21
So how long has pixels been around?

Daniel Lim 4:25
It’s technically been around for four years. Okay. But as you are aware, we actually have a patented technology around issuing EBC seamlessly. You know, anyone can go to I’ve said watch the video. Essentially what we did was to create a framework where it’s native to every smartphone that’s built after 2018 2017. All you have to do is unlock your phone and just tap on any device that actually has a capability, which is our patented technology. And, you know, partners that we work with, you know, the receipt pops up onto your phone, right either through notification or literally just pops up in Android phones, for example.

Michael Waitze 4:58
Okay, so Have some backup for a second tenant just run me through this right? Give me Give me the reason like why the company was founded what the thing is you’re trying to accomplish. And then if you can just literally walk me through my audience is interested in the tech. They are. It’s a, it’s a tech influence audience. I’m really curious about how this works, right? You say it’s just native to the phone. So there’s, there’s no app, there’s no nothing, it just kind of pops, like, how does this work? I really want to know, and well, yeah, I mean,

Daniel Lim 5:23
I would love to do a live demo, but I have to take away my background stuff. And essentially, what it does is that we take advantage of NFC and the way that MC operates, okay. And we can actually make things, you know, occur on your phone by giving you information, often NFC. So we’ve actually kind of created a framework, a way to essentially do that in a very secure manner. Class, also a manner in which enables the signals to be traceable, for us as to understand who to issue a receipt to because the receipt is actually a proof of purchase, we don’t have the same receipt going to like five people, it should only go to one person and one person only. And so what we’ve done is we’ve created this frame, or you can issue a receipt, and we can actually know where the receipt lands and whom it goes to him, so on and so forth. And that’s what we’ve created a pizza.

Michael Waitze 6:17
So let’s say I’m in a store, right, and I have my my iPhone 15, whatever, right? It’s got an NFC chip in it, I purchase something this is in a physical store. Yeah. And I never want a receipt, I don’t want them to print it out for a bunch of different reasons. Some of them are environmental, some of them are just convenience. We can talk about that too, right. But if my if my daughter standing next to me, and she has a phone as well, how does it know to send it to my phone and not to hers?

Daniel Lim 6:40
Well, that’s the beauty of NFC, right that you require really close proximity to whichever thing you’re tapping. So in the case that if you decide to pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay, you pay with NFC, you activate your phone, and you pay. And once that payment signal ends, we actually quickly fire another signal into your phone, that’s actually the receipt. So it’s so it creates an feels like it’s one tap, but it’s actually literally multiple signals. And what it does is that you don’t even turn to the cashier and go like, where’s my receipt, you see this thing pop up on your phone, after you pay just tap on a go, Oh, that’s my receipt and you walk off. You never ever have to have a conversation with the cashier, right? No email addresses no phone numbers, you know, no searching on your camera to scan a QR code to get your receipt, right? So

Michael Waitze 7:21
it just shows up on my phone, it shows up in my photo thing, right? No,

Daniel Lim 7:25
it actually shows up as a pop up, you click on it, it actually brings you to in this case, we power into the browser. Because that’s the only app that’s shown on every smartphone. There’s no app in the world as a show of myself brothers, we power the other, you actually get a receipt. It’s fully interactive. It’s like a web link. But the beauty of it is you can hit save and you can save the receipt perpetual at every part of receipt can be interactive. So we can do things like drop down menus, videos to play. explanation. If you buy a food item how to cook it. If you bought something from Ikea, we could essentially give you a video how to put it together. There’s no need for paper anymore, right?

Michael Waitze 8:01
Wait a second, wait a second, wait a second. So that acts like a web app in a way, right? So it goes into my web browser, because that’s the only thing that is guaranteed to be on every phone. And I can I want to talk about saving it first. But then I want to get to the other stuff because it sounds really interactive in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. So that gets I can save it and when I save it, where does it get saved into the photo? Well, so

Daniel Lim 8:22
we are Atlas framework. So it’s saved we can create we create you create an account with us by saving it is a single sign on. So it’s like Google or Facebook or in Korea where we are we will use line and cacao in Japan will probably add line differently countries will have different preferences for single sign on, we’ll just add to those. But then with a single tap, you create the town you agree to the EULA, no staff and what we do is we keep the receipt on your behalf in perpetual DNS forever interactive. So let’s just say this is the part that you think people like to gravitate to is like two days or three days after you buy something you realize, you know, it’s cracked or something is brought up, then yeah, yeah, you could go back to receipt that the there could be a whatsapp button right there and you hit on it will bring you to the customer service WhatsApp page of the business. You can start conversing because they when you hit a button, they will know the exact receipt that you’re talking about that they can see because someone system and then they can have a conversation with you about the product that’s not doing well. So what we’re really doing is the electronic receipt is a gateway to turn all the offline experiences into an online framework on online experience. And so this is really important because if you think about e commerce, actually COVID has proven to us that the E commerce experience is better as an experiential experience.

Michael Waitze 9:45
You want to go out and shop Yeah, not just buying something in. E commerce has

Daniel Lim 9:49
fallen off a little bit since COVID. And the right people like to go out and shop Yeah, but what we really like about e commerce is all the after purchase after sales after Payment kind of activities that we can do that we want to just take it online, because there’s just too much of a hassle to deal with it. If we had to do it online, we had to drive back to the store, we have to be, you can’t have a conversation with somebody had to get on the phone. But all these experiences are online. And we’re getting used to this whole post purchase experience online, what we call value added services. And so what we’ve done is that through this framework, we’ve added that into the receipt, and then the receipt becomes the gateway of turning an offline experience into an online post purchase experience.

Michael Waitze 10:30
What is the what is the vendor have to do? Right? So let’s say there’s a mom and pop shop somewhere that doesn’t want to issue paper receipts anymore. So you’re not dealing with like, some big department store or some big camera shop, right? But you just dealing with a shop down the corner that’s run by some somebody’s grandmother, how does that work?

Daniel Lim 10:46
So we are actually a little bit more different. What we’ve done is that, at first, we’re going back to a bit of a history. So you asked like how long has it been around now for four years, we started with our own hardware, which is where we say we’re geeks on hardware with our own firmware. And then we built a software layer to communicate with that hardware and firmware. Right, and COVID happen offline retail diet. And so we went back to the drawing board, we got our patron and then once COVID ended, you know, we came out and we started talking to payment device makers. So the lights have Ingenico impacts on our partners got it. And now we’re getting a third, fourth and fifth device payment device partner got it. And what we’ve done is we’ve embedded our firmware onto their firmware. So any app that sits on a payment device can actually use our service.

Michael Waitze 11:33
So any POs that uses these devices that you have not developed, but you’ve embedded your firmware inside that no matter who’s using it gets access to this software.

Daniel Lim 11:41
Correct? Technically, that’s how it’s supposed to work. Okay. So technically, this is how it works. So Ingenico, and PACs, have all these capabilities embedded and so will they will work with the PSP, which is payment service provider, and the payment service provider will provide this service to hypothetically to the retailers, right. I mean, I say hypothetically, because we’re in the process of getting this whole stream worked out properly with the likes of Ingenico and payment partners that we’re talking to, right. But the idea behind it is we are essentially a service provider for these businesses to provide these services to their customers who should retail. Now why have we done that is because it saves us the cost of distributing our service for sure. If I have to go retailer, the retailer just not going to work, right? But then the payment guys, are we talking to all the retailers, we offer our services to the payment guys to essentially offered to the retailers. And so it creates a whole ecosystem of value added services or post purchase value that says as opposed payment added value added services that we can put in front of them. Yeah,

Michael Waitze 12:42
there’s almost like an unending amount of things that you can then embed into the receipt? No, I mean, you gave this example of if I go out and buy pasta, tomato sauce, you know, garlic in this or whatever, I can then look at those receipts and say, Tell me how to make this into whatever kind of dinner No, well, if

Daniel Lim 12:59
you with a company that works with us want to apply AI to it, which they can, will then be able to tell you 15 recipes that you could cook with that hypothetically, or if the supermarket that you shop with decides they want to create that service to their loyalty program, or work with like our partners like Visa, MasterCard, you know, they will be able to do that as well, like provide that as a consumer service. So these are the really interesting things that we’ve talked about a little bit is that we see ourselves as a information collection point to enhance, I don’t, I don’t want to use the word consumer because it feels as if they just consume a shoppers experience. Right. So this creates, we essentially help collect the AI edible data that can be used to enhance people’s lives, and they get to choose whom they want to work with, to offer the data with, they have options, and so on and so forth. Yeah,

Michael Waitze 13:54
so that’s a great segue into the next thing that I really want to ask you about Daniel, not just this is that so many people are out there talking about how they interact with big data. But the real question is, where do they get that data from? How do they ensure that that data is clean? I don’t know a better word to use, and that it’s actually actionable? Can you talk about that, particularly from a data gathering standpoint, how you’re handling that what you do with that data? And what the insights are that you can gain from it.

Daniel Lim 14:17
So I think, going through my master’s degree program in data science, a lot of I started interviewing real corporates, and then they told me, Oh, I have mountains of data, you know, your data, scientists must go create magic of it. And you know, you’re a smart guy, right? Well, actually, I didn’t realize I was not that smart. But I think the idea behind it is that, you know, we when I looked at the data, I realized that actually their data is not actionable. And the reason why is because this is the history in offline retail, that most of the data comes from ERP systems. So the data is actually specific to the product, like how to essentially ensure the product has arrived on the shelves, right? How to ensure that there’s manufacturing on time and you don’t get capitals struggling around places. In today’s world of actual data we’re talking about, we need data that’s feature rich, which means that the more columns, the more descriptions of every single product, so it’s not just a dress, it’s a blue dress with using X amount of material, it has hemline, blah, blah, blah, so on and so forth, right, or tomato sauce, these are the ingredients, it’s actually less ingredients means is slightly more expensive and more organic and more ingredients means there’s a lot of slop in it. Right. So the idea behind that is that you need to create feature rich datasets. And the challenge is that if you get your data set from your ERP system, all the features have moved, because it’s only meant to essentially better the product. It’s not built to better the human right, right. And that’s why Ecommerce has just leapt against offline retail, it’s not because they’re just a better way, they’re just another way of selling stuff. But they just have better data. And how that’s the case is they collect the unknown what we call a shopper centric manner, you log in to shop, therefore, you identify yourself to the retailer before you even start shopping, right. And therefore they start to create a better understanding of you, not just you, but the type of people that you are similar with, which is in data science, we call clustering, right, right. And so they can create much more micro classes, or internship better clusters that speak closer to that subset of people. But the problem in the offline world is that we know how much product A and B, we sell how much product A sells the product C and D. But we actually don’t know who we sell to, right. So when you start having a sale on a product, for example, you sell all these products, and then you go, Oh, this next month, you know, inventory, I should stop higher, because you know, it did well during the sale. But guess what the person who bought the product is not coming back for the next four weeks instead of the usual two weeks. So how do you manage your inventory that way we don’t know who you sell to. Exactly. So what we essentially do is that we want to help collect actionable data that’s actually at the source. Now, if it’s at the source, which is essentially the point of sale, then the data can be cleaned in a way that is meant to be useful to do something system instead of the ERP systems. Because by the time you collect it at the end of the sale, the ERP system has eat away some of the value right?

Michael Waitze 17:15
When I use my NFC chip in my phone. Yes, right? Am I giving the retailer any data of mine as well?

Daniel Lim 17:23
No, that’s the beauty of it being secure. The retailer only has, you know, the sale data, right? So what we do is that you can choose as a customer or shop after getting receipt, whether or not you want to identify yourself to right through a program or whatever they they’re running, right. So if you hit the Save receipt button, you know, you tend to identify but you don’t, you don’t. And this is where what separates our EDC system from everyone else in the world. And we can talk about that a little bit is that we are probably the only systems that we pile up in first, right? When we mean by up emphasis, you need to download an app, you need to give a phone number you need to give an email address to get the receipt. Our system is such that you can just unlock from tap, we get a receipt, right and then choose what you want to do with the receipt later. Right. So this is an opt in later, you can see that the QR code replicates that we agree. But then that no, no experience on your camera is just too much. Right. He just Yeah, exactly. And so what we did was we looked at the receipts, and then we ask yourself, you want to reimagine the process. It’s been around for many, many years, right? 1718 years? Sure. You know, if you reimagine the process of giving me see what would be the best process and what we thought, yeah, if we could just tap and get the receipt on our phone. And so what we did was, or what, you know, most of us didn’t, myself and my co founder there was we went out and we thought about how an email is received should be delivered what technology stacks we need to like club together to make it happen. And then people always ask, it seems so simple, why hasn’t that this be done earlier, it’s not that’s why it’s because technology didn’t advance in certain way. And when it nobody actually put the pieces together. And I guess we were the first ones to figure out to put the pieces together and then create a painting around it, which was registered, which means we actually have to pay didn’t nice and then we’re in the process of essentially getting it accepted

Michael Waitze 19:22
globally. But Daniel shouldn’t just be the biggest loyalty program in the world. 10 Do you know what I mean? In other words, if I allow myself to be registered, and I share my data and I shop at all these different places, it’s like almost like an automatic loyalty program everywhere no and and if you’re partnering with you said Visa and MasterCard, shouldn’t I use their like cashback system is like how does that work? How do you integrate with them as well? What’s the benefit there?

Daniel Lim 19:45
So I think it’s many folks, right? But the real thing that we need to get there here is what a loyalty program built for.

Michael Waitze 19:58
Data gathering at some level right?

Daniel Lim 19:59
Yeah, so essentially, it’s some tail or some organization that is actually short of money to essentially, try and gather data about you and also try and keep you loyal. Yeah, right, hypothetically. But the crazy thing about it is that if you actually look at the history of loyalty programs, you could probably understand that it’s very difficult to improve the margin, the margin, or the revenue you’re getting from your best loyal customers. Costco is a classic example pay for loyalty program, you get almost everything at margin. And that’s the date on money from the loyalty program fees. Right, right. Which makes sense. But if you think about it, loyalty program means that it’s a recognition that if you’re my loyal customer, how much more can I get you to spend?

Michael Waitze 20:42
Yeah, I’m already going anyway. Right? That’s what you’re, you’re already

Daniel Lim 20:45
going. And you’re probably maximizing it as much as possible, because you’re trying to maximize the loyalty program, right? The value to an organization is getting the same type of data. Of a customer. That’s not part of the loyalty. Yeah. Yeah, right. But how do you think about it, like, a loyal to me he could 10x His spend at my location. Right. But the question here is that offline, ecommerce, retail data, sorry, ecommerce companies were able to do that. They were able to turn non loyal customers, to loyal customers, because they identified themselves to ecommerce first,

Michael Waitze 21:20
right? So how does it work in the offline world, though?

Daniel Lim 21:21
That’s right. And this is where our EBC comes into play. Tell me, tell me to get a receipt. And then you know, you do happen to save the receipt, we have kind of created a non PID identifier of you, we don’t need to know your name, we don’t need to know, we just need to know that this person ABC just shops, at the store on a regular basis. And so over time, they would start to understand that, you know, these type of customers shop a certain way and they do reaching your format of your store to improve the offerings.

Michael Waitze 21:53
How do I know as a consumer, that the pixel service at the receipt service is available at any particular store? Do you have like little stickers that just don’t? I mean, like, how do I know if I walk into a store in Korea and Japan or wherever it’s available? How do I know it’s possible? Because then I’ve got a follow on question. I want to send that after that. But how do I know?

Daniel Lim 22:11
So the answer is we have not fully launched yet we were launched our own hardware in Indonesia. But then I think we pivoted and we started to work with the payment industry. So we’re in the process of getting this done. The idea behind it, you shouldn’t know, we’ll work with everyone. And we’re essentially just a service just shows up, just shows up and then you can decide what you want to do. That’s it. That

Michael Waitze 22:33
would be the coolest experience in the world. Here’s another question that okay, if it just shows up. One of the biggest things going on in finance, in FinTech and in the insurance world is something called embedded finance and embedded insurance. If I’m shopping, by definition, I’m generally buying a physical product, right? Unless I’m buying a software product or a SaaS product. But to be fair, it’s it’s it’s relevant everywhere. As you launch this product, should you be working with insurers to then embed insurance into the receipt as a choice that people have it pops up and says, You just bought an iPhone 15 Max Pro Plus, or whatever it is? Do you want to get insurance for that? Because you this could be like one of the biggest insurance distribution channels ever invented? No.

Daniel Lim 23:15
How about I take this one step further. Go ahead. Well, I don’t turn you off from receiving a receipt being scary. Right? If the receipt pops up, you can receipt. And then what happens is you’ve already connected that receipt to the loyalty program of the store. And the stock goes to you and go, hey, why not? Not immediately. But one hour later go? When you they probably predict that that’s when you’ve driven home with your product, pop up onto the loyalty program through notification and phone go, hey, you know, we registered important phone. Would you like to register your warranty? You go? Yes. I just bought a 1500 $2,000 phone? Right? Yeah, yeah. Can I hit a button to register my warranty? And then after a warranty process, they go, we are offering you extended warranty? Would you like that? Would that be scary? Or would that be? Oh, wow, this loyalty program knows me well. Or if they know to your activity for the last few times, they won’t offer you an extended warranty unless the value of the item is over $3,000. So this one doesn’t say it and then they don’t offer it to you and to go like hit a new register warranty and say thank you very much. Bye bye. We’ve registered your warranty. But when you buy a TV, they’ll go you know, register warranty you hit yes. Because muscle memory comes into play. Yeah, you had the same experience before. And then now because it’s about 3000 hours ago, hey, by the way, but you want to buy an extra two years of warranty. Then if you can hit yes. Then they’re gonna start to, you know, cluster you in the subset of people that trigger points that $3,000 when they buy an iPhone, no TV.

Michael Waitze 24:57
Yeah, there’s so many other questions to ask you do demand, I got more, I got more, is there a chance for pixels to also do? And is it even necessary to do like a co branded or white labeled version of a MasterCard, you know what I mean? Like an affinity card, because then everything you buy in there then gets other benefits like the cashback and the discounts and all the other stuff. Go ahead, and oh, you know what I mean? Because because now you’re turning. So

Daniel Lim 25:20
I guess the issue here is MasterCard wouldn’t need to white label anything with me. MasterCard can go when you use a MasterCard to go, would you like to connect this to the MasterCard? I don’t know what card program? Whatever it is, yeah, yes. Right. And when we by hitting Yes, and you agree, we send them the data. And now they can offer you a huge host of services, because you opt in to send them your data, they offer you a whole slew of services around it. And then over time, you know, you don’t even need a cobra and MasterCard gets to understand you better, they won’t even start paying you, if so many advertisements, because they know that’s not going to work on you. Like I think the problem with today’s non like data centric, we’ll have a lot of organizations that actually don’t know how to use data is that they just bombard you with as much information as possible to give them an email address the email, is there. 50 spam emails? Organized, right? Yeah. So what we are trying to do or what we try to create as an opportunity for shoppers to create, like an opt in process, like what program? Do they want to be part of what program? Do they not want to be part of? How would they want to share that data? And so on and so forth?

Michael Waitze 26:28
I like this idea of a shopper centric experience, because I don’t think I think you’re right, I don’t think a lot of people are thinking about it this way. How do you make money from this? Like, how do you guys get paid.

Daniel Lim 26:37
So we get paid because we number one, remove the use of paper. So technically, paper is actually pretty expensive in some parts of the world. But Europe and Japan, it’s easily close to 100 $200 a month for some retailers. We literally cost $30 A month or a US dollar a day. Right? And so you think about it, it’s a really environmentally friendly, yeah, then we offer the opportunity. Because we are app free or Atlas, we don’t have an app, we don’t force our users to download an app, we can connect our service to any app. So for example, you know, one of the, you know, organizations we’re talking to, many organizations are talking to have malls. And they have more loyalty programs, right? If the more consumer connects the more loyalty program to do receipts, any receipts from the mall, they could go to the app and bring up a receipt summary page of all the receipts and click in and see the exact receipt. That page will be hosted by us on that Miles app. Right. So the more it cost the most add nothing just just to put a placeholder for us. Right, we’ll support it. Right. And they pay us for those services of connectivity and our stuff and the issuance. And the idea behind it is that to the user, it’s seamless. Yeah, they don’t. Because we have free, we are actually enhancing the mall app and increasing the mobile apps and you because when the shopper thinks of I want to see the receipt, I’ll go back to the mall app and I can retrieve it. So that’s what we talked about a little bit is that we built a whole system to be augmented if we created augmentive software to put on payment devices. We never have an end because we want to augment readers mind marketing doesn’t hate me. Joanna doesn’t hate me. She loves me. But you know, she she grabs her the fact that why can’t we build something that’s owned by us? And I go like if we build something on but as we are going to be one or 200 apps, right? Why don’t we spend time augmenting 20 apps on the person’s phone? Yeah, making it like that they want.

Michael Waitze 28:32
And plus getting somebody who app is almost impossible in today’s world. Nobody wants to do I, again, I bought a new phone. And I actually didn’t transfer all the apps from my old phone to the new phone just because I don’t use most of them. Yeah, and I love this idea of being augmentive. I think I’m going to start using that word augmentive technology, right? Because you’re just adding things on and services on to other people’s tech that people already using. What’s the benefit to you to create a front end that no one’s going to use? Now you can be on everyone’s front and your bigger, faster in a way that’s hard to explain to people that may not understand the way the tech works.

Daniel Lim 29:04
The idea was that we’ve come to this culture of like, oh, we need to disrupt, disrupt, disrupt, disrupt, disrupt, disrupt. Yeah, right. And so this becomes like opposing force in the current legacy businesses and the current new businesses that is being built right. And nothing’s getting washed. Everybody’s losing money. Legacy businesses are losing money. The VCs are dropping cash back to the businesses not working out, right. So why don’t we build a business where we actually enhance any good assets that is actually currently built? And a little bit back to my old trading days. You know, in the days of altering there’s nobody builds a new refinery. There’s only one or two companies that ever built new refinery in my life in my lifetime as a trader. Everybody talks about brownfield and Greenfield and taking a Brownfield, which is all refinery enhancing it. Yeah. And it’s actually creating a better refining and more efficient refinery further, right. So I think this is the approach that I want to take is why do we have to talk about destruction here? You know why? nobody’s talking about actually recognizing what’s good, what’s too hard to move and enhancing. And I think that’s why we have partnerships. Right? It’s because we build our technology that way, we have a whole list of NDAs that we’ve signed with really top notch organization everywhere, right? We have relationship with MasterCard visa, which mentioned even JCB JCM in Japan. You know, we’re talking to SMCC, we’re talking to a lot of large organizations, you know, that technically, I shouldn’t be naming too many, right. But the idea behind me is why these first class organizations are interested to talk to us is because we’re not destroying the value now. Yeah, yeah.

Michael Waitze 30:37
I mean, wasn’t it Steve Jobs, who said that if technology is really working, it feels like magic. And if your technology is transparent to people, and it feels like magic, why would you care? Like you just want it to be out there as much as possible. To make the shopper experience better? Can I ask you this? is are these API connections? Like, how does it get integrated into all these other systems? Yeah,

Daniel Lim 30:58
so we built a lot of Yes, API’s? Definitely one of them. But, you know, a lot of it is, you know, you know, service workers Kubernetes, you know, W pas, you know, all these little technologies that doesn’t take over something. It’s meant to like layers, right? And then we do our own form. So we understand how hardware works. And then we work with the manufacturers to essentially put relevant SDKs in, right, and then we don’t try to take over an SDK that belongs to them, right, but layer our firmware onto your Android device in school, y’all, right? Like, we’re going like, hey, what can we do that we can make it both work? So the beauty of it is then, you know, people see that and they understand that, you know, they’re gonna earn money alongside with us. Yeah, they go like, they lend us the distribution network, which is fantastic, then I can keep my company small, and lean Yeah. And money from as much as possible and not have to worry about actually going down to the mom and pop shop to deploy the service. Right?

Michael Waitze 31:55
Again, so many called what is it like when you go to a service provider or somebody where you want to integrate your technology, and you show them exactly what you’re doing? Like, it must be an easy sale at some level? No, because it’s just additive.

Daniel Lim 32:06
So with investors and with, you know, organizations that we work with, I never go into a pitch deck. There’s no point, I just go in with my devices, show that we do a demo, we get them to try their own phone every time somebody tries to open their eyes like that, because I didn’t know my phone can do this. Yeah, right. Like, how is that possible? I’m going like, it’s possible, you just try to be on the phone, right? And then we show them the devices that we’ve learned our software on to the MindScape. You know, your imagination start around, we let them in general, and then I just close up the demo. We can I can answer any questions. And then the questions come filtering in, right? Can we do this? Can we do this? Can we, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so our presentation becomes a q&a demo, then because the demo is such a game changer. And that’s how we know that we might be getting something right. You are, I don’t feel the need to put up, you know, a pitch deck. And normally the pitch that or whatever we want get sent as the aftermath of the meeting. I

Michael Waitze 33:08
think a pitch to frankly, I think a pitch deck is an anachronism like I really in a lot of cases, I don’t think it’s necessary, particularly if you have demo.

Daniel Lim 33:14
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I wasn’t traded, right? I was on my life

Michael Waitze 33:23
as a self identified geek, right? Who probably never thought you’d get paid off like this well for being this geeky, right? Because really tinkering with hardware and software and just trying to come up with cool usages for which to me is amazing. Like, I’m probably as big, I’m not gonna use the wrong word. But I mean, just the excitement around being able to build something that when I talk about getting paid, I’m in a way I’m not talking about. I’m just talking about the joy of being able to build something that’s so useful and so exciting, right? Have you been in meetings with people when that q&a starts, where they come up with a use case, or some idea that you hadn’t necessarily thought of yet? Maybe you can share one or two of those with me? Because I’m curious, right? My mind is racing to trying to figure out, what would I do with this? But I’m curious, like, show the cool stuff you’ve heard?

Daniel Lim 34:08
Sure, I mean, the cool stuff that we do people come up with, or they, they want to essentially like create, like a system of essentially engagement, which we will never think of, because we’re not needed, we don’t talk to the shoppers, right. The people we talk to are the ones that talk to the shoppers. So they start to imagine, like, this is what I can do if I had known this, you know, something like that, like, so. So these are the, so we get to learn. And so we refine our pitches, you know, we find our figma mock ups and all that stuff, right? So our loyalty figma mock ups, we probably have like 20 versions of them, because every retailer wants to tweak it a little bit. But the idea behind it is that it’s just more interactive engagement. And that’s what we realized that that we actually don’t have to sell that piece of the puzzle, right? We just offer the platform.

Michael Waitze 34:56
Have you ever been in a meeting with some with like a group of people cuz I’m sure it’s never just like one guy or one gal. But if you ever been in a meeting with like, like, let’s say six or seven people, and one of the people in the room is just like sitting there with their arms folded going, I’ve been telling you guys about this for two years kind of thing. You know what I mean? Where there’s one person there? Who says, See, we should have done this thing? You know what I mean? Because the tech is,

Daniel Lim 35:17
don’t get me wrong. I’ve been in meetings of 20 people, 30 people, or 40 people, and especially in Japan, they tend to Yeah. But I think the most telling meeting is with, you know, the device makers, right? They have access to the hardware and 35 years, they should know. And then when we showed that this to them when they’re going like, we should be able to do that. And I’m like, you could know that I told you how to do it. But by the way, we haven’t eaten. No, no, we have a pizza as well. And then five days later, they come and say, oh, yeah, you know what, we want to work with you? Yeah. And that’s when you know that they went back? Look at their page and opinion, I realized that we did it differently, right. And so and then they realized, hey, while you guys figure out something. So we’re talking about, like, I know, very old companies. Ingenico used to be the is still technically the number one device maker in the world, although their market share has dwindled a little bit. They want to work with us. They were one of the first of all, when we got our patent in September 2022. We’re having conversations with them in November 2022, that we finished our integration with them in three weeks, it took us three weeks to essentially get our system onto their hardware. And know that goes to show like they were ready. But how I was ready. Just nobody taught them how to do it. And then we did it now we are hopefully gonna end up with something substantial them.

Michael Waitze 36:38
How big is your company? You said you want to keep it small and lean? How big is it? No.

Daniel Lim 36:41
21 people spread among seven countries.

Michael Waitze 36:46
That’s probably just about the right size. It does everybody feel the same energy from you that I’m feeling right now? Like I can feel like, you don’t feel like you’re working. You feel like you’re having fun. Does that make sense? Yes, I’m having fun 50. But

Daniel Lim 37:02
it’s like any job in the world is finding bits out when you meet people and they give you validation. And that’s the highest you can get. I mean, I told you before people don’t I mean, people know me understand this, I have a pretty old nice car. And I literally replace the parts of the car. It doesn’t it’s not like a whole engine or like a transmission. I replaced the parts on my own. Right, I take things apart and I put it back together again, I like to have my hands on my own computer since I was 18. Right. So, you know, that’s kind of like, I think for me, because I have this hands on approach. People get that feel that excitement. But at the same time, I am hot as I used to be a trader, right. So yeah, I drive people hard as well. So I think people know that I like to play hard and, and work hard

Michael Waitze 37:49
and look up. But I think I told you this before, if not, I’ll tell you again, I built I bought some land and built a house in central Tokyo. And I hired a couple of architects before I fired them. And then I hired my final architect who was amazing. And one of the things that he taught me indirectly was his his ability to do architecture is not his job, it’s his life. It’s hard to explain that, like, that’s the best way I’ve been able to describe this. And when I asked him he was like, whenever I see an empty piece of land, I don’t think all I think of is what can I put there that would make the world a better place. And when I listened to you talk about how if your car breaks down, you don’t see it as like a big problem necessarily. But it’s something you want to fix and tinker with. And when I get back to pixels, it’s this, you’re doing the same thing, just on a different surface, right, you’re seeing a problem, and you’re using your self proclaimed geekness to think, what’s the hardware solution? What’s the software solution? How can I then fix that and then give it to other people as well at the same time. In other words, you’re just living your life through this company, which I think creates the most successful people. I’ll tell you why. I’ve, I’ve recorded with hundreds, if not 1000s of people that build companies. The separation factor between the ones that succeed and don’t succeed, is the ones that really care about the thing that they’re building. Right? In other words, smart people educated people, we can argue whether you’re smart or dumb, I don’t buy the dumb part of it. Right. That’s it’s funny to talk about. But here’s the point. The point is that I believe that smart educated people can be good at anything they want. But to be great at it, you really have to care. And I can hear in your voice this caring about that tinkering in that building something. And that to me is where I think the joy for you comes and also the energy comes now.

Daniel Lim 39:32
Yeah, definitely like I mean, you said about dry like my wife had to go like why can’t this person just do it this way? Because it just so much better and you know, so much cleaner and it’s so much like, and for me it’s like it’s about people mistaken. It’s a drive for perfection. It’s not a draft. And it’s just more like it’s just easier on everyone if this is done this way right? And when I see huge gaps, it drives me up the wall. Maybe that’s why as a trader I was not super successful by I could make the living was because when I saw gaps, I could express that with a trade. Right? Exactly, I think. Yeah, but the crazy thing about life is that, you know, as a trader, I mean, I’m gonna knock on anyone that is my peer, but in the heydays is that we didn’t build anything. We took advantage of mispricing or misalignment.

Michael Waitze 40:22
Exactly. It wasn’t a big value add, I did the same thing. And I say it all the time. Like, I used to talk to my brother, who’s a neurosurgeon. So it was actually embarrassing for me, because he was out there, like fixing people’s spines and brains. And I was looking for Miss pricings. In the market. It was kind of embarrassing. Go ahead. Yeah, it

Daniel Lim 40:37
is. It is exactly right. And so so one of the things that I wanted to do was that I wanted to build a global company that essentially solves real problems and not do it in a way where we copied someone or following somebody’s idea, like it’s a new ideas, new framework, it’s just something new. And okay, unfortunately, you know, after listening to the video that I was gonna, like, shoot, I should have listened to him as well, I should have done that, because it’s painful as hell. I go around begging for money, and then have to essentially like, find a way to spend it properly and then build something from scratch. And sometimes, you know, it’s a process, right? A lot of people don’t understand this. It’s, you know, there’s a phrase in trading, right, better lucky than good. And we’ve been very, very lucky. We’ve been good. I have not done a wonderful for me, as long as we’ve been good. We’ve been extremely lucky. COVID is actually lucky for us, because COVID gave us an opportunity to work out how to patent our technology. Yeah, right. Nobody was competing, adverse, nobody’s gonna compete because an offline retail. So we have two and a half years to kind of figure out what we needed to really enforce and ring fence. And so we came up with a better companies. Good for you.

Michael Waitze 41:49
I want to do two more things. And then I’ll let you go. One is just to get back to perfection. You saw me kind of ruffling through my notebook. I was recording with a with a kid in India a couple of days ago. And he said to me, his family told him at the dinner table, this idea that Perfection is the enemy of good enough. And I wrote it down actually, because I like just the way it sounds, it doesn’t mean you don’t want to be as good as you possibly can. But you don’t always have to get to the 100th percentile, you can be good enough and still be great. Right?

Daniel Lim 42:17
I agree with that. And a little bit obvious. Like, it’s also me saying that sometimes striving for perfection, obtaining good enough, we start right, but you know, sometimes, you know, you get perfection is kind of happy. But no, it’s great. You should be happy if you drive a question. And you get good enough. Yeah. Great. Go ahead. Sorry.

Michael Waitze 42:36
What is the status now of pixels? And and what’s going to get you to the next level, and they’ll let you go.

Daniel Lim 42:44
So the long short of it is that we’re working with large organizations. But unfortunately, we’re forced to like follow up customers or follow the partners. So the feeling we we are see company, we’re really stretched. We have four offices right now. And we’re opening up right in somewhere in Europe. And this is all done with seed stage funding, we’ve only raised $1.7 million in in venture funding, and we raised $1.3 million in equity few grants from three different governments in Japan, and Korea. But we can’t this is not sustainable, right? Obviously, the government funding. And even as we grow bigger, it’s not going to be sustained. And we are working with first class organizations, they are not going to be comfortable if we don’t have a first class lights. Right. And so a little bit of what I am forced to do is I’m forced to prematurely spin on really good infrastructure, not just from a technology infrastructure standpoint, you have a whole business standpoint, I have to

Michael Waitze 43:49
fall down. Like you’re not dealing with small companies that are also, you know, in a little risky way, you’re dealing with huge companies, they expect you to be at their level.

Daniel Lim 43:58
Correct. And so one of the things that I strive for with my team is that, you know, I had the fortunate opportunity to work with some of the best first class organization and didn’t enjoy my time in government. But if you ask me as an investor, where I put my money if I had to invest in a bank, I’m putting it

Michael Waitze 44:12
Goldman Same here. I got it completely understood. Yeah,

Daniel Lim 44:15
exactly. Because when I was on Goldman, Japan, not on JP Goldman was 10 years ahead of GDP. And GDP is way ahead of the market at a time when I will put up and almost 10 years ahead as

Michael Waitze 44:23
far as I’m concerned. It’s the best place I’ve ever worked, by far, by far.

Daniel Lim 44:27
And so how do i It’s a smaller company. It’s a much, much smaller companies. I think 1/10 the size of JP at one point in time when I was working for sure. Yeah, exactly. So if you think about it, how do I make my organization that and I think what people don’t understand it’s common spend a huge amount of money on infrastructure, not just technology, structure, but everything like the whole ecosystem, like they have the best hedge or they have the best desk, they have the best infrastructure built. They have the best systems, they have the best computers, you don’t get anything second rate from them. And so for me, for me to actually attract the best people I can pay them the best like common. So I have to essentially create an infrastructure for them to do the work the best. And that, unfortunately, is one of the challenges and then we have to spread ourselves thin, right? So I get, and this is no knock on my investors, because it’s we are new, or what we do is really new to the world. Right? You know, they asked me, Why am I not focusing on one market, one country, whatever I go, like, you know, what, my parents aren’t going to give me an advantage for two and a half years, three years, four years, five years. And so if we don’t get this done properly, we gonna lose that advantage. And if we say we’ll talk to the guy later, they’re gonna realization the tail is very long. Because we have to start now, if you want to see something. So it comes to a stage where we at some point, need to work with more people to get understanding, have a better strategic partnerships going, that’s kind of what are we striving for?

Michael Waitze 45:53
We I mean, this is the hardest thing about running a startup, right, is that you’re always you always need to be like three steps ahead of yourself. And then you need to find a way to pay for it. It’s just it’s a real challenge. This this stuff most people never talk about, right. And then once you have investors on board, you know, God loved them. Right. But they’re pushing you because it’s their money as well. And they want you to get as big as profitable as fast as possible. Yeah.

Daniel Lim 46:12
I mean, I was from a trading background. So I totally appreciate it. I understand that you need to read the return on capital. Right? Right. And I understand that when I took your money that I promised a return on capital, right, so I need to be on the hook for it as much as well. But now the trade is a lot easier. Just take the money go out and trade it right. Sure. I had to go out and take the money go out and build, you know, not an empire but build an empire man on the New Kingdom, right? Yeah, no way. So that’s, I mean, that’s the challenge. I’m, I was, I was just telling my mentor, or my coach, the other day that I’ve had, I have not had panic attacks, panic attacks. Since I left trading, like in the last three years in trading, I had no panic attacks, I was just ready to leave. Right. Prior to that, you know, I regularly get panic attacks, because, you know, you always doubt yourself and stuff you supposed to the markets bigger than you. I’ve had started having panic attacks, you know, in the last couple of months. Yeah. Like, dammit, not a bad way. It’s a good way to keep me humble. But yeah, you know, it’s tough. I think. And that’s the part that we you know, we have to push aside and move on.

Michael Waitze 47:17
Yeah, just move forward. Let’s do this. I’ll let you go. This was awesome way. But like, I knew it was gonna be great. But this was way better than great. And I really want to thank you for doing this. But the other thing I want to do is, I want to follow your progress. If you’ll allow me, like, catch up with me again in the new year, right? We’re in November. So maybe in March of April of next year, you’ve opened it, you’ll open a fifth office, as you said, You’ll be bigger. Yeah, hopefully. Right. I get it. But I just want to follow the progress. So hopefully, you’ll you’ve enjoyed this experience. You’ll come back and do more with me later. Because I’d love to just keep telling the story because I think that what you’re building is actually really transformational. I told you I talked to a ton of people, Daniel and like, this one has my mind running a lot.

Daniel Lim 48:01
I would love to sit down with you and show you a live demo.

Michael Waitze 48:04
I cannot wait to see it. Don’t worry. You in Singapore, you’re in Japan. Where are you?

Daniel Lim 48:07
I’m sorry. I’m in Tokyo. When you when you’re next in Tokyo to see your house.

Michael Waitze 48:12
I sold my house. But when I’m next in Japan, I’ll let you know. And we’ll sit down. It’s obviously a demo, because I just have so many ideas. Anyway. Daniel Lim, the founder and CEO of Pi-xcels . Awesome conversation. Thank you so much for doing this. Let’s get back together.

Daniel Lim 48:28
Definitely thank you, Michael. Thank you


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