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Singapore Startup: This HR Tech Firm Worth $100 Million Is Ready To Conquer Asia

In the dizzying world of technology startups, it’s easy to get lost in the hype of hot trends such as AI, blockchain, VR/AR and machine learning. What is often forgotten is the fact that some of the best startups in the world solve the simplest of problems.

This is exactly the approach that Pascal Henry, who is the CEO and cofounder of HReasily, took when he identified the fundamental needs of rapidly growing SMEs–to manage their human resources more efficiently.

Henry launched his Singapore-based HR firm in late 2015 as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business that enables companies to increase productivity by using technology to streamline traditional processes such as payroll processing, leave management and expense claims.

When I was running my first startup in Singapore, I had to do a lot of the manual processes myself. I felt the pain and the drain of it,” explains Henry. “It was taking up a lot of my time and energy, when I should have been focusing on building my business.”

Today In: Asia

 

Improving productivity and efficiency

HReasily’s mission is simple: To innovate and automate HR throughout the world. As one of the fastest-growing cloud-based HR SaaS companies in the region, their simple modules and features aim to transform many of the legacy HR processes and automate them to be accessible anytime and anywhere. Currently the company offers seven modules including payroll, staff leave, employee contracts and attendance. As HReasily grows, it continues to add product lines aimed at empowering companies to scale faster.

Previously, many businesses used solutions that each looked after a particular silo of an HR department. So you’d have one system to manage your payroll calculations, one for leave and others for other functions.

“What happened was you had to log in and out of many various systems, and these systems cost a huge amount of money,” says Henry. “What we’ve done is build a solution that is very affordable that integrates with all the functions on a unified platform.”

A simple but elegant business model HReasily runs a subscription-based revenue model. Starting with payroll, which is at the core of every traditional HR office, the company offers premium versions that run on monthly or yearly subscriptions, with add-on modules available such as staff leave and time attendance. This past summer at the RISE 2019 conference in Hong Kong, Henry and his team unveiled their latest benefits management module which will soon allow customers to acquire group level insurance, healthcare and even apply for credit cards or loans.

HReasily says its competitive advantage lies in its customer base, which is mostly SMEs. By initially focusing on the fundamental needs of this particular segment, the company has earned the support of larger banking and government agencies and has become known as an “SME champion.” Not surprisingly, as the company has grown it says that it began to attract larger corporations, publicly listed companies, multinational corporations and even payroll outsourcing firms.

“As we grew we acquired a more diverse customer base,” Henry says, “because a lot of larger companies are tired of the older and expensive solutions because they need to be installed on premise and they require a refresher every year when rules and regulations change.”

Partnerships are the key to rapid growth

Being based in Singapore has allowed HReasily to capitalize on the rapid growth in Southeast Asia. SME’s account for 97% of all the enterprises in the region, and employ half of the workforce, according to data from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). HReasily’s growth has been nothing short of impressive. With nearly 30,000 companies on their platform and more than 100 new companies onboarding every day, HReasily is said to be growing rapidly in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Some of HReasily’s notable customers include Love Bonito (in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong), Sambat Finance (Cambodia), OnlinePajak (Indonesia) and TechInAsia. As the company looks to complete their coverage of Asia, the next major market they look to tackle is mainland China followed by Taiwan, Japan, Myanmar and Australia.

Investors have taken notice of the company’s growth as well. Fresh off a pre-series A funding round of $5 million from Envy Capital, HReasily is currently estimated to be valued at more than $100 million. Henry admits that the company’s rapid growth in the region has only been possible with the early support from their key strategic partners.

HReasily has been working with Citibank, Mazars and Stripe. The partnership with Mazars, which was a lead investor from the startup’s first round of funding, gives them access to a global audit, advisory and payroll outsourcing firm with 300 offices in 100 countries. Henry says it allows HReasily to localize its solutions to each individual market.

Today, building a solid ecosystem of strategic partners is very important because you come from different angles, but you all serve one customer, which is the SME or the business,” says Henry. “By coming together, we collectively create a great end-to-end experience for them. There’s strength in numbers.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Jay Kim is a full-time investor and the host of the popular podcast The Jay Kim Show, Hong Kong’s first dedicated podcast on entrepreneurship and investing in Asia. Inc. Magazine has named The Jay Kim Show one of the top three podcasts from Asia which are inspirational and useful to entrepreneurs. Jay is an avid supporter of the start-up ecosystem in Asia and frequently consults with leaders in local government on topics related to technology, entrepreneurship, early-stage investing and startups

Source: Singapore Startup: This HR Tech Firm Worth $100 Million Is Ready To Conquer Asia

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Is your administration work taking too much out of your time? HReasily provides HR solutions for payroll processing, leave and claims management, employee scheduling and time attendance, so that business owners can focus on growing their businesses.

 

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How MarQuis Trill Gained Millions Of Followers And What He Can Teach You About Millennial Marketing

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that millennials are projected to outnumber Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation in America. With the millennial generation making up such a huge portion of American consumers, it is imperative that companies understand how to effectively market products and services to this group. For this generation, social media has become an integral part of their lives. Many companies have taken notice and are using social media to craft their marketing strategies, however, many organizations struggle to understand and determine how to successfully capture the attention of millennial consumers.

One person that companies can learn a lot from is MarQuis Trill, a social media influencer, investor, and entrepreneur who has figured out how to authentically gain and capture the attention of young audiences. MarQuis made his social media debut on Myspace in 2003, at the tender age of 12. In 2017, he was listed as one of the most influential people on the internet. Now, through his social media platforms, MarQuis reaches millions of people every month, with a large percentage of his audience being millennials and Generation Z. After deciphering the formula for success, MarQuis started an agency called Entertainment 258, which is focused on helping businesses, influencers, athletes and artists develop and expand their brands. What are companies getting wrong when it comes to millennial marketing strategies?

How does MarQuis keep his audience engaged? What are some best practices when it comes to millennial marketing on social media? MarQuis sat down with Forbes to discuss these questions and more.

Janice Gassam: Who is MarQuis Trill? How did you develop such a huge following on social media?

 MarQuis Trill: It basically developed in college. I went to Prairie View A&M University on a full-ride scholarship. I had a chance to go to other big schools like Baylor, Texas A&M, USC…but I decided to go to an HBCU, just to change the culture…once I started attending the school, I saw the culture of the community. I went from playing basketball to [be] an artist, to [be] a promoter online and it just grew from there. I always had that marketing strategy inside me and my school kind of just brought that out of me.

Gassam: What are some mistakes that companies make when it comes to branding and marketing to millennials?

Today In: Leadership

 Trill: I think companies are getting things wrong, first, inside the company itself. They’re hiring people that are not a part of the culture—that’s the first thing. Everything we see on TV is a copy. We’ve seen multiple videos, multiple commercials from our favorite influencers. The people that work in those places are copying exactly what the millennials are doing, instead of coming to us and collaborating with us and actually hiring us and giving us jobs…instead of paying an influencer, how about hiring an influencer? It should start inside.

Second…I call it ‘camouflage marketing.’ And what camouflage marketing is, is when you’re marketing something, but it’s not focused on the actual brand. So that could be merchandise, that could be accessories, that could be sponsorships, that could be a flash of your logo…I think they should focus more on that, and creating cool content…collaborations, collaborations, collaborations. As time goes on, a 13-year-old turns 21…you always have to change…you always have to connect with the millennials and with the new generation.

If you don’t do that, you’re going to be disconnected. Once you become disconnected, it doesn’t matter if you’re a million-dollar company or a billion-dollar company—you’re going to lose revenue dollars…that’s what I feel a lot of companies are missing. You don’t necessarily have to hire someone, like a kid, to be the CMO of your entire company, just a collaboration or maybe you can give them a smaller job where they are just over marketing strategies for Instagram…all you need is five millennials in the office space for Twitter and Instagram and you’re going to have a hundred thousand followers, a million followers and they’re going to run it all for you…they don’t need big budgets because they’re young kids and as time goes on and they start doing more for your company, you’ll be able to pay them anyway.

 

Gassam: What are some trends you anticipate on social media when it comes to millennial marketing?

 

Trill: Well…it’s always something new and something fresh…what I try to focus on is fast news and fast content. That’s where you’ll get most of the engagement and most of your following from. That’s how I grew my following originally. I was taking videos from YouTube and putting them on Twitter. I was taking videos from Facebook and putting them on Twitter because different platforms have different videos and different followings. Something that’s been posted on YouTube probably hasn’t been seen by the people on Twitter…Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, they don’t all have the same following.

Different people get on different platforms because they like the functionalities of that platform. Kids that are on TikTok might not necessarily be on Twitter. People that are on Snapchat might not necessarily use Instagram all the time. That’s what people fail to realize. Every single influencer, they may not have every single social media platform. That’s where a lot of people miss out on…Twitter is for news information and text. Instagram is for pictures. Snapchat is for, right there on-the-spot videos. Basically, live videos…TikTok, [for] six seconds dancing. You have to be creative…young kids are on [TikTok] all the way from eight years old all the way up to 21.

 

Gassam: So, companies need to learn that they can’t post the same social media content on every single platform and expect it to stick?

 

Trill: Exactly. They also have to use camouflage marketing. Using influencers, creating dope content that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with their products. They can flash the product in between the content or at the end or the person that’s inside the content can actually say the product. It can be a one-minute music video and five seconds out of the music video, that artist is pouring cheerios…he’s not necessarily saying ‘I eat cheerios.’ Now the consumer and the person that is watching the content, they’re smarter now…they know what’s fake, they know what’s an ad now…with the rules and everything you even have to put ‘ad’ or ‘promo’. So now, when you put that, your engagement goes down even more…you have to do it in a camouflage sense.

 

Gassam: Is there a social media platform you would recommend companies use when marketing to millennials?

 

Trill: It depends on what their product or service is. If you’re selling merch, I would definitely say go with Instagram and YouTube. If you’re already a super known company, I would say go with Twitter because the engagement there reaches faster…you get more retweets, you get more favorites, more impressions. If you’re trying to sell anything, if you’re trying to become a brand yourself, if you’re trying to conquer a market, I would say use YouTube because Google owns YouTube and they create all [the] SEO that’s on the internet…when you search something like ‘how to dance,’ whoever made a video on ‘how to dance’ on YouTube, that’s what’s going to pop up for a search and that’s free marketing, free viewership for the person, influencers or brand that made that video. Now content is becoming the search. That goes for marketing and branding as well.

 

Gassam: How can companies stand out to millennials on social media?

 

Trill: They should be more direct with the consumer. The consumer is getting smarter because they’ve seen so much content, so they can tell if something is fake, something is real, something is being promoted and they won’t engage as much to it. If the consumer and the people that are selling products, if they intertwine and they come more direct with people that are in the communities…then that’s when you start getting more product sales and more distribution in your product. I wouldn’t buy anything that I’m not tapped into or that I didn’t see anyone else wearing.

iPhone is hot because everyone has an iPhone, not because it’s the best phone…they keep developing different products. They have apps, they have iTunes, they have podcasts…they’re tapped into every culture…they’re basically competing against themselves…subscription-based is what’s coming next. AR is coming next, virtual reality is coming next. And these are the things that these companies need to focus on…someone will always develop something new; someone will always come up with something that’s greater than the other platforms.

Gassam: Popeyes recently came out with a very successful marketing campaign for their new chicken sandwich. Should companies copy these campaigns in order to be successful? In regard to the millennial consumer, do you think controversy sells?

 

Trill: I wouldn’t say copy. But they should come up with their own strategy. Once you see something so much, you are making the consumer smarter. Your next marketing campaign is going to have to be harder.

I think controversy is always great…but if you’re deliberately doing things on purpose and expecting a great outcome, nine times out of ten, it might not go your way. But if you have a whole marketing strategy behind it and if you know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re trying to go, then it’s definitely going to work…we don’t have to pay for press.

This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

To learn more about MarQuis, visit his website or connect with him on Instagram.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I grew up in five different states and across two continents, which was the catalyst to my interest in diversity. My ultimate goal is to help leaders infuse more love into the workplace, creating a culture that is more equitable and productive. Currently, I work as a professor at Sacred Heart University, teaching courses in management. In addition, I am a consultant, helping organizations create a more inclusive environment. I earned a Ph.D. in applied organizational psychology from Hofstra University, and I enjoy conducting research in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, hiring, selection, and leadership.

Source: How MarQuis Trill Gained Millions Of Followers And What He Can Teach You About Millennial Marketing

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Social media influencer “MarQuis Trill” aka @6billionpeople shows you how he got thousands to millions of followers on Twitter and Instagram. MarQuis Trill has over 1 million followers on Instagram and over 4.5 Million on Twitter. Watch the video, susbcribe, follow and support the movement. Click the link below to subscribe to my youtube account. http://www.youtube.com/subscription_c… “MarQuis Trill” Instagram http://www.Instagram.com/MarQuisTrill… Download Songs – https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/ma… For Booking or Features Visit ( http://MarQuisTrill.com ) | Email: Marquistrillbooking@gmail.com Download Mixes from DJ 6BillionPeople for free here — http://www.Soundcloud.com/Marquistril… Follow Me on all social networks Twitter http://www.twitter.com/6BillionPeople Instagram http://www.Instagram.com/Marquistrill… Facebook http://www.Facebook.com/Marquis-trill Company http://www.entertainment258.com Personal Website – http://MarQuisTrill.com Follow – https://twitter.com/6billionpeople Instagram – http://Instagram.com/MarQuisTrillShow MarQuis Trill Albums- Dreams Happen, Twerk Radio, Twerk GOD & 100K Followers Subscribe To The Channel for more Video & Music Support the TRILL Movement Buy MarQuis Trill Music — https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/yo… More Music on Itunes —https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/ma…. Buy MarQuis Trill Lastest Album – http://youngsolar.bandcamp.com/ Download Free Album – http://www.datpiff.com/Young-Solar-Ma… MarQuis Trill Free Music — http://www.Hulkshare.com/MarQuisTrill Soundcloud – http://soundcloud.com/Marquistrillmusic

Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, and Other Tech Leaders Share Their Favorite Summer Reads

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  • When they’re not busy ideating in Silicon Valley, tech execs like to settle down with a beach read.
  • NBC reporter Dylan Byers rounded up book recommendations from tech CEOs in a summer reading list for his newsletter.

For folks seeking an elevated beach read this summer, NBC reporter Dylan Byers asked six tech executives for summer reading recommendations in his newsletter.

Read on for book recommendations from Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg, Tim Cook, and more.

Mark Zuckerberg — Facebook, CEO

Getty

The Last Days of Night by Graham Moore.

A novel about who really invented the lightbulb by the screenwriter behind the Oscar-wining film “The Imitation Game.” It features the intertwining stories of Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, and George Westinghouse.

Sheryl Sandberg — Facebook, COO

Reuters

The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates

Philanthropist Melinda Gates writes about the importance of empowering women, and how that action can change the world.

Tim Cook — CEO, Apple

Getty

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

When a young Stanford neurosurgeon is diagnosed with lung cancer, he sets out to write a memoir about mortality, memory, family, medicine, literature, philosophy, and religion. It’s a tear-jerker, with an epilogue written by his wife Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, who survives him, along with their young daughter.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

A memoir by the creator of Nike, Phil Knight.

Dawn Ostroff — Spotify, CCO

Richard Bord/Getty Images

Educated by Tara Westover

Westover, raised in the mountains of Idaho in a family of survivalists, didn’t go to school until she was 17. She would go on to earn a PhD from Cambridge University. This memoir chronicles her path towards higher education.

Evan Spiegel — Snap, CEO

Mike Blake/Reuters

Mortal Republic by Edward Watts

A history of how ancient Rome fell into tyranny.

Jeffrey Katzenberg — KndrCo

Getty Images / Larry Busacca

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

Written in 2018, Harari addresses technological and political challenges that humans will have to tackle in the 21st century.

White Working Class by Joan C. Williams

Williams, a law professor, writes “Class consciousness has has been replaced by class cluelessness — and in some cases, even class callousness.”

Rebecca Aydin Business Insider

Warren Buffett Says He Became a Self-Made Billionaire Because He Played by 1 Simple Rule of Life

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Berkshire Hathaway chairman and CEO Warren Buffett will always be remembered as an investing luminary. But so often you’ll find Buffett expounding on things outside of his investing mastery.

In HBO’s 2017 Becoming Warren Buffett documentary, Buffett taught a group of high school students not about money advice but about how to live a good life, and how becoming a good person means you’ll also become a successful business person.

It’s what was passed on from Buffett’s father to Warren–the principle of having an “Inner Scorecard” rather than an “Outer Scorecard.” Either one can get you to success, but one matters more than the other. Buffett said:

The big question about how people behave is whether they’ve got an Inner Scorecard or an Outer Scorecard. It helps if you can be satisfied with an Inner Scorecard.

Unpacking Buffett’s “inner scorecard” principle

An outer scorecard is what most people have or want, often driven by hubris, greed, or a life lived off-balance. It’s an external measure of success that attempts to answer elusive questions like, “What do people think of me, my success, my image, or my brand?”

The inner scorecard is intrinsic and it defines who you are at the core of your values and beliefs. The focus is on doing the right things and serving people well instead of on what other people think of you. In one simple but hard-to-attain word in business, it’s about being authentic.

 

The inner scorecard has been the Warren Buffett way and what has worked for the self-made billionaire his entire life. It’s taking the higher road and it’s paid off for Buffett.

Investor and author Guy Spier writes in his book The Education of a Value Investor, “One of Buffett’s defining characteristics is that he so clearly lives by his own inner scorecard. It isn’t just that he does what’s right, but that he does what’s right for him … There’s nothing fake or forced about him. He sees no reason to compromise his standards or violate his beliefs.”

Here are four examples of how living by your own inner scorecard can lead to success, as it has for Buffett.

1. Start with what you teach your kids.

In Alice Schroeder’s The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, she quotes Buffett offering a parenting tip: “In teaching your kids, I think the lesson they’re learning at a very, very early age is what their parents put the emphasis on. If all the emphasis is on what the world’s going to think about you, forgetting about how you really behave, you’ll wind up with an Outer Scorecard. Now my dad: He was a hundred percent Inner Scorecard guy.”

2. Beware of whom you hang out with.

One summer after graduating from Columbia University, Buffett had to fulfill his obligation to the National Guard and attend training camp for a few weeks. That experience taught him one incredible lesson: hang around people who are better than you.

Buffett said in The Snowball, “To fit in, all you had to do was be willing to read comic books. About an hour after I got there, I was reading comic books. Everybody else was reading comic books, why shouldn’t I? My vocabulary shrank to about four words, and you can guess what they were.

“I learned that it pays to hang around with people better than you are because you will float upward a little bit. And if you hang around with people that behave worse than you, pretty soon you’ll start sliding down the pole. It just works that way.”

3. Don’t forget the only two rules of investing you’ll ever need.

Buffett pares down his inner scorecard investment philosophy to two simple sound bites. He says, “Rule No. 1: Never lose money. Rule No. 2: Never forget rule No. 1.”

Yes, he’s made billions but he has also personally lost billions–about $23 billion during the financial recession of 2008. What Buffett alludes to here is mindset–having a sensible approach to investing. That means doing your homework, finding sustainable businesses with good reputations, and avoiding being frivolous and gambling away your money. Buffett never invests prepared to lose money, and neither should you.

4. Never waver away from what matters most to you.

Buffett’s success is not so much about what he has done as it is about what he hasn’t done. With all the demands on him every day, Buffett learned a long time ago that the greatest commodity of all is time. He simply mastered the art and practice of setting boundaries for himself.

That’s why this Buffett quote remains a powerful life lesson. The mega-mogul said:

The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.

This advice speaks directly to our inner scorecard. We have to know what to shoot for to simplify our lives. It means saying no over and over again to the unimportant things flying in our direction every day and remaining focused on saying yes to the few things that truly matter.

 

By:  Marcel Schwantes Founder and Chief Human Officer, Leadership From the Core@MarcelSchwantes

 

Source: https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/warren-buffett-says-he-became-a-self-made-billionaire

 

 

How Did The Owner and Builder Of The Newly-Completed 450-foot-Long Superyacht Flying Fox Keep It A Secret For So Long?

The short answer for such a massive superyact is, they didn’t really. But that doesn’t mean the experienced owner—who worked with the red-hot superyacht exterior designer Espen Oeino, interior designer Mark Berryman and the highly experienced, megayacht builders at Lürssen in Germany—couldn’t at least try. So, the 450-foot-long, 67-foot-wide yacht was built in the relative secrecy of Lürssen’s enormous manufacturing facility. And the yacht that took several years, and $100’s of millions to build (and probably more than a few non-disclosure agreements) was always referred to by its code name: Project Shu.

But then again, it was extremely hard to keep a yacht that’s much longer than a football field a secret when it finally emerged from the builders covered facility earlier this spring. And even harder once her sea trials on the Baltic began earlier this summer.

And as you can see in the few photos that have finally emerged (it’s now called by its real name—Flying Fox) Espen Oeino has designed an elegant yacht exterior that that looks sleek in spite of her massive over-all volume.

The balance and proportion of the exterior allows for generous deck space that offer a range of options for owners and guests to enjoy. Numerous terraces and platforms open out over the water to provide fantastic access the water. While every other exterior element, from sun decks and open entertainment areas to more shaded and intimate spaces, has been designed to provide the highest level of luxury.

For example, all superyachts have swimming pools, but Flying Fox is special in that its enormous swimming pool that runs from side to side on the main deck. The exterior also is equipped two helicopter landing pads, one on the bridge deck and another on the sun deck aft, that makes it possible to for owners and guests to use multiple helicopters.

Meanwhile, advance reports about the interior (no photos of the interior have been published yet) say interior designer Mark Berryman’s has interior has a calm and spacious feel featuring soft neutral tones and tactile finishes.

And as you can see from what the builder and project manager of this massive yacht said when the yacht was launched earlier this spring, they kept the “secret” going for as long as they could.

“Project SHU represents a major milestone for Imperial.” says Julia Stewart, Director at Imperial Yachts who brought their vast experience and knowledge to their supervision of the massive build project. “Being involved in impressive superyacht projects like these show our capacity and experience in superyacht and megayacht management, with regular deliveries of 80m+ projects supervised and operated by our team since 2015. Our strong and very dynamic links with Lürssen, Espen Oeino and Mark Berryman helped to achieve one of the most impressive vessel of the next decade”

Shipyard Managing Partner Peter Lürssen proudly states: “SHU fulfills the requests of a very experienced owner in an exceptional way. The owner’s input within all aspects of the yacht’s design was clear, strong and exacting. Building SHU was a significant challenge and we are very proud of this achievement. She represents another remarkable milestone in our history.”

But the secret is out now, and tuned for much more from Lürssen and Espen Oeino. The German yard, and Norwegian designer have been very, very busy.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

During my previous life as an editor at several American yachting magazines, I was lucky enough to sail thousands of offshore miles on a wide variety of boats. My job as yachting scribe has brought me on adventures from the Arctic Circle to the equator, and to nearly every tropical destination in between. I’ve dodged high-speed hydrofoils on the brown waters off St. Petersburg, Russia, anchored in impossibly blue water off uninhabited islands in the Seychelles, Scandinavia, the BVI, and the Bahamas, and even flown aboard a Jayhawk helicopter with the US Coast Guard on training missions. These days, when I’m not travelling or writing about the magic that happens at confluence of superyachts, offshore adventure, luxury travel, and technology, I sail my ultra-simple, ultra-fast dinghy, ride my gorgeous and gloriously-expensive carbon fiber bike, and push our little one in a baby stroller all over New England.

Source: How Did The Owner and Builder Of The Newly-Completed 450-foot-Long Superyacht Flying Fox Keep It A Secret For So Long?

This Former Engineer Retired At 33 With Zero Passive Income Streams And His Net Worth Nearly Doubled In Six Years

Justin McCurry doesn’t like much on his schedule. At most, he sets one thing to do a day. On Monday, that might be volunteering. On Wednesday, it’s likely grocery shopping. On Friday, there’s a good chance he’ll be playing tennis with his wife.

The rest of the time? It’s up to him. Pursuing a hobby, playing video games, doing yard work. It’s not the typical schedule for a 39 year-old with three kids. But that’s what McCurry has done since officially retiring as a transportation engineer in 2013.

In about a decade, he and his wife, Kaisorn, saw their portfolio balloon from a few thousand dollars to $1.3 million, yet neither of them had a job that paid close to six figures. And what’s particularly unusual about McCurry’s journey: He never had a passive income stream – other than his investment portfolio – that helped buffer his paycheck, boosting his ability to save. Instead, he did it all through cutting back and finding intelligent ways to squeeze savings, without sacrificing his lifestyle.

“I realized I had more paycheck than expenses,” said McCurry. “I just knew that saving money was probably a good thing,” as he tried to figure out what to do with the leftover funds each month.

When bloggers and FIRE (financially independent, retire early) voices talk about stepping away from the day job in their 30s and 40s, it’s also often coupled with side gigs that bring in dough, such as real estate or businesses that they built. It serves as a much-welcomed security blanket when managing a retirement that could stretch 50 years or more. For McCurry, though, it wasn’t about passive income streams or growing a sizable real estate portfolio. From 2004 to 2013, he and his wife lived on one income while essentially stashing away the other.

In the meantime, they had three kids, bought a house and have traveled the world.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed by the Size of It All

When McCurry first started saving, he looked at how long he would need to retire, and came up with a number that would let him step away from the job 20 years later. Even though he never was a big spender, the number seemed daunting.

“Knowing I would have to chug away for a decade or two,” said McCurry, “it’s almost like a pie in the sky.”

It made it difficult for him to see the benefits at first because that number was so large and the timeframe so long. This isn’t much different than when people set out for retirement on 40-year timeframes.

Researchers have found that the more someone connects with their future-self, meaning can view their future self with the same empathy and concern as their current self, the more they will save.

This ability to connect with the future self may be easier on this shortened timeframe. But it’s not guaranteed.

For McCurry, it became easier to handle as he continued to refine his plan, saving more than he and his wife ever expected they could. Then, after a few years, he started seeing the impact of compound interest.

He would place around $60,000 in the portfolio in a year, while the investments would return $100,000. McCurry soon realized that his 20-year plan had shrunk in half.

Cut Your Taxes

One of the most important ways McCurry saved was on taxes. At one point, he took the family’s joint income of $150,000, and managed to realize a tax hit of just $150.

His wife maxed out her 401k as well, while also doing the same in a health savings account and a flexible spending account. He then used a series of deductions, from the standard one to exemptions to child credits to reduce that income line to $28,950, leaving just a $150 tax liability.

McCurry took the approach that the tax breaks providing a discount to his savings. At the time, he would invest around $60,000 a year in tax-advantaged accounts. With that money, he locked in about $15,000 in tax breaks. That $60,000 investment, in actuality, only cost him around $45,000 if you count the tax break.

“It’s a little easier to save $45,000 versus $60,000,” McCurry said.

Design For the Worst Case Scenarios

One reason that McCurry’s timeframe shifted from 20 years to 10, despite lacking an additional income source, was simply because of the amount of buying he did when times looked bleak in 2007 through 2009.

He’s not like many in the FIRE world, constantly checking the portfolio, feeling the joy as the dollars increased, bringing him one step closer to quitting the day job. Instead, he mostly checks the accounts once a quarter, figuring out where he stands and if he needs any adjustments to his contributions.

“The last quarter in 2007, I noticed huge drops in our net worth,” remembered McCurry.

It didn’t deter him.

“I put as much as I could into the stock market each month, knowing I’m buying these shares at half or a third from where they were,” he added. “It was a buying opportunity of a lifetime.”

When the stocks began to turn in 2009, then his net worth went into hyper-drive. Since stepping away with $1.3 million, he’s now worth over $2.1 million, largely due to the fact that he now earns a little income from his blog, RootofGood.com (which means he doesn’t have to tap as much investment income) and the performance of his investments through a decade-long bull run.

But McCurry is savvy enough to realize the market will pull back at some point.

That’s where he taps his engineering muscle. As an engineer, you always prepare for the worst-case scenario. If what you’re building works under that scenario, then it will work, theoretically, in all other cases. When he looks at his portfolio, if the market drops 40%, then it would reach the levels he started with when he first retired.

He might spend a little less, but with a 3.25% rate of withdrawal from his investments, his family would be “totally fine,” he said.

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I’ve written about personal finance for Fortune, MONEY, CNBC and many others. I also authored The Everything Guide to Investing in Cryptocurrencies.

Source: This Former Engineer Retired At 33 With Zero Passive Income Streams And His Net Worth Nearly Doubled In Six Years

Who Got Rich This Week: Zuckerberg, Bezos And Three Other Billionaires Gain $13 Billion Combined

Mark Zuckerberg has had plenty of difficult days in the past year, but this past week was a good one for him. The Facebook CEO’s net worth jumped $5.5 billion in the week through Thursday April 25, mostly due to investor glee about the $2.4 billion in first quarter profit that the social media firm reported on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old is worth $71.3 billion, $20 billion more than at the beginning of 2019. He is now the 5th richest person in the world, up from No. 8 in March when Forbes published the annual world’s billionaires list. The positive quarterly earnings report overshadowed news that Facebook is setting aside as much as $5 billion to pay a fine to the Federal Trade Commission over privacy issues.

Zuckerberg’s gain was by far the biggest of the week, but he is in good company. The fortunes of Zuckerberg and four other tech billionaires, including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, rose by a collective $13 billion in seven days.

A day after Facebook released its first-quarter earnings report, Amazon announced a quarterly profit of $3.6 billion, an all-time record for the e-commerce giant. Amazon’s share price rose 2.2% in the week through Thursday, causing Bezos’ net worth to surge by $3.2 billion. The 55-year-old CEO, who owns a 16% stake in Amazon, is now worth $157.8 billion.

Bezos announced earlier this month that he will transfer approximately 4% of the company’s stock to his wife, MacKenzie, as part of their divorce settlement, which is expected to be completed around early July. Jeff Bezos would still be the world’s richest person while MacKenzie will become the third-richest woman.

WE Day California

Steve Ballmer retired from Microsoft in 2014, but he’s still its largest individual shareholder.

2016 Getty Images

The net worth of Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s former CEO, rose $1.7 billion in the week through Thursday as the software giant’s share price increased by 4.7%. Microsoft smashed earnings estimates with a quarterly revenue of $30.6 billion, boosted by its commercial cloud business, which has grown 41% year-over-year. Ballmer, Microsoft’s largest individual shareholder, is now worth $48.3 billion. Cofounder and former CEO Bill Gates only owns just over 1% of shares, having sold or given away most of his stake in Microsoft, but the stock uptick did bump his net worth by $600 million.

Michael Dell, chairman and CEO of Dell Technologies, is now worth $40 billion after gaining $1.4 billion in a week due to a 6.6% stock uptick. Last December, the computer maker returned to the public market six years after Dell took the company private. Dell Technologies’ market capitalization was $46.7 billion as of end of day Thursday, up from its $34 billion listing. Dell’s net worth has nearly doubled over the past 12 months.

Larry Page, the cofounder of Google and CEO of its parent company Alphabet, got $1.1 billion richer, with an estimated fortune of $57.6 billion. Shares of Alphabet, which will report its first-quarter earnings after the closing bell on Monday, have increased 2.2% since last Thursday. It has been a busy week for Alphabet’s “Other Bets.” Wing, which became an independent Alphabet business last summer, recently got approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to deliver goods by drone. Wing plans to start drone deliveries in Blacksburg, Virginia, later this year. Loon, which uses high-altitude balloons to provide internet access to remote areas, raised $125 million from a SoftBank subsidiary on Thursday.

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I am a wealth reporter at Forbes. Prior to joining the wealth team, I oversaw the Forbes Media and Entertainment section for nearly three years as Assistant Editor.

Source: Who Got Rich This Week: Zuckerberg, Bezos And Three Other Billionaires Gain $13 Billion Combined

Eduardo Saverin’s VC Firm B Capital Raises $406 Million In First Close Of New Fund, Filing Shows

Eduardo Saverin raises new fund

Eduardo Saverin and his VC firm B Capital just filed a $406 million first close of their new fund.Bryan van der Beek for Forbes

The venture capital firm cofounded by Facebook billionaire Eduardo Saverin and partner Raj Ganguly has raised hundreds of millions in new funding to invest in startups.

B Capital has raised $406 million in a first close of its second fund, according to a new regulatory filing with the SEC obtained on Friday. The firm, which wrote in the filing it had raised that amount from 62 investors since late March, indicated that it planned to raise more than that amount, which already tops the $360 million it raised for its first fund.

B Capital declined to comment on the filing or its funding plans.

Earlier in March, Forbes published a wide-ranging interview with Saverin, the cofounder of Facebook who moved to Singapore in 2009. In that article, Saverin and Ganguly revealed a strategy to invest in companies with an international focus—B Capital maintains offices in California, New York and Saverin’s Singapore—and ones that can benefit from a “special relationship” with Boston Consulting Group, the consulting firm that is one of the anchor investors in B Capital’s initial fund.

At the time, B Capital had made about 20 investments from that fund, using up much of its “dry powder,” as the industry sometimes refers to money available to invest in startups. A source told Forbes at the time that B Capital would look to raise a second fund of approximately twice the size of its first later in 2019. That remains the goal after this first filing, the source says now.

At the time, B Capital had recently expanded to bring on a seventh partner, Karen Appleton Page, a former executive at Box and Apple. With seven investment partners and check sizes that can run into the tens of millions, it’s not surprising that B Capital, still just four years old, would seek out so much money so fast.

“No matter how lucky or blessed I might be, I will never retire on a beach,” Saverin told Forbes in early 2019. “We are still so early into making the technologies that will impact the world.”

Read more of Saverin’s views—and see how B Capital is looking to stand out in a crowded venture capital market—check the full feature story here.

Follow Alex on Forbes and Twitter for more coverage of startups, enterprise software and venture capital. 

I’m an associate editor at Forbes covering venture capital, cloud and enterprise software out of New York. I edit the Midas List, Midas List Europe, Cloud 100 list and 3…

Source: Eduardo Saverin’s VC Firm B Capital Raises $406 Million In First Close Of New Fund, Filing Shows

Investor Kathy Xu Rockets To 2019 Midas List Top Ten As Power Of Chinese Startups Grows

Kathy Xu, founding partner of Capital Today, debuted in the Midas List top ten.

Kathy Xu, founding partner of Capital Today, made a bold Midas List debut. Photo courtesy of Capital Today

Capital Today founding partner Kathy Xu laughs when she talks about her career-making early investment in Chinese e-commerce company JD.com, which began with a late-night meeting with founder Richard Qiangdong in 2006:

“We met at 10 p.m. and we talked until 2 a.m.!” she tells Forbes. “I gave him five times the amount of money that he asked for — I was so worried that otherwise he’d meet with other investors.”

Capital Today managed to become the startup’s sole Series A investor and Xu’s check — $18 million USD — paid off royally as JD swelled into an ecommerce giant, with Xu working closely with Qiangdong along the way, advising him on key hires and company branding. Two years after JD went public in 2015, her firm cashed out returns of $2.9 billion.

A couple years and a handful of new deals later, Xu is making her bold debut on the Forbes 2019 Midas List, ranking in the top 10 venture capitalists in the world in her first year of inclusion (her work has previously been highlighted on Forbes China’s list of top 25 women venture capitalists in China).

This year’s list features 21 investors who are either of Chinese nationality or work for a firm based in China, the largest number ever on the list and a tribute to the growing power of China’s startup and venture capital ecosystems.

Xu says that Capital Today, which manages approximately $2.5 billion, focuses all its energy on companies based in and serving China and has zero interest in looking outside the country.

“It’s a big enough market, the economy is doing well, the entrepreneurship is great, and we’re starting to see real innovation booming for the first time,” she says. “It’s a lucrative market to focus on.”

Xu says that her team disciplines itself to only five or six deals a year in business-to-consumer companies and spends a lot of time with founders that it invests in.

“There’s more and more money here now, so building a connection with the entrepreneur and spending a lot of time with them is more important than ever,” she says, citing proximity as an advantage over out-of-country investors who only make occasional business trips.

Beyond JD.com, other Capital Today portfolio highlights include Chinese gaming company NetEase, discount e-commerce site Meituan-Dianping, classified listings site Ganji.com (which merged with 58.com in 2015), Yifeng Pharmacy, which went public in 2015, and hot snack company Three Squirrels Snack Food.

Other Chinese investors who made this year’s Midas list are Sequoia China partner Neil Shen, who topped the rankings for the second year running, Qiming Venture Partners’ managing partner J.P. Gan, No. 5, and Hans Tung from GGV Capital, No. 7.

See the full list of Chinese investors here.

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I’m a San Francisco-based staff writer for Forbes reporting on Google and the rest of the Alphabet universe, as well as artificial intelligence more broadly. Previously

Source: Investor Kathy Xu Rockets To 2019 Midas List Top Ten As Power Of Chinese Startups Grows

Entrepreneurs: Remember That Who You Spend Time With Is Who You Become – Chris Myers

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This past weekend, I had the incredible pleasure of watching my best friend, Dr. Andrew Wolf, graduate from medical school. This was a tremendous accomplishment, made even more impressive by the fact that he managed to pick up four additional degrees in the process.

Andrew and his twin brother Eric have been my constant companions for the better part of twenty years. We grew up together, facing the same challenges and navigating many of the same opportunities. Throughout all of it, he was a constant positive influence and pushed me to be my very best.

While watching him graduate, I realized just how big of an impact he has had on my life and just how vital it is to surround yourself with people who both challenge and elevate you.

This, of course, is particularly important for entrepreneurs. The old maxim that “Whom you spend time with is whom you become” holds true in business just as it does in life. We often distinguish our business and personal lives, convincing ourselves that it is okay to be one way at the office and another at home.

The truth is that there is no such separation, and to think otherwise is pure folly.  Personal consistency is all we have, and therefore must surround ourselves with people we trust, respect, and admire in every aspect of our lives. Doing so will not only make you a better person but a better leader.

Find a tribe that raises you up

Life can be lonely for entrepreneurs or leaders of organizations, as there aren’t many direct peers they can lean on for support. Interactions with other CEOs tend to become ego contests, where everyone is desperate to prove their success and brilliance.

The result is not only off-putting, but it also poses an active threat to your soul as a leader. Early on in my role as the CEO of BodeTree, I went out of my way to connect with other startup CEOs in an attempt to develop a network that I could lean on when times got tough. Unfortunately, I failed to realize at the time that startup founders can be some of the most insecure and miserable people you’ll ever find.

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The tribe I found myself part of envied each other’s successes and continuously sought validation while tearing down those around them. I’m ashamed to admit it, but after a while I found myself adopting the same behaviors. I was becoming a person I did not want to be.It was only after coming to this realization that I began to distance myself from the group and instead found mentors and friends from different walks of life.
While they rarely had to deal with the exact issues I faced, they were still able to offer insight and value, and I was able to do the same for them. Most importantly, these were people whom I trusted, respected, and admired. My interactions with them made me better, not worse.I should have realized this earlier because of the friends I grew up with and the positive impact they had on my life, but I fell victim to the fallacy that there was a separation between my personal and public experiences. Fortunately, I was able to correct the situation before it got out of hand.

Remember that attitudes are contagious

We often forget that attitudes are contagious, particularly when it comes to business. If a leader surrounds themselves with bad influences, they run the risk of picking up bad behaviors. As leaders, the implications of this extend beyond just the personal; they spread throughout your entire organization.

I’ve been a CEO on paper for about eight years, but it has only been in the last three or so that I feel I’ve earned that title. Before that, I was a CEO in name only, flying by the seat of my pants and stumbling from one crisis to the next.

Early on, one of my most damaging mistakes was thinking that my team didn’t  pick up on my moods or pay attention to my attitude. I falsely believed that my emotions started and ended with me, when in reality they set the tone for the entire team.

When I was anxious, the team was concerned. When I was mad, frustrated, or aggressive, those sentiments flooded into the team as well, coloring their interactions with each other. It took me a few years, but I eventually realized that I had a higher responsibility as a leader.

I could no longer indulge in my mood swings or even share my feelings in the same way that someone else could. I had to modulate my responses and set the right tone for my organization at all times.

As usual, this was easier said than done. Despite what I’d like to believe, I’m no superman. I fall victim to the same temptations and challenges like anyone else. To master my emotions and set a positive tone for my company, I had to have a group of people around me who strengthened me and provided both insight and accountability when I faltered.

Seek out people you want to emulate, be of value, and learn from them

In the end, I realized that I had the answers I was seeking all along. Just as my tribe of friends helped me to survive and thrive adolescence and early adulthood, I needed to have a tribe of mentors and peers who could do the same in my career.

Finding these people can be difficult. There is no secret formula for success, despite what anyone tells you. Instead, all you can do is seek out people you want to be like, offer them value, and do your best to learn from them. Building these relationships isn’t easy, and it certainly isn’t fast, but it is worth the effort.

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