Josudo, which translates to “the art of the skilful”, offers personalized one on one esports coaching to help gamers get better.
What’s your story?
After finishing business school I went into banking (the robot-track) and then the financial crisis hit. That’s when I got my first taste of a startup in London and never looked back. That was 10 years ago now, and after about as many startups and 5 countries, I’m in Singapore going full-steam ahead with esports.
What excites you most about your industry?
The way it’s a nascent industry growing and becoming mainstream “in the shadows”, without most people even noticing. Don’t believe me? Try this, ask anyone you know who is not in esports: “Did you know that people watch other people play video games?” Nine times out of ten your answer will be: “For real? That’s a thing?” Yep, more than 750 million hours viewed per month on twitch alone in 2018. That compares with 140 million monthly hours for ESPN per month in 2017.
What’s your connection to Asia?
Always been a fan of Asian culture, food and traditions, especially those of Japan. Almost sounds cliché, but probably Japanese manga and games had a lot to do with it. Having lived in Bangkok, Jakarta and now Singapore, it’s been almost six years in Asia and counting. At this point, I just don’t see myself anywhere else.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
For business, I’d have to go with Singapore. Jakarta has a special place in my heart but it’s just a nightmare for business. Tokyo, as much as I love it, has too much protocol around business to conduct it efficiently. Hong Kong is simply becoming too China-focused and less of a cultural melting pot. Bangkok is the right mix of business-mentality and openness but loses out by the constant uprisings and uncertain political environment. Singapore is the epitome of efficiency and at the same time nurtures new businesses and startups.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
A pivot a week is the way of the weak.
Or in other words: Focus focus and focus. When you’re starting something new there’s always a hundred directions you could take things in, shiny new opportunities that tempt you in another direction or simply dividing your efforts from your core. While pivoting is always an option you want to give every idea a real chance before you decide to move on.
Who inspires you?
For the longest times my parents, for having the vision to take us (my sister and me) at a very young age out of our comfort zone to fend for ourselves and with other people and cultures. A prime example of thinking ahead of their time and seeing the trends of the future. This essentially made us what we are today, all-terrain vehicles ready to capture any opportunity or surmount any challenge in whatever part of the world need be. It was the best gift they could have possibly given us.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Just today, even though it’s not new, that Valve (game publisher responsible for a couple esports titles) has implemented transfer windows for esports players between teams. I find it fascinating how esports is looking more and more like traditional sports every day, and I like to believe we are contributing to this trend by providing a better way to improve where it previously wasn’t available. The next thing we need is a governing body over esports which goes cross-titles, like the FIA for motorsport or FIFA (minus corruption) for football.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Probably come to Asia even sooner. I think after the ‘97 financial crisis was the perfect brewing ground for new ideas and new startups, except there was no funding, but starting in ‘09-10 when the rest of the world was out of breath Asia took the lead with China at the forefront. That was the time to come to Asia.
How do you unwind?
My favourite thing to do is read outdoors when it’s a nice day out. In between books about fundraising and startups I’m currently reading the manga classic Berserk, which I can highly recommend if you don’t mind a bit (ok a lot) of gore! Obviously also enjoy playing games, though I don’t play as much as I used to in my younger years. Just finished Injustice 2, great title for fans of DC Comics like Batman and Wonder Woman (my favourite DC characters).
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
That’s an easy one, Bali without a doubt. Living in Jakarta you have to escape to Bali once in a while to maintain your sanity, so I had plenty of opportunities. It’s just such an off-switch with the relaxed atmosphere with so much diversity and great things to offer! The people are kind and (usually) not out to rip you off, depending on what you feel like you can do it somewhere on the island, from diving to temples to beach clubs to hikes or local and fancy restaurants the offer is immense!
Everyone in business should read this book:
There are so many good business books out there, The Lean Startup comes to mind as a sort of a “bible” to abide by. But more recently I really enjoyed “Chaos Monkeys” for a really well told startup story involving the early(ish) days of Facebook, Twitter, Y Combinator and just the whole Silicon Valley culture, including cameos by some of the incubator/VC gurus and some great advice along the way.
Shameless plug for your business:
Our aim is simple, to help gamers get better. The reasons can be multiple, from an aspiration to play at the top level to simply beating your friends when you play together, but we provide the means to do so in the best way via personalised coaching. This means we pair you up with a pro-level coach to teach you how the pros do it to win more often. Remember how you had that English teacher when you were young? Same thing. Coaching is just the beginning though, with learning video courses to complement the learning experience and amateur-tier leagues and tournaments for students to test their skills against other players.
How can people connect with you?
Feel free to write me at my email [email protected]
Don’t maintain my personal social media much, but we do update our company twitter quite a bit more: @josudo_gaming
This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews
Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.