The Negotiation

In this episode of The Negotiation I take the chance to catch up with an old and dear friend of mine, TR Harrington. TR is currently the CO-Program Director at MOX the Mobile Only Accelerator, an SOSV-backed accelerator based in Taipei, Taiwan. TR is one of very few foreign entrepreneurs to both build and sell a company inside China. His company was Darwin Marketing and he spent 13 years building it and we discuss the ups and downs and learning from that journey. We also talk about his work helping brands think through their customer experience, and the shift from key opinion leaders to key opinion customers, and the importance for brands to prioritize improvements as a strategy. We then chat about what MOX is and does, and why they and SOSV, in general, are so active and enthusiastic about the SE Asian region as a great place to look for growth both for brands and for startups. We end with an interesting look at whether Yahoo really lost or not when they went to Asia. Enjoy.

Show Notes

Today on The Negotiation, we speak with TR Harrington, Co-Program Director at Mobile Only Accelerator and Program Director at SOSV. He is also a Startup Mentor at Antler, Mucker Capital, and Chinaccelerator.
TR discusses the mindset and strategies he used to run a Shanghai-based marketing agency in China, and gracefully enact an exit strategy after over a decade of serving as CEO. He says that the key to his success as a foreigner was his ability to adapt to the culture and expectations of the local market.
By extension, TR encouraged foreign brands, who approached him for his services, to adopt that same attitude if they expected to maximize their investment in China. In addition to being willing to do their marketing the way the Chinese do, they should also be prepared to move at the speed that the Chinese are known for. Finally, foreign brands should not underestimate the power of utilizing social media to reach customers and clients—such as tapping into WeChat’s customer service capabilities.
TR believes that continuous process improvement is a big factor in helping foreign brands stand out in the vast and turbulent sea that is the Chinese market. The key is to go big or go home: TR says that a relatively small company that only makes a 3x improvement will have almost zero impact on their revenue and bottom line. He also says that it is possible to go “too far” or “too deep” with metrics that do not count. Instead, brands should make it a point to prioritize the “500-foot view” metrics.
Asked about which behavioral traits startup founders must have, TR says that it is not enough to follow through with the advice given by investors and mentors. It is equally as important for them to ask why they are being given that advice in order to learn how to make consistently sound decisions in the long-term.

What is The Negotiation?

Despite being the world’s most potent economic area, Asia can be one of the most challenging regions to navigate and manage well for foreign brands. However, plenty of positive stories exist and more are emerging every day as brands start to see success in engaging and deploying appropriate market growth strategies – with the help of specialists.

The Negotiation is an interview show that showcases those hard-to-find success stories and chats with the incredible leaders behind them, teasing out the nuances and digging into the details that can make market growth in APAC a winning proposition.