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5 Minutes With Jon Yongfook Cockle

10th Jun 2014


Jon is an entrepreneur, founder of and author of He’s started 2 companies, had one successful acquisition, and failed a bunch of times along the way. He’s consulted / advised some of the world's biggest internet companies, including Cookpad and Renren, respectively Japan's biggest recipe portal and China's biggest social network. These days you’ll normally find him coding on a beach somewhere in South East Asia and posting envy inducing shots on his in instagram account.

What are your digital / technology priorities for the year ahead?

Naturally, to work on Beatrix our social media management tool for small businesses! More specifically, making the platform faster and smarter - but still keeping it simple and delightful for customers to use. It's a delicate balance when creating software - there's always a temptation to make your app "do everything", at the expense of usability.

What emerging technologies or trends should people be aware of?

Apple's newly-announced Swift programming language looks very exciting. It's not often we see new programming languages launched by big companies, least of all ones that give access to the massive iOS market. It's going to open up the door to a lot of new developers, since Swift appears much simpler than Objective-C. What that means is more people being able to develop iOS apps. Developers being able to do things they previously weren't able to. We might be on the verge of a mini-renaissance for iOS.

What is the importance of video in the digital landscape from your perspective?

Hugely important. There are just some things that are better explained with a video, period. In my industry, which is software-as-a-service, it's very common to have a video explanation of your product on your homepage, since often you can say in 30 seconds of video what might take several pages of text and graphics.

What does the future look like for digital advertising?

As the number of touch points, screens and media types increases I think people will become more distrustful of "traditional digital" advertising and more reliant on word of mouth. The trick then is how to encourage word of mouth through digital...

What’s the best piece of innovation you have seen in recent time and why?

The self-driving car, by Google. It will transform so many aspects of our lives. It also might end up becoming the "4th place" environment - between home, work and the coffee house. Imagine instead of having your meeting at Starbucks you get in your car and tell it to drive to the beach. On the way you have your meeting in the back while the car drives itself, and then voila, meeting over and now you're at the beach!

What are your strategies to stay ahead of the competition?

I'm not really one of those people who obsesses over the competition. You have no control over them, they could launch some amazing new innovation tomorrow, just as well as they could implode and disappear for reasons you'll never know. It's best to just focus on the one thing you do well, and make sure your customers are happy. Rather than get in a mess trying to copy what your competitors are doing, or letting them influence your strategy.

What is your favourite local food? Where is your favourite place to travel?

That's a difficult one. I'm a huge fan of local food and even have a street-food and travel-oriented instagram account but I guess the one dish I always crave when I'm away is chicken rice. My favourite one is Wee Nam Kee!

For travel it would be a coin toss between Bali and Penang. Bali is just super laid back, has great beaches around Nusa Dua and has amazing places to stay. Penang is just beautiful to walk around the old town, has awesome food and super nice people. As you can guess, I'm more of an island person than a city person!