#WomenInTech – Emilie Philippe

Another great interview! Emilie Phiilppe leads our Cybersecurity group at La French Tech Singapore, and we thought it would just make sense to learn more from her about the trends in this area. Read on and be ready to be surprised.

Hi Emilie, so what do you do and what brought you to Asia ?

My Singaporean adventure began in 2013. I came here with my husband as he relocated at the French Embassy after an assignment in Libya. Between 2003 and 2016, I worked with BNP Paribas in different roles and places.

I started in the IT security in Paris then moved to Legal in the Caribbeans, Risk Credits in Marseille and back to Paris in Compliance (Anti money-laundering, counter terrorism financing, head of investigations).

I carried on to work in the Compliance team when I came in Singapore. In June 2016, UBS chased me for a role of Regional Head of AML after the MAS inspection to roll-out the remediation plan and I joined them.
Working in a multicultural environment gave me great opportunities and insights to learn more about how I could challenge the scope of my work and enhance my agility.

After 15 years in the Banking industry and also in my Legal and Compliance comfort zone, I needed a change. I decided to dive in the cybersecurity startup ecosystem and joined Webdrone. I aligned very well with my adventurous mindset. I considered that it was not a risk but more a trigger to move forward.

How did you decide to jump into the startup world?

I place trust in life and magic of human encounters, even more so since I met my husband. It was in a very unlikely place…a police station, and he was the Chief of Police!

During the French Tech Tour in 2018, a friend of mine met the two founders of Webdrone (Hervé Putigny and Gérald Poitevineau) and shared with me how she was impressed by their expertise, true passion and clear vision.

It was fun and their project fitted perfectly with my aspirations so I was curious to learn more about them. As a proactive and enthusiastic woman, I met them in Paris then in Dijon and we got along right off the bat (not only because I am a Burgundy wine lover 😉). After an hour ofdiscussion, it was obvious that we were like minded people. I wanted to create the Asian entity from scratch, develop the business and support them in the innovation of new compliance features.

I embarked on their cybersecurity journey as
Board member and Managing Director for
APAC . The take-off from the corporate to the start-up world was instantaneous.

The heart of Webdrone activity is “fighting against cybercrime”. It is in line with my life values and willingness to impact the world. We support institutions and companies be more secure, protect their intellectual properties of products and services and improve Web quality.

Why do we need cyber security in business?

Today, you can find everything and
anything on the Web. Guns, drugs, fake medicines, illegal software, untrusted individual or company profiles, environmental crimes, counterfeiting of food, sport accessories or luxury goods, you name it.

For example, medicine trafficking is an estimated USD200 Bn worldwide. It is 20% of the whole Pharma market. I let you imagine the consequences on health.

So you need cybersecurity solutions in business to sign ‘clean’ deals, choose the good business partners, protect your reputation, your clients and your product/service. In short, it is strategic for the value and potential of each company. If a crime online is done under the name of your company/Individual, it will be discovered, it will impact your business and the reputation of your entity.

How is Webdrone helping ?

Things are moving fast on the Internet and the needs to automate online investigations is key. You need to do it across the whole web (clear – deep – dark) and detect any piece of information, anywhere, in any language.

Our virtual drones act and think as super cyber investigators. They do it extremely fast and they can crawl a huge volume of data to provide a customized operational report on the target (e.g. product, individual, etc.)

Our technology was recognized for its performance and won two iconic Awards in 2018: Global award anti-counterfeiting and Security Brand & consumers protection award.

We hear a lot about the dark net. What is it?

The famous picture given is an onion with several layers, it is a small part of the Web less than 5%. In the dark Net environment, you can find heterogeneous bubbles which are not indexed by search engines. One of of the most-used method to reach hidden data is the TOR web browser based on Mozilla Firefox. For each connexion, after retrieving listing of network nods, a build of a random loop through 3 nods from the network is achieved with an encryption layer between each node. This process ensures anonymity of information and users navigation. DarkNet is used by OCG (Organized Crime Groups), sexual predators, drugs, guns, counterfeited goods dealers etc.

How dare you to be a women in cybersecurity?

For me, it is not a question of gender. I am a strong believer in collaborative intelligence and “Medici Effect”. We can do bigger things if we are different people from different cultures with different backgrounds around the table. I love challenges and accept to be challenged to enhance my skills.

“They didn’t know it was impossible; So they did it”, wrote Mark Twain.

How do you bring more diversity?

Well first I am part of the cybersecurity ecosystem as a woman 😉🙋. I also co-created the cybersecurity chapter for the French Tech here in Singapore. Several ladies attend our events and I am sure you will read their interviews soon! Together we can achieve more, so join us for the next event!

#WomenInTech – Antonia Christou

One of the reasons we started this series of interviews of Women in the tech industry is that it is still largely a men’s world. Combine it with manufacturing, it gets even trickier. This week we talked to Antonia Christou, the perfect example that Women also belong in this sector!

Hi Antonia! What do you do and what brought you to Asia?

I work for WeAre, a manufacturer of aerospace, medical and automotive components.

I spent 5 years in the aerospace industry and almost 2 at WeAre France. I wanted to find a more challenging role with international exposure.

When I heard about the launch of “WeAre Innovation Hub” end of last year, I jumped on the opportunity without hesitation!

Today I am in charge of our Innovation Hub and Startup Accelerator in Singapore. We source startups, define and run co-development projects, and we develop strategic partnerships.

Another corporate incubator, how do you differentiate from others?

There are 3 main reasons why our offer is better than most of current corporate incubators and accelerators:

1.   Win-win relationship

There is a real business interest between WeAre and Startups through co-development.

We integrate every projects in our factories and business model. We help them scale-up by giving them access to our market, our regulations knowledge and client base.

2.    Real industrial use cases

We have integrated our accelerator in our factories. This means the startups work directly in the workshop with the machines. They can test their products in real life use-cases and best adapt them to industrial applications.

3.    Dedicated fund for innovation

Together with our partner Leonie Hill Capital, we have created a dedicated innovation fund. We invest in Startups to develop Industry 4.0 flagship technologies. By the way I have some exciting news, we made our first investment. Our first startup has a unique solution for advanced manufacturing. We will announce it officially very soon!

In a nutshell, we want to help startups thrive, and use our co-development program as a building block to be ahead of the game!

How do you source your startups?

We source them through different channels.

  • We launch partnerships with the Singaporean Universities to be at the heart of innovation.
  • We collaborate with other accelerators, to offer real industrial use cases.
  • Finally we take part in emerging technologies and deep tech events, conferences and startup awards. We’re also launching an open challenge very soon to identify the best startup ideas!

We have many ongoing projects.

For instance we have advanced discussions with 4 startups to develop industrial PoC in our factories on IoT, Data Analytics and Robotics projects.

We are also in discussions with key players of the Singaporean innovation ecosystem for partnerships.

And I can share our latest breaking news: WeAre is a corporate partner and Gold sponsor of Slingshot startup competition!

Why Singapore and not the US or China?

Our strategy is to combine our Innovation Hubs with our major factories – in France, Japan and Singapore.

Singapore is one of the best places in the world to be an entrepreneur. There are several reasons to that. For instance its strategic geographical position in South East Asia, or  he presence of key players in our industries. It makes Singapore the perfect place to start our Innovation Hub. You may not know it, Singapore has quite some manufacturing facilities too!

We will very soon announce new plant projects combined with Innovation Hubs in China and India. Stay tuned!

Handling tech issues in manufacturing environment, how dare you do it?

Our CEO Philippe once told me: « Women see innovation in a different way than men ». So he chose to put women in key positions in our Innovation Hubs around the world. And to be honest we are rocking it up 😉!

In less than six months time, we have achieved a lot. We have launched big partnerships and we are working on several proof of concepts in Singapore. We also confirmed several events in Tokyo, and we already made one investment in France!

But it’s true that the combination of Manufacturing and Tech industries can be pretty challenging for gender parity.

We must give to women opportunities to prove themselves.

To achieve that I am committed to raise people’s awareness, help train women and give them the skills and confidence to launch themselves.

How do you bring more diversity?

I am also part of “Female French Tech”. We are a community of women and we want to raise awareness on diversity among local communities in APAC. To do this we organise women-centric workshops, events, and partnerships with associations.

We now want to partner with universities and identify young female talents. We will then help them to develop their abilities.

So if you are a female (aspiring) entrepreneur, join us to bring more diversity! Let’s change the  tech sectors so that they’re no « men’s world » any more!

Last, I would love to find out more about you and your projects so reach out to me if you want to chat!

#WomenInTech – Margaux Papasian

Hi Margaux, so what do you do and what brought you to Asia?

I am in charge of the APAC business development for Blockchain Studio. Before that, I was working for the French Trade Commission at the French Embassy, helping tech & innovative companies to expand in South-East Asia.

At Blockchain Studio, we’ve created Rockside, a blockchain service provider that helps companies deploy blockchain projects fast and in a very secure way. It is built to make it easier for large organizations to use blockchain technology and to move from pilots to production.

I’m passionate about innovation and of course I’m a blockchain enthusiast 😉.

Could you explain us what is blockchain and its value?

A blockchain is a ledger of transactions which is distributed in a peer-to-peer network. All the transactions are signed by a cryptographic system. To validate the registration in the ledger, a consensus mechanism, that was defined at the creation of the blockchain, is applied by the various participants (represented by computers). This builds collaboration and trust between the participants.

On the Blockchain, Digital media called “tokens” are used and can easily represent any tangible asset. These tokens can be split, making them more liquid and simpler to exchange. Another killer feature, on certain types of Blockchains, is an executable contract (the smart contract on Ethereum or chaincode on Hyperledger) that can automate a complete process when the execution requirements are met. This automation streamlines the transaction process between different stakeholders, accelerates the execution and reduces the possible defaults.

Now, think of the huge number of transactions made every day, which are long and quite often costly to process, then you can envision the tremendous potential of Blockchain.

Are there any live use cases?

The potential applications with blockchain technology are really huge. The first real case of Blockchain is, of course, the use of cryptocurrencies (example; Bitcoin, Ether, etc.). We see today that big institutions are creating their own currency like JPMorgan Coin or the future Facebook Coin. Those examples shows the potential of blockchain technology.

And while most blockchain use cases may only be into proof of concept at this point in time, there are a lot of great ideas out there especially related to tracking of goods and to certifications processes. According to Gartner, by 2023, blockchain will support the global movement and tracking of $2 trillion of goods and services annually.

At Blockchain Studio, we are currently working on different types of use cases where Blockchain brings out different perspectives. Some examples below:

  • Ensure and validate the identity of the owner of a diploma
  • Streamline the subscription and trading of financial products in retail banking
  • Track and follow up the production of specific green energy assets in an existing network

All these cases show clearly some key benefits of Blockchain: cost reduction by focusing on trusted third party, better user experience by increasing trust, reduce transaction etc, and the emergence of new business models.

Will blockchain change the world?

Would you imagine a world without internet today? Probably not. I think we won’t be able to imagine a world without Blockchain in the next decade.

Blockchain will be an enabler to a new way of doing business. According to Gartner, the business value-add of blockchain will grow to slightly more than $176 billion by 2025, and then it will exceed $3.1 trillion by 2030. And a World Economic Forum survey suggested that 10 percent of global GDP will be stored on blockchain by 2027.

Many interesting blockchain-based initiatives are about bringing positive social impact such as financial inclusion, identity management (according to the World Bank, over a billion people are not officially recognized by any government today), distribution of international aid, recording healthcare data, and so on.

I really believe that blockchain will support a massive transformation in traditional business models and also generate new opportunities to create social impact.

How “Dare you” to be a women in blockchain industry?

Blockchain technology is quite new so there is actually no legacy of gender gap in the ecosystem. The problem is that it is following the path of tech industry in general. That being said, I do believe that there is space for women in this industry and I have a very positive and optimistic outlook about the increasing contribution of women in the blockchain world.

I learned about blockchain technology while entering the ecosystem, what you need is just curiosity. And I don’t have a degree in computer science but there is plenty to do beyond coding 😉  

How do you bring more diversity?    

So far, I’m working with the APAC Female French Tech community to gather women in the blockchain industry, put them in the spotlight and also to find the blockchain use cases that will bring more diversity.

And I intend to do more and to spread the word that women in blockchain are more than welcome!

#StartupOfTheWeek – Chainstack

This week we talked to Laurent Dedenis, Founder and CEO of Chainstack. Blockchain is such a hot topic globally and even more so in Singapore, it is about time we dive into it!

Laurent, tell us more about yourself?

I first arrived in Singapore in 1997, a long time ago! I lived here several times and I have always shared my time between Singapore and the US.
Two of my three children were born in Singapore!

I came back in Singapore five years ago, for the third time.

I had diverse experiences. I worked for various funds where I took several companies from 0 to 100 millions. It was great but I always wanted to really start my own company from scratch. I was in San Francisco in the 2000s but I was too young to do it there. So finally I founded Chainstack last year and thought Singapore was a great place to do it.

You’ve known Singapore for a long time now, how do you see the evolution?

It has changed a lot. In the past it really wasn’t a place to build something. It was complicated, expensive and there were very few talents especially in technology.

There’s been a real change four to five years ago, when the government decided to make things easier, attract more entrepreneurs, provide grants and build a stronger environment for tech companies. They’ve been able to attract the tech giants here, a lot of talents, and create strong universities.

Today there is a small but true fintech ecosystem that works rather well.

So what is Chainstack about?

Chainstack is a platform that acts as a control panel for blockchains. It’s a multi-cloud and multi-protocol environment. Whether you’re an enterprise or a developer you can use our platform as a service to quickly build, deploy, and manage decentralized networks and services.

My co-founder is Eugene Aseev, a former director of Kaspersky Labs specialized in cryptography. Early 2016 we were working to create a big R&D center for Acronis, to think about how people would protect their data and privacy in the next 15 years. We focused on security, blockchain and artificial intelligence.

The basic question we were trying to answer was: “How could blockchain replace today’s very centralized world?”.

From there we actually decided to do a spin-off from Acronis. We founded the company a year ago, we raised several millions dollars and hired people. We are now 17 staff strong and we’ve released our first product a month ago, which we’ve developed in just 11 months.

It’s been a real adventure because the market is fascinating. Everybody talks about blockchain but in practice there aren’t many players and it is not very mature yet. The technology is still new, and obviously the recent press is not really in favour of the blockchain.

A lot is being said about Blockchain, what’s your view?

Everything and anything has been written about blockchain. We are very focused on a few use-cases that bring value to our customers to ensure whatever we do delivers results.

There were similar discussions on cloud a few years ago. There was a debate between public vs. private clouds, and today we see that the main trend is actually the hybrid cloud, with many companies having a mix of both.

I think it will be the same about blockchain. There will be public and private blockchains with different uses. We see well-defined use-cases in finance, supply chain, pharma and transport. Blockchain becomes a tool among others to optimize costs and flows to do business with customers and partners.

Our customers are traditional companies trying to improve existing systems. Let me take an example: many of them are existing SAP customers. Blockchain will never replace your ERP, but it can enable new decentralized use-cases on top of it. Technically you could do it with SAP, but it would be very manual, extremely costly and it wouldn’t scale.

Again, we deeply believe the winning model in the future will combine existing systems and blockchain, in a hybrid way just like cloud.

What are the main use-cases you’re addressing?

We focus on 3 use-cases

  • Limit the costs of inter-company reconciliation.

There’s an important costs to reconcile data and reports when several enterprises do business together. It is a huge cost for the global economy: for instance it represents 5 to 6% of the cost structure for banks. This is often referred to as the single version of the truth.

  • Limit the intermediaries

Today any business involves many intermediaries which add some value but also create a lot of friction. The blockchain, with smart contracts, can transform these processes and reduce the number of parties and make them a lot leaner.

  • Traceability

Many industries need to trace everything they produce. Think food or pharma industry, but also luxury. What is interesting here is that it works both ways: using our platform a pharma company can control how they put a new drug on the market, but it also enables them to withdraw a product when there is a problem.

What’s your last word?

I think something is really happening in Singapore at the moment especially in the fintech and blockchain industry. For the first time in the history of technology, these are not exclusive to the US. It comes mostly from Russia and China, and it’s really exciting to be in the first generation of non-american tech! Today the heart of fintech is not only NYC, it is also London, Paris, Singapore and Hong-Kong.

For us at Chainstack, we just released our product and we’re running full steam to make it the most universal blockchain platform to help our customers. By the way, we’ll hold our official launch on April 23rd at the Google office so join us there!

#WomenInTech – Emmanuelle Coulon

Time for another amazing interview with one of the women in the FrenchTech community! Emmanuelle Coulon worked for 3 years in Singapore and was an very active member of the community, and she moved to Hong-Kong two months ago. Read on to learn a bit of her story, her new podcast “En Eclaireur”, and get a few social media tips!

Hi Emmanuelle, so what do you do and how did you come to Asia?

Hi! I am passionate about digital and innovation and Asia is a very exciting region for this fast-paced industry. Singapore is an amazing playground for new technologies! This is why I decided to move to Singapore in 2016. I did learn a lot there. Then, I realized it was time to embark on a new adventure and just moved to Hong Kong two months ago. Different city, different energy, but same eager to experiment.

I have a background in consulting and I am now a solution consultant at Hootsuite, a social media management software provider. My mission is to help brands better leverage social media to achieve their business objectives. Asia social media scene is fascinating as Asian giants such as WeChat are highly successful and innovative.   

What are the main trends in social media in Asia?

First, social media does not mean social networks anymore… in Asia, it’s now all about social messaging. People are getting more and more used to instant, personalized interactions with brands on WeChat or LINE. This is a huge opportunity for brands to engage in high-value conversations with customers. But brands also have to adapt to new rules: messaging is part of the customers’ retreat to their private spaces, which means no ads!

Second trend for 2019 is social commerce that is growing massively. Asian consumers have already embraced the use of social commerce like crazy: in China,70 percent of Generation Z is now opting to buy direct from social, mostly from WeChat. Facebook is launching new technologies but the seller experience is not optimized yet. Instagram shoppable posts and checkout functions were released a few week ago only, for US merchants only…

Last key trend to highlight: mobile is eating social! Social media is now pivoting from text-based platforms originally designed for desktops to truly mobile-only networks that allow people to capture in-the-moment experiences. This is a real shift in social media: Stories are expected to overtake newsfeed by the end of 2019.

What are some best practices for a good social communication plan?

Defining your objectives should always be your starting point. Do you want to raise awareness, attract new customers, or promote a new product? Your objectives must be aligned with specific KPIs that define what success looks like. Then, it’s fun time: content creation! I recommend to follow the rule of thirds:

  • ⅓ of your social content promotes your business and drives conversion
  • ⅓ of your social content should surface and share ideas and stories from thought leaders in your industry
  • ⅓ of your social content should be based on human interactions and humanise your brand

Last thing is to test and learn. Testing is critical to understand what type of content is resonating the best with your audience and to inform your content strategy accordingly.

You have worked between Hong Kong and Singapore for more than 3 years as a social media consultant and as part of the French Tech community. What are the main differences between the two cities in the digital space?

Hong Kong and Singapore are involved in a healthy competition to become the most attractive digital hub in Southeast Asia. But both ecosystems are pretty different!

Singapore has won the startup battle. It is an amazing place for entrepreneurs, with a highly efficient administration, more financial support and incentives for technology companies. But larger corporates are struggling to drive innovation internally and tend to be more risk adverse. In Singapore, most of my mission is to help corporations go through transformation and change management.

In Hong Kong, I have been impressed by the eagerness to turn social marketing into social experience. For example, let’s look at Hong Kong Airlines with who I have worked closely. Last year, they faced a terrible issue: a technical bug made them offer round-trip business class tickets for $600… Word went out fast on social and many people jumped on it! It may have been a tough financial loss, but Hong Kong Airlines finally decided to honor the fare and announced it on social. The result? Amazing brand love and an improved reputation as a digital-savvy airline.

And what about your initiative “En Eclaireur”, could you tell us more about it?

Last year, my LinkedIn inbox was full of messages from people who wanted to better understand what life in Asia looks like and get some advice. I realized that what had helped me the most when moving to Singapore was simply to meet people, ask questions and learn from their experiences.

This is exactly why I launched En Eclaireur: I wanted to inform and inspire people with true stories of expatriates from all around the world. Singapore, São Paulo, Shanghai, Casablanca… my guests share their adventures abroad, their mistakes and successes, their tips and recommendations. It’s all in French, but it’s definitely worth listening to it to learn French too! You can find these beautiful stories on Instagram.

The best recognition is when I get messages from people who have found the energy to jump on a new opportunity abroad thanks to the podcast!

How to empower women in tech and entrepreneurship?

“If you don’t risk anything, you risk even more” This is my motto. And I strongly believe in role models to get the power to take risks. This is part of the reasons why I launched my podcast: I wanted to spotlight powerful women around the world because their stories can help other women believe in themselves. I interviewed Chiara Condi, founder of Led By Her, the first French social incubator turning vulnerable women into entrepreneurs ; a business woman who lives with her husband and two daughters in Saudi Arabia ; a fitness influencer who started from scratch in Singapore. I am open to any suggestions of inspiring women who would be open to share their stories on my podcast!