Highlights from a year of interviews with global tech leaders

Sharp takeaways that bring clarity to an uncertain 2023.

Highlights from a year of interviews with global tech leaders

Every week, Rest of World sits down with a remarkable tech or policy leader in one of our regions for a three-minute blast of questions and answers. It's a rare insight into the minds of some of the most entrepreneurial, driven tech thinkers across the countries of Latin America, Africa, and Asia. As we look over the horizon into an uncertain 2023, here are the '3 Minutes With' takeaways residing in our heads, rent-free.

On the crypto winter: Don't forget that crypto has a use case outside the U.S. 'There are weeks when I think, ‘Oh my god, I'm totally drinking the Kool-Aid.' If I were living in the U.S., I probably wouldn't be this much of a fanatic. [But] in emerging markets, the context is totally different.

Because we have a traditional financial system that is totally broken.' Christine Chang, venture partner at Rally Cap. 🇲🇽 But nor is it an endless money pot. Our South Asia editor advised getting the following quote on a T-shirt.

'Crypto[currencies] are not a get-rich-quick scheme. It's a high-risk, high-return form of investment because it is at a nascent stage and is volatile.' Nischal Shetty, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange WazirX. 🇮🇳 On layoffs:  Beware of cutting too many employees, too quickly.

'The employees who are let go will not talk positively about the company. At a later time, if the company needs them back, they might not want to return. Also, what about the employees who are retained? If a company makes radical calls, the morale of the remaining employees may take a hit.

They might even start looking for other jobs … Layoffs could convey that the organization has not taken care of its employees in the past.' Somdeep Deb, vice president of consulting services at Right Management. 🇮🇳 On the funding decline: Don't dismiss the value of unicorns in the tech ecosystem. 'Despite there being some schadenfreude related to some of the unicorns' difficulties in the current context — fewer investment rounds, more companies opting for credit lines instead of VC — the most emblematic startups are still very important.

Not only do they attract investment from global funds, but they also give back capital to investors, basically become ‘schools' for new founders, and create support networks. They create what is commonly known as ‘mafias' — a term I don't personally like, but that expresses a lot.' Luis Daniel Arbulú, 
partner at Peruvian venture capital firm Salkantay Ventures.  🇲🇽 On new trends: 10-minute ultrafast delivery is a fad. 'People don't want 10 minute ultrafast delivery.

What they want instead is to be able to order more things in one go, and are okay if it takes longer to deliver … When we were doing 10-15 minutes' delivery, the average items per basket were three. Now it's 11. People are ordering three times more because we worked on our assortment.

… People want things fast, but they want good quality, and being able to get everything together.' Kassim Shroff, co-founder of Krave Mart. 🇵🇰  Where there's a will: Gen-Z in China are finding themselves with virtual avatars. 'The virtual avatars allow people to express themselves freely and build high-quality, deep relationships.

Users are freed from the baggage that comes with age, job, and other external labels and instead focus on personal characteristics that are closer to their hearts.' Zhang Lu, founder of social media company Soul. 🇨🇳 Caveat emptor: One startup monitors your behavior as you shop. 'We can see which pathways the customers take, whether they come in and turn left or turn right, and which area or product category they linger at.

We also conduct age and gender analyses to find out about the target audiences.' Patrick Tu, founder and CEO of data startup Dayta AI. 🇭🇰 On advice for investors: Southeast Asia isn't 'a region.' 'Southeast Asia as a region really is a fallacy. The different languages, family power structures, regulatory policies — it's nontrivial to be successful in one market, let alone eight.' Eddy Chan, founding partner of Intudo Ventures.

🇮🇩 Take this into account when doing business in Nepal. 'A preference for profitability compared to growth, the risk appetite of local investors, collateral-based financing, the high cost of borrowing, regulatory issues, and repatriation of investor funds are all major hurdles that continue to have an adverse impact on doing business in Nepal.' Biswas Dhakal, president of F1Soft International. 🇳🇵 How to uplift female founders — from the earliest stages.

'Widening the top of the funnel by investing in exponentially more female-led companies at the pre-seed and seed stages is the highest-leverage path to addressing the funding gap. If, as VCs, our job is to invest in great companies, we must figure out why our asset class is generally unattractive to female founders in Africa and why they progress through our deal pipelines at different rates. Blaming the pipeline obfuscates the need for us to do that.' Eloho Omame, co-founder of investment firm FirstCheck Africa.