Meet the Writer: Hacker Noon's Contributor Qin En, VC @ Saison Capital & Podcaster @ Parents in Tech by@qinen

Meet the Writer: Hacker Noon's Contributor Qin En, VC @ Saison Capital & Podcaster @ Parents in Tech

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Qin En

Qin En is a Principal at Saison Capital, an emerging markets VC. Let's talk financial & human capital to unlock growth.

Me doing this interview

So let’s start! Tell us a bit about yourself. For example, name, profession, and personal interests.

Hello! I’m Qin En - venture capitalist by day and podcaster by night. When the sun is up, I discover and partner ambitious founders in emerging markets to build great companies at Saison Capital, providing financial capital (in pre-seed to Series B cheques) and human capital (everything from recruitment to culture to leadership). When the sun goes down, I am experimenting with podcasting by speaking to dads & mums who work in tech - Parents in Tech

When I started my first company, Glints, at the age of 20, I struggled with over-work. I believed that my 20s and 30s should have been a relentless pursuit of career achievement, regardless of costs. I slept in office on weekdays, and worked weekends. 100-hour work weeks were the norm. I was relentless and obsessed - from being one of the youngest founders in Southeast Asia to raise venture capital, to being recognized on Forbes 30 Under 30 and Entrepreneur 27 Under 27. Yet I was never happy, never satisfied.

A few years later, I met my wife, Gladys. She helped me realize that an unbalanced life is an unhappy one. I began on a journey of change, that accelerated when welcomed our daughter, Gabrielle, into the world, in October 2020. I had to learn the hard way, that with a newborn child, you can’t ask her to “wait” for her milk or diapers to be changed. Her wails and cries demanded immediate attention and response. In the past, when it was just my wife and I, it was easy for me to explain to her “Hey I’m busy, let’s reschedule our dinner date”, or “I have to take a work call at 10pm”. But having a child and becoming a parent has changed that radically - I have to be there for my daughter.

Yet despite the challenges, being a parent feels like “happiness on tap”. When work gets tough, all I need to do is stand up and walk over to find her, pick her up, hug her, and a rush of feel-good endorphins flows. More importantly, I felt happy and satisfied in a unique, distinct way that lasted beyond the next big career achievement. Parenthood over the past year has been a roller coaster, and I know I am not alone - so the ‘Parents in Tech’ podcast is my way of hearing and sharing stories of other parents!

Interesting! What was your latest Hackernoon Top story about?

Are you a founder looking to hire blockchain talent? Great - your odds are 20:1 (stacked against you!). In my recent Hackernoon Top story, I discuss how hiring blockchain talent demands a thoughtful, considered approach. For example, is it realistic to ask candidates to have 9+ years of blockchain development experience - essentially asking folks to have started working on blockchain since Bitcoin was founded and worth $0 (talk about 20/20 hindsight)?

If you are looking for the tl;dr of my story, here it is:

  • Be aware of the hurdles around.
  • Know the market and be realistic - don’t show your naivete by asking a blockchain developer to have more years of experience than the technology has been around for.
  • Look beyond the hard skills - willingness and ability to pick up the skills matter more.
  • Be creative - build a brand in the blockchain space, train your current employees and consider remote hiring.
  • Plan your compensation wisely and know the risks - use a combination of salary, stock (if you are based in Southeast Asia, definitely check out the first-ever report on The State of ESOPs in Southeast Asia), and tokens that fits your purpose and stays compelling to prospective candidates.
  • Be aware of the potential hurdles in offering stock or token compensation, especially with constantly evolving legislation and tax guidelines in many emerging markets.

Do you usually write on similar topics? If not, what do you usually write about?

Absolutely! Human capital topics are my favorite.

I think this is a topic (or a set of topics) that is often under-discussed. Instead, the emphasis is often placed on financial capital - most media outlets often share about the new fundraising rounds, exit events, yet behind this value creation lies talent. Also, one of the key agenda items most founders usually have right after fundraising is to build and scale their teams. So I like to talk about these topics because more conversations leads to more awareness, more awareness leads to more transparency and more transparency leads to better outcomes.

Great! What is your usual writing routine like (if you have one?)

I strive to write at least once a week. Ideas come at any time, so I jot them down in Notion or Google Doc, then block out at least 2 hours to ideate and write on them.

Sometimes, when things get hectic, I write short-form LinkedIn posts just to keep the momentum going!

Being a writer in tech can be a challenge. It’s not often our main role, but an addition to another one. What is the biggest challenge you have when it comes to writing?

Finding the undistracted time to write! The best writing I have done comes when I am in ‘flow’ state - undisturbed, unconstrained by time (do I have a meeting in the next 10 minutes?). This can be challenging because of how busy things are already.

What is the next thing you hope to achieve in your career?

To be the go-to guy for my portfolio founders (and the broader tech community) for human capital topics, anything from talent attraction to retention to leadership succession. I don’t and won’t have all the answers, but I am really excited and inspired by these topics and believe that together, we can come out with what works for each organization.

Wow, that’s admirable. Now, something more casual: What is your guilty pleasure of choice?

Bringing my 15-month-old daughter out, buying a coconut and letting her sip it. (My wife doesn’t allow it because she insists on a strict no-sugar diet, but really, can you deprive the little one of nature’s best gifts to us - the coconut).

Do you have a non-tech-related hobby? If yes, what is it?

Is podcasting counted? If it is - that’s my hobby at present. If not - I am a group exercise fanatic. Before COVID-19 I used to teach Les Mills group exercise programs like BODYPUMP, BODYATTACK and RPM. If you’re keen to find out more about that side of me, you can check out an interview I did with The Business Times last year.

What can the Hacker Noon community expect to read from you next?

Definitely more on human capital, and intersections with Web3. I have been spending a fair bit of time to learn more about the space, especially in NFTs. And if you have ideas or suggestions, do share them with me at [email protected]

Thanks for taking time to join our “Meet the writer” series. It was a pleasure. Do you have any closing words?

How can be a better writer? What could I have explained better? Did I miss out a footnote reference? I’d love to hear from you on how I can be better! I am grateful that you are reading this, at the tail-end of an article. If there’s any suggestions on how I can improve, do connect with me on LinkedIn and tell me!

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by Qin En @qinen.Qin En is a Principal at Saison Capital, an emerging markets VC. Let's talk financial & human capital to unlock growth.
Follow Qin En on LinkedIn

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