Virtual Events

In-person events is one activity and industry that have been heavily curtailed by the bug. In response, events is one of the fastest to move online, to go virtual. Some observations on FB and Zoom live events, and YouTube videos:
  • Best to have 1, 2 or 4 panellists or speakers.
  • 1 requires speaker be knowledgeable, articulate and charismatic.
  • 2 allows attention to be focused on the speaker, host moderating.
  • 4 allows the screen to be filled, more speakers will be distracting.
  • Keep sessions short coz audience isn't captive like in-person events.
  • The skill of the moderator is key to getting the best out of speakers.
  • Short notice is fine, catch audience as when they are available.
  • 1-2 two week lead times still great, particularly for bigger events.
  • Timing is key, don't catch folks when they are busy with work.
  • Unless the event is a stand-out event or highly topical.
  • The biggest local online panel we saw had an audience of 3.5K.
  • Its success was due to star moderator, speakers and topic.
  • They kept the event gripping, thus audience did not drop out.
  • As more events come online, quality of production will be key.
  • Quality events could attract kindred sponsorship.
  • Room at the corners of the screen for a sponsor logo.
  • Versus big production houses, aim for authenticity.
  • Look forward to further innovation in online events.

Lockdown Musings II

The Edge posted gripping pictures of medics getting ready to enter two locked down apartment blocks that are possible viral hotspots to test all residents (the face shield is to prevent the wearer from taking the force of a cough in the face). A show of uniform and a hint of the immense effort needed to contain the bug. [Photo credit: The Edge].

Return to Work?
  • Will the lockdown in MY be extended? With the number of new cases stubbornly hovering around 150 per day and testing still being ramped up, it is likely the lockdown will be extended or selectively extended.
  • Possible selective extension may be something like allowing lift technicians to carry out scheduled maintenance before lifts start breaking down (not sure if this is already exempted), or resuming manufacturing of exports that are critically needed elsewhere (manufacturers may need to provide meals, bus in workers and appoint health inspectors, a minor fillip to the economy).

  • Co-working is taking a beating as workers stay home though the spaces could have reserves from pre-paid memberships.
  • Will workers return to co-working spaces after they have gotten a taste of working from home and coordinating with colleagues online?
  • One possible upside for co-working spaces is, if landlords lay it heavy on tenants during the lockdown, the tenants may later rejig to work-from-home and use co-working spaces for on-demand space. Another is on the resumption of business and the rejig of the economy, new businesses may need new office space.

National Hoarding
  • Dramatic reports are coming in of countries reserving ventilators, high grade masks and hydroxychloroquine. Perhaps countries could reserve, say, 50% and release 50% to partially fulfil orders.
  • Hypothetical illustration: if VN intends to reserve its rice exports, it could reserve 50% and allow the rest to be exported, So, say, in MY which partially imports rice from VN, folks will get half a nasi lemak (coconut milk infused rice) for breakfast, not ideal but probably still acceptable in a bind.

Gardenia Maggi Thosai

Last week, we featured a father and daughter duet cover of A Million Dreams. This week's vid of the week is a whole family affair - dad, mom, daughter and family feline - performing an original composition, Covid 19 Blues. The singer is a band member of Gombak Hillbillies (no further info available, Gombak is suburb of KL). Local terms used in the song are gardenia (a brand of bread), maggi cup (instant ramen) and thosai (pan-fried rice batter).

The Return of Social Media

Alternate Universe
The bug restricted the physical world for many folks. Fortunately, tech has created a 'virtual world', an 'alternate universe', for them (though not everyone can access it). Made possible by:
  • Internet: protocols, routers etc
  • Web: webpages. links, images, videos etc
  • Messaging: email, whatsapp etc
  • Social media: fb, ig, tw, tt etc
  • Internet of money: epayments, ebanking etc
  • Meetups: fb live, zoom, slack etc
  • Services: ecommerce, cloud etc
  • Devices: smartphones, laptops etc

Social Media
  • Folks confined to homes, indications are FB usage is on the rise.
  • FB live events (some very good) have immediacy and relevance.
  • Filling a niche formerly occupied by drive-time radio.
  • Youngsters are on FB too but use it very differently vs the oldsters.
  • Other new uses of FB include an e-bazaar discussed below.

  • How to move a bazaar online, taking with it the buzz?
  • Perhaps not in neat emarketpaces or ecoomerce sites.
  • Instead, an open FB group for small merchants and buyers.
  • Closest approximation of the chaos and buzz of a bazaar.
  • Example: an e-bazaar for ramadan. via

Food Delivery Adaptions

F&B presents a case study of adaptation of an industry under a lockdown. Some observations by occasional customers:

  • Updated, better marketing collateral on web & social media.
  • Simpler, budget friendly menus.
  • Collaborative marketing (among close-knit eateries)
  • Order one day ahead (24 hours lead time vs on-demand).
  • Rise of whatsapp as comm channel, ordering at all hours.
  • New products: eg. ingredients in addition to cooked food. 1

Small Eateries
  • Example of small, nimble eateries that have gone online:
  • Otai (burgers), Mahjurah (roti), Breakfast and Kak Zah (nasi lemak).
  • (Otai is a conglomerate, shown here to represent burger stands.)
  • Smaller eateries and hawkers are mainly not online.
  • Most are unbranded, customers just know where they are.
  • Could be served by a food map, aggregated ordering & delivery.

Ordering A Day Ahead
  • Allows the eatery to practice 'just-in-time' food preparation.
  • Collect orders by 12pm for next day, order supplies as needed.
  • Deliver in bulk eg. 10 orders to one apartment block.
  • Vs 10 on-demand orders trickling in, fulfilling each individually.
  • Can self-deliver or via despatchers.
  • Two runs a day: lunch and dinner.

GamesBeat & IoT-Slam

A surprising number of international conferences have moved online. Here is a pick of three of them (one is shown below with a sample agenda, the other two are listed under online events with the location code 'US', the US being the host country of the conferences).

GamesBeat Summit 2020 info
  • Serious Money Going Into Esports & Gaming - Alina Soltys, Quantum
  • The Rise of New Independent Publishers - Michael Worosz, Take2
  • The Future is UGC: User Generated Gameplay - Matt Curits, Roblox
  • The Leisure Economy - John Linden, Mythical Games
  • We Are Who We Pretend to Be - Edward Saatchi, Fable Studio

Pick of Online Events (W2-Apr-2020)

Link Employee Retention @ KL tix
Link Remote Agile @ KL
Link Digital Mktg @ KL
Link Sapien v Simian @ KL tix
Link Online Base @ KL

Around The World
Link IoT Slam Live @ US
Link Virtual AI Expo @ US info
Link Product Mgmt @ JKT
Link Travel Innovation @ SG tix
Link Roman Art @ HK

Latest Startups

A sample of startups extracted using a post-Covid filter: 1 2 3 4

  • Kitopi - Managed cloud kitchens
  • SnackPass - ClassPass for meals
  • Nuro - Self-driving grocery delivery vehicle vid
  • Zypp - Electric bike rental for use in deliveries
  • XFarm - Farm ERP, IoT and analytics
  • Streem - Remote diagnosis: see what your customer sees
  • NuvoAir - Portable spirometer info
  • UnDress - One dress size fits all using chords vid
  • Glimpse - Trending consumer interests under Covid
  • Standuply - Use Slack to run a company-wide health check
  • Icebreaker - Remote team icebreaking
  • TakeOut - Map-based F&B directory and delivery ordering
  • CovidShopping - What to buy for x days of lockdown
  • TigrisSoftware - Pandemic simulation
  • Tico - Simple video conferencing
  • Infofed - E-Sports broadcaster
  • Privyr - Mobile CRM

Stay Home Songs

Video 1: Actress Gal Gadot recently shared a video of celebrities chain singing Imagine (1971) saying she was inspired by an Italian trumpeter. Reports did not mention who the trumpeter was or details but a bit of digging showed it was likely Alberto Anguzza's balcony rendition at a locked down Italian street.

Video 2: The song Bring Him Home (1991) from the musical Les Misérables is sung here by Alfie Boe and the Barricade Boys in a pioneering example of a produced 'video conference'. Dedicated to the men and women at the front - Bring Them Home Safely.

Video 3: The lockdown brings together a dad and daughter to perform A Million Dreams (2017) from the musical The Greatest Showman. A fine effort by Mat and Savanna Shaw.

Lockdown Musings I

Food Delivery
  • Recently, we came across a sponsored post in FB for meal delivery from a nearby eatery. The DIY-ish flyer and price were attractive enough for us to whatsapp over an order. To our surprise, it was the owner who made delivery in his premium ride.
  • FB location-aware sponsored posts could be effective (cost per click is around MYR 1 (USD 0.25, based on the generic info that we have).
  • The design of the flyer is critical for clicks and orders. It should be easy and pleasant to read, show a small sample of dishes in the best possible light (good food photography), displays the eatery name, address, items, prices, order (eg. via whatsapp), payment and delivery info (order by 11am to deliver by lunch, coverage etc).
  • Meeting food expectations is key. In the physical world, an eatery can thrive at a good location even if the food is ordinary or sub par. In the online world, set and meet customer expectations or they likely won't return (ditto repeat orders and word-of-mouth).

Delivery Platforms
  • Delivery platforms are said to be maintaining their 20%-30% commissions even when the eateries are hard-pressed. Perhaps they could offer a sliding rate. Gratis or 5% for newbies or slow movers, 10% for the first x bucks of sales, 20% for the next y bucks etc.
  • Also, platforms tend to list posh eateries at the top of their app display. The top of listings is a core of an online business and probably shouldn't be monopolised by the highest bidders or earners. A randomiser would be useful and much less boring.

Nutritious Sunlight
  • At the office, you would probably spend time under the mid-day sun going out for lunch. Health professionals recommend 10-30 minutes of sun a day for your daily dose of Vitamin D.
  • If you are working from home, you can partake in direct sunlight outside (porch, garden, balcony, opened windows) as sunlight filtered through glass windows is not as good. Otherwise, dietary sources of Vitamin D include fatty fish (salmon, sardines, cod), yolks and mushrooms. 
  • Check Vitamin C and fibre intake too as delivered food tends to be light on these. Sources of the former include fresh chillies, lemons, oranges and raw tomatoes and the latter, wholegrain bread, leafy greens, lentils and bananas. [This post is not business, health or dietary advice and is intended for your further research only.]

Corona Hackathon

Facebook and Microsoft, together with WHO, WeChat, TikTok, Pinterest, Slack and others are holding a global, online hackathon for software solutions to tackle the coronavirus. Submit your idea by Monday (March 30th), hack over the next one week, winners will be announced on Friday (April 3th). Themes include preventative hygiene, contact tracing, diagnosis, vulnerable populations, keeping businesses afloat, digitisation of public services and alternative learning. Here are some startups that the organisers have cited as examples of what they are looking for:
  • Project N95 - Medical equipment (eg PPE) clearinghouse
  • Neighbour Express - Deliveries by neighbours, for neighbours
  • Bailout - Help the workers of companies in distress
  • Act Now - Covid map eg where hospitals will be overwhelmed
  • SOF - Buy gift cards from your favourite eateries (cashflow help)
Some further conceptual possibilities:
  • FoodSub - Weekly food delivery subscriptions vs daily ordering
  • Addendum - Update legal agreements affected by lockdowns
  • Hotspot - Smartphone buzzes upon entering a Covid hotspot
  • QuickSwitch - Apply for new jobs created by lockdowns, PPE etc
  • OnBoard - Quick onboarding of offline businesses to online
  • Directory - Directory of online businesses, alt to search engines

Pick of Online Events (W1-Apr-2020)

Link Agile Scaling @ KL info
Link Manage Remote Teams @ KL 1
Link Digital Fest @ KL 1 2 3
Link Extraordinary Times @ KL tix
Link Building Resilience @ KL

Link Instagram Live @ KL info
Link Stay Home Festival  KL info
Link Music Education @ KL

Around The Region
Link Google Meet: Tech in 2020 @ JKT
Link OneMap: Spatial Data Mgmt @ JKT
Link Open Space Startup Meetup @ SG
Link Intro to Machine Learning @ SG info
Link Investing in Fintech @ HK

Food Delivery

Dodging the bug? Social distancing is one of the most effective methods (besides scrupulous hand washing etc). For lunch and dinner, order food delivery (KL vicinity) and chow down at a recommended safe distance of two metres or more from strangers (and colleagues): [Due to possible higher demand, you might need to order early and be patient with delivery.]




Instagram | FB



Grocery Delivery

Besides food delivery, home cooking can provide a learn-a-new-skill dimension to social distancing. Unleash your culinary creativity, improve hand dexterity (be careful with that knife), sharpen inner timing (is that ramen done?) and proportional judgement (a pinch more garam masala?). Avoid risky crowds and have your groceries delivered (KL): [What to buy: 1 2 3 4]


Organic | Greens


Bulk | Wholesale


Notes on Delivery

Some random notes on food and grocery deliveries.

  • Our food and grocery delivery posts have been updated: for groceries, JayaGrocer and MyGroser are no longer taking orders, while wholesaler SupplyBunny has stepped up to offer home groceries. For food, a subscription section has been carved out, distinguishing it from a-la-carte ordering.
  • A point-of-sale (PoS) provider has taken the initiative to enable its eatery merchants to sell online easily. It would be useful if this service offers a public-facing ordering hub, a digital food mall.
  • Eateries are reporting slow online delivery sales. This could be due to office workers being initially less likely to order food delivery from home. The ambience, away from colleagues and the hustle and bustle of the office, is different. With the pantry likely stocked, these workers will perhaps try their hand at home cooking first.
  • In CN, at its most stringent, deliveries are contactless by default. For traceability, the customer is given a slip stating the identity of the delivery person and the person(s) who prepared or packed the item(s) being delivered.
  • Update [Fri, 20-Mar-2020] After a couple of days of home cooking, folks are likely craving for the umami rush and stronger flavours of restaurant food. Delivery orders should pick up over the weekend. On the grocery side, social media comments have it a few more online grocers have maxed out (but without announcing it at their landing pages). Wholesaler OMG has gone into home groceries too and is offering 3-ply face masks for MYR 85 per box of 50, below the new government set ceiling price of MYR 2 per face mask.

Musical Music

While compiling a list of eateries that do deliveries, we came across one named 'Dolly'. We couldn't list the establishment due to technical reasons, but the name reminds us of the musical 'Hello, Dolly!'. We don't see many musical movies these days though the genre lives on in animated ones and at Bollywood. Above are three musical clips with some brief write-ups below:

Video 1: Wouldn't It Be Loverly @ My Fair Lady (1964), A professor, on a wager, tries to coach a working class girl to speak 'proper' English to a standard that will allow her to pass off as an aristocrat. A hilarious scene from the movie sees the testing of the pronunciation of 'H' by speaking down a tube which ends in a lit burner: a proper 'H' should flare the burner's flame. Note the humble settings depicted in the video in contrast to posh modern films.

Video 2: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious @ Mary Poppins (1964). A kindly nanny turns up to take charge of two bratty children after they had gone through a line of nannies. Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious is an actual word, which comprises of super (above), cali (beauty), fragilistic (delicate), expiali (to atone), docious (educable), meaning in sum, 'atoning for educability through delicate beauty'. A intriguing phrase which could mean 'a delicate beauty can make do with less education' or, perhaps, 'beauty is different from purpose'.

Video 3: Hello Dolly! @ Hello, Dolly! (1969). A brash matchmaker hits town with a client and an entourage. The video starts with Dolly, played by Barbra Streisand, artfully bantering with the orchestra leader, played by :Louis Armstrong, before launching into her number.

Covid Snippet Dump

We have been incidentally tracking the Covid outbreak due to its effects on events. To clear our Covid in-tray, here's a snippet dump [non-expert curation and opinion, check with health authorities for proper information ]:

  • Quick self-test: if you suddenly lose your sense of smell or taste, you may have acquired the bug.
  • Hibernation: To tide the economy over during the covid crunch, all parts of the economy may need to pull or slow down together.
  • Darwin: Some countries are considering letting the bug run rampage and let the winnow of Darwinism immunise the community. Studies suggest blood group type A is more susceptible than type O. According to some beliefs, type A are geeks and type O are jocks. Consequently, after Darwinism does its work, will the community become more jock like?
  • Admissions: In practice, it is likely not blood type that decides who makes it or not, but the hospital admissions officer. If an admissions officer turns away a patient, it will impact the patient and his or her family. So, stay home and stay safe.
  • Tech: Who has stepped forward? EV: Tesla, GM and McLaren to ramp up production of ventilators. Drones: Used in US, FR, ES and CN to monitor lockdowns. SmartCity: Carnival offers to turn its mini-city cruise liners into temp hospital ships. Fintech: Contactless payment reduces the risk of notes and coins as bug vectors. SmartMfg: BYD and Razer go into face mask production. HealthTech: Fujifilm makes bug-fighting drug. SocialEnterprise: Engineer offers award winning, emergency low-cost ventilator design ($500 vs standard $25,000) to the public and manufacturers at no cost.
  • F1. Formula 1 pivoted its season to virtual beginning yesterday. Drivers, instead of racing high powered cars on a track, switched to game consoles to compete in a virtual Bahrain. Watch the race here [flag off is at the 1:02:20 mark of the video].

Covid: Pivot or Surrender?

Following Google Cloud Next's pivot to be an online event, Microsoft Build & Apple WWDC have announced they will be going online too. Industrial trade fair Hannover Messe can't go online (gotta check out those robots up close and personal), so it has bravely moved the event just three months forward from April 20-24 to July 13-17. The Games Developers Conference went virtual on March 16-20, check out their Twitch channel for a replay (best watched full screen and with the audio turned on).

Pick of Events (W4-Mar-2020)
Link Covid: Pivot or Surrender? @ KL tix virtual
Link Covid: Fintech Impact @ KL virtual

Google Online

Google has moved its Cloud Next conference online this year (usual venue is the Moscone Center in SF). Happening Apr 6-8, 2020, register here. Sample topics: [Google has since pared down the program to make it cloud focused.]
  • Healthcare Innovation Factory - Steven Demuth, CTO, Mayo Clinic
  • Technology Vision 2020 - Kishore Durg, Snr MD, Accenture
  • Life Sciences Breakthrough Insights - Kevin Julian, Accenture
  • Fair, Inclusive, Explainable AI - Sara Robinson, Google Cloud
  • Mission Critical AI Solutions - Yuki Makino, CTO, Plaid
  • Public Sector Transformation - Ceci Coates, MD, Dept of State
  • Disrupt An Industry Without Them Noticing - Raj Pathak, Deloitte
  • Life of An Invoice - Lewis Liu, Product Manager, Google Cloud
  • How Seattle Saved Millions with dotMaps - Heather Marx, DoT
  • USA Today: Next Gen CMS - Dayana Hudson, Developer, Garnett
  • Case Study in Astrophysics - Igor Sfiligoi, Developer, UCSD
  • Genomics in The Cloud - Geraldine Van der Auwera, Broad Inst
  • Colgate Palmolive, Google Sheets & SAP - Colgate Palmolive
  • How We Migrated 280K users to G Suite - Adrienne Schutte, PwC

Pick of Events (W4-Mar-2020)

Link Genome Editing @ KL
Link Digital Tax Clinic @ KL
Link Offline to Online @ KL tix

Link Art Book Launch @ KL
Link Art Bazaar @ KL
Link French Festival @ MY

Around The Region
Link Open Source Summit @ SG
Link Data Science Open Mic @ SG virtual
Link Elastic Covid @ SG virtual

Legends and Myths

Video 1: Shown is a soft-cropped clip of Film Score Orchestra's rendition of the score from the movie Legends of The Fall (1994). The score is part of the programme of a charity music event titled Bohemian Fantasy scheduled for this weekend but which has been called off, likely due to public health caution.

Video 2: The clip is from the movie The Myth (2005) with Mallika Sherawat and Jackie Chan in a (sticky rat glue) scene which manages to combine action, humour, a modicum of martial arts and even a dash of salacity. To learn more about Theatrical Combat, check out this workshop happening over the weekend by Lian Sutton (SG-based, PG-born), whose résumé does not fully cover his extensive background in the arts.

Video 3: This video is not embedded above, but you can watch it here. Of the many DIY face masks we have seen, this is the most practical, as it does not require precise measuring, cutting, sewing and uses only a repurposed T-shirt, without requiring strings, bands or wires. If N95 is 95% effective, a DIY mask could be, say, 10% effective, still better than nothing in a tight situation, if handled correctly. [This video is for thought exploration only, you should follow the advice of your local health authorities.]

Tesla Forges On

Post-Covid Tesla
Car sales in CN dropped 80% in Feb due to the Covid outbreak but Tesla's deliveries rose 10% (albeit it started rolling out cars from its CN factory only in December). Among Tesla's Covid counter measures are contactless test drives (the sales person is present only virtually during the test drive), delivery of EVs straight to customers' homes, and Covid aware ads.

Latest Mobility News
  • Joby - Intel, Toyota eVTOL investee gets NASA's first UAM nod
  • TeTra - Wins Pratt & Whitney GoFly Disruptor Award for UAV
  • Ami - Citreon's minimalist EV: buy at $6.6K, lease at $33/mth
  • GM - Unveils ten EV production models
  • Tesla - Bros take apart EV motor: oozes liquid like alien engine

Online Events

With the news of the shelving of F8, IO and SXSW, smaller events are set to carry on online, 3 of which we highlight below.

YC Demo Day W2020
Y Combinator's Demo Day for Batch W2020 proceeds as scheduled starting March 16th, online [tix]. The pitching startups have mostly not been announced yet, here is a sample of a few that have been:
  • RoboTire - Quickly change car tires using robots
  • 1Build - Quick, expert cost estimates for subcontracting bids
  • Datasaur - Manage data labelling workflow pic
  • Paneau - Advertise inside Uber and Lyft rides
  • TradeUp - Education finance: income sharing v snowballing loans
A robot changing tires doesn't seem like a big deal, but this might be the future if EVs are designed to be modular and their components readily swappable.

Seedstars Summit 2020
The Seedstars Summit was to be held at Lausanne from March 31st [tix] but will be conducted online instead and open to the public at large. Not much info is available yet, here are some pitch winners from 2019:
  • Blended - Parent-focused school management system
  • DotGlasses - Low cost, sturdy eye glasses
  • Wobot - Video analytics
  • 7keema - Home nursing app
  • Medsaf - Pharma supply chain management

Composable Banking
Thinking of applying for a digital banking license? Mambu is a cloud platform for banking whose customers include N26, Cheers and MSB. Mambu's tagline is 'composable banking' meaning it provides for third party plugins to augment its capabilities. Hear more about Mambu at its webinar happening March 18th [tix].

Pick of Events (W3-Mar-2020)

Link Going Public @ CJ
Link Insight Driven @ KL
Link Investor Dating @ KL
Link Industrial IoT @ PG tix

Link Art Event Making @ KL tix
Link Art Funders @ KL tix
Link Creative Hackathon @ KC
Link Beethoven Beat @ KL tix

Around The Region
Link Art Publica @ SG
Link Go Europe @ SG
Link Red Velvet Lava Cake @ HK
Link S-Curve Startups @ BKK