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  • mentor of the month

    13 March, 2015

    Meet Tomas Bay, blueprint's charismatic Mentor of the Month.  Through his work as principal consultant for Ethos International (Swire), Tomas has for years helped senior Swire executives successfully pitch their ideas. 

    In his spare time, Tomas leverages his presentation knowledge to help startups through his consultancy Blue Lobster.  He also happens to be blueprint's biggest fanboy and a favoured mentor amongst our accelerator teams! We're putting Tomas in the spotlight:

    What do you do when you aren't mentoring startups?

    During the day, I work with Ethos International, which is part of Swire. Next year Swire will be 200 years old, which is a fantastic achievement. My role as a trainer is to help the Swire executives develop their management skills so they can in turn lead Swire into the next 200 years.

    At night and during weekends, Blue Lobster comes alive and I help startups around the globe create better pitches for potential clients and investors.

    What does your usual day consist of?

    Most of the time, I run workshops where I train Swire executives. I help them to better define and communicate their strategies, priorities and ideas to influence, motivate and get things done. In short, I help them become more effective managers and leaders.

    What skills do you bring to the blueprint community?

    Pitching skills! If the startup can't sell their idea or product to potential investors and clients, they are doomed. Competition is fierce and you really want to be able to communicate what you offer in a clear, concise and compelling way. I help the startups do exactly that. Pitch to win!

    Our your Ethos colleagues jealous that you mentor blueprint accelerator teams?

    I think my colleagues are even more jealous of the amazing space created for startups at blueprint. It's definitely a world-class office space and it makes Swire look cool.

    Describe Blue Lobster?

    Helping startups pitch their products to potential investors and clients.

    What do you believe are the critical factors of success for a startup?

    I will give you 3 factors that I am always looking for:

    1. The Product "Make something people want." -Paul Graham, Y Combinator

    Whatever you make, it has to solve a problem. It has to fulfill somebodys need. It;s still common for startups to produce something for themselves that nobody actually wants to buy. It's the single biggest mistake. So how do you know whether people want your product? You engage with your potential customers to test, learn and adjust your offering.

    2. The Team "Individuals dont build great companies, teams do." - Mark Suster, GRP Partners

    You need a team, and you need team members that bring different skills. In the startup tech space, you often hear people talk about the power of the hacker, the hipster and the hustler. The hacker is the programmer, the technical person. The hipster brings the design making the product look awesome while the role of the hustler is to sell a lot of product (millions).

    3. Hunger: "Theres nothing sexy about a startup." - Aaron Hoddinott, Pinacle Digest

    You have to really want it because a startup is hard, really hard. It's about putting in long hours, often going months without a salary, and eating lots of ramen. When I engage with startups, I am looking for that inner fire. The drive that shows the team believes in their product, and they will do whatever it takes to make it happen.

    Have you ever invested, angel or otherwise?

    So far I have not done any pre-IPO investments and my focus has been on listed tech stocks. We will see what the future brings!

    Do you have a Bitcoin account? Why/why not?

    No I do not have an account. I am still on the fence when it comes to Bitcoin.

    Which blueprint team/s have a standout concept in your opinion?

    They all stand out but the one that means most to me personally is Optica. One of my best friends in school was colorblind. Until I saw Opticas pitch, I had no idea what my friend saw or rather did not see. Optica's pitch really blew me away. I am looking forward to seeing how Optica will help not only my friend, but also the other 250 million colorblind people in the world.

    Can you name a blueprint team that in your eyes is most improved?

    If I am looking at their pitch, all of them have improved. If I will have to pick one example, it would be Easyship. When I first worked with Easyship, they delivered a technical, non-personal and frankly boring pitch. I gave them direct feedback, and they changed their pitch. When they later pitched at the recent Mentor Day, Easyship told a story - a story about Joe and his challenges shipping his amazing hard disks to customers around the world. By telling a story, Easyship made their pitch more personal and memorable while showing how their service can help the 'Everyday Joe'.

    Weirdest thing you have Googled this month?

    Nothing really! I Google very ordinary things it seems.

    Tell us about your worst tech investment?

    I arrived in Hong Kong in 1999, and I got really excited by the dot-com boom. I invested in a couple of local mobile phone operators; Smartone and PCCW. As we all know, the market crashed and so did my stocks. After watching them suffer for a couple of months I sold them all. It was a painful experience.

    Last but not least: What's your most valuable Hong Kong life hack?

    Shopping early to avoid the crowds!

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