John Kueh

CEO at Beaconmaker

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How to blend in after moving to a new country PART 2 @ Why I love Australia.

In my previous post How to blend in after moving to a new country, I discussed the tips and tricks I used to make moving across cities less intimidating.

I wrote about looking for friends from the same country, joining meetup groups, and meeting people that help connect you with others. Some people wanted to read about ways to blend in with the locals and requested me to write a post on that.

There is really only one tip on blending in with the locals - understanding and loving their culture. I was fortunate to have lived in New Zealand for 4 years during my uni years before moving to Sydney in 2013. New Zealanders or Kiwis have somewhat similar culture to the Australians - party, party and more party. Parties can look like Friday-after-work drinks, casual chats at bars, to messy house parties. To blend in, I had to learn how to let my hair down (despite having the shortest of hair)...

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How to win a Hackathon

My team Beaconmaker recently won the Sydney Opera House hackathon. We were also the 1st runner up of the Appiness hackathon organised by Telstra a few months ago. We had around 24 hours to deliver either an iOS, Android, or HTML5 app. How did we do it?


The number 1 deciding factor - a good designer. You will only have 5-10 minutes to present a demo of your app. With only a limited amount of time, people really do judge a book by its cover. Having a good designer on your team will give you a jaw-dropping demo and also clarity on the user experience of the app.

Next is to join with a game plan. While it is possible, it is highly unlikely for teams formed on the spot to win. Well prepared teams win. Before the day of the hackathon, my team and I got together to brainstorm app ideas and strategy of attack. We planned all the UI elements that we were going to use, created a list of...

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Play the man, not the odds

If there is one thing to learn from Harvey Specter in Suits, it’s this quote- ‘Play the man, not the odds’. The probability of a startup failing is 90%. If you are playing the odds, you are going to lose most of the time. So how can we win this game of startup when the odds are always against us?

Lets have a look at the interesting game of Poker. If there is a solid winning strategy for poker, its playing the man, not the odds. What do I mean by that? Well there are 12 face cards + 4 aces in a deck of 52 cards. So the probability of getting dealt a good hand (a pair of face cards/aces) in poker is around 16/52 * 15/40 = 11.5% (assuming no one else gets dealt a face card, 6 players game). There is an 88.5% probability of you getting an average/bad hand. So how did poker legends like Doyle Brunson win 10 World Series of Poker event not only repeatedly, but consistently year on year with...

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How to blend in after moving to a new country

In 2005, I moved to a new city in my home country. In 2007, I moved to New Zealand to pursue my engineering degree. In 2010, after graduating, I moved to Singapore to look for a job, and finally in 2013, I moved to Sydney, Australia for another job.

Every single move taught me new things, opened up new opportunities and created new circle of friends in my life. While moving (by moving, I mean move permanently, not a few months) can be exciting, there are definitely lonely moments.

Here are some of the tips and tricks I used to make moving across cities less intimidating.

  1. Look for compatriots - While meeting new people is fun, nothing feels like sharing a traditional dish and gossiping about matters back home with a fellow countrymen. These are friends who don’t give a shit about how much money you make in life, or what job you have. They are around you because you come from the...

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‘Nana korobi yaoki'

Fall down seven times, get up eight.

This is an interesting Japanese phrase that describes how entrepreneurship works. Scanning through popular tech blogs nowadays, all we see are ‘overnight’ success stories. What we don’t see are the emotional and physical sacrifices founders make to push their startup into existence.

There are so many reasons why a startup will fail - building something that the market doesn’t need, co-founders breakup, running out of money etc. Those that take failures as stepping stones are those that will emerge as winners.

So, how do we keep ourselves motivated to fight through the ‘seven times’ of falling down?

  1. The grass is always greener on the other side - People love talking about their successes, not their failures. Hence, we often compare ourselves to other people’s success and think what a loser we are. To be honest, a startup is always in a...

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