Troy Malone has had an enviable career. Starting an investment firm right out of college and a successful one at that, is something everyone dreams of. Later he founded Pelotonics which became the first company to integrate with Evernote where he currently works as the Asia Pacific General Manager. And yes, the surprise, he speaks fluent Korean! Having done his BA from Brigham Young University with Korean as a medium, Troy is an asset for any company looking to build a base in SouthEast Asia. To aid developments in the IT product and services ecosystem in India, NASSCOM Emergeout is organizing an event on August 8th where innovations and things entrepreneurs need to adapt to will be discussed. Troy will be one of the speakers at the event. We caught up with him to know his journey firsthand and get some useful insights.
YS: Hello Troy! Tell us about Titan Investment Partners. How did it happen?
Troy: Hello. Yes, it was a time when the internet was picking up. It was 1999 and Internet was the story everyone wanted to be a part of. I was still in college when I got this idea and started work on it. By mid-2000, I was able to raise $30 million from select limited partners and began investing in software technology companies. The business development program we developed gained recognition for the Fund among Venture Capitalists and entrepreneurs in the San Diego region. These activities resulted in the submission of 356 business plans to our firm for our review and resulted in an impressive syndicate of funding partners.
YS: Wow. That’s really impressive! Moving on from there, you went on to be the partner at Blue Sky Broadcast and then started Pelotonics.
Troy: Yes, it has been quite a journey. At Blue Sky, I looked after Business Management and growth activities which posed a different set of problems compared to Titan Investment Partners. And Pelotonics again happened because of my love for building a product. Becoming the first company to get integrated with Evernote, Pelotonics also had a development centre in Chandigadh.
YS: You’ve worked across various geographies, what are the differences you’ve observed?
Troy: Well, there are differences, but I think they’re bridging now. The Silicon Valley, what one might call the Mecca of entrepreneurship, has a very flat structure. Ideas are accepted and startups have access to funding. But this is starting permeate into other cultures where bright people are now confident enough to start businesses even while in college. The system is becoming more transparent conducive for starting up all across.
YS: What is your current role at Evernote, looking after the Asia Pacific region.
Troy: Evernote has gained significant traction in the west and this has been achieved via very minimal marketing. The growth has been via word of mouth mainly and this shows the strength of the product. It also makes my role a tad bit easier (laughs). Being familiar with Korean, and having been associated with business growth roles in the past, my role at Evernote primarily consists of building strategies to increase the user base in Southeast Asia. For this to be done, the first and foremost thing a product needs is that the free version should be so good that people talk about it. We have that with Evernote, but there are cultural nuances which I’m studying currently. For example, in India currently, people are very conservative with respect to payment methods. There are alternate payment methods we’re thinking of. Also, people in India would rather pick up the phone and ask you about the product as compared to dropping a mail or scourging the site.
YS: Yes, true. Having been in the arena for a long time now, which are the mistakes you think you’ve made as an entrepreneur.
Troy: There are quite a few actually (laughs). But yes, the team is very important. There are a couple of mistakes one can make here. First thing is not to be afraid of hiring people smarter than you. You cannot do everything! You need people around you to do more. And the other thing is not to hang on to an employee for too long. Get rid of him if you think he/she doesn’t suit in the grand scheme of things. Put your business first.
YS: Very valid points indeed. On a concluding note, what would your advise to entrepreneurs in India?
Troy: The biggest thing there is lacking currently is funding I believe. The situation is improving but I believe the entrepreneurs still find it a challenge. And as far as my advice to them, it would be not to obsess over creating the next Facebook. That is not how you want to think when creating something. It clouds the whole thought process and is a wrong mentality when starting up. One should be more open minded.
We at Yourstory.in would like to thank Troy for this opportunity and wish him success for his Evernote stint. And stay tuned for all the updates about the NASSCOM Emergeout Event. There’s a special discount for Yourstory readers if you haven’t already registered.