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Truescope Talks: Eddie Chau

In this edition of Truescope Talks we speak to respected entrepreneur and business builder, Eddie Chau.

Eddie has held roles at IBM and Computer Associates and with more than 30 years in the Information Communications Technology (ICT) industry, is highly renowned for founding and building managed security services business, e-Cop in 2000 and social media analytics platform, Brandtology in 2008.

Amongst four other startups he co-founded, one of the latest ventures is Neeuro, which sees him embark on a mission to empower people to live happier, healthier and more productively through neurotechnology. Eddie has also been dedicating his time to his other start-up, V-Key, a mobile based digital identity and authentication solution.

We chat to Eddie about what fuels his ambitions, how technology and communications has pathed the road for his new ventures and advice for budding entrepreneurs.

Q) You’re a serial entrepreneur, Eddie, what keeps your creativity and ambition fuelled?

Curiosity is key. I walk down the street and I see problems frequently from transportation to healthcare and I want to solve them. That drives me. Whether those ideas are executable is another question!

Q) What has been your most challenging start-up period and why?

In each start-up, there is always a period where you know you are doing something big, whether wanting to scale or polish the product for better market reach, but you’re running out of cash or there’s not enough talent around. This period often brings about anxiety and a loss of trust or faith in the company, especially when more and more VCs are not giving you a cheque and the recognition you really want - you start to question yourself, “Am I doing the right thing?” “Why am I doing this?” “I am wasting my time and life here”.  But, perseverance is key to cross the chasm.

Q) Tell us about your latest adventures, Neeuro & V-Key and how technology is making a difference in these two start-ups.

I co-founded V-Key in 2011 and it’s a Digital Trust Platform for clients from financial institutions (such as traditional banks, neobanks, insurance, digital payment/wallets etc) to governments, telcos, mega apps and smart cities to establish a trusted relationship with their partners, suppliers, clients or customers whereby transactions, authentication, onboarding and identity verification are secured and trusted.

The patented V-OS enables many of our clients to go through the exciting digitisation transformation to stay ahead and competitive. V-OS is the world-first virtual secure element and patented – we literally disrupted the 40 year old smart chip industry (used in all credit cards, SIM etc) by virtualising the hardware smart chip.

Imagine there is no more bulging wallet (no more physical cards), no more hard token/SMS OTP for bank transactions, no passwords to remember, no more SIM (rather an eSIM), no need to go to a bank branch or utility to open an account. Imagine each house with a secured Internet of Things (IoT) to manage your smart electricity meters and appliances. V-Key is helping many organisations to transform digitally with more than 100 million V-OS installations currently, and is projected to reach one billion installations in a few years time.

In my other venture, Neeuro, we want to tackle one of the most challenging issues to our human body, brain and mental health.

Neeuro has established a Brain Computing Platform (NeeuroOS) for developers and partners globally in more than 20 countries to build brain related applications. This includes aspects like ADHD via our own attention training program for children, CogoLand, as well as Cognitive Training for Senior (senior home) and Junior (school), Biofeedback therapy which focuses on relaxation and stress management, eSport/athlete performance to help athletes focus, pain management which is deployed in hospitals for cancer patients and fatigue monitoring to ensure drivers don’t fall asleep while driving. These are just a few examples of how we’re working to improve lives through technology and innovation. And recently, our CogoLand program has gone through clinical trials involving 172 children with high efficacy. This result was verified by fMRI scans in 66 children at different stages of the trial which is something we’re very proud of and the results were published in the world's leading multidisciplinary science journal, Nature, in 2018.

Q) How important has the communications industry (whether PR, Marketing or Reputation Management) been throughout your experiences with start-ups?

The communication industry has been evolving at a fast pace especially in the last decade. Start-ups with limited budgets can now utilise digital platforms that were never previously available, bringing a whole new opportunity to reach out and tap into a brand new customer base, engage with clients and customers as well as research and analyse markets a lot faster and in a more economic way. There’s no denying these developments are vital to businesses today and indeed have played a large role in my latest ventures.  

Q) You started Brandtology when social media was in its infancy. How should business leaders harness social media for growth?

A 360 digital marketing strategy is a must and not a ‘good to have’ for any organisation, whether private or public, big or small, or for profit or non-profit. A dedicated team who are endorsed and supported by the senior management team should also be in place to drive the digital strategy.

Q) What are the most important pieces of advice you would give to budding start-up entrepreneurs?

The idea is cheap – there are plenty of ideas out there. Focus on execution, talent acquisition, and remember, cash is king!

Entrepreneurship is not for the faint hearted. Being smart and working hard are not good enough, rather you need to have the determination and perseverance to stay put during the darkest moments.

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