Sunday Coffee: Willis Wee Co-Founder of Penn Olson

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Welcome to another Sunday Coffee. Last week we had an amazing talk with Leon, co-founder of Bufferapp. Today we have another special guest with us, Willis Wee.

Willis is the co-founder of Penn Olson, Asia’s fastest growing blog with over 600,000 page views a month covering web, mobile, as well as start-ups in Asia. Penn Olson had a humble beginning back in July 2009 with only 2 writers, today the team is growing. Recently the blog received an investment from East Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Singapore for an undisclosed amount. (I hate secrets LoL).

I’ll be meeting Willis in Singapore soon and hopefully we will be able to bring you video interviews and real coffee instead of virtual coffee. Enjoy the interview.

Hi Willis, firstly I would like to congratulate you on your recent investment from East Venture, but before we go into more details, can you share with us, why did you decide to start Penn Olson.

W: Thank you Aaron. Penn Olson started as a hobby for us to learn more about the digital space. We wrote a lot about what happened in the U.S and did a couple of digital marketing campaigns for brands. Most notably, for last year’s Singapore Airshow. However, we came to a point where we have to differentiate from the giants out there. That is when we decided to focus on Asia.

Some people have tweeted asking me this question before, how did you come up with the name Penn Olson?

W: Penn Olson plays a huge role in my learning journey. I only learn when I “penned” down my thoughts. So that’s where Penn came from. It was an “awesome” experience so that was how Olson came about. There you go, Penn Olson.

That is an interesting way to come up with the name, my next question is how are you able to blog consistently everyday while still studying? It must be tough! W: It takes a lot of drive and hardwork to do it. I usually sleep just 4 to 5 hours during the weekdays.


YIKES! 4-5 hours a day? Can you share with us how you are able to be consistent in your focus. W: Unlike U.S, Asia is far larger. For now, we are very focused on 4 major countries – China, Japan, Indonesia and India. I wouldn’t be surprised if i have to give up on some countries to maintain content focus. It is true that change is the only constant.


What are your setbacks and how did you overcome it?
W: The biggest setback was when my co-founder left. All of a sudden, I have to do a lot of things by myself. Thankfully, it turned out great. Also, a lot of people question if a blog would work. Well, it is working great in the U.S. So why can’t Asia has it own?

Indeed, it has turn out great for you. Congratulation on that. Where is Penn Olson heading after the investment from East Ventures?  Could you share with us some of your plans?W: We’ll be focused on building the team and the product (content). We recently got Rick Martin who is simply awesome. After which, we will look at events and maybe even job listings for start-ups.


Do you have any tips for future entrepreneurs who are ambitions like you?

 

W:
  1. Be humble: Learn from the best and also the worst.
  2. Be confident: It is important to have your own idea and stand. A lot of people will give you different opinions or ideas, but you know your business best.
  3. Be sociable: Get out and meet people. Most of the time, it’s not what you know but who you know.

Great tips, guess that just sums up who you are Willis! thank you for the taking the time. Enjoy your coffee!

More for information of Willis, you can check his blog at Penn Olson or find them on twitter at @PennOlson

 

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