Startups July 24, 2020

Ignite Podcast – Episode 13 – Jianggan Li – Momentum Works – Had To Learn the Hard Way

Episode Summary

Quote: “I joined as employee number six.”

In this episode of the Ignite Podcast, Michael Waitze is joined by Jianggan Li, the Founder and CEO of Momentum Works,  a Singapore-based company dedicated to venture building for companies trying to delve into new markets. Their expertise in all major markets, along with their quality resources, allows Momentum Works to support a variety of companies build their businesses through developing their systems, models and projects, and more. In this podcast, they discussed Jianggan’s experience of working with smaller businesses as opposed to large corporations, his experience running a venture, the Time Machine Theory, and competing with China. 

Is Bigger Always Better?

“I don’t think it was a deliberate choice to be in a small firm,” said Jinggan. 

After graduating from university in Singapore, Jinggan was faced with multiple opportunities, and he found himself torn between working for a big corporation, or a startup company. But as a fresh graduate, the idea of flexibility and the new challenge of adapting to changing environments, as well as coming up with new perspectives, gained his interest. 

After years of experience working in both startups and large corporations, Jianggan reflected on his journey, what he learned along the way, and whether or not he would’ve done things differently. 

He revealed that if you were to ask him now, he “would’ve preferred to stay in bigger companies longer” and that “there were some lessons (he) had to learn the hard way.” Michael and Jianggan both discussed their own experiences in the two different worlds and shared their insights on how it impacted their careers down the line. 

The Time Machine Theory

Different markets and countries are in different stages of development, and some businesses are more future-orientated than others. Take the multi-million dollar example of Apple, who continues to create products that people didn’t even know they wanted until they were made. 

It seems as though these businesses have travelled into the future to produce gadgets and other products that are so uniquely successful. And although it is impossible – as of right now – to travel into the future, you may be able to create a future by bringing the present into the “past.” 

Jianggan discussed the Time Machine Theory, and how projecting current businesses models that are already successful to countries or businesses that are a few years behind could lead to a digital disruption that would propel them into another world of opportunities. 

Competing in South East Asia

“To be a successful company, you need to look at international markets,” Jianggan said. 

One of the most, if not the most successful markets in the world is China. It is one of the fastest emerging marketings in the entire world, and is expected to become the world’s largest economy in the foreseeable future. With its economy having a track record of success, it may be surprising to see why Jianggan has not invested in China. 

“It’s not that you’re not good, it’s that the speed in which you evolve is not as fast as local players,” said Jianggan when asked about why he’s not invested in China. 

He also said that “understanding the nuances and subtleties of a business is crucial for early stage investing.” He then went on to give insights on how to successfully emerge in international markets and what he looks for before investing. 

To learn more about Jianggan Li and his experience in the best of both worlds – startups and corporates, along with how to help your business embrace and thrive in the emerging markets, listen to this episode of the Ignite podcast today.


Michael has been podcasting with some of the best investors and business builders globally and discussing all things startup with them from an Asian perspective.

Michael I. Waitze worked in Global Finance for more than 20 years, employed by firms like Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, primarily in Tokyo.

Michael always maintained a particular focus on how technology could be used successfully to make businesses more efficient and to drive P/L growth.

After more than 20 years in Tokyo, Michael moved to Southeast Asia to get more involved in the Private Equity and Venture Capital business and invest his own capital.

Michael is quite skilled at connecting people and capital to innovative ideas and is a trusted advisor to both investors and founders. Michael has raised capital and advised some of the most famous startups in the region.

Michael is a leader in the digital media space, having pioneered the concept of a podcast network in Asia, while building the biggest and fastest growing listener base in the region. His flagship website,, has listeners in over 100 countries and is available on virtually every podcast player that supports RSS feeds.


Jianggan Li


Jianggan Li is the Founder & CEO of Momentum Works. Prior to founding Momentum Works, he co-founded Easy Taxi in Asia, and served as Managing Director of Foodpanda. He holds an MBA from INSEAD and a degree in Computer Engineering from Nanyang Technological University.