Dec 26, 2015

Kickstarter Lessons #7: 5 Tips in Producing a Budget Kickstarter Video

(Source:Hexjam.com)

One of the greatest challenge in the presentation of any Kickstarter campaign is probably the campaign video. 

With our Kickstarter campaign planned for a late October launch, we started sourcing for sourcing for video production studios as early as April to help us produce a video that will get our backers on fire to click on the "PLEDGE" button.

Dec 10, 2015

Kickstarter Statistics #1 - 1 out of 10 Kickstarter Projects Fail to Deliver Rewards

(Image source)

With the recent hype on the failure of UK most funded Kickstarter project: Zano Drone and the recent coverage of the troubles by Singapore's most successful Kickstarter project: Pirate 3D  , the whole crowdfunding industry is cast in a negative light. The University of Pennsylvania recently published an independent study on the project's failure rate of delivery of rewards on Kickstarter and the results are pretty interesting:

Dec 5, 2015

FAQ: Basic Understanding of China's Economy and How it Impacts Singapore

Much has been written about the slow-down of the Chinese economy but I realize that many Singaporeans have very little idea on how China manages to grow so fast and what is the foundation of the Chinese economy. I have compiled a short FAQ to give my readers a simple idea of how the Chinese economy came about and how it will impact Singapore.

Dec 1, 2015

Kickstarter Lesson #6: Learn by Backing Other Projects



There is so many things to look out for while running a Kickstarter projects and one of the most important skill that every creator must have is effective stakeholder or backer communication. This includes sending individual messages to thank backers, planning status updates during the campaign, doing cross project collaborations with other creators, informing backers on status of manufacturing, shipping updates etc. There has to be constant communication between the creator and backers that the only way to see all these activities going on is to actually back a Kickstarter project.

Nov 29, 2015

Kickstarter Lesson #5: Currency Exchange and Problems

As Kickstarter started growing from its base in US, the number of currencies which creators can use to set up their project started to grow quickly. With the majority of the Kickstarter backers still coming from US, creating a project using a non USD currency will often lead to confusion and misinformation. As not everybody is savvy with the exchange rate around the world, failure to give a quick conversion rate to backers in US and EU may deter backers from backing your project. We created Wongamania: Banana Economy using AUD and since AUD is a weaker currency as compared to USD, the pledge reward will seem to be more expensive as compared to other projects offering the similar rewards. So a AUD25 pledge will be seen as USD25 when the actual pledge amount is only USD18.

Nov 25, 2015

Kickstarter Lesson #4 Adobe Photoshop is an Essential Skill

As a blogger, I am used to a wide variety of editing tools the authoring platform allows me to do. Center alignment, highlights, quote marks and if we like, gain access to the HTML codes to work on the layout and format which I will like the blog post to look like.

When I started the creator account with Kickstarter, I was expecting something similar, thanks to the many beautifully crafted Kickstarter campaign pages which I have seen. To my horror, the tools to the Kickstarter authoring tool are way way way too limited...



Nov 23, 2015

Kickstarter Lesson #3 Finding a Kickstarter Approved Citizen forProject Creation


One of the biggest headache for any creator who wishes to launch their project at Kickstarter is to find a friend who is willing to help you to be the project creator. As of now, Kickstarter limits the nationality of the creators to the following countries:

USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Spain, Germany, France,  Austria, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.

There is a few ways to do this but I will discuss the simplest way: Getting a friend or helper to help you.


Nov 22, 2015

Kickstarter Lesson #2 Anatomy of a Crowdfunding Creator


I was on my way to meet my team this afternoon for our Kickstarter Meeting for Wongamania: Banana Economy and I ran into an old friend. She was telling that she would be launching an Indiegogo campaign in 6 months time and I congratulated her for taking the courage to get her card game project funded through crowd funding. However, I was a bit concerned for her after I probed a bit deeper on the amount of preparation she has made for her crowdfunding campaign. Our conversation sparked off the inspiration for this blog post on what are the essential functions you need to prepare before running a crowdfunding campaign. This is based on my 2 crowdfunding projects I have ran with the latest one being Wongamania: Banana Economy

Nov 21, 2015

Kickstarter Lesson #1 Educating your Friends about Kickstarter


Learning about how to start and run a Kickstarter campaign is extremely painfully, especially when you are living in a country which is not supported by Kickstarter. We tried to look for online material relevant to an Asian creator aspiring to start a project on Kickstarter but there isn't any dedicated blog or information about it. We had to resort to message fellow Singaporean Kickstarter creators to learn more about the "Hows and Whats" but the information we got were still pretty scarce.

As we embark on our journey to get Wongamania: Banana Economy funded, I thought that it will be interesting to write down my experiences, learning points and key experiences from other fellow Asian Kickstarters creators on my personal blog to help all those aspiring Kickstarter creators around the region.

Nov 20, 2015

Why a Good Theme and Background Story is Important Even for a Financial Game

Wongamania started its roots as an education game in the mid of 2014 in collaboration with the Stock Exchange of Malaysia to engage college students and get them interested in the world of finance and economics. We design the game based on the perception that young adults will be more interested in a quick to play card game designed primarily to be fun with subtle economics and financial concepts embedded within the game. The game was extremely well received and we went on to release the retail edition of Wongamania in Jan of 2015. Wongamania was considered as a commercial success as we were left with less than 30 copies of our 1st print run to date, considering that we are operating in an extremely small tabletop market, which is considered to be commercially unsustainable for any publishers to survive. Most of the game designers went on to design digital game, which is strongly supported by the Singapore government, leaving the tabletop design industry a virtual wasteland. There are currently 4 active Singaporean table top publishers with products out for retail sale, and all of them are less than 3 years old. We were one of the first publishers to be born for this new wave of board game resurgence in Singapore and we have few points of references locally when we first started. There are many concepts which we failed to take into consideration when we first started designing the game and one of which, is the background story and theme of the game.



Nov 13, 2015

Game Start Asia 2015 - First Glimpse of Sony Playstation VR System

What is a game convention only without any board games!

Capital Gains Studio bravely ventures into the world of digital gaming and set up a booth at Game Start Asia 2015 to showcase the beauty of cardboard and social interaction via their economic board game, Wongamania: Banana Economy.

Game Start Asia has allocated a business day on Friday to allow media, game insiders and VIP guests to have a first look and try at some of the latest games available. Consumers will be able to attend the convention on Saturday and Sunday. After showcasing the beauty of cardboard games for a couple of hours, we decided to venture to the gaming booths which has a relatively light crowd.

After my experience with Tokyo Game Show whereby there are long queues everywhere, making it almost impossible to play some of the best and innovative games out there. Getting a slot in one of the virtual reality games is mission impossible.

The Crowd at Tokyo Game Show
Thus, the first port of call of Game Start Asia is the Playstation VR Booth whereby we get to pick on of the 6 programs which we can try/ I tried out Summer Lesson which is essentially a Japanese style dating sim whereby you get to be a Japanese Sensei, teaching a hot gorgeous blond chick about Japanese. She sits very close beside you and you stare into her eyes, while you stare into hers. Irresistibly, you will feel like reaching out your hand to.....

Nov 7, 2015

How to Invest in a Rising Interest Rate Environment



In the last economic update whereby I provide the rationale for the aggressive allocation into Europe, I have essentially summed up some of the most important economic events for the month of October. The  release of a stronger than expected US Job report on 6th of Nov had analysts scrambling to pronounce that there is a possibility of an interest rates rise again.... up from a near zero probability a week ago, before the end of 2015. I just wish that these analysts will just make up their minds and stop scrambling around like confused hamsters while trying to look smart at the same time.

In any case, a rising interest rate environment is not neccessarily a bad thing.

In an interview with Robert R. Johnson, the author of Invest with the Fed, Johnson sums up the impact of interest rates on the US stock market in one paragraph:

"Over a 48-year period from 1966 through 2013, the S&P 500 (SPY) returned 15.18% during expansive periods  and only 5.89% during restrictive periods.  The Fed was expansive and restrictive about the same amount of time.  One of the most interesting findings of our research is that stock market returns are not as correlated with the level of interest rates (whether rates are high or low) as they are with the direction of interest rates (whether rates are trending up or down)."

His findings is similar to my hypothesis, based on a personal research that I have done compiling historical interest rates and stock returns data. In fact, during 2005-2007, when the US interest rates was on the rise, the US stock market performed positively, thanks to the halo effect of the perception of an improving economy with many investors still willing to put money in the stock market in spite of a more attractive saving rate. However, what happens after the rise of interest rates often ends in an economic shock or recession. That is another story best reserved for another day.

On the topic of equity investment out of US, Johnson has this to say: 

"The good news for investors is that emerging markets (EEM) and frontier markets (FM) have exhibited a very different pattern with respect to Fed monetary policy.  Emerging and frontier markets have performed much better when the Fed has been restrictive than expansive.  I would caution that this evidence is based on a much shorter sample period than the nearly half-century period for the traditional asset classes."

I tend to disagree with this statement as the economic status quo has changed some what with the rise of China and her economic might. Many a times, interest rate was being raised in respond to an expanding economic situation in US which translate to a rise in demand for goods and services which are manufactured in emerging markets for the past 60 years. The emerging economies benefited and their stock market rose as a result. However, in the past 20 years, the dependence on the US economy has wane and the main driver of the emerging market economies, especially for East Asia, has been China. For example, China is currently the largest trade export partner for Singapore which has over taken Malaysia and US in the past decade.The expansion of the US economy will no doubt benefit Singapore, but a contraction of the Chinese economy will have a bigger impact on our economy, greatly offset any benefits that we gain from US. The Singapore trade story is similar to many economies in Asia and I will not still not place my bets on Asia, contrary to the research done by Johnson.

My strategy is to still consistently maintain the majority of the portfolio into the US and Europe market and maintain a token allocation into the Asian markets as what I have done in the past 3 years.

Portfolio Performance

Our switch into equities during the worst of the September correction has yield returns at last and the portfolio gained 2.13% for cash and 3.22% for OA/SRS for the month of October. The non-cash portfolio did better due to a sharp fall in USD as a result in a surprised positive performance by the Singapore economy, leading to a strengthening of the SGD. However, I expect the sharp rise in SGD to be temporary as the MAS pursue of gradually weakening the SGD for export competitiveness and the rise in US interest rates will no doubt improve the performance of the USD cash portion of the Cash portfolio. We are unable to capture the full performance of the equity market during the rally period in October but I was cautious in allocating the full amount into the equity market for the fear of a false rally. In any case, we are on track for a year with superior performance in a difficult year where most of the Asian and Emerging Market stock indices are still mired in red. The portfolio was able preserve the capital and maintain low volatility by not falling more than 1% in a single month during 2015 thanks to this cautious approach and I intend to keep it that way.  

Why You Should Stop Dreaming And Start Creating!

Many of my friends have a dream.

A dream to write a book, publish a game, create a comic strip, design a cool gadget, produce a music CD.

Most of them have some sort of blueprint or initial draft scribbled on a notepad or hidden deep within the recess of their hard drive. The excuses of not fulfilling their dreams are pretty similar: "I am not good enough for a publisher to take up my work!"

Now, stop dreaming and start creating because the gatekeepers (publishers, music labels, editors, producers) are no longer holding hostage to the creative industry, thanks to the rise of social media and crowdfunding.

The king of crowdfunding platform, is no other than Kickstarter.





Wongamania: Banana Economy is slated to be launched on Kickstarter on 19th Nov 2015 but we have received a ton of question what is exactly Kickstarter and how does it work. Since Kickstarter projects mosty originate from US and Europe, it is not surprising that many Asians do not understand exactly how Kickstarter work. Therefore, I have compiled a FAQ on Kickstarter, hopefully to inspire dreamers to start creating and to help supporters understand how it works so that they can help their friends fulfill their lifelong dream.

What is Kickstarter?


Kickstarter is a US based crowdfunding platform which has successfully helped to finance some of the most successful creative projects raising more than $1.9 billion dollars in funds in creative projects, such as films, music, stage shows, comics, journalism, video games, technology and food-related projects. Some of the most successful projects include: Pebble Smart Watch (USD 30 million),  Coolest Cooler ( USD 13 million), Exploding Kitten card game ( USD 8.7 million), OUYA video game console ( USD 8.5 million), Shenmue III video game (USD 6.3 million), Pono Music (USD 6.2 million), Veronica Mars Movie (USD 5.7 million).

How does Kickstarter work?

 

A creator with a project will list their projects on Kickstarter and state how much they are intending to raise before they are able to commence on the design and production of the project. The creator than will decide on how they will thank the backers by delivering to them either a copy of the product that they are creating, or other relevant goods and services. Many projects also offer creative experiences: visits to the set, naming characters after backers, personal phone calls. Backers who like the project and wish to see the project come to life, can pledge any amount of funds to the project and they are often rewarded proportionately to the amount of funds that they pledged.

Kickstarter project by fellow game designer: Dominic Huang


Oct 25, 2015

Why Europe Is The Place To Invest In Till The End Of 2015



After the massive bloodshed in the past few months, the world financial markets saw some relief at last with policies makers around the world intervening to stabilize the financial markets.

The Chinese government pull out all guns by announcing a new raft of infrastructure investment projects and cutting interest rates to calm the jittery markets over its slowing economy. The US central bank cooperated by 'hinting" that they may not raise interest rates this year, due to uncertain "external factors" and a rapidly rising USD. Over at Europe, the Greek financial market normalized at last, recovering from the self-inflicted "Grexit" saga earlier in the year. Thanks to the Emerging market crisis, Euro appreciated rapidly in the past few months, prompting the EU central bank to announce a potential round of additional Quantitative Easing (QE) at the end of 2015.

With the financial markets in full rally mode, which region will pull ahead for the year end rally? Here is a break down of a simple analysis across the different regions:  

Oct 17, 2015

5 Reasons Why Every Board Game Designer Should Attend Spiel Essen

To be honest, I am a board game outsider.

I have not heard of Board Game Geek or Spiel Essen until a year ago. I have played my share of board and card games but never really dwell too much on the design and development process of game design. All I had was a wonderful idea for a board game, tested the idea with some friends and went ahead to publish the game thinking that I have done my best and came up with a brilliant product.

My best is apparently not enough when the standard of board game design is so much higher internationally than what it is like locally.

Our humble booth

Oct 10, 2015

How The Commodity Crash can Lead to Another Financial Crisis


The 3Q of 2015 has been one of the brutal quarter the world has ever seen since 2011. Global equity markets were down by more than 10% and the Singapore stock is down by 16% for 2015. Two major events occurred during the month of September that made an already depressed financial market even worse. The first event was the highly anticipated US Federal Reserve meeting in which the central banks opted to not to raise the interest rates out of concern of the slowing Chinese economy. The US stock market tumbled on the interpretation that the US Feds were fearful that the US economy is also slowing down.

Sep 11, 2015

Why will China go through a Great Depression




The month of August is a roller-coaster ride for global investors with global markets correcting more than 10%, as a result of the fear of the slowing Chinese Economy. The sudden devaluation of the Chinese Yuan sparked off fears of a potential currency war leading to one of the worst one day drop in recent times. Dubbed as Black Monday, global stock markets fell between 3-9% on 24 th August and continued to fall for the next few days. There was so much fear prior to the opening of the US Stock market that the US index Futures hit their Limit Down before the opening of the US stock market that morning. Limit Down is a safety mechanism by a stock exchange to limit the fall of an index to a certain percentage (10% in most cases) to prevent fear and panic among the investors.

The Black Monday may be the beginning of the end, for China.

History has shown that there is a certain economic cycle, which nations have to go through, before they can become an economic powerhouse. In the recent times in which the rise and fall of great nations were charted by a stock exchange, US and Japan comes to mind. China’s rise and potential crash seems to emulate the evolution of the rise of the two richest developed nations in modern history. In all three cases, prior to the rise of these mighty nations, they experienced a devastating war and conflict, which changed the cultural and economic landscape of these nations. For US, it is the American Civil War, for Japan, it is the WWII and for China, it is a combination of WWII and the Cultural Revolution. After much economic destruction, these great nations are able to build from a low economic base, a rapidly growing post war population and a building spree in basic infrastructure such as roads and railways.

The American industrial age created railway barons, steel tycoons, property and banking magnates. The stock and property market soared and it transformed America into one of the greatest industrial state within 50 years. World War I barely made a nick on the economy of the America and a whole generation of Americans grew up knowing only growth and prosperity. The Great Depression, caused by a currency war and a debt leaden American society, crippled the American society for the next decade.

The post-WWII Japanese society was seen as an Economic miracle during the 1970s. The Japanese economy progressed rapidly spurred by infrastructure building and a bloom in electronics and manufacturing and the bloom created tycoons, ranging from banking, property and household appliances. The property and stock market soared and the Japanese went on a property buying spree around the world. The value of the land which the imperial palace is located at Tokyo is worth more than the value of the entire real estate in California at the peak of it’s bubble. The post war Japanese generation grew up knowing only growth and prosperity for45 years and the good times never seem to end. The Great Depression of Japan reared its head due to a build-up of massive corporate debt and the following decade was known as the Lost Decade of Japan.

The modernization of China started in 1976, when Deng Xiao Ping took over an impoverished China after 3 decades of war and economic mismanagement due to the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward. Adopting an autocratic planned economic model, China has been able to develop quickly by taking over Japan as the factory of the world in the late 1990s and with her huge population and the rise of the middle class, China is able to power ahead and became the second biggest economy in the world. The Chinese was able to build up its wealth quickly, thanks to its concentrated effort to build up its infrastructure and banking sector and it was pretty much insulated from the 1997 Asian Currency Crisis, the 2000 Dot com recession and the 2008 Global Financial crisis, thanks to its closed economic system. The post Cultural Revolution generation saw their wealth grew quickly as the value of their land and property grew exponentially with no major hiccup in the past 40 years. Although its fledgling stock market has crashed twice, the property market has not seen similar correction.

During the depression years of US and Japan, the crash of the stock market only signaled the beginning of their depression years and it was the crash of the property market when the man on the streets really felt the pain of the recession.

In conclusion, the rise of all great nations from their initial chaos years often resulted in a rapid rise in wealth and power and almost without fail, they will have to undergo a great crisis in order for the country to move on to the next step of economic growth. Previously, opinion leaders believed that the Chinese might not follow the natural path of Growth and Depression due to the level of power and authority that the Chinese government wield over the country, which allows them to manage the country at a consistent Growth stage. However, as we have seen from the recent burst of the Chinese stock market, the Chinese government has surrendered in the face of the over whelming market forces, despite their ample resource and it still remains to be seen that there is any government in the world, that can go against the natural forces of Mr Market.

Whether the current stock market crash marks the beginning of a lost decade in China, only the future can tell. However, any investment strategy that we implement must take that scenario into consideration has to include such a possibility so that we will not be caught off guard, should China lapse into their own version of the Great Depression and Lost Decade.

Portfolio Strategy and Returns

The defensive nature of the portfolio has proven its worth during the month of August, with the cash portfolio gaining 0.1% for the month and the CPF portfolio losing 1%. The allocation into the USD money market funds resulted in almost a 1% difference in performance, which highlights the difference in returns, by simply riding on the right currency trends. We have moved 30% of the SGD denominated bond holdings into Europe and US equities during the third week of August, generally avoiding Emerging Market in the case of a deepening China crisis. Will a Great Depression be certain for China going by the laws of Great Nations? I do not know, but it will always be wise to heed the rhythm of history and assume such a scenario may occur. I will move more into equities once the coast is clear that there will not be another steep drop in equity prices some weeks down the road.

Aug 11, 2015

5 Important Economic Hardtruths Which We Learn in July



The month of July has been extremely eventful for almost all the asset classes with commodities, currencies and bond markets in upheaval and there were so many things happening during July that I have to summarize them into a small article. However, the events of the past month barely made a dent on the global stock market and most of the financial damage caused by these events will start to spread and affect the equities market in the months to come. Without further ado, here are the 5 economic hard-truths which we learn, thanks to all these drama, during the month July.

Aug 3, 2015

Profit Mastery Seminar - Mastering the Art of Making Profit


 People always ask me this question after the end of every talk I give.

"Xeo, where is a good place to start learning about personal finance & investing?"

This time around, I have a very good answer for them.

You can try attending the Profit Mastery Seminar.

Jul 3, 2015

Why China's Stock Market Crash may be Deadlier than Greek Exit

The China and the Greece drama started almost around the same time. On 26th June 2015 (Friday), the Shanghai stock index fell 7.4% in a single day and investors were relieved that a meaningful correction in the Chinese stock market would lead to a more healthy upwards trend. Things seemed to be going well at the Greece end as investors were positive that the Greek government would be able to come to an agreement with her creditors before the IMF repayment deadline on 30th July.

Things started to unravel over the weekend.

Jun 29, 2015

Why Ultron Should Have Used Endowment Plans to Destroy the World.


A typical sales pitch by a insurance sales person.

"Sir, do you know what is the interest rate in your bank?"

"0.25%"

"What if there is a saving plan, that can give you 4% a year, provides free insurance and even help you pay for your savings when you are sick! Will you be interested?"

"Wow! Sounds like a good deal! Where do I sign!?!"

Let us assume that an investment analyst picks up the same product and he has to present to his boss on the product. How will he present it?

Analyst, "Sir, This product has a guaranteed loss of 10%-100% of capital over a 20 out of 21 years period and has the potential to make 4% a year."

Boss, "What kind of lousy product is this? If I am risking 100%, I will want at least 100% return on my investment! Why are you wasting my time!"

One product and 2 very different presentation, reflecting the difference in the perception between a man on the streets and an investment professional.

Jun 23, 2015

3 Tips to Increase your Chances of Getting into the Finals of Singapore Blog Awards


Honestly speaking, I have not heard of the Singapore Blog Awards until April 2014, when I came across Grace Tan (workingwithgrace.wordpress.com) blogging course, looking for ideas to improve on my running blog (sgunfitrunners.blogspot.com). I noticed that she had a couple of Singapore Blog Awards banner on the site of the blog and that is how I came to know about the Blog Awards. I registered my blog on a whim and was incredulous that my blog actually got into the finals of the Topical Category of the Blog Awards. My blog even got a honorable mention by the guest of honor, Senior Minister of State, Dr Amy Khor.

The REAL Reson Why Investors Keep Missing Market Trends


I recently contributed an article to WINvesting, a UK based financial portal on why investors keep missing market trends. Visit the site here to find out WHY!

Jun 19, 2015

How to Recognize a Pay Pal Scam


On a bright sunny Friday afternoon, I received an email from Pay Pal. I could tell that it is a phishing scam immediately.

So, for any potential Sherlock Holmes out there. Where is the hidden clue that gave the scammers away?  

Jun 17, 2015

MediShield Life Premiums - Stunned Like Vegetable!

Recently, I have quite a number of people asking me about MediShield Life and what it is about. Many of them received letters informing them how much premium they are expected to pay. Some of them are probably spooked by the premium amount that they were stunned like vegetable.


With their money at stake,I have quite a number of friends asking me about what is the new MediShield Life about and  most importantly, why is the premium so much more expensive as compared to the old MediShield. So, I decided to compile a FAQ on some of the questions discussed among my friends.

Jun 10, 2015

When it Comes to Having Fun, Size Does Matters...


It has been 6 months since the launch of Wongamania and many people congratulate me on designing such an interesting game which the game mechanics is able knit closely with economics. One of the most frequently posed question for us is the question of price.

Wongamania is priced at $38.

For the group of players who have been playing other financial literacy board games (priced between $70 - $200++), they came to a conclusion that Wongamania is priced too cheaply, and we should increase our pricing.

For the average group of consumers who are more familiar with Monopoly Deal and Saboteur ($15-$25), they feel that Wongamania is too expensive.

This makes setting the price of Wongamania a pretty difficult affair.


After considering many different factors, we came to a conclusion that packaging has one of the most significant impact on the price perception of the game.

So we decided to perform a little experiment with a few focus groups.

First, we put together a few board games and line them up for the focus group to examine as how it will be like in a retail environment. They are given the retail price of all the board games with the exception of Wongamania.

The result is pretty astonishing. Wongamania is rated on an average price of $18 and the reason for the pricing is due to the perception that the "content of the game" is not as much as other games due to the size of the game. As the size of the Wongamania packaging is on par with smaller card games like mass consumer games such Monopoly Deal or Saboteur, the consumer automatically associate Wongamania as a very light and fun game. On the other scale, the board games with bigger box are associated with "heavy strategic games which requires a lot of thinking"and since designing strategic games are harder, the consumers give the games with a bigger box a high price premium.

What is interesting is that the contents of Wongamania is on par with one very popular card game called Munchkin.

I managed to fit the entire contents of Munchkin into the Wongamania box (excluding the dice)



The price perception of Munchkin is around the $35 - $40 range which is pretty near to its actual retail price of $40.

When we initially designed Wongamania, we imagined the game to be easily portable and can be played on a small table found typically in the cafes of Singapore. We want the game to be a social game and for people able to to bring the game out during travels or meeting a bunch of friends in space scarce Singapore, and that strategy seems to be back firing on us in terms of price perception


So in order for Wongamania to fit the price perception, we have to either increase the size of the box or lower the price of the game in order for it to sell effectively in the retail market when placed with other games on the shelves. We are firmly confident on the contents and the playability value of Wongamania and we feel that we should be reasonably priced at the $35-$40 range.

We have sold 80% of our second run print of 1000 and we are looking for a bigger print run the next time round. Therefore, we are looking to increase the size of the box for our next print of Wongamania. So will Wongamania lose its portability once we upgrade the size of packaging? To help maintain the initial idea of a portable game, we will probably develop a smaller box as an optional choice for people who wish to carry Wongamania around as part of the game accessories, along with a set of easily portable board and token.

At the end of the day, no matter how good your inner beauty is, size does matter.  

Jun 2, 2015

The Secret to Predicting the Next Market Trend

What is the Secret to predict the next market trend?

One Word:

"Central Banks"

It has been eight years since the great financial crash of 2007 and the world has been feeding on 0% cheap loans and debts without having any major repercussion. To further compound on the problem, Europe, Japan and now China, are also offering cheap loans, for people to invest into properties, stocks and bonds. The rush of cheap money looking for returns has prop asset prices all over the world above that of their fair valuation. No doubt that the stock market is an indicator of the future, but the future became past and so far, whatever valuation which many analysts has justify in the past did not come to fruition in the future, which is the present.


How we dress in 2015: Based on prediction from Back to Future 2

May 14, 2015

The Market Crashed! April Fool! It has actually been a Boring Month...


Source : www.carnegieinvest.com
The global financial markets eased into the typical quiet 2nd quarter of the year after the usual exciting 4th and 1st quarter of the year. With the exception of China, the global markets traded in a listless directionless manner. Investors have gotten so used to the concerns of oil prices, Greek crisis and falling USD that it became just an irritating buzz in the background of a very quiet April month. The Chinese stock market are going through their usual ethics again, with the Shanghai stock index dancing to every word and whim of the Chinese policy makers.

May 11, 2015

Why Don't Students Care About Personal Finance (feat Cheerful Egg and Ke'ichi Wealth Management)

Source: Night Owl Cinematics

 The blog post "Why Don't People Care About Personal Finance" by Cheerful Egg  sparked off a flurry of discussion among financial online world with me contributing another article  and Ken'ichi Wealth Management  sharing on his own experiences why people don't care about finance. Kenji mentioned that in his blog post that one of the primary problem is that financial education is not thought in school and he proposed that educators should work on more visual aids like Youtube videos to encourage people to learn more about money. I heartily agree on the use of Youtube videos to engage the general public like what some of the top Youtubers like N.O.C, Jianhao Tan, Wah Bananas and Tree Potatoes.All these famous Youtube channels have one similar point... Very pretty Babes in their videos.

May 10, 2015

Why Don't People Care About Personal Finance (feat Cheerful Egg)

One of the article by one of the top financial bloggers in Singapore, Lionel from Cheerfulegg.com caught my eye. The article named: Why Don't People Care About Personal Finance and he gave three reasons:

1) Most people find personal finance boring
2) Most people think personal finance is complicated
3) Most people wanna get rich fast

I agree with all these three points but however, I believe that there is a deeper problem, at least in Singapore from my point of view. I have been intimately involved in many of my clients' personal finances over the past 12 years and I can see a certain pattern why people do not care about finance. Let me break it down by demographics:

The Student (Age 18-24)

 
Source: mci.gov.sg

Who cares about personal finance! Getting good grades and getting a good job is my top priority. Getting a boyfriend and girlfriend is my second priority! Besides, I am saving on that graduation trip with my bf/gf. I will think about money problems when I start working. 

Apr 27, 2015

How I Got Hired by Facebook and Found My Dream Job! (POSSIBLE SCAM ALERT!)

I was doing my usual news surfing in the evening and I came across this very interesting sponsored post on Yahoo Finance "Facebook Started Hiring in Singapore!"


Wow! I have heard about the legendary work play balance at Facebook and it has been constantly voted as the best company to work for globally. There has been news that Facebook has been expanding their operations in Singapore and their beautiful office has been featured in multiple technology portals in Singapore, no doubt to entice would be bankers to work in Facebook instead.

Apr 6, 2015

Lee Kuan Yew and the Lye Family - History, Eulogy and Inspiration

There has been much buzz about the family life, lineage and early life of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of Singapore when he died on 23th March 2015. There is an interesting piece of news whereby Mr Lee's ancestral home at Southern China, Guangzhou, Dabu is going to be turned into a tourist attraction

My ancestral home is just one village away from Mr Lee's village and in the vast land called China, a village away is equivalent of living in an opposite  HDB block. The last time I visited my ancestral home in the 1990s to pay my respect to my Grandfather who died in China, the village is still largely a farming community with small acres of farmland all around the village. Looking at my grandma who also the same age as Mr Lee, I couldn't help to think how the fate of the two families are intertwined with each other.

Grandpa and Grandma are both Hakka and they were married just at the outbreak of World War II. My Dad was born as a war time baby and my uncle 2 years later. After the war, Grandpa went back to China to visit his ailing mother and he never came back. He died of an illness and left behind 1 widow and 2 young children to fend for themselves in Singapore. Life was exceptionally hard as a widow during those times and all the extended family help out with my family however and whenever they could. Work was scarce for a single mother during those days as woman was not expected to work. However, my grandma was determined to make it work. She took up sewing assignments and sew day and night, while keeping an eye on two playful boys. Life was extremely hard than and she was scraping by day by day. Politics was the last thing on her mind at that point of time when everyday was a struggle.

If Lee Kuan Yew is the founding father of Singapore, than Grandma is the founding mother of the Lye Family. A lesser woman would have broken down given the situation she was in at that point of time. But she didn't. With the famous Hakka traits of determination and refusal to quit, she managed to put both my Dad and uncle through school, allowing them to have very decent jobs when they graduated.  
  
Celebrating the 91th Birthday of the Heroine of the Lye Family

Apr 2, 2015

Why the Greek Drama is Boring Us to Bits

Alexis Tsipras has told his inner circle that if pushed to the
wall by the EMU creditor powers, he would tell them 'to do their worst'

 Photo: AFP
Janet Yellen did it again.

At the beginning of March, the rise in the US Dollar seems to be unstoppable and oil prices seem to be inching its way down as oil producers around the world refuses to budge by cutting their production.

Mar 31, 2015

A Lye's Family Journey to Pay Their Last Respect to Lee Kuan Yew

The ladies of my family are fans of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. My sister wept the whole of the morning Mr Lee died and bought all the newspaper on the tribute for Mr Lee that day. Mum cried along with my sis and was depress for the next two days. My grandma was glued to Channel 8, gobbling every piece of information or tidbits about the life of Mr Lee till she became too tired to go on and fell asleep.



When the announcement for the dates and timing for the lying in state ceremony, my sis and I have made plans to visit Mr Lee's wake at the parliamentary house. However, the old folks seemed to be disinterested to go despite their interest in all the media reporting.

Mar 5, 2015

4 Reasons Why Asian Education Games are Not Fun


When Wongamania started it's financial literacy tour around the major universities in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, I encountered students who were expecting another boring "Education Game" session whereby they attend just to pick up ECA points. After playing the game, quite a couple of them approached me and congratulate me on designing a game that is "Shitloads more fun than Monopoly Deal". I was taken aback by their extremely low expectation on an education game and talked to quite a number of them. The students were telling me that they have been asked to play many educational "games", which are actually a textbook in the form of a quiz, and they were extremely skeptical when asked to play another education game.

I received similar reactions when I tried to invite students from Singapore universities to come try out the game. When the word, "Financial" and "Education" were mentioned, they quickly rejected the invitation. I have gotten the same reception from the board game community when I initially shared the idea of a "financial education" game with them. They were expecting to be bored to death.

Luckily, we managed to get positive responses so far.

As a game designer and an educator, I have to admit that many of the Asian education games are actually badly designed and extremely boring. What is the point of having an educational game when the people we are hoping to appeal to, will not even touch the game with a five-feet pole?

After talking to educators, game designers, gamers and trying out some of the educational games in the market, I have a pretty good idea what went wrong. Here are 4 reasons why I think Asian education games are not fun.
A Wefie after a session of Wongamania with the students
 

Mar 2, 2015

Russia: Yup, I got Another City. Time to Call for a Cease Fire!

February has been a good month for the equities market thanks to a more stable oil price, Greece backing down from their initial demands and a temporary ceasefire at the Ukraine front. The US equity market recovered strongly from their terrible January performance and caught up with the global markets in terms of performance. Things seem to be going well for the Americans and the Europeans for the time being. Meanwhile, the US central bank indicated that the rise in interest rates will go ahead this year, but they will moderate the pace of the increase in accordance to the economic conditions.

Feb 25, 2015

Wongamania Design Story : Illustrations & Colors (part 4)

You can read Part 1-3 of the Design Story Here

After a huge amount of testing using bits and pieces of paper, Wongamania now moves to another important phrase of the game design process.

Putting a design and face to Wongamania.

There are altogether 54 different card designs on Wongamania and there are many other design considerations which we need to consider too, including packaging, token design, logos, instruction booklet etc. The amount of illustration work to be completed was enormous!

The problem is, my initial entire team did not have any design background and we literally stumbled through the whole graphic design phrase like a couple of blind mice. We were lucky to have engaged 3 very talented young artists, Kaitlin, Olivia, EeLin to help us complete this massive project.

When I met up with the artists, I was bombarded by questions such as moods, colors, styles, themes etc and true enough, I ended up staring blankly at the artists. At that point of time, I was deciding on the theme for Limited Launch Edition. I wanted the game to look fun enough, so as to dilute the traditional mindset that learning about money is boring and tedious while the game must look serious enough, such that it will not deter adults from playing a "kiddy" game.

In order to blend this 2 conflicting concept together, we decided to use a more cartoonish style of drawing, while using a more serious tone in coloring. We decided to pick blue and gold, the traditional color of money and high finance.

Little did I know, that using two colors scheme to color all the different cards was actually a huge challenge for the artists. We were initially presented with a design scheme that focus more on the blue than the gold concept, but I rejected this initial coloring scheme as the cards became too "Batman" dark and depressing. The designers than proceeded to tinker around by adding more gold and yellow into the design resulting in a much brighter theme, though still maintaining the classic colors of gold and blue.That coloring scheme became the basis for the Limited Launch edition Wongamania.

Feb 4, 2015

Up Close and Personal with Singapore's Top Entrepreneur - Kenny Yap of Qian Hu


Hwa Chong Alumni Entrepreneur Club "Kopi" session

Our Hwa Chong Alumni Entrepreneur Club Kopi session has grown from chilling out at a coffee shop at Jalan Kayu at the end of last year to a 30 men (& women) strong kopi session chilling out at Tuckshop. Thanks to the efforts of Joel Teo, who managed to gather (arrowed willingly) a bunch of ex Hwachongians to put this event together. In the last session, we had Mr Lim Der Shing ex CEO of JobCentral to grace our kopi session at Holland Village. This time round, we have Mr Kenny Yap  of Qian Hu Corporation to share with us his entrepreneur journey.

Feb 2, 2015

"Screw You World!" says the Swiss

Source: forbes
The global financial markets is in a big mess right now. When I mean global financial markets, I am pointing to every single exchanges out there including: stock, bond, currency, commodity and derivative. The reason why the chaos is due to the number of interest rates and monetary manipulation by central banks around the world to combat the number of increasing risks which I have highlighted in my last post .

Jan 30, 2015

Why Lousy Board Games are Popular and Cool Board Games are stillUnknown to the Masses

I was recently invited to join a new online networking portal called JobKred which is still in beta testing phrase. They have this very interesting feature whereby members of the network can ask any of the other members of the portal questions, creating an on-going FAQ. I was asked a question on board game in general and I thought that it will be interesting for me to post the answer here.




My Answer (Too Long to SS)

"One of the problems with designers, not just board game designers, are that they are too focused on product design and spent too little time learning about marketing. The top selling board game in the world - Monopoly, is scorned as a very badly designed board game within the board game community. Catan, is also seen as an old board game, whose game mechanics has become outdated. However, the hardcore game designers have forgotten on some important points: What's "fun" to them is not "fun" to the casual gamers who have to take 1 hr to learn complicated game rules. "

Monopoly is easy learn. Open the board, pass out the money, roll the dice and start buying every single property you land on.

Jan 29, 2015

Crouching Iron, Falling Oil


The European Central Bank’s president, Mario Draghi, announces a quantitative easing programme on 22 January 2015. Photograph: Horacio Villalobos/Corbis
The global equity markets have been showing much optimism in the past few days after the  the European Central Bank executed a large scale qualitative easing program. The resounding victory by the Greek anti-austerity opposition party did not derail the stock rally as most political observers believe that the leader of the opposition party does not have the political will to force Greece out of  EU. The euphoria of the EU engaging in large scale money printing had the global markets lull into a false sense of security.

All the problems that have been plaguing us in 2013-2014 have not gone away and some of the indicators are, in fact, getting worse. Here are some of the key risks I see ahead:

Jan 21, 2015

This Post Has No Point...

Inspired by Smith Leong

After falling victim to a vicious flu bug on Saturday, I am still on a diet of lozenges and coffee bean herbal teas (Lung Ching Dragonwell & Cherry Blossom). Woke up with a dull pain on the right side of my neck. Darn. On top of a sexy voice, heckling cough, now I have a neck ache. Feeling miserable, I went back to sleep again hoping that the pain will go away and all this is just a nightmare. Woke up at 9am. Pain is still there. Dragged my ass off the bed and head off to Bugis where there is a chain marathon of meetings waiting for me.

I reached my usual spot at Bugis+ Coffee Bean while reading a copy of complimentary cosmopolitan magazine from my NUS Bizad Charity Run on the train. The Coffee Bean staff probably sensed my misery kindly offered me (their regular customer) a free upsize on my tea. Cleared my email, scan the financial news, check my clients investment portfolios and time flew by and it's time for my first appointment.

Met up with Made Lidya, one of the talented artists who designed the Limited Launch Wongamania's graphics and we had a good conversation on how artists, programmers and game designers must master marketing and why idealism will not help a person succeed in this competition environment.

After lunch, I went back to my usual spot at Coffee Bean and continue working on editing my Wongamania instructional video. Halfway through, my laptop crashed and I was like "@#$@$@#$". Booted up my lappy and found my efforts for the past 30mins are gone. Cursed some more and went to rework on the video. Went to read and commented on Singapore's Top Toilet Reading Material Blog

My next appointment was with a potential distributor for Wongamania and we ironed out some of the issues we have, with supply chain problem and we talk about the tabletop game industry and some of the problems faced. Went to meet an investment client next, to help fill up the yearly mandatory Client Knowledge Assessment (CKA) form and to share some investment updates with her. By now, I am using my pen as a massage stick to work out the dull ache on the side of my neck.

Traveled to Paya Lebar to meet up with my other Capital Gains partner, Sam Chang to discuss on the agenda of the meeting for tomorrow's quarterly planning session. We went through a new equity sharing idea from slicingpie.com introduced by a fellow Hwa Chong Alumni Entrepreneur Philip Teo and decided that we should implement the model on Capital Gains. Discussed about our US expansion plans and Malaysia supply chain issues.

Went home. Flopped on bed. Dead tired. Uploading new Wongamania Youtube video and while waiting, decided to write on this blog post which has no point.

By now, I was too tired to write what's the point of this no point post and decided to plagiarize from Smith Leong's Post: 

"See, so we always talked about how much we miss the olden days blogging where it is non commercial, where it is personal and you just read day to day things to know your friends or another blogger/stranger better. How did you like the above paragraph better over anything else that is commercial?

Whichever the case, i think blogging is something you should enjoy, you do not need to care much about what the trend is, what the fashion is or what other people perceive you as or their expectation. Just like what you do and just enjoy doing it. If it doesn't make you happy, don't do it.
You do not have to agree with what I'm saying but I hope you think about it. ;)

In case you really don't like my pointless post. "

When I grow up I wanna be Bradley Cooper

Jan 8, 2015

Xeo's Annual Investment Review & Outlook 2015


Tower of Bellum
Lisbon, Portugual

Dear Friends,

2014 has been another difficult year to invest. It is a year full of political surprises, central bank heroics and differentiated growth. The range of global indices returns are also pretty dramatic, with the best performer, China A Shares returning 53%, to the Russian market loss of 48%. From the way things are, the China domestic stock market is like one big casino, with little regard to valuations. How is it possible that the same stock trading in the Shanghai Stock Exchange and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange can have a price differentiate of 30%? The reason for the stock market rally is because of possible government intervention due to a rapidly slowing Chinese Economy. There is almost no logical explanation for the rapid rally, other than that the local Chinese have turned their gambling instinct from property, to red wine, to jade, shadow banking trust products to the current IPO craze. This year also saw the dramatic fall of commodity prices with iron ore and oil leading the fall with a 50% damage. These divergence of fate masks a warning sign of a potential end of the recent 5 years bull market.

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