Podcast by InnovatorsBox®

Dear Workplace: Season 3

Why M&As Are Tough All the Time | Disrupt the Market by Democratizing M&A

Dear Workplace – a Podcast by InnovatorsBox®. Hosted by Monica H. Kang.

Reimagine how you thrive at work through conversations that matter. Hosted by workplace creativity expert Monica H. Kang, we’ll study the latest trends, changes, and challenges to untangle workplace people problems. We’ll talk with executives, innovators, and experts and visit different industries around the world so that you get first dibs into the changing workforce. 

Tune in on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your preferred platform of choice!

I’ve often found the mergers and acquisition (M&A) process to be expensive and exclusive, leaving many unsure of where to start or how to succeed. Like dating, it’s about finding the right partners and building a dream team, whether you’re buying or selling a company. And let’s not forget about culture – M&As in the United States, Asia, and Europe all come with unique challenges. Enter Marcus Yeung, Founder & CEO of SEAbridge Partners and Co-founder of match.asia. With over 30 years of experience in every aspect of M&As, Marcus has seen it all. From his beginnings as a banker in London to his current role in Singapore, he shares his passion for this complex yet human space and his vision for disrupting the industry. Join us on Dear Workplace to learn how Marcus and his team are democratizing the M&A process with match.asia.

Guest: Marcus Yeung

Founder, Managing Partner, match.asia | SEAbridge

Marcus is a highly sought after deal maker and adviser with a wealth of experience spanning over two decades. With a unique combination of experience as Founder, CEO, CFO, PE/VC/Corporate Investor, Lender and Investment Banker, he has deep insight on all sides of an investment and is well placed to facilitate investments in Asia. Marcus is known for his hands-on, creative and entrepreneurial approach to deal making while maintaining his core values of humility, integrity and gratitude. Marcus has founded, grown, invested in, managed, advised and sold over 100 businesses in Asia, Japan and the UK. His deep business experience has been honed through senior management positions in the corporate and financial world: Founder and CEO of Smooch Japan, a pioneer in the Japanese F&B market Co-founder and Managing Partner of Crimson Phoenix, a leading M&A boutique in Japan Executive Director of The Carlyle Group, a top private equity fund in Japan CFO of Singapore Power International, a major energy investor in Asia Director of SG Warburg, a top UK investment bank Aside from his business expertise, Marcus is also fluent in both English and Japanese and is a balletomane and a qualified fitness instructor and is also a qualified fitness instructor.

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Episode Shownotes

1. Episode Title: Why M&As Are Tough All the Time | Disrupt the Market by Democratizing M&A

2. Host: Monica H. Kang, Founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox

3. Episode Description:

This episode explores the complex world of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) with veteran Marcus Yeung, who brings over 30 years of experience to the table. They delve into the inefficiencies of traditional M&A processes, the cultural nuances influencing transactions in Asia, and the revolutionary potential of technology to democratize and streamline these high-stakes business dealings. Marcus introduces his innovative platform, Match Asia, designed to connect buyers and sellers in a more efficient and accessible marketplace, promising a new era of opportunity for businesses across Southeast Asia. This episode is a must-listen for anyone interested in the dynamic intersections of finance, culture, and technology.

4. Guest:
Marcus Yeung, Founder, Managing Partner, match.asia | SEAbridge

5. Key Topics Covered:

  • The inefficiencies of traditional M&A processes
  • The impact of cultural differences in M&A, particularly in Asia
  • The rise of technology in transforming M&A into a more democratic and accessible process
  • Marcus Yeung’s career journey and insights from over 30 years in the field

6. Highlights

  • Marcus discusses the necessity of democratizing the M&A process.
  • Insights into how M&A has evolved over the years and what the future holds.
  • The launch and concept behind Match Asia, an M&A marketplace.

7. Quotes from the guest:

    1. “M&A is probably the most exciting and interesting one because it really requires a lot of skills to wed two companies together.”
    2. “Democratizing the M&A process allows millions of companies to be found by potential investors.”

8. Contact Information:

9. Closing Thoughts by Monica Kang:

Monica emphasizes the importance of taking initiative and being problem solvers in the business world, especially in challenging fields like M&A.

10. Episode Length and Release Date:

Episode Length: Approximately 42 mins
Release Date: May 23, 2024


Monica H. Kang
So one of the other things that I feel in M and a that often is a bit complicated and inefficient is how to find the right partner. I mean, let’s bring into another context. Relationships. Right. And in relationships take time to build trust, to get to know each other. And when it comes to mergers and acquisitions, you’re not only just building a relationship, you’re making the financial decisions to purchase a whole company or on the other case, selling everything that you’ve spent your sweat equity and time to somebody else. From both perspectives, that’s a really tough decision to make and to then know how to find the right partner and hence person who understands that and will. 


Monica H. Kang
Put the right price tag. 


Monica H. Kang
Yeah, it’s not easy. And so we’re in 2024, and the fact that the way, how M and a currently works, how you find that partner and going about is still kind of, you know, lacking innovation. And I’m not the only one. It’s something a lot of people in the industry have been thinking. And certainly what Marcus Jung has been thinking about as a veteran who’s been in the space for 30 plus years. He started as an investment banker in London. And as he looked back at his entire time going through all these different acquisition, purchasing, selling, advising, and helping make the deals and advising those who want to make those deals, he realized that we need to disrupt how we do M and A. 


Monica H. Kang
And I would say we need to democratize how M and a works, which is the reason why I was super excited to have Marcus on the show to help make sense of whats going on and what we can do differently. Plus, hes currently now based in Asia, in Singapore, to be specific. And so we’re going to get a chance to learn a little bit more how M and A is different in Asia. Take a chance to look at his extensive bio in the notes because you’ll get a chance to see how diverse and holistic his experience is in his whole career, but particularly in M and A. 


Monica H. Kang
So as we learn a little bit more about how he started the idea of match Asia, but also his thoughts on M and A, I hope this enlightens you to realize that this world that feels so complicated doesn’t have to be anyone’s to help fix it. So let’s meet Marcus. 


Monica H. Kang
So very excited to have Marcus here all the way from Singapore. Thank you so much for joining us. We are very excited to dive and continue our conversation with M and A. You’ve been around doing m and a for a very long time, 30 years if I remember correctly. Right, and I’m curious if you remember, because I find the humble beginnings always important. Do you remember the first time you went through an m and A experience? What was it like? Where were you? What was it? 


Marcus Yeung
Well, my career started off in London, in the UK. I started off 30 years ago as a junior banker, and I remember going to this very big office in London and actually being sent home on the very first day. It was a very prestigious company. I was wearing brown shoes and a beautiful suit and brown shoes, and they looked at me and they looked at my brown shoes and said, you can’t come in with brown shoes. So I actually had to go home and buy some black shoes and come back to the office. 


Monica H. Kang
Oh, my God. 


Marcus Yeung
That was my first experience of the old style, traditional british M and A. Thankfully, it’s all moved on a little bit more. It’s more transaction oriented now than the relationship oriented, but that was really my first experience of the corporate finance, traditional m and a way of doing things. So I was basically in the UK for some time, and then I came to Asia because having a mixed background and my father’s from Hong Kong, I wanted to come to Asia as quickly as possible. And so I came to Asia, spent ten years in Japan, in Korea, a little bit in Hong Kong, Singapore, and eventually switched to what we call the buy side. So in M and A, you have the sell side and the buy side. 


Marcus Yeung
Sell side, meaning you sell companies or you’re selling your own company and buy side means you’re buying. So I switched to the buy side and joined my client, which was a big Singapore corporate, as the CFO started to experience M and a on the buy side as an investor. And then after that I joined a big private equity fund in Japan, actually a big buyout fund, and did some big acquisitions in Japan. And then eventually I went full circle and came back and set up my own boutique, and now I’m doing m and a advisory. So I’ve gone all the way around in a big cycle. 


Monica H. Kang
So I feel like this might be a perfect question to ask you as somebody who’s really been in all the different angles of M and A. If this is your chance to maybe debunk or vouch for M and A, for those who like, I feel like M and A is so complicated, or they’re like, I don’t like it. I mean, for some reason you’ve stayed, so there must be some reason why you’ve enjoyed it. 


Marcus Yeung
Well, there’s many different types of investment banking and many different types of corporate finance. M and A is probably the most exciting and interesting one because it really requires a lot of skills to wed two companies together. It requires financial skills, obviously, because there’s a transaction involved, but it also requires its personal skills because you’ve got two different companies who are really trying to get to know each other. And as an M and a advisor, your job really is to be the facilitator between the seller, who is probably very strong minded and knows exactly what he wants, and then the buyer, who’s also extremely strong minded and knowing exactly what they want and trying to facilitate a deal. 


Marcus Yeung
And once you do an m and A, because an M and a means that you’re buying a company in its entirety, which means you’re buying all of the skeletons in the closets as well. And sometimes the process becomes a little bit complicated because there’s a lot of things which you don’t really want to reveal to the buyer until you have to. And then when the buyer realizes, oh my goodness, I didn’t realize that was part of the deal. Then there’s a bit of an emergency and as an advisor, you have to come in and really explain, well, it’s not too bad. This is actually what we’re going to do about it. So it’s actually a very interesting process to go through. 


Monica H. Kang
And before we get into the nitty gritty, I’m curious if you can put us perspective on the macro trends. Since you’ve been in the space for the 30 plus years, you’ve seen and done a lot, where has M and a been going? What are you worried about and what are you excited about overall? 


Marcus Yeung
Yeah. So M and a generally has increased significantly over the last 2030 years. I think you could also say that M and A is much more global than it was before. You have to think about what drives M and a. Mainly, there are two reasons to go through and Demonet from an investor’s perspective. One, you want financial return and say you’re looking for an asset which will make money over time. Or secondly, if you’re a strategic investor like a corporate investor, you’re looking for a strategic asset which will enhance your business going forward. And so because of the globalization of the economy, there’s more and more strategic cross border amade deals going on. In addition to that, there’s been a lot of capital released into the market over the last 20 years. 


Marcus Yeung
And you can see that’s why there’s so many plethora of private equity funds and other type of financial funds out there. And so there’s a lot of capital chasing M and a deals as well. So M and a really has grown significantly over the last 2030 years. And from a seller’s perspective, things haven’t changed so much. It’s just that you probably have more interest from buyers than you may have had years ago. I would relate M and a very similar to perhaps the old dating system. In the old days when you were trying to find the match of your choice, you would only be limited to perhaps your local area, who your mother knows, who your father knows, who your friends are you go to school with. And that’s really your net, which you can choose from. 


Marcus Yeung
But obviously, as the world become much more global now, you can actually spread your net much wider and actually meet people across the world. You can travel yourself as well, and you can actually now go online and meet people online as well, which means that the world is much smaller than it used to be. So that’s also happening in M and A as well. 


Monica H. Kang
Well, it’s permitting us to connect in DC and Singapore real time. I mean, I do wish I was in Singapore doing this live. I mean, that would have been a treat as well. Always a treat to be back in Singapore. Speaking of the location though, that was one of the other reasons why I was super excited to get a chance to learn from you and have this conversation, because I feel having traveled and worked in between Asia and the States, I feel like there’s still a lot of gaps of awareness and understanding. So even just in a general sense, I know since you have worked in London, you’ve worked in different countries also in Asia, I think, which is a very important point. Often we lump it into one, but there’s different countries and cultures, different languages. 


Monica H. Kang
Even in one country, there’s multiple languages and cultures, especially in a place like Singapore and in the Southeast Asia community. So that probably influences also in how m and A and business is done because you are needing to adhere to different legal requirements or like, as you have pointed out, different things that are considered worrisome versus not. I’m curious if you can share some stories and examples of like. Yeah, unless you might know, these are things you might need to look out more for if you want to do something properly in Asia. What would you say? 


Marcus Yeung
Yeah, it’s very interesting. Most of the deals which we work on are cross border deals. Some of them are within Asia because as you mentioned, Asia or Southeast Asia, where I’m based in Singapore. Southeast Asia has ten or more very diverse culture countries in Southeast Asia with many different languages. And one of the challenges of cross border M and A is that people speak different languages and they have different cultures. Same thing with an interracial marriage, things don’t always go smoothly because you need to understand the opposite party. And so, you know, Southeast Asia, I think, has many challenges, but also opportunities. I think one of the key things to note about Asia, compared to perhaps some of the more developed markets in the UK and US, for example, is that Asia is really a growth area in the world. 


Marcus Yeung
You have 60% of the global population is in Asia and 40% of the GDP is in Asia. It’s a massive part of the market and it’s the high growth part of the world. So there’s a lot of interest in Asia from global investors. And so many investors come to Asia and they’re looking for assets to acquire or to business partners to work with and grow their business. So that’s really the opportunity. I would say that the reason why that impacts the m and a market is that many sellers in Asia don’t want to sell. And the reason they don’t want to sell is because their business is growing very well. 


Marcus Yeung
And they’re saying, well, you’d like to buy my business, but actually, I don’t really need to sell my business because my business is going to grow very well for the next five to ten years. And I think that’s something which, especially over the last ten to 15 years, that’s really been the case. Most sellers or companies in Southeast Asia would prefer to have a partnership or perhaps some capital or injection of technology to come in. But they’re not really interested in selling because they think that the next period of growth is something they want to participate in. When you go through an em a day, typically you sell the business in its entirety, which means you give it to somebody else, and that means you have no economic say in the business going forward. 


Marcus Yeung
So I think the type of deals you get to see in Southeast Asia are a little bit different. Having worked in Europe and also in the US, people are more willing to sell. You have very clear transactions where a 70 year old or 60 year old owner of a business will say, look, I’ve had enough. My son is not interested in the family business. I want to go and play golf. Let me just sell and I’ll move on. It’s a very clean, very simple deal. In Southeast Asia, unfortunately, it’s much more complicated because there are many Chinese, for example, in Southeast Asia, the Chinese are very savvy and if you ever speak to an old chinese owner in Southeast Asia, you will ask him, are you for sale? And then he’ll say, are you interested in buying me? So there’s no clear answer. 


Marcus Yeung
It’s always grey. And so you need to actually understand the dynamics behind that. And sometimes you deal in theoretical situations a lot more than in the rest of the world, where the transaction is very clear, you know, that the counterparty wants to sell or wants to buy. In Southeast Asia, it’s a little bit softer than that. 


Monica H. Kang
Thank you for sharing that. Speaking of software, are there particular trends that you’re noticing in the area that you’re excited about? For instance, certain industries that’s growing more, certain industries that may be perhaps evolving? 


Marcus Yeung
Yeah, maybe I can give you a quick overview of what’s happening and just for your audience, Asia, as you know, is a massive market. And I could very simplistically, I could split it into North Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, and then maybe Australia, New Zealand at the bottom. These are very distinct regions. You’ve got the North Asia, which is China and Japan, who are the big markets and obviously big countries in the world, and they are much more mature, especially Japan. It’s a very mature economy with very big world class companies, and they have their own kind of dynamics. They’re a little bit of a. Quite a domestic economy, and there are some big companies in Japan who want to go overseas. 


Marcus Yeung
And so there are a good source of potential buyers, but also Japan itself within Japan, because it’s quite a domestic market and it’s quite an elderly market in terms of the population. There are quite a lot of succession opportunities where older generation company owners are looking to sell out because the younger generation do not want to take over the business. So recently Japan has had a revival of m and a activity because there’s been a handover from the old to the young. And I think Ryota’s probably seeing that in Korea as well. I think you would have probably know much better than me, but the older style economies generally go through that. China is a completely different beast. China obviously has. It’s a massive market and has very strong global expansion plans of its own. 


Marcus Yeung
It’s a leader in many areas and a big source of capital and technology as well for the world. China itself has some economic problems of its own, and that has restricted activity, I think, over the last year or two. But prior to that, they were quite aggressive in terms of trying to get outside of China. Once China kind of saturated or kind of peaked, in terms of its internal growth, then a lot of the chinese investors came out to other markets, and Southeast Asia is a big beneficiary of that. Southeast Asia is a group of countries with Singapore, but the biggest one is Indonesia, which has got 200 5260 million people. You’ve got Vietnam and Philippines, which have around 100 million or plus 100 million plus population each. And then you’ve got some other markets, which are 50, 60 million type of populations. 


Marcus Yeung
So some pretty big countries coming from a relatively low economic base and growing very quickly. So there’s a huge consumer market boom going on in Southeast Asia, and that’s giving rise to a lot of growth, GDP growth in all of these markets. And as a result of that, there’s a lot of strategic activity and a lot of investment coming into Southeast Asia. So a lot of activity in the region, very different from countries to countries. Southeast Asia is growing very quickly. We’re based. The world economy in the last couple of years has been a little bit subdued because of higher interest rates and inflation. But now we’re beginning to come back and we’re beginning to see more and more opportunities in the region. And I think it’s going to become a very strong region for M and a investment in the next 20 years. 


Monica H. Kang
Thank you, Marcus, for that deep download to help us better understand what’s going on in the market, but also reminder of how to see it with a lens of intentionality of the different regions. I think our listeners can already get a little taste of understanding how passionate you are of this space, which has, of course, led you to now building the company you have now, which we’ll talk about in a little bit. But before that, we got to first address the elephant in the room, which is, you started it because you saw a lot of problems in this space that you care for so much. Let’s address it. Why is it so inefficient? 


Monica H. Kang
Like, that’s the whole thing that, like, what inspired me to want to do this conversation in the first place and reach out to you, because I feel like so much of, like, of that difficulty has been like, oh, it’s just the way it is. To your point. Like, going back to your story about your shoe that you shared at the Burbian, like, this is the correct shoe we gotta wear. This is the way we gotta do the correct presentation. Like, if you don’t do that, go back. We don’t want you. And that’s not fair. I think it’s probably 2024. Why are we still doing this? So why is it so inefficient? What’s the problem? 


Marcus Yeung
Yeah, that’s a great question. And let me explain a little bit about the process of M and D and the various stages just for your audience. I think it’s very similar, perhaps, to selling a property or it’s very similar to finding a partner to get married to. There are two stages to, let’s say, getting married. For example, the first stage, I’m not sure, Monica, I don’t know if you’re married or not, but I have experience with this. I’m very happy. Married for 28 years now. 


Monica H. Kang
Married last year. 


Marcus Yeung
Oh, well done. Congratulations. Okay, well, so basically, there is the process, getting until married. And then afterwards, once you’re married, it becomes a completely different ballgame. Then you have to figure out how to keep your marriage alive and fresh. Two different challenges. I won’t talk about the latter one. I’ll talk about the former one, which is basically, how do you get married? The actual process of M and J. And you can roughly split that down into three different core activities. The first one is the preparation as a seller for Emma day, or to get bad, let’s say, but for Emma day. So preparing yourself. The second one is really once you’ve prepared yourself going out to the market and trying to find an investor. 


Marcus Yeung
And then the third one is once you found and you found that match and a meeting of mind, hopefully, then negotiating and closing the deal. Those are the three core elements of an M and a process. Typically speaking, an M and a process could take anything from six months to a year or two years, or it could never actually happen. There’s so many moving parts and so much emotions involved in this that it could. It could really take, it could be very quick. I mean, you’d have worldwide marriages, for example, or you could just be dating and be engaged for years and years. The reason why the pain points are that basically, it’s a very manual and very hit and miss and very inefficient process, getting everything in order to get married. 


Marcus Yeung
Because don’t forget, when you sell your company, the person who’s buying your company is taking everything and all of the good things and all of the bad things as well. And so it doesn’t want to have lots of surprises, which it inherits. And so you have to clean up your. Your house before you actually start. So the preparation stage is quite painful, and they’re putting together the marketing documents. That’s quite manual as well, because you really have to understand, you have to be a little bit introspective. You need to think about, who am I? What value do I have as a company? Who’s looking out for companies like me? What are they looking for? And you really have to think about, okay, what is the problem they have, and what is the solution I can give to them? 


Marcus Yeung
Is it just a good investment they want financially, or are they looking for strategic value? Are they looking for growth opportunities? Are they looking for certain technology? Are they looking for me personally so that I can drive their business efforts in the future? There’s many different reasons why an investor would want to buy a business, and then not only once you buy it, but how they want to run the business going forward. So there’s a lot of things you need to think about. But what I would say is the most difficult part of all of this is the matching face. It’s the actual finding the right partner. Just going back to that dating kind of analogy which I had before, in the old days, it would be through introductions, through friends and family, and it was very manual, very hit and miss. 


Marcus Yeung
And even in the older days, you’d have to be chaperoned and all sorts of other things going on. And now you could just go online and just swipe left and swipe right, and it’s much quicker, and you can see thousands of potential partners on the left and thousands of potential partners on the right. It’s much easier. But there’s also a lot of noise and a lot of rubbish out there as well. So what’s happening in M and a is we’re still very much in the old days where it’s all to do with introductions, and it’s all to do with somebody I know who you might know, and then trying to see if there’s a fit, and more often than not, there’s no fit. 


Marcus Yeung
So a lot of the deals which we’ve worked on and most advisors work on, they don’t succeed, not because the company is not any good, it’s just because the dynamics weren’t quite right, or the net which we cast was not wide enough, because we may have cast and introduced the company to 50 potential suitors, but out of the 50, none of them really were very excited to push forward. Or maybe you had ten conversations and you don’t go through. So it’s a very inefficient, very hit and miss process, and more often than not, it’s not very successful. And finally, as a result of that, it’s very expensive, because m and day bankers are quite expensive. 


Marcus Yeung
And the reason why they’re quite expensive is because the chance of success is quite low and therefore they have to charge a lot so that it evens out over time. If they close half of the deals, then they can actually make good money over time, considering that they’re not going to make money on half of the deals they work on. So as a result, from a seller’s perspective, it becomes very costly and quite risky to go through an m and a process because you’ve got to go out there, show yourself to the world, reveal all of your information. You have to pay M and a advisory fees, which typically cost quite a lot of money from a retainer. They charge retainers and so on, and then at the end of the day, you may not be successful. 


Marcus Yeung
So it’s quite a painful, humbling and resource intensive process. And so we want to really change that. And that’s why I set up a new business. Believe it or not, the company is called Match Asia. We’re not a dating site, actually, we are a dating site. We’re a data site for companies. And what we call ourselves is we are match Asia M and a marketplace and a company matching platform. And the idea is very simple. 


Marcus Yeung
We have thousands of sellers, we have thousands of buyers, and we allow the sellers to put information, enough data of their own, on a no names basis so that they can keep their confidentiality, but enough data so that they can be found by a buyer who can search and say, I want to buy a food and beverage chain, Indonesia, which has got at least $10 million of revenue, but a valuation of less than $50 million, which has got growth rates of 50%. They can filter all of that in the same way you would go to a property site when you’re looking to rent an apartment or you want to buy an apartment. So I want this area, I want this price, I want this number of bedrooms, I want this number of square foot, for example. 


Marcus Yeung
We allow the buyers to find the sellers very easily and match. And then after that we would go in and close the deal. 


Monica H. Kang
That’s nice. I can’t believe we haven’t done that. 


Marcus Yeung
Well, that’s exactly the response we get all the time. Everybody’s saying, that’s such an obvious idea, why hasn’t this been done before? And I guess there’s a lot of reasons why it hasn’t. I think technology has really taken off. But if you think about it, many industries, in fact, most industries now have gone, here’s a marketplace model. Everything you do is based upon a marketplace model. If you buy groceries online. You take an Uber or in Southeast Asia, grab, for example, you hire a cleaner or an air conditioning cleaner. You go online to find these people. You rent a property online, you go to Agoda and book your travel online. Everything is done on the marketplace. And there’s no reason why something as complicated as m a day should not also go online. 


Marcus Yeung
It won’t solve the whole issue, but it can solve a lot of the pain points of MD. 


Monica H. Kang
Well, one of the things I’m really excited at first, congratulations to your and your team working on this very important work. One of the things I’m excited about is just democratizing the whole process, because as another entrepreneur, while I am bootstrapped, I know plenty of founders who have been on the other market of the experience of what you had described of needing to want to sell, whether it’s because they want to grow with that or they just wanted to use that as a way to fundraise all these different reasons. But the whole dating process, as you said, I mean, that’s the term, honestly, among our business owner friends that we speak about, right? Like, how’s your dating with investors process going? And they’re not talking about romantic dating. They’re talking about business dating, as you have pointed out, because it takes time. 


Monica H. Kang
You think it’s going to go through. But until you sign that paper, and even when you sign that paper, you don’t know, things could change. And then so many things happen behind the scene. But that process felt and feels and I think is exclusive, expensive, and for many who start business without connections, without the elite schools, without money, which is actually, many innovators around the world feel like they’re left out. I’m like, I have a great work. I’m actually changing the industry, but I don’t know how I can get to that NASA or even how I can find the right investors. And so I’m excited about that’s one of the angles. And I’m curious, like you, since you’ve already launched, you’ve had thousands of people be part of it. I’m curious if there are some stories you could share. 


Marcus Yeung
Well, I think the word you used, democratizing dating for companies, is actually a really good way of phrasing it, because what we found is that we’re actually opening up an untapped market. I like to call it the blue Ocean because many companies, especially the smaller companies, who cannot afford this risky process of trying to go through this updating or Emma day process, they basically end up on their own. And unfortunately, many SME’s in Southeast Asia end up just having to shut down because they’re a good business. But the children want to go into crypto or podcasting and they’re not interested in their factory and, you know, their father’s chain of restaurants or, you know, a printing factory indonesia. 


Marcus Yeung
And these companies really don’t have an option, strategic option, because they’re a little bit too small for financial advisors and investment banks to get involved and they can’t afford to pay these exorbitant fees, which the investment bankers charge. So they end up being a little bit off the radar screen. And so what we’re trying to do is really to democratize the m and a process and allow the millions and millions of companies. I bet you didn’t know there were 71 million SME’s. SME’s means small medium enterprises, 71 million SME’s in Southeast Asia, 71 million. Now this includes a lot of mom and pop shops and stalls and things like that, but there’s probably a million decent sized companies in the region. 


Marcus Yeung
And of those million, I would estimate that even less than 100,000 would have access to an m and a process because they’re just not on the radar screen. So what we’re trying to do is to really, because of our marketplace, anybody can come onto our marketplace, of course, we will rent them and we’ll make sure that they are a decent company. But anybody has the option to get onto the marketplace and just be found by the investors who will come onto our marketplace and actually look around and say, look, I’m looking for this. I couldn’t find it anywhere else. Let me see if I can find it on the marketplace. And that’s really what we’re trying to do. And we’ve only been around for a month. 


Marcus Yeung
We just launched literally a month ago, and we’ve already had fantastic traction because what we’re offering is really a winning solution to both the sellers and to the buyers and everybody involved in the industry, because we can’t. We’re just trying to help. We’re trying to open it up and we’re trying to just give value to both the sellers and the buyers. And the sellers can, for the first time, get on the radar screen of a lot of potential investors. And they can do it for free, and they can do it on a no names basis and they can do it on a non exclusive basis, which means that it’s a very easy, no risk route for them to take and just look and see what’s out there. 


Marcus Yeung
And then from a buyer’s perspective, they can also come on board and they can find companies who are willing to transact with them. Because one of the biggest problems from a buyers and investors perspective is that they could call somebody up and say, monica, great podcast. Are you for sale? And you say, actually, no, I’m not for sale. And so they don’t want to have to go through all of that process. And what we do, of course, is that we do that for them. So everybody on our platform has an intent to sell, and that saves a lot of time from the buyers perspective as well. And then we make it easy for them to find good targets. 


Monica H. Kang
Well, immediately, of course, since I’m in the states, the question I have is that, is this going to be available in the states or is this only just starting in Asia? For now, yeah, it’s a good one. 


Marcus Yeung
And there’s no reason why some smart individual shouldn’t do it in the states. I think there are a couple of people who are doing it specifically for tech companies in the states. There are other people who’ve done it in Japan, for example, but nobody’s done it in Southeast Asia. We’re the first guys to do it in my home market. But it makes a lot of sense. I think, generally speaking, investors are quite localized, I would say especially for M and to a southeast asian companies will typically be bought by asian companies. There are obviously some cross border deals. But generally speaking, you should have, like any marketplace, it should be a localized marketplace. It’s like a dating app. You don’t have global dating apps. You have localized. 


Monica H. Kang
Oh, I was wondering if you could expand, considering how brilliant and amazing it is. So I was just curious if it will be out in the states or elsewhere as our fans are listening around the world. They might be like, darn, if I don’t live in Southeast Asia, I don’t get to benefit from this amazing opportunity. 


Marcus Yeung
Yeah, well, maybe if there’s one of. 


Monica H. Kang
Your audience, I don’t know, we’re gonna maybe plant the seed for Marcus. 


Marcus Yeung
Yes. Perhaps one of your audience members will say, we’d like to do this, and then we can partner together and set it up in the states as well. 


Monica H. Kang
Well, thank you so much, Marcus, for sharing that and also just giving us also a humble perspective on what goes behind the scene. I think one of the reason why I really wanted to start this conversation in this whole series on M and a was, to your point, a lot of thing is, I think, concealed, hard to navigate, hard to, even if you like, read articles online of like Geez. Like, I think honestly, like, folks will probably, and no listeners, you’re probably thinking of this. You’re going to probably want to relisten to this conversation because there’s lots of golden nuggets where he, we shared key business principles that you want to revisit, to digest and understand whether you are diving into M and A or know somebody who might be. 


Monica H. Kang
There’s a lot of perspectives that are repeated in a business cycle, but also things that we can learn from and bring out. And so thank you so much, Marcus. I’m so grateful that we had you and get a chance to explore all of these things. Congratulations. I know by the time this episode probably goes out, it probably have been many more months than just the few months that you have shared. And so look forward to seeing how we continue to see the disruptions in the market as we wrap up because I can’t believe how much fast time has fallen by. What do you envision M and a future to be? What are you excited about and what are you still worried about? 


Marcus Yeung
Yeah, I think the biggest opportunity, just going back to your word, democratization, I think the biggest opportunity we have is to really make m and day available to all good companies out there. And we very much want to support that. And so match Asia really has a, what we try to do is campaign the sellers, people like yourself or people like your audience who want to actually go and start selling their companies. So we have actually got loads of free resources on our website because we want companies to be able to really decide whether they want to go through Emmerdale, whether what the challenges are, what pros are, what the cons are, how to go through m and day, what’s the process involved. So if you’re interested, please have a look. 


Marcus Yeung
There’s lots of free guides to m and D on the site, and I think that’s really the opportunity we have. An opportunity really to do what in the dating scene, people to people dating scene, to do what’s happened there, to bring dating online. We’ve got the same opportunity to bring M and a or company dating online as well. And that’s something which I know will happen, and I’m very happy to try and make it happen, especially in Southeast Asia. 


Monica H. Kang
Well, thank you, MarcUS, for doing what you do. And folks, we’re lucky that we’re going to say we knew MarcuS way back when he was starting this. And so we look forward to continue to seeing hopefully more innovation, as you have pointed out in M and All these different businesses angles that we still have yet to DNF innovation and development. And so thank you so much for the Work that you do. As we wrap up, few final questions. What is the final words of Wisdom you want to share with our innovators out there? No matter where they are, whether they’re doing M and A or not, that’s a really good. 


Marcus Yeung
There’s so much nuggets and words of Wisdom. I think the words of Wisdom I could say is probably a couple of things. If you want to be successful in business, first of all, make sure there is a problem you’re solving. It doesn’t matter what the problem is. Make sure that there is a problem you’re solving, and then come up, make sure that you have a Solution which solves the problem. And once you’ve sorted that one out, then you can go out to the market and market as much as you want, and you should be successful. Many, many companies out there come up with a great solution, but they don’t actually have a very good problem, and so they’re wasting a lot of their time because at the end of the day, they can’t sell. 


Marcus Yeung
So if you are doing some soul searching out there, just really think about who you are, what you can offer. What is the problem out there, which you want to solve and make sure that it’s a real problem and then go and solve it. And then once you’ve done that, go and market the hell out of it, and then I think you’ll be very successful. 


Monica H. Kang
One of my favorite ways to remind of that lesson is fall in love with a problem, not the solution. Sometimes we get so excited about the innovative solution, they’re like, no, we got to do it this way. I’m like, wow, is that really the only way you can solve that problem? What’s actually the problem? So, thank you, Marcus, for reminding us to ground ourselves with self awareness, because, again, even if it is a problem, is that the right problem that you want to solve, and would you actually enjoy it doing, because it’s not just for one day that you’ll be wanting to do this. Marcus, what’s the best way folks and fans can follow up with you and stay in touch with you? 


Marcus Yeung
I have a couple of social links. There’s Marcus Young.com. If you actually look at that, M A r c U S y E. It’s basically a site trying to explain about the mega trends in the market in the world. Not just technology trends, but other big trends out there. There’s so much going on. There’s so much noise in the world, sometimes I think it’s important to try and figure out the bigger picture so that you don’t get lost and get pushed around too much because you don’t understand what’s going on. So that’s one way. Apart from that, you can have a look at matching, see if you want to sell your business, if you’re interested or see if you want to buy a business or see if you want to just get some know how on how to buy and sell businesses. 


Marcus Yeung
We’d be more than happy to try and help you in any way we can. 


Monica H. Kang
Perfect. And folks, you know the drill. If you’ve been listening or if this is your first time, come find [email protected] where we will have the blog with all the links and resources that Marcus has mentioned, as well as the social media on LinkedIn and other places. And so please take a look and if you can’t find it, just send me a quick [email protected], and I will make sure you have the right resources. But Marcus, thank you so much for joining us. We’re so grateful you’re here. Thank you for all that you do, and we look forward to continuing to see how M and A is being disrupted. 


Marcus Yeung
Thanks so much, Monica, for having me. 


Monica H. Kang
And folks, again, thanks for tuning in. We will see you again next week with another story. Bye. 


Monica H. Kang
Thank you again, Marcus, for sharing your insights. It’s really wonderful and a powerful reminder that if you’ve been somewhere and you feel that something can improve, go do it. Start something, and take the time to research and explore how that new approach could make a difference. Don’t just complain something’s not working. Be the problem solver. And Marcus is certainly doing that after having been in this space for all those years. So look forward to seeing how we continue to disrupt spaces like M and a. Thank you so much all for continuing on this journey of how we learn and rethink what we can do in this m and a world that feels so tough. Next week, come back and we’ll dive in to another conversation at dear workplace. This is your host, Monica Kang from InnovatorsBox, and I wish you a great day ahead. 


Monica H. Kang
Hey, thanks so much for tuning in to another episode at Dear Workplace by Innovators Box and your host, Monica Kang, Me! I hope you enjoyed today’s conversation. Today’s episode is possible thanks to a wonderful team who has dedicated their time and making sure you hear the quality research that you heard today. Want to shout out to audio engineering and production lead by Sam Lehmart, Audio Engineering assistant by Ravi Lad, website and marketing support by Kree Pandey, Graphic Support by Lea Orsini, Christine Eribal, Original Music by Innovators Box Studios and executive producing directing, writing, researching hosted by me Monica Kang, founder and CEO of InnovatorsBox. Thank you so much. Your love and support and sharing means the world to us. Please send us any questions and thoughts you have and what you want to learn more next and we’ll dive right into it. 


Monica H. Kang
Thank you and have a wonderful day. 


Monica H. Kang
See you soon. 

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