On Sept.6th, We had a fascinating one-hour-long conversation with Mr.Scott D. Williams ,the General Manager of Tojoy Capital Holdings,talking about his unique work experience on multiple industries and deep insights on the market trends of entertainment, retail and emerging technologies .
Innoverview: How would you describe yourself in three words?
Scott: Optimistic, Energetic, Engaged
Innoverview: When I first read your bio, I risk being overwhelmed by the amount of different projects you has successfully conducted and industries you focused. Venture capital accelerator , business chamber and retailers related to technology, retail, entertainment, online& offline internet and franchising, etc. So, my first question is basically about a paranoiac feature of your career: How does you combines so many interests and manage to be successful in all those areas?
Scott: Life is a journey, it’s an adventure. Each step leads to the next, and while sometimes it feels chaotic not always stable, each of these steps when looking back can be seen as having significantly help build and expand wide networks and knowledge across multiple industries. In the new mobile digital age, where humans are constantly looking at their phones and feel helpless without their phones, jobs are becoming to be replaced by robots and AI, and technology is increasingly becoming the “new oil of wealth” in the modern era, it’s reassuring for me at least that I can always tap into old and expanding networks for colleagues, friends and relationships. Today’s era is so different than just ten years ago. Elon Musk even refers to humans today as already being cyborgs (mix of computer and human). He says this as even today, if we lose or forget our mobile phones, we almost feel helpless. Having a varied background across different industries has provided me wide awareness of enterprise needs, and in the last years a very good understanding of entrepreneurs, what they face, their importance, their innovation and their aspirations. This varied background has also allowed tremendous and rewarding experiences especially in world travel, I would have had these experiences otherwise.
Innoverview: One of the most exciting pages of your biography is your 16-year adventure in senior management positions with FedEx Express （Japan and Taiwan）, DHL Express(China) and Nokia Mobile Phones (Greater China). Why did you choose Asia especially China as your target market to involved in? Do you still pay attention to marketing consulting and franchising？What opportunities and challenges do you think foreign retailers/brand owners are facing in China?
Scott: I was in Japan in the 1990s working in marketing research and consulting, as those projects slowed down, I went to a job interview at FedEx Express in Osaka, Japan, I was hired as a Senior Financial Analyst. I loved the job and there were tremendous opportunities to influence changes for the Japan organization. I was fast tracked to a Senior Manager Operations role in charge of one of FedEx’s largest airport operations, I went from having no staff, to suddenly having over 200 employees running a 24 x7 operation and Kansai Intl Airport. This was a fast track to being promoted to Deputy General Manager Japan, then being promoted to Country Manager Taiwan where I was overseeing 1000 employees in one of FedEx’s then top 10 profitable markets. This lead to DHL poaching me to head their operations across all of China and leading a 3000 staff China wide team in charge of 11 airports, 100 service operations, security, operations service, infrastructure, engineering and other activities. This was great fun as we were key service provider to the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. It was just a great time to be in China, and it still is. Many businesses face hurdles and sometimes a rocky road, DHL downsized a bit post the Financial Crisis on Wall Street, and it was a good segway to go across the street virtually in the Beijing suburbs and work for Nokia Mobile Phones in charge of all Finished Phone Products logistics and delivery services. Nokia was then bought by Microsoft and almost overnight about 20,000 employees were left to look for other opportunities. For each of these three global multinationals I was able to influence a lot of change and service improvement.
This lead me to Shanghai and I have been here ever since. Life is fun, life is a journey, it’s exciting.
Innoverview: What was the key to the choice of the following role as Vice President of Programs & Services in AmCham Shanghai? As the VP, you pioneered AmCham Shanghai’s Trade and Investment Center, and online & offline trade services platform, the China Industrial Park Promotion Program, the Chinese Affiliate Member Program, and the Small & Medium Size Company Promotion Program, could you share some successful and failure cases impressed you most? What are the internal and external reasons? Could you give some advices for improving revenue and services for foreign business chamber?
Scott: I was recruited after a 10 month search for a vice president at one of the world’s most influential business chambers outside of the USA. I was a bit nervous moving from a service industry multinational operating for profit, to suddenly a non-profit chamber of commerce, but I was hired to bring business services and change to the chamber’s platform offering, this lead to all these things – expanding the small and medium enterprise center evolving that to become the Trade & Investment Center promoting services for both Americans and Chinese, I could see that Chinese needed a better reason to engage with us, so I founded China Industrial Park Promotion Program – whereby we were more and more engaging with city mayors, and industrial park leaders across the country, at one point we were working with 30 plus industrial parks and it was totally a win-win experience for the chamber, for US companies and for the industrial parks. This naturally lead to realization that while Chinese by China regulation are not able to be a full-fledge member of a foreign chamber, certainly becoming an “Affiliate Chinese Non-Voting “ member status was within the regulation – this allowed local Chinese to interact, engage, and network more and more in a formal way with chamber members, attend events, sponsor events and become embedded and engaged with us.
I can tell you this, those 4.5 years at AmCham Shanghai were very rewarding! There was a great feeling of accomplishment that I was helping US business and government while also helping Chinese companies, government and really making some impact on improving the lives of foreigners living in Shanghai. We gained access to high level government on both sides, interaction with Alibaba including Jack Ma, and many many leading influencers in China and US business. I am very proud to have been a key part of founding the US China Investment Committee, and this evolved to become the US China Investment Council. Non profit can be great neutral way to make a positive impact across many fronts in business and government. During this process I also fell in love with Shanghai, it has been very rewarding living in this amazing world cosmopolitan city.
Innoverview: As the Chair of China USA Investment Council Committee, what kind of projects do you expect? Considering the current trade situation between China and USA, is there any effect for you to facilitate and promote global projects?
Scott: The committee, and now what we call the “council” we promoted real estate, automobile parts, legal services, market entry and site selection services, consulting, marketing, public relations, M&A, trade services and more. It was a broad stroke of promotions for a 100 plus organizations of the chamber of commerce and we had multiple events in multiple China and USA cities. One of our members landed a very success market entry manufacturing project in South Carolina, and others were successful in real estate, M&A, and other projects. We also welcomed the current Consulate General of The United States in Shanghai with a very successful promotional event with many media and a standing room only crowd in attendance. We believe the current trade dispute between the US and China may continue through the 2020 presidential election in the United States. We are optimistic however and hopeful for a breakthrough agreement, but it many not be in site until early 2022. It is very clear however that the US and China are deeply intertwined from an investment, education, trade and political point of view, we also believe that many many Americans and Chinese want a positive trade resolution. There is every indication that both Chinese and Americans are eager to get back to work, as there are so many opportunities in front of us. While businesses and government on both sides are re-calibrating their positions, and the world economy could face a slow down, there remains tremendous pent-up energy and desire to work together, as this relationship between “Two big brothers, or two big sisters” so to speak is very very important. Finally it is important to not ‘over-think’ or ‘over-read’ President Trump’s tweets and claims, this is his character and style, we remain to see the big picture and to resolve these issues. We are optimistic, while the mood is now somewhat “cautiously pessimistic”.
Innoverview: We’ve noticed that you are also the Chairman and Founder of BMD Enterprises Ltd. Which is a wholly owned foreign enterprise in the Shanghai Pudong FTZ and is engaged in connecting China to U.S. projects in technology and entertainment. How do you think technologies are moving the world forward, and who should be the biggest actor on the market nowadays in order to push technology to the mass adoption?
Scott: I really like the views of Elon Musk, Jack Ma, Andrew Yang (US presidential candidate), Bernie Sanders (US presidential candidate) and others. Elon Musk often is quoted as saying that technology is moving much faster than the average person knows. In fact he says that few enterprise professionals really understand its power and impact. Someone was quoted on CNBC recently that Traditional Style Open Market Capitalism is being eaten and eroded by technology? Elon Musk and Andrew Yang believe technology will have a tremendous impact on social culture, jobs, welfare provisions and the livelihood of humans. Robotics and automation are making jobs more scarce. President Trump says its immigrants are taking away U.S. Citizens jobs, but actually it is robotics, AI and automation that is eroding “human labor opportunity” Andrew Yang has proposed a Freedom Dividend that every adult over 18 years of age gets a monthly check for $1000 USD. The claim also was that Amazon is eroding shopping mall business and traditional retail – and they pay not tax. These ideas are gaining traction, I believe we will see more along the lines of a VAT tax for big business that is getting wealthier and wealthier while the middle class and lower classes are earning less and less in real terms.
The technologies coming in the next 5-10 years will significantly have an impact on culture, free time, jobs, health care, education and generally a new way of living. The good news is that we are aware of what is needed to prevent masses from having no livelihood or buying power. Individuals with more free time, more convenience, and with wealth distribution balanced will spark new creativity and innovation. As well, 5G is moving faster than people think – and this will mean an explosion on content demand for entertainment, educational and training and connectivity across people globally. My next wave of interest is entertainment financing, content creation and procurement and education, the future is bright and it is coming faster than people realize. Think of this, if you have free time, better health, a standard income, and tremendous technological use that improves our lives, what will we do with a free time? I think it is going to be renaissance for artists, creators, storytellers, gamers, health practitioners, and the like. It is going to be exciting. Even today we have “flying humans” that use a hovercraft to cross the English channel from France to the UK, that is mind boggling. Imagine a hovercraft race or light display almost like ballet, all of them operating a hover craft – how cool would that be? Maybe one day it will be an Olympic sport!
Innoverview: As the transitional CEO and Advisor to legendary Stan Lee’s POW Entertainment based in California, what’s your long-term goal and operation strategy to re-boost the development of such a huge IP? What’s the future market trend of global entertainment industry?
Scott: It was a chance to influence a small team to ensure the legacy of the Pop Art Culture Icon and Legend Stan Lee would be honored in the right way. I lead a major Hollywood star studded tribute to Stan Lee at the TCL Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, 500 fanatic fans in attendance, 400 VIPS with multiple Marvel movie actors, producers, writers, directors present. We had 80 global media on hand and press coverage generate 400 million page views globally, that was a great great great experience. Stan Lee Pow Entertainment controls the archives of never before seen intellectual property produced or co-produced by the legendary Stan Lee. So the question might be what will the next generation of IP look like that reaches our mobile phones, TV screens and the theatres？ I believe you will see more content in live action with computer graphics special effects that are heart warming and exciting, Stan Lee creations are the result of 70 years of comic books stories and characters, that is not easy to duplicate. However gaming, stories and characters from gaming, cognitive interactive learning immersion based IP and the like could have a major next impact on entertainment, so to speak, you could actually be “in the movie yourself, by immersion, VR , AR technology “ and theatrical film ,TV and the like might be more proceeded by gaming or game play like activities that lead to wide human appeal – which leads to comic book era awareness, which leads to then huge box office appeal for theatrical entertainment. I could talk forever about this, and I am an advisor to two production studios in Hollywood that have some amazing plans. 5G will span GREAT demand for new inspiring vibrant stories, the key is the story! And capital I believe will be more more deployed and accessible to entertainment. People say content is king, but I really think capital, content and access to talent and key relationships are the three kings.
Innoverview: You are also a frequent Op-Ed columnist, speaker, panelist and opinion maker on US-China issues including politics and trade, is it about good time-management combining all the interests you love following and works?
Scott: That is correct. If we care about where we live today and tomorrow, I cannot see how one cannot take interest somewhat in politics and the opportunities for trade.
Innoverview: Tojoy Capital Holdings represents over 700,000 active investors looking for interesting projects across technology, retail, entertainment, on-line off line internet, and franchising with the aim at turning “ants to elephants” with expansion across China, could you share the experience for keeping a keen eye on unicorns? Could you give some advice for start-ups?
Scott: That is correct. China is rampant in RMB liquidity but it has few places to go, the traditional way was real estate and manufacturing, but today successful entrepreneurs all over China want to deploy their liquidity to interesting projects. A simple enterprise that has a winning model can now easily scale with their own investment and become a huge nationwide company. Recently I read that Tier 3 and Tier 4 cities even are demanding upgrades in quality, choices, convenience – this is opening up more and more opportunity for business to proliferate. Tojoy Capital is a very good and successful way of getting 100s of thousands of ‘investor entrepreneurs’ to get invested passively or directly into new businesses, this is very exciting, the business model works, we are very optimistic! Advice to startups- get on with it, reach for your dreams and contact me!
Innoverview: We’ve noticed that you rarely share insights on commercial conferences except the cross-border related events, what’s your benchmark to select the top-tier conferences?
Scott: Access, exposure to the VIPs in the room. Some conferences are just annually ‘check-off’ boxes in their annual “to do plan” This means some conferences are just photo opportunities and don’t have much impact. The key to a good conference is getting exposure and interaction the VIPS in the room, and then following up after the conference dinner, re-visit VIPs, keep pressing, keep advocating, and be relentless to get attention for your projects, this is how business is done in China, determination, relationships, reputation and deliberateness. Yes, I am finally figuring it out, LOL !
Profile of Mr.Scott D. Williams:
Scott Douglas Williams魏连晟 is the GM of Tojoy Capital Holdings, Founder of BMD Enterprises Ltd (Shanghai),Chairman & Founder of China USA Investment Committee and Former Vice President of American Chamber in Shanghai.
Scott Douglas Williams is the current General Manager of Global Development for Tojoy Capital Holdings, a global venture capital accelerator holding company based in Beijing with offices in Shanghai, Shenzhen, New York, Paris, Vienna and other locations around the world. Tojoy Capital Holdings represents over 700,000 active investors looking for interesting projects across technology, retail, entertainment, on-line off line internet, and franchising with the aim at turning “ants to elephants” with expansion across China. Tojoy’s focus is on early unicorn potential companies. Scott is a frequent Op-Ed columnist, speaker, panellist and opinion maker on US-China issues including politics and trade. He recently was a transitional CEO and Advisor to legendary Stan Lee’s POW Entertainment based in Beverly Hills, California.