of the Asia Society and Citigroup Foundation
& A: Suzanne Kai, Co-founder, AsianConnections.com
Thursday, February 8, 2000, the Asia Society will feature a half-day
conference entitled, "The
Women Powering Asia's Internet." AsiaBusinessToday conducted
this Q&A with Suzanne Kai, one of the featured speakers.
conducted by Diane Ruengsorn
going to speak at the Asia Society's program, "The
Women Powering Asia’s Internet.?What are some specific challenges
you feel women face in the technology sector that your male counterparts
A: Some of
my women colleagues who are working professionals in the technology
sector are traveling on the road 5 days out of the week for months
at a time. That's OK for women who do not have young children.
It's hard on male counterparts, too, but for working moms, it's
always a juggling act. But, that's the beauty of the Internet,
a mom can run an Internet project from her home, while her children
are in school, or after they are tucked into bed.
Q: Is there
a difference between being a female entrepreneur in Asia and the
Yes and no.
It depends on which country, culture and the woman. I have worked
in both Asia and the U.S. with female entrepreneurs and have found
the same ideals, focus, and goals. The Internet is a real liberator
for women who chose to stay at home and want to become an entrepreneur.
percentage of your users are women?
on which channel and which Web site in our network, we have an
audience mix of approximately 40% women and 60% men.
that most web users tend to be male, what measures have you taken
to address this? What has AsianConnections done to attract more
A: We do features
for women produced by both men and women writers and producers.
the fashion models, actresses, athletes, feng shui masters, martial
arts experts, scholars, artists, chefs, historians, entrepreneurs,
and others featured are not just static pictures as in a print
magazine, but real living people who speak from their heart.
men, too!) are often surprised when they send an e-mail, they
often receive a response back directly from the author. This year,
we will be adding chat, celebrity events and more message boards.
Another example, on Valentine's Day we will be featuring tips
on relationships and romance. It will be from an Asian male's
vantage point on how women can improve their relationships with
men, since the author is an Asian male!
are some of the challenges marketing your site to a pan-Asian
A: At AsianConnections.com,
we are still in an early development phase, so we are showcasing
features on as many of our Asian cultures and peoples as possible.
Since there are hundreds of ethnic groups within the term "Asian"
we are very thankful that we do receive wonderful contributions
from around the world from fans eager to fill in the gaps!
Also, we have
opportunities to team with a number of companies and websites
both in the U.S. and in Asia and would love to work with everyone.
We keep our eyes on managing our growth so our systems can be
managed well, and not overloaded.
the recent dot-com fall out, what success factors are unique to
A: I think
many dotcoms forgot about the essence of what makes the Internet
such a revolutionary medium. It is an amazing, 24/7, online party
with limitless ways for businesses and people around the world
to efficiently integrate, connect, bake, boil and stir fry! It
can be totally automated and virtual, or as hands-on with a "human
touch" as you like.
all the fantastic low-cost technology, multimedia laptops and
hand-held recording equipment out there today, you can run a dotcom
almost from a bus-stop!
because sometimes in certain conditions, interviews are much better
conducted when using smaller, more discreet equipment. We have
taped some of our best exclusive Hollywood celebrity interviews
with stars such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Lucy Liu, Sylvester Stallone,
Chow Yun-Fat, and Jodie Foster with the same store bought recording
equipment that any consumer can find. It looks and sounds just
as good on the Web as if they were recorded from our professional
TV broadcast-quality equipment.
In my former
television background, I was used to working with lots of people,
and millions of dollars of infrastructure and equipment in order
to broadcast television programming. Before we started, we visited
and actually interviewed a number of dotcom operations. I found
some successful dotcoms that were already making money, and observed
how they efficiently worked with very small staffs. I was totally
hooked after that.
We have stayed
focused at building our venture in phases, and from the beginning,
keeping our eye on profitability.
We did not
spend the tens of millions of dollars to try to win the race to
be" #1." Most of those "winners" are now, sadly, out of business,
burdened with too much debt and no way to return profit to their
investors. We also had the luxury of starting our venture with
contributors and partners that are already global name brands
with television, book and other media properties such as my friend
and e-commerce partner, Chef Martin Yan of TV's Emmy award winning
Yan Can Cook. We are a proud sponsor of his new TV series which
is aired nationally on PBS and internationally in 75 countries.