Apple veteran Jordan Dea-Mattson’s advice to founders

Jordan Dea-Mattson is a 35 year veteran of high tech, having worked at Apple, Adobe Systems, Yahoo and a number of Silicon Valley startups. He is now site director for's Singapore Engineering Centre, and recently he joined our Happy Hour to share some valuable advice with the Antler founders.




The investor backing the world's most driven founders, from day zero to greatness. Enabling thousands of founders every year to launch and scale companies that move the world forward.

1. Say no!

After working alongside Jobs, one of Jordan's key takeaways is the importance of a leader's ability to say no; "success is tied to discipline, discipline is about focus and focus is about saying no." Instead of trying to outperform competitors on specific product metrics, Apple focused on creating new products that disrupted the entire industry. In other words, companies shouldn't chase after existing players but focus on discovering new, blue ocean playing fields.

2. Use the '5 Whys' to improve your team

The tool is used by repeating the question "why?", where each answer forms the basis of the next question. Jordan especially highlighted the effectiveness of the tool in teamwork, where it can be used to identify the root-cause of a problem. This helps companies target the underlying cause of an issue, not just the symptoms of it.

3. Use the '5 Whys' to identify great business ideas

Jordan also mentioned the '5 Whys' as a useful method for creative processes and generating new business ideas. Drawing on his experience from Apple, the tool had some surprising revelations when used for developing the iPod. Repeatedly asking 'why?' revealed that consumers were not looking for music players with more storage capacity, but for the flexibility to listen to music anywhere.

4. Interact with your potential customers earlier than you'd think

Many of Apple's innovative and disruptive technologies were developed by interacting with potential consumers and analysing customer data, according to Jordan. The key is to observe the customers and to ask the right questions to fully understand their needs. With this mind, he highlighted the importance of open communication and letting customers take an active role early in the development process of a new company.

5. Start your next company in Southeast Asia

According to our tech veteran, Southeast Asia is the place to be for companies right now. Home to some of the world's fastest emerging cities and an increasingly educated workforce, the region has experienced recent economic development with millions of people entering the middle class. Jordan sees this as a great opportunity, while also highlighting the opportunities that exist to provide services and products to the less fortunate. This dialogue allows companies to make a contribution to society and have a positive impact on the region.

Our talk with Jordan is a part of a Happy Hour series we are hosting in Singapore, inviting people who are interested in building amazing companies and getting to know each other over some beers and banter. To not miss out on any upcoming events at Antler, make sure to follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook. See you at the next Happy Hour!

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get the latest news and views from Antler’s global community

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Must-read articles from Antler

Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia

See articles
Founder Stories
5 min read
Sharon Li & Vanessa Chen: Empowering employees to be their healthiest and most productive selves

“People sometimes think the emotional and professional are conflicting, but what we believe is when people love their organization, the emotional value will actually make them productive. It will make them give their full self to the organization and make the organization grow for the long term.” —Sharon Li, co-founder and CEO of CHOYS

Founder Stories
5 min read
Piet Hein van Dam: The seasoned data entrepreneur aiming to eradicate type 2 diabetes

Our content series "It All Starts with People" delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Bringing a clarity of vision to our latest spotlight is Piet Hein van Dam, co-founder of Clear, the award-winning digital self-help tool for diabetes patients.

5 min read
Unpacking the $80+ billion ONDC opportunity: India’s next startup catalyst

India's approach to unbundle payments made the world look up and take notice. Now it's time to disrupt commerce with the Open Network for Digital Commerce or ONDC. In our latest Theory of Next deep dive we mapped, researched, and reached out to every network participant live on ONDC right now.

And we're excited to share with you a comprehensive what could be India's next unicorn catalyst with inputs from Vibhor Jain (COO of ONDC), Sujith Nair (Founding member of Beckn Protocol), and founders building on ONDC!

Co-authored by Nitin Sharma (Partner, Antler) and Gokul Kumaravelu.

5 min read
Five steps investors can take to support more diverse founders

Despite growing calls to create a more inclusive venture capital ecosystem and remove the barriers to entrepreneurship, only a fraction of funding is raised by founders from underrepresented communities.

The first step towards change is quantifying the challenge. While in-depth research has been conducted about women founders and founders from ethnic minority backgrounds, data has never existed about tech founders from the LGBTQ+ community—until now.

5 min read
A record year for Europe's leading day zero investor

A look back at 2022, a record year for the leading day zero investor in Europe—showcasing investment activity and key predictions for the early-stage tech ecosystem in 2023.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Antler and Microsoft for Startups partner to back women founders

Antler is proud to join forces with Microsoft for Startups to support rising entrepreneurs—starting with 23 non-dilutive grants to women founders in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and North America—and reduce the barriers to startup success. Meet some of these founders.

Founder Stories
5 min read
Tanika McLeod: The educator empowering the next generation with an on-demand social learning platform

Our content series—"It All Starts with People"—delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. In our latest spotlight, we spoke with Tanika McLeod, one of the three co-founders behind MinuteSkill, a Toronto-based social micro-learning platform that uses bite-sized content and knowledge-sharing communities to empower the next generation.

5 min read
Venture capital as an engine of positive transformation

Antler's second annual ESG and Impact Report shares learnings on how VCs can focus on creating sustainable value from the outset, and celebrates our portfolio companies' work in this space.