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:

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!

Build the next wave of tech