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72.From Startups to Success: The Journey of a Tech Leader with Harry Hazhrul

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Podcast with Harry Hazhrul Part 1


Embark on an inspiring journey withHarry Hazhrul, a dynamic product leader who defied odds and rose from a series of entrepreneurial adventures to become a senior product manager at Lazada.
Join us as we uncover the secrets behind Harry's success, from building startups to overcoming challenges in a fast-paced tech landscape. Discover the power of determination, continuous learning, and finding balance in work and personal life. This captivating podcast promises to empower and inspire aspiring entrepreneurs and tech professionals alike to chase their dreams and achieve greatness. Get ready to be motivated by Harry's incredible story of resilience and triumph!

In this podcast, Harry Hazhrul, aproduct leader with a rich entrepreneurial background, shares his journey from starting multiple ventures to becoming a senior product manager at Lazada. His
entrepreneurial drive and passion led him to take risks and build startups. Along the way, he faced challenges and learned from his experiences, which eventually helped him excel as a product manager.

Harry's determination to upskillhimself led him to pursue a degree in Digital Media Design and a Professional Certificate in Product Strategy and Management. Despite being in a fast-paced
environment and having family responsibilities, he managed to balance work and studies, showing that continuous learning is possible with dedication and support.

His story serves as an inspiringexample for fresh graduates and professionals seeking personal growth and success in the tech industry.

[00:00:00] Andrew Liew: Harry. Thanks for coming to theshow. Allow me to introduce Harry to everybody. Harry is a product leader with 19 years of experience in entrepreneurship, tech, e commerce, logistic and fintech. He has built several startups in the e commerce logistic space and was headhunted for Lazada in Singapore. Cenomi in Saudi Arabia, specifically for his experience building startups and systems in e commerce logistics. As you know me, Ari is a senior product manager responsible for the design and delivery of fulfillment and delivery systems for the Saudi
retail giants.

[00:00:42] Andrew Liew: Ari has a passion for communityservice, currently serve as a volunteer in M3 at Woodlands, a multi agency
network between Moose, Medaki, and MRSA, in collaboration with community.
volunteers with professional backgrounds. He also served in the digital [00:01:00] strategy and technology community of theassociation of Muslims professionals in Singapore.

[00:01:07] Andrew Liew: So let me start checking out the,okay. And then not only that, but I think he also served as a career mentors
and provide mentorship to professionals and students on ADP list. Advisory SG
and National University of Singapore. Harry's also founded various technology
communities with the recent ones being ProductSG, DesignSG and Telegram.

[00:01:29] Andrew Liew: Harry has a Master of Sciencewith Merit in Digital Media Design from the University of Edinburgh, and a
Professional Certificate in Product Strategy and Management from the National
University of Singapore. He's also an Advanced Certified Scrub Product Owner
and Scrub Master.

[00:01:44] Harry Hazhrul: Welcome, Harry. Thank you forhaving me Andrew.

[00:01:47] Harry Hazhrul: Yeah, so

[00:01:48] Andrew Liew: let me start to ask you a veryinteresting question. The first interesting question is tell us to the audience
your back story in terms of how do you [00:02:00]became a tech leader from the day you

[00:02:02] Harry Hazhrul: finished school? It's a very interestingquestion because you never really finished school.

[00:02:06] Harry Hazhrul: So I guess I finished schoolmultiple times. So I graduated from poly and then you went to, of course, all
us went to NS, right? One, when I finished NS I, knew that what I wanted to do
was to build a business. So from, the beginning already I started up a company
doing things a thousand things of how not to do

[00:02:28] Andrew Liew: business.

[00:02:29] Harry Hazhrul: So,

[00:02:29] Harry Hazhrul: really I was immature. I wasnaive. I thought I could do this. But it was a good lesson for me going to the
school of hard knocks. So again you're really not finishing school. They just
entered a new school of school, right? And then give, me some wisdom to
continue with my career, I started out as a software engineer in an SME, and
then later on I did some freelancing and eventually I started up again.

[00:02:54] Harry Hazhrul: And, really the reason why I,got the entrepreneur bug early was basically I saw my [00:03:00]father who at the time was a, was an engineer. He was a general manager in an
engineering company in Singapore, and he decided to start up in his thirties
while I was in primary school. And at that time we, didn't expect the Asian
financial crisis to hit.

[00:03:15] Harry Hazhrul: It was a difficult time. La theimpact that all the lessons that gave me was that I, think I wanted to do
entrepreneurship because my dad I decided I wanted to start early before I had
responsibilities. I didn't want to be married when I was doing this.

[00:03:30] Harry Hazhrul: Yeah.

[00:03:31] Andrew Liew: Like, how does your dad inspiredyou? What was the episode? Do you still remember that moment, that event, like
what was the conversation with your dad or what decided to I need to start
again or I need to do a startup again

[00:03:42] Harry Hazhrul: And my dad was one of theactually my dad discouraged me from doing entrepreneurship.

[00:03:47] Andrew Liew: What did he say the time when yousay you want to

[00:03:49] Harry Hazhrul: do a startup? He told me go geta job. Like you don't

[00:03:52] Andrew Liew: know anything.

[00:03:52] Harry Hazhrul: All right. Yeah, your parentswere the best interests in mind for you, obviously. I was as No, I want to do
it right. I want to do [00:04:00] things beforeI. I have a family before I if if, things don't go too well right then the
impact to my family would be minimal law.

[00:04:08] Harry Hazhrul: Yeah. Yeah. So for me, yeah,for me, that was logical law. So I, was pretty stubborn. I decided to do it. It
was difficult. I know I my income wasn't that stable. No C P F and all that.
But I, tried in and out, of careers. Okay. Feel killer. What's the worst that
could happen?

[00:04:26] Harry Hazhrul: Go get a job. Yeah. And infact, I think my entrepreneurship experience really helped me get jobs. Yeah,
because the the, prospective employers all like that, I had a startup
experience that I was willing to be entrepreneurial and do things differently,
which is

[00:04:42] Andrew Liew: Yeah, let's talk about thatbecause the audience, especially the younger folks, they are always keen to
learn about when you say that your startup experience helped in your corporate
experience, especially when you have done jobs for small, medium companies and
big tech companies and you did your startup.

[00:04:58] Andrew Liew: What was the differences like? [00:05:00] And then eventually, how do you continuealong

[00:05:02] Harry Hazhrul: the way? Yeah. For me, I thinkmy experience was that I got involved in small companies or startups because
the were probably in the same maturity point as myself, right? I wanted to do
things hands on.

[00:05:14] Harry Hazhrul: I wanted to learn new things.The, needed things to be more flexible there weren't any policies, how to pass
through the rules were just sometimes we'll be non existent. You do what you
want to do in, you learn as you go along, right? This is how SMEs are normally
like, right? So, they prefer people with a little bit of weakness to them.

[00:05:33] Harry Hazhrul: That helped me get, involvedin, SMEs right? I thought again after freelancing for a bit this time around my
second business the beta group was doing antivirus and a bit of web development
on the site. So we were just a simple, it's more what development shop a small,
enterprise figuring out what.

[00:05:56] Harry Hazhrul: You know what I want to do andat the same time [00:06:00] I think it was thesame time as the as the country trying to mold new entrepreneurs. I wasn't from
NDS at the time I I was just a poly grad. But I, got involved in the garage at
NUS, right? So I met a lot of people there and I also met my future wife there.

[00:06:18] Harry Hazhrul: Yeah. So, my wife was in NUSbut she wasn't involved in I, just happened to be I was in the

[00:06:24] Andrew Liew: area and then, Hey, who's thisguy,

[00:06:25] Harry Hazhrul: right? But that's anotherstory.

[00:06:27] Andrew Liew: Okay.

[00:06:27] Harry Hazhrul: Yeah when, you are within acommunity and ideas you get inspired by other people's journey.

[00:06:35] Harry Hazhrul: You just want to try and tryagain. It was I think after a bit of group, a friend of mine, so young who was
my, one of my buddies in NS. Started out a startup called stream media. And
then I helped him build a proof of concept for move in, which is the software
as a service for mobile payments.

[00:06:54] Harry Hazhrul: Now it was near the time. Hedid get funded. He got funded by so one, [00:07:00]one, one of the early ones by saying one was two, three, five, nine, the other
one was a screen reader. So they were the first two, right? So after you got
the funding, you may call him do you want to join or not, because at the time,
early on when he was starting out, he asked me whether I wanted to join. I
said, no lah. I'm earning for myself as a stand alone guy working by myself for
TK a year, I was comfortable. I didn't want to restart everything. So this
journey was just starting out. I was okay somewhere.

[00:07:24] Harry Hazhrul: Just, I've just started also Iwas already quite comfortable. I, didn't have that passion yet with him or that
same goal with him yet. Maybe the vision wasn't shared yet, but once he got the
funding, he needed more guys. I haven't chatted. He chatted with me and said,
okay, it looks like, looks very interesting because I was at Crossroads I was a
stand alone one man show.

[00:07:45] Harry Hazhrul: And I needed to grow as well,but didn't have the funding. I was all self funded but he has the funding. He's
building a team. I thought, okay, this is natural, progression for me, la. I
don't mind going to employment, but this is a startup, right? So I get to do
something that is startup oriented, la.

[00:07:59] Harry Hazhrul: [00:08:00]Went, to join three we did after that. And a few years we've been a, we've been
a block 71 circle. Jump, across the pond to another startup in there helping
others go to take. And then eventually I, decided I really wanted to do my own
thing. I felt that I had no experience working for others in the setup scene
and I just wanted to do my own thing.

[00:08:20] Harry Hazhrul: So a couple of weeks after Igot married, I. Which was a very risky thing. I decided I wanted to do another

[00:08:26] Andrew Liew: So what was the startup about?Like, why was it risky and what do you gone through and discussed?

[00:08:31] Harry Hazhrul: Yeah. So I really discussthings in my wife, right?

[00:08:34] Harry Hazhrul: Okay. Yeah. She, decided tosupport me after some disagreements about my, my future. I want to do but I
said, support me give it a while. If it doesn't work out, I will get another
job. To me, what's the worst that could happen? We're still early in our

[00:08:50] Harry Hazhrul: We're still living with ourparents. Just, give it a shot and see what happens. And, that was one of the
best things that happened to me. Actually, after two and a half years, we were
doing. 150k. I [00:09:00] was building a teamof my own. I was I was building a software service which was a Shopify clone.

[00:09:07] Harry Hazhrul: We're doing a WooCommerce,based software as a service. And at the end of two years I met a friend Adi,
who was at the time the MD of Zanora Singapore. Oh, and he wanted to build a
startup. And he wanted to build it with me but he proposed to do an MNA which
was very interesting.

[00:09:26] Harry Hazhrul: So in a sense my, my littlecompany got, acquired I had a few small investors inside my company. They were
all people who I met that. that could help me help me guide my decisions. And
they were very happy to be paid off.

[00:09:43] Harry Hazhrul: That's why you listen green toa few thousand extra dollars. Okay, let's go. He decided to do it. I formed,
I'm a friend, Zaid and, many agreement and I became the. Director of Technology
and later Director of Supply Chain Systems for iFarmers.[00:10:00] And through, his help as well, we were able to raisefunding up to about, I think almost, two mil.

[00:10:06] Harry Hazhrul: Seriously we, we, did revenueof about two M a year, which is good. We were killing it basically. Of course
it wasn't easy. It was a lot of struggle in the beginning. I knew it was the
first time entrepreneur. We had the support of us who were a little bit more
seasoned. Yeah.

[00:10:21] Harry Hazhrul: But yeah we, didn't quitesurvive I commenced because we couldn't. We couldn't cross to the next round of
funding, even though frankly, speaking, I think we did quite well. We we, did
2M but we also got Amazon as one of our anchor clients. So at the time,
Singpost was the one.

[00:10:38] Harry Hazhrul: Got it. Yeah, they got theAmazon contract, but we took it away from them. So young, punk startup doing e
commerce logistics was able to take away Amazon, take away challenger. Take
away GYSK into our, company, and we were serving them. And I felt this is this
is one of the best, achievements that, that that we've had as a company [00:11:00] where three young lay blokes just decidedto show the world that, Hey, we can do it too. So we, did it we did it. We didn't
quite make it for whatever reasons there were a lot of mistakes that we did as
well but we learned from it. So I went on to do other things as well.

[00:11:15] Harry Hazhrul: He's he, did a few otherstartups and eventually he he funded logistic which recently exited with
shipper at 18 M. Yes. So logistics basically was one of the ideas that I had
visualized when we were at commerce, I. I begged him to do it,

[00:11:30] Andrew Liew: but he wasn't ready yet. But whenhe eventually decided to

[00:11:31] Harry Hazhrul: do it, he gave me a call.

[00:11:33] Harry Hazhrul: I said, do you want to join me?So I said, Oh yeah, at that time I already joined Lazada.

[00:11:37] Andrew Liew: Oh, so after iCommerce, you gotheadhunted to Lazada. Do you still remember that conversation

[00:11:41] Harry Hazhrul: or that story? Yeah, afteriCommerce, it was a few years in the wilderness, basically. I did another
startup doing halal food deliveries.

[00:11:48] Harry Hazhrul: And then I had anotherdifficult moment with what's Allah who was supposed to have a client us, but
they didn't have to be us. So that was one of the darkest moments in my life,
where we [00:12:00] made mistakes knowing whowho these people really were when we got to work with them, we were friends.

[00:12:06] Harry Hazhrul: We were friends. Outside ofwhat we knew each other for some time, and we thought that they were proper
people. Who are ethical, but when, we started doing the business together, it
was really not what we expected. I felt this, wasn't where it was going. I
eventually that, that didn't work out.

[00:12:25] Harry Hazhrul: And then I got a call from Alito do JANU, which was his second startup. Yeah. So that just, join me, do
Daniel. I need you anyway. Okay, let's do it. Bridge on the water under the
bridge we had after I come as well, but yeah, we did fight. We did have quite a
big fight, but yeah.

[00:12:44] Harry Hazhrul: When, he called me up to doDaniel we had a chat under the bridge that, yeah, let's do this I didn't have
any shares. I wasn't an entrepreneur by then. And I, still do what I wanted to
do. And, that was to be a product manager. And this was also the time [00:13:00] when I found out that I was going to havea baby.

[00:13:03] Harry Hazhrul: So when, that happened when Ilost my company and then. I didn't give me a call to join Daniel. I I said,
okay I think I want to call time on my entrepreneurship journey for a while.
Let's give it a pause because I'm expecting a child. This is my first child.

[00:13:16] Harry Hazhrul: The responsible thing to do isto have some stability, right? So maybe it's coming. That's I need to keep this
human alive.

[00:13:22] Andrew Liew: Yeah.

[00:13:22] Harry Hazhrul: And then eventually I left but.

[00:13:26] Harry Hazhrul: At that time I was alreadyheadhunted for Lazada. Yeah, so Lazada had an opening for the product manager
that had experience in logistics, right? And apparently they couldn't fill
that, role for eight months. It was an open role, eight months, they couldn't
fill it up. And I did submit my, CV, I think quite early when, the opening was
available but for some reason so many applicants, the CV didn't surface up.

[00:13:48] Harry Hazhrul: So seven months in actually therecruiter called me and asked whether I whether I was interested in the role. I
said, yeah, it was one of my shortlisted companies when they decided I want to
go back to [00:14:00] employment. That's it.Yep. Yeah, definitely. I wasn't sure whether it was so long ago.

[00:14:04] Harry Hazhrul: I wasn't sure if I had alreadysubmitted my cv And actually did a check and actually she called me. Yeah, I
actually already did but it's okay you know i'm doing this because I feel that
your Your background is very suitable for the role and i'm pushing it out for you
And I was very grateful for her because I got it.

[00:14:19] Harry Hazhrul: I got the role. Yeah, I got arole in three weeks And it was very fast. They just interviewed me very
quickly, they realized, they felt that I was quite a fit and then I went in,
right? So not only that, I was actually during, your first three months, right?
I, was actually accelerated at the second month, they approved me already.

[00:14:38] Harry Hazhrul: So I didn't need to wait mythree months to be confirmed as an employer. And I was like, wow, okay. So, it
was It was actually quite a bit of a bummer when

[00:14:45] Andrew Liew: they

[00:14:45] Harry Hazhrul: learned that I was leaving. Itwas just a difficult role to feel right. But I was, I really enjoyed my time in
Arizona. I felt that I learned a lot there. I felt that it was one of the best
companies to work in. People care was [00:15:00]great.

[00:15:00] Harry Hazhrul: People care was amazing. One ofthe, one of the best companies I would say that, that really took care of his
people. So, yeah, then at the same time I also decided to do my degree. When, I
heard that maybe it was coming, right? I, just took stock and I wanted to
figure out what do I need to do to provide stability to my family and figure
out where should I go from here?

[00:15:24] Harry Hazhrul: I knew that my skills as anentrepreneur was transferable to a product manager. So I, invested time to
learn how to be a product manager and I realized that a lot of these schools
were transferable. This is what I've been doing for the past 17 years of my
life. Everything on how to build a product.

[00:15:39] Harry Hazhrul: Yeah, there was it. It wastransferable. I decided this is my, career moving forward. And then I decided I
only have a diploma. It was time for me to get a degree. I did. I tried. I
tried to do a degree once. With the University of Adelaide I, decided to drop
out because I just couldn't focus.

[00:15:54] Harry Hazhrul: So, when I decided to try againI, made it very strategic. I knew [00:16:00] thata diploma could be converted to a degree because our, polytechnic diploma is
actually very strong. It's, Strong as two years or three years of your degree,
right? So the uk would accept it the australia australian universities will
accept it You just need to spend another year and become a bachelor's degree,

[00:16:18] Harry Hazhrul: And I diversified my planwhereby, One way to help me earn my credentials and product manager was also to
try the specialist diploma in ux that was offered by sb. I also applied for
that, right? So whatever that came in then I would make the choice on which was
the better option. I also applied for a master's program Even though they
didn't have a bachelor's degree.

[00:16:39] Harry Hazhrul: So the master's program wasfrom the university of edinburgh Was an online program. Okay which I could do
part time, which was great So when I when I came across it, I realized hey this
fit me very well because I was a software engineer. I did entrepreneur I did
business, but I have not really grown myself as a designer.

[00:16:57] Harry Hazhrul: So as a product manager, youare in between UX. Tech [00:17:00] andbusiness, right? I really didn't have that ux parts as much as I wanted to be a
more rounded product manager. So I just applied for it I talked to the
professors the professor said let me look at portfolio. I gave her the

[00:17:11] Harry Hazhrul: Yeah, it looks like quite good.Maybe just give it a try because I don't do admissions but it looks good
enough. Give it a shot. Who knows what happens right and I tried and I got it I
was surprised oh, wow, I did not have a bachelor's degree and I got it. So I
asked around, how did that happen?

[00:17:27] Harry Hazhrul: So they said they just look atmy entire educational background. And they also took a look at where my career
path was. And they considered that as part of my academic profile. So from their
perspective, Edinburgh is one of the best universities in the world. It's
fourth after Oxford, right?

[00:17:45] Harry Hazhrul: It's actually at that. At thatlevel, look at my academic profile, you felt that I, was I, was validated as
someone, somebody who had already completed a bachelor's degree, even though
they didn't complete it, but it was a conditional offer. They say, I need [00:18:00] to pass my English. It's oh, okay.

[00:18:03] Harry Hazhrul: English, you have to take thisLDS. Okay, no problem. But the condition was I had to pass with a high pass,
high distinction. Alright, let's give it a shot no no, no risk, no, no reward,
right? Yeah, and I, the next week I booked the test and the results was A week
later, I got a high distinction and then they gave me an unconditional offer.

[00:18:22] Harry Hazhrul: So great. I did it. I did it.And when I graduated

[00:18:26] Andrew Liew: with a merit. That's fantastic.So the interesting question is, can you share with the audience out there these
days everybody's talking about skilling and the fresh graduate, let's say they
take a job, they want to upskill themselves.

[00:18:35] Andrew Liew: And we all know that Lazada is avery fast paced company relative to a lot of other organizations like government
or some of the smaller SMEs. How do you manage that? What are the tactics and
steps that you would encourage somebody to do the same thing like to be in a
fast paced company and to do a upgrading course?

[00:18:55] Harry Hazhrul: Oh, it's not easy. Especiallywhen you have a little

[00:18:58] Andrew Liew: human running around,

[00:18:59] Harry Hazhrul: [00:19:00]especially a little human running around. And I think by the time I joined
Lazada, number two was coming.

[00:19:04] Andrew Liew: Yeah.

[00:19:04] Harry Hazhrul: A big part of it was also theunderstanding of my wife who was pregnant and the teacher of the child. And at
night while she was taking care of the child, I was also studying and sometimes
I took a break to help her with the child, right?

[00:19:18] Harry Hazhrul: It's not easy at all. The nextday, she got to go to work but even with all this studying part time is
challenging. I did it before, you remember when, I tried Adelaide and I was
working full time then as well. It was not easy. I just, my head wasn't in the