Meet Alex, our EiR

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Get to know Alex Miller our Entrepreneur in Residence. Originally from New York City, Alex got his start in NYC's Silicon Alley in 1999, before moving to Asia to work for, and He’s worked as an Entrepreneur in Residence at 500 Startups in San Francisco and joins us as our Entrepreneur in Residence for Cohort 5.  

Where is your hometown/where are you based?

Grew up in New York City
10 years in Beijing
3 years in San Francisco
3 years in Singapore
Currently based in Bali, Indonesia

What is one thing that people might be surprised to learn about you?

I love to travel over land. I took a bus from Delhi to Kathmandu in 1999, traveled across Sumatra with only a paper map in 2002. Road a motorcycle from Beijing to Qinghai in 2007, and have done numerous road/train/boat trips across the Americas/Asia. Now it’s about time for my next one…. Maybe after the cohort?

What are you currently reading or watching?

I’m usually reading a few books at a time… Right now i'm in the middle of:

Winter Pasture: One Woman's Journey with China's Kazakh Herders by Li Juan

Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

Blockchain Chickenfarm And Other Stories of Tech in China's Countryside by Xiaowei Wang

And watching

Human Behavioral Biology with Professor Robert Sapolsky - Stanford University

And Listening To

Mingyur Ripoche has a conversation with Sam Harris - Live at the Wiltern

What brought you to Asia and why did you choose to stay?

In 2001 I was studying Chinese and decided to take a train across China for the winter. I found that living in the country was a much more effective way to learn a language, and learning a language was a great way to make friends.

Tell us about yourself and your past experience?

My mother was an entrepreneur, so I blame her for my startup addiction. My father loved to travel, so I blame him for my addiction to adventure. The world has changed so much - when I was a boy we had a fax machine before the 2400 baud modem and now I can ask Siri anything from a boat 10 miles off the coast of a small Island in Indonesia.

I started programming for a small startup in New York’s Silicon Alley in 1999, since then I’ve worked as a product manager (including at, IPO on NYSE) and founded or cofounded several less notable startups holding CEO, CTO and CMO roles.

I’ve worked in probably 20 startups and 50 jobs in 4 countries. From Snow Shoveler at Grand Targhee Ski Resort in Idaho, (which gets 13 meters of fresh powder dumped on it every season 🌨 🏔 🏂 !  ) to travel writer and photographer all over China, to Product Manager at pre-through-post IPO startup in Beijing, to founder of startups in Tokyo, Beijing, and San Francisco.

What are some of the things you’ve learned from working in and with startups?

I’ve seen a bunch and had some big ups and some big downs. I haven’t been the most successful, but I’ve enjoyed my career and perhaps gained a little wisdom along the way. Certainly I like to think that I’ve made enough mistakes to at least sometimes know what not to do.

I tend to zoom out and ask - how did we get here? Where are we going? Is that the right thing to do? Is this going to be big or just a waste of resources? And also zoom in and ask “out of all the things we could be doing, Is this the right task for the moment?”

Startups are funny like that. Probably the most important thing I’ve learned is that you need to prioritize ruthlessly.  Cut everything and JUST FOCUS on what matters now.

Perhaps the problem with that is that it’s easy to stay focused on that thing, even if it’s proved wrong. Or maybe the problem is that it’s impossible to stay focused when new things keep popping up. The truth is that managing focus and resources is such a huge battle.

That’s why I feel so strongly that startups need to stick with rituals - daily and weekly to keep everyone on track. Regularly scheduled planning sessions at the right zoom level to make sure we’re in the right place at the right time. Retrospectives to make sure we learned from our successes as well as our failures. And systems and metrics to track it all.

That’s also why I’m convinced startups need diversity at all levels, as well as flat org structures and healthy supportive environments free of fear and politics → the ideas that feed the decisions which marshall our focus and drive our growth trajectory - they can come from anywhere, and anyone in the organization should feel free to share them…

What draws you to being an EiR?

… All that stuff I said about focus? That’s hard work and I have too much ADHD at the moment.  I am coming out of a year of retirement and I’m excited to look around and help where I can.

Also, I love to think and brainstorm with founders and drill into metrics and work on the storytelling of the startup, to dig into the details and help figure out why this campaign or product launch was a flop (or a win). To work out a head hunting strategy or to sit down and moderate a founder spat.. So yeah I'm in it for the thrill of living vicariously through so many founders. It’s gonna be a fun ride.

In addition to my role as EIR, I’m currently toying with e-motorcycles in Indonesia, writing a headhunting tool for remote engineers and working with a friend on a shopify / e-course business, building a house, and raising two small children.

Any advice for new or aspiring founders?
  • Put your phone down and go talk to a customer!
  • Think deeply and write it down
  • Encourage your team to do the same
  • Don’t shy away from disagreements, and don’t make them personal
  • Find people you can trust to tell you when they think you’re wrong, and why

Why can an accelerator help startups scale?

As a startup founder, being connected to a network of founders and investors is invaluable. Accelerators provide that network, but they also provide a sounding board for ideas, a place to hone your craft as a manager, marketer and entrepreneur, and a safe space to share your ups and downs with a cohort of people going through the same phases of the rollercoaster, as well as people who’ve been there and done that.

How will you support Accelerating Asia startups?

What most excites you about joining the Accelerating Asia team?

In addition to working with these great startups, I’m excited to work with this phenomenal team of operators that Amra and Craig have put together.

I’m also really excited by the diversity of startups in our batch and portfolio. From Australia to India and Bangladesh,  Accelerating Asia is investing in the future.

Want to work alongside Accelerating Asia’s Entrepreneurs in Residence to 10X your startup growth and fundraising, join our waitlist.


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