40 Minute Mentor

November 2, 2022

From Protesting On The Streets Of Hong Kong To Raising £1.5m Pre-Seed, with James Lo, Co-Founder & CEO of Mana

“I’ve been rejected by every ideal university I imagined I wanted to go to, at least 50 jobs I interviewed for and by 130 VC funds in fundraising so far.”

In this 40 Minute Mentor episode, we’re joined by James Lo, Co-Founder and CEO of Mana – the app designed to help everyone make a living by sharing their passion. 

James started his entrepreneurial journey early, founding an educational social enterprise at the age of 16, before following a more traditional Founder path of consulting at McKinsey and time at the VC SoftBank Vision Fund

His latest venture, Mana, have been on an incredible journey, including an impressive £1.5 million pre-seed funding round, led by Flash Ventures and Global Founders Capital. 

Today, we find out more about James’s journey with Mana and beyond, including: 

➡️ His upbringing in Hong Kong and the inspiration for his first social enterprise [05:09] 

➡️ The importance of a sustainable business model [09:07] 

➡️ Why he turned down his university offers and went protesting instead [12:49] 

➡️ The crucial skills he learned at McKinsey [17:46] 

➡️ His window into WeWork through his time at SoftBank Vision Fund [21:44] 

➡️ The story behind Mana [25:17] 

➡️ Why the initial concept of Mana failed and what he learned from it [30:33] 

➡️ The key components for getting a pivot right [35:42] 

➡️ How to responsibly let people go [40:20] 

➡️ Mana’s culture and what James looks for when hiring [44:53] 

➡️ His funding experience [48:44] 

➡️ Why VC is in need of some fundamental changes [51:38] 


Helpful links:

➡️ More about James: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yfjameslo/ 

➡️ More about Mana: https://mana.live/qr?shortlink=1asclcd4&is_retargeting=true&pid=QR_code 


💙A big thank you to our Sponsors:

Alchemist – an industry leading learning and development company, whose learning journeys and experiences help organisations who want to grow, change or transform by putting the learner first to optimise organisational performance.

To learn more about Alchemist and see how they work with some of the most innovative companies in the world, head over to https://thisisalchemist.com/40minutementor/  to find out more. 


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