Disclaimer: What I write is based on my experience and observations of 4 years living and travelling in Asia. Some of my comments may come across as sexist and may be uncomfortable to accept. Plus, people don't like to talk about their privileges (ex: wealth) when it comes to their success, so prepare :)
My Current Situation
I'm going home. I didn't plan to go home until Thanksgiving. But, I'm out of options of supporting myself and my startup. So I'll be in the US for a few months.
As for my incredible job opportunity, as a Community Manager at an accelerator, the bureaucracy of hiring a foreigner in Thailand (for every foreigner a company must have 4 Thai's, unless it has a BOI), is too costly.
Am I disappointed?
Yes, because it would have been the perfect job.
But, this experience has taught me I'm a valuable asset in the local startup ecosystem and at home I could use my expertise of the startup ecosystem in Asia to find another job.
However, the greatest lesson I've learned living as an entrepreneur in Thailand is that
there're only 3 ways to be an entrepreneur in a foreign land.
3 Ways to be a Successful Entrepreneur
1. You come from a privilege family with money and connections
2. You worked in a lucrative industry (ex: finance), can fund and live off your savings and fundraise from your network
3. You're smart enough to marry or have a partner that can compliment your ambitions
** Or a combination of all 1 & 2, 2 & 3, or all three**
I really believe people down play these realities.
I've met a few successful single people, but the people I've met that are married, partnered, or come from a family with money, they are in a whole different stratosphere.
I've lived in Bangkok for about 3 years. The first 6 months living in Bangkok I was doing okay, I made 35K THB per month, which included free housing (in a great location, the CBD).
I started selling hair products so I had extra income, I could afford to go to yoga, I cooked at home to save money, and managed to travel a bit.
You know what made a world of a difference?
Being in a relationship...with someone that was able to compliment my ambitions.
My Last Relationship
My former-partner is a Data Scientist, very well educated, from Finland (men cook, clean, respect women, family life balance is practiced, quite the socialist utopia.
He already lived in Thailand for 2 years, and we shared similar values (vegetarian, staying healthy, etc.).
Being in a relationship, I had more security, I had someone to share my ideas with, get technical advice/help.
And if something were to tragically happened I had someone to take care of me (and for him the same, we supported each other equally).
As for my startup, I could afford to take more risks and invest energy in my business. Hence, quitting my job, working full-time on my startup, lived in a comfortable condo in a great location, travel, and social capital.
I was in that stratosphere, a place people don't talk about.
To take risks, is a privilege. If you don't have a safety net (money or a partner/spouse), you cannot take risks. Simple as that.
My Relationship Experience:
Before I moved to Thailand, I was living in Israel, and within the first week, I had a boyfriend (it's quite a cute story how we met, but I'll save that for another post), my experience would have been completely different if I was single.
My then boyfriend, we met as Master's students at Haifa University, he had a caravan (we did a road trip from Haifa to Eilat, and another regional road trip from Turkey to Germany).
He's was a German-Jew making aliyah (I won't get into the politics of that, but there are privileges), he was already living in Israel (so he had a network I could tap into), and very supportive of my ambitions.
So my overall experience in Israel I was able to travel, meet all types of people I would've never if I was single.
It was a very equal relationship, he was well educated, and it was much easier for me to adjust to living in a new country.
So when I moved to Asia, I knew I had to have a boyfriend while I build my startup.
My Advice to Female Entrepreneurs
As a female entrepreneur my advice is to date smart.
And when I say date smart, date someone who's professionally and emotionally supportive, well-educated, someone that comes from an equal society (or understand equal partnership).
Someone that shares your values, someone that works in a lucrative industry (tech, finance) has a steady job (to balance your hectic schedule).
And don't see your femininity as a disadvantage (It may be sexist, to say but people are more likely to do business with a woman that is well-groomed, slim, and more feminine).
My Observation of Male Entrepreneurs
Almost 90% of the male entrepreneurs I've met while living and travelling in Asia are married to local women.
Women are the backbones of a society so this partnership enables them to have a deeper understand of the culture, politics, language, social cues, and idiosyncrasies of a society they want to build a business in).
This is very smart.
Because their wives are their business partners and/or more than happy to stay-at-home (I have no problem with that)
Thus, male entrepreneurs can focus and work 80+ hour weeks and travel extensively (while their wives/partners manage the household).
And they have their in-laws to help if they have children or need further support, it's basically a win-win (if the marriage is solid).
And looking at other successful male entrepreneurs such as, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, Larry Page, Richard Branson, Jack Ma, etc. are all married, and to brilliant women.
Even difficult but brilliant men like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, were married.
Marriage is good for business.
Why don't people talk more about this?
My Observations of Female Entrepreneurs
Women on the other hand, especially building a business in a foreign land do NOT have the same advantages: marrying a local (especially 10+ years their junior).
And reap the benefits like male entrepreneurs.
As I've said in my last post, If you're going to do business in a foreign land...marry a foreigner:
Men can go to any country, find a wife, who most likely will learn his language, and they build a business together, as she can help him navigate the local bureaucracy of starting a business.
Women cannot do business like men (Feminist really need to understand the work place or "good o'l boys club/network only benefits men and won't change, even though #Metoo is gaining traction).
(The only way to for real change is women start their own businesses and networks and create a work place that is flexible with motherhood and family life).
Unless a female entrepreneur finds a local that grew up in the West, she will still face obstacles (and fierce competition from local women in terms of dating),
And when it comes to starting a family and having children (inheritance, citizenship, identity and religion of the child) can be tricky if the mother is foreigner married to a local.
Local Female Entrepreneurs
Thai, Chinese, Korean, and Singaporean female entrepreneurs I've met are mostly western educated, from upper-middle class to wealthy families, or grew up in the West.
They are almost always are in relationships or married to western men (who worked in lucrative industries, and are also well-educated).
Only date western-educated local men (from their same social class or wealthy families)
Or remain single (because options for quality men are simple slim to none).
I can confidently say women date within their class or "marry up", we don't do well "dating or marrying down." (and for those that do, there's resentment).
And the few foreign women that do marry locals, are literally unicorns (I've met one, but they have no children and her husband is very westernised and comes from a upper-middle class family).
From what I've observed, local Thai men are too shy to talk with Western women, are happy to "play around," but will almost never introduce a foreign woman to their family.
These are challenges women have to face.
And if women are already married and come to Thailand, it will be a test to their marriage (moving to any foreign country is a strain on any relationship).
Thailand is quite a paradise for men (Thai women are beautiful, slim, and aren't generally feminist).
And Ive met foreign female entrepreneurs that have come to Thailand married, then end up divorced, as their husbands either cheated or left them.
I've read and heard of tragic stories of companies moving whole families with a generous package: pay for international school fees, housing, international moving fees, etc., and some men, unfortunately leave their families for a local woman.
Or single men that come to work in the tech sector, just completely lose it, as they may have been "5's" at home, and instantly feel like "10's" in Thailand (nothing wrong with that, I believe everyone should find happiness).
With the plethora of attention from women, get mixed up with bar girls, etc (if you're really interested in this topic, go on Reddit).
So women have these types of risks, single or married, when living, working, and building a business in Thailand.
What will I do at Home?
So, I'm single (at the moment), I'm going home.
Since I no longer have a support system here in Bangkok, as my partner and I are no longer together (we are genuine friends, once your friends with a Finn your friends for life), I have to go home.
I'm not going back to teaching...in Thailand (the wages here are simply too low especially with housing not included).
Working in an international school takes too much of my time (I respect teachers and the profession, but I don't want to be a teacher).
And I don't come from a family with money, or worked in a lucrative career where I can bootstrap and live off my savings.
But all hope is not lost!
And I'm NOT giving up.
Just need to re-strategize how I will build my startup.
Going back home, is an opportunity for me to re-connect with the startup ecosystem (Silicon Valley), fundraise money for my startup.
And perhaps write a book.....
And then return back to Thailand...with more money :)
So, friends I'll definitely be back in Asia.
Thank you everyone that has been following me through my journey.
Share you're thoughts about my dating observations in the comment section. For a long time I wanted to write about dating and relationships, but afraid people would be upset.