Spotlight on... Francis Bea, Founder, Managing Director, Eleven International

Spotlight on... Francis Bea, Founder, Managing Director, Eleven International

Francis Bea, Founder, Managing Director, Eleven International
By way of introduction
Having started out as a contributing writer covering consumer tech and the Chinese tech industry for Digital Trends and CNET, I made the leap from covering startups to leading marketing and branding for 360 Security and Hover Camera. Since then, I founded Eleven International, operating in a niche offering cross-border communications and marketing services for APAC’s consumer tech and crypto brands.

First job
My first jobs in China that set the course for where I’ve landed today were in mobile and desktop gaming studios including Hoolai Games and PapayaMobile.

Top 3 daily reads
I quickly catch up with the latest need-to-know news through the tech news aggregator Techmeme and Twitter for the latest news in the crypto industry. The third read will typically rotate between business books or our internal daily news digest published by our team.

A secret fun fact about yourself
It’s been a while since I’ve put my journalism hat on but one of my first stories during the brief stint I had in Beijing with TheNextWeb was an interview with Lei Jun to cover Xiaomi ahead of its foray into markets outside of Mainland China.

Your stress reliever
We started out with an office, but with the onset of the pandemic, the way people prefer to work has changed and we adapted to this as well. We can anticipate our team members will not just work but also enjoy their personal lives. Personally, I’ll enjoy my free time by scuba diving in the summers and snowboarding during the winters.

One thing in your cross-border role in tech you're most fascinated by
We’re seeing more and more Asian tech brands going global and setting their sights on the US market in particular. That’s across all kinds of segments within tech - AR / VR, crypto / blockchain, consumer tech, the list goes on. That’s both exciting and a challenge. There’s a maelstrom of cultures, requirements and expectations to navigate in pulling off cross-border campaigns.

Most memorable campaign
We’ve launched and worked with Nreal since its inception in 2019. We relished in the opportunity to position this product (from a PR point of view) as a brand that had the courage to become a consumer product despite the lower hanging fruit being in the enterprise segment back when Magic Leap was the industry’s darling.

Advice to anyone starting out in tech comms
You don’t really need to be a tech enthusiast to work in tech comms. And frankly, I find the two are often conflated. To be completely honest, I’m far from an early adopter. I would position myself among the late majority (and sometimes laggards) on the adoption curve. But therein I think is why our model of working with clients and distilling their rather technical concepts into instantly understood, digestible concepts works consistently.

One thing you would change about the comms industry
I am an advocate for radical transparency with clients. Often, we’re straightforward with our clients about their chances to secure coverage. There are a lot of agencies - particularly in the crypto space - that try to sell newswire results as if they’re earned press results that can be purchased off of a menu.

Trends in 2023 for communicators to look out for
The elephant in the room is that the bear market is here and likely to hang around for some time. During a bear market, we know it’s best to put your head down and build. For boutique agencies like ours, this means offering the flexibility to adapt to the new market environment and appetite for communications services.

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