[Startup Sofa Vlog] Conquering the Chinese Market with Dan Wong

TSS is excited to present the Startup Sofa, a new video blog interview series created for the Taiwan startup ecosystem! In this episode our guest is Dan Wong, Venture Partner at Landon Financial Advisors. A full transcript of the interview can also be found below:

TSS: Many of our startups are interested in entering China. Have you discovered any specific sales strategies for entering China?

Dan Wong: That's a very deep topic, entering China is a BIG topic. Lots of people are looking at it and I would say you can't dabble in China. You're either all in or you're all out. It's just different from so many perspectives.

The first decision is, “Am I going to go all out into China?” Because from channel strategy, to consumer behavior, to market segmentation, to marketing tools, it's all different. It's a completely different landscape. That means that a lot of the work that startups outside of China need to work on are not leverageable in China. It really needs to be an “all out” proposition.

A lot of people think about partnerships and going into China. Partnerships are important but a lot of startups, even big companies, often run into a misconception or over expectation that if I find the right partner then I'm set. I would tell you absolutely not. Having a partner is critical but at the end of the day, you’re going to be running this yourself.

I'll break it down, let's look at the media landscape. If you're a startup, you might want to use social media, you might want to build social media into your product. You might want to use social media and digital to do promotions and let other consumers know about your product.

But for those who understand China, China has a big firewall so a lot of commonly used digital media - Facebook, Twitter, all these - it’s a different set of players in China. The big players are BAT: Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent so it's a very different media landscape. Therefore, a lot of the partnerships for content for channel needs to be different so you have to start from scratch.

And more and more, these partners are very big. They're just as powerful as Facebook, or Google, or Amazon outside. If you look at the numbers that would tell you. If you look at Tencent and the Wechat platform, the number of users on that is north of 700 million.

You enter into China, you can't ignore these platforms and partnerships. At the same, they're very, so the scale is very big.

I have a lot of expertise in terms of consumer electronics products. There again, the consumer behavior is very different than you might expect elsewhere. I've been in China for 14 years so when you look at this period of time, you have consumer behavior evolve within those 10 years than do generations before.

What does that mean? When I first went to China and that was with Nokia, you would go sell mobile phones. Back then, mobile phones is a big category. We would have a mobile phone that's not selling. And so what would you do? You might discount, you might do something else. Guess what we did for certain models? We raised the price to the top and then guess what? Your volumes increase, too.

That has not happened anywhere else because normally, when you do a price increase, you have to do elasticity analysis - so if I raise the price, volumes will go down a little bit, but net/net, I increase my revenues. Back then in those days, that did not apply. You can both raise your price and raise your volumes and you don't see that elsewhere.

And the reason is very simple - these are consumers that are buying stuff for the first time. They don't understand how to pick products. They know the brand and then price itself communicates a lot. You have people come in and they say. “What's your most expensive mobile phone? Give me five.” That behavior no longer exists.

Then, there's a period of time where people buy the big brands. “I'm going to buy Gucci, I'm going to buy my first car…” So you have a generation of consumers who are buying stuff to try stuff for the first time. Now it's brand, so they'll buy these high-end brands.

Now you have people doing what? They’ve stopped buying brands. They're not buying products, they’re buying experiences. You'll notice for example in social media they’re not buying stuff anymore. Before people on their WeChat, “I bought a Gucci,” “I bought a whatever,” “Here's my first car.” Now you'll notice a lot of people “I am in Europe, I'm in France, I'm at a winery, I'm in Antarctica.” So they’re buying experiences.

In the Western world, other places, this is generations of change and different behavior. You have this crunched into ten years in China and so this has lots of implication for how you build your brand in a place of China. It has lots of implications for how you segment your product.

Because of what I just said, the market in terms of consumer behavior is hyper-fragmented. In China there's a saying that you need to adapt your message and your product for different generations of people. It’s not even even generations, they say, "80 後", ”90 後“ - those born after 1980s, and those after 1990’s - completely different. They expect different things, they buy things differently.

In summary, the whole consumer behavior is very different than you might expect. And the reason is very simple -  this generation of people is the first consumer class in China and it continues to change it very quickly. Partnerships is different, the media landscape is different, consumer behavior is different, channel is different.

There's a lot of people again trying to sell products in China, let's say online e-commerce. This is very interesting, e-commerce in China I would say drives a higher percentage of sales than anywhere else. Consumers in China are very used to constantly using e-commerce to buy all sorts of products.

I had this similar experience when I was with my startup Rokid because we were looking at both the Chinese and the US markets. This is an interesting story. China is a very large market but with e-commerce, you're able to use e-commerce platform only to sell products to get to a certain level. If you look at the United States, for example, I think there is e-commerce there as well for certain products, but in general, consumer behavior is still very much brick and mortar.

I'll give you an example, there's a company called Pebble which is a bit under trouble now. But Pebble is one of the pioneers of the wearables market. The way they started is online, I believe as Kickstarter. I thought given how they started, most of their sales to be completed online.

It’s actually false. I was talking with them about a year ago and tried to ask them, “What's your split in terms of your online virtual versus your brick-and-mortar channel?” They never gave you the number, but what they did say “Predominantly brick-and-mortar.” Even for a brand like Pebble. So this is a very clear difference. E-commerce as it relates to consumers in China, is taking more percentage of sales.

At the same time, the channel mix is also quite different meaning that, I see a lot of startups doing both online and offline  type of mixes. But then again, the partners that you would choose in China all differ. In China, it would be Alibaba, it would be Jingdong.

Then there's some verticals you would try or these are not big names outside of China in terms of your channel partners. For example, for consumer electronics products, it would be Suning, Guomei, these types of stores all again, different names.

The channel structure as well in terms of the margins, are quite different. The net-net where you can see here is China is a big topic. To do properly, you can't rely on a partner to do it for you. You need to roll up your sleeves and understand the market because it also moves very quickly.

TSS: Have you noticed any Taiwanese Startups entering China? Why or why not?

Dan Wong: I have almost not seen Taiwanese startups entering into China. I have seen many local startups headed by Taiwanese. There are lots of Taiwanese in China but frankly, I don't see a lot of Taiwanese startups actually working here and going into China and being successful.

In the earlier days when I was working with some content providers at Nokia, I work with companies at KKBOX which is still in Taiwan and I think they had a presence in China for a while. But a lot of those, given the hyper-competition in China, they haven't really made it to the top three in their categories.

For example, KKBOX, I don't believe is still in China or there might be then a very small footprint now. It's a hard market, it's different. I think China is a particularly tricky thing for Taiwanese startups and I think part of that is also a little bit of a mentality.

I mean I grew up in Taiwan too and I'm going to betray my age - I remember when I was growing up here, you go to the movie theater, they'll sing the Taiwan national anthem. You would stand. Then they would say in Chinese, "檢舉匪諜,人人有責“ - “To report on communist spies is everybody's responsibility.” That's how I grew up here.

Given the political situation between China, lots of Taiwanese startups think twice before they go in. There are lots of stories about how Taiwanese companies who get cheated somehow in China. Lots of markets, Western markets in particular, if you sign the contract, you can bet on it. In China, it's a piece of paper, really. It's a piece of paper. So that changes what needs to happen. This is not just for Taiwanese companies, it's for any companies, even big companies.

When I was with Samsung before Nokia, we had big legal departments but I’d always carefully review the contract. Actually, you know very clearly that if things don't work out, the contract won’t help you. The bottom line is you also need to manage the alignment of interests in China.

What I'm trying to say is that, because of that and that framework, it just takes a different and more detailed mode of operations than just signing a contract or picking a partner.

On the other hand, because of Taiwan's unique positioning, actually, there were some more beneficial policies for Taiwanese companies versus let's say a Western company. I'm used to working with U.S. multinational, European multinational, even a Korean multinational as well in China.

There's much more restrictions than for a Taiwanese or Hong Kong company so it's definitely a market that startups in Taiwan should consider. It's a very tricky market, but it's quickly becoming a market, not just of scale but for companies that are doing technology, lots of innovation.

I'll give another example. When I was with Nokia many years back, Nokia was number one, number two in China. We had lots of local Chinese competitors. They come in low-cost and we always felt none of the local Chinese will ever make it big or globally because a mobile phone has lots of technology; It's a very tech-heavy product. So we never felt that, any big chance they would really make a global. However, if you look at the global top ten phone manufacturers today, five of them are Chinese.

And you look at some of their technology, the innovation, it's come up very very quickly. Not only is trying to help a consumer market in and of itself, it's also now becoming a place of innovation. You look at some of the products that they do, for example, social media. For those who use WeChat, I would say it's a better product than Facebook, Twitter users combined. It really is. China is also now becoming a hub of innovation.

An area where I work a lot is the area of artificial intelligence and one of the experiences I found is that the China market is a very good environment for startups and innovation. Of course, the government encourages it but then there are other factors as well. You have a market of scale so if you do something big, it could really run quickly. You also have a consumer base where consumers are willing to try new things, so it's a very suitable market for innovation.

More and more, you see that their technology expertise is growing by leaps and bounds. So it used to be a factory, it used to be a big market. Now it's generating some very interesting innovations so it's a market that I encourage startups to really look closely at.

TSS: How is the government support in China regarding regulations, taxes, etc.?

Dan Wong: The government supports as it relates to tech subsidies and these governments now have some small investment funds but those are mainly for local companies. Some areas are restricted for foreign companies, while there are some other policies that tend to be slightly more favorable to Taiwanese companies than they are for multinationals or other foreign companies.

Again, the regulatory landscape in China changes very quickly. And so, depends a bit on what's happening at the macro level. But at least it's a common playing field for all foreign companies in China.

But yeah, anytime you do business in China, you need to think a bit about government and government regulations. I think that’s just built into the way you operate. I think that mentality is quite different from elsewhere. If you’re doing a startup in Taiwan, you’re not spending a lot of time thinking about what the government is thinking about unless you're trying to get some subsidies and other things.

Same thing in the U.S. when I worked in other places. But China is very different because the government is involved in many things. So I remember way back when I was still based in Silicon Valley, I would fly in when we were doing business in China, and we were working with the big operators - China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom.

I'll have a meeting with them and they'll say, “Yeah, you go back, and you tell your government XYZ.” We don't really have tight communications with our government.

Anything that you do in China like regulation, governmental support is always a fact that you at least need to think about. It's a bit better for tech but it's front and center and one of the criteria you need to consider when entering China.

TSS: Regarding Taiwanese startups interested in manufacturing in China, what are the challenges and opportunities?

Dan Wong: There are two challenges for startups. One challenge is a global challenge, it's not just for Taiwanese startups. Any startup doing hardware faces the challenge of getting a manufacturing. Because the factories are used to doing volume production.

It's very hard for them to take on the volumes that a startup can offer. It's very difficult even if you have the money so that's a global challenge, just getting a factory to accept your order.

The other piece, though for Taiwanese startups, there's a slight advantage because lots of the contract manufacturers in China who are building the products are Taiwanese. The top five are Taiwanese. So my factories in China, I have two large factories, these contract manufacturers are both Taiwanese-owned, so the expertise is here.

I'm living in Taiwan now and there's always a question: “What's the special opportunities for Taiwan, in today's global tech environment?” I would say this trend and growth of IOT is an advantage for Taiwanese willing to capture it. The opportunity is very simple- with all these IOT companies, there's a very big demand to find a factory to build your product, a turnkey solution if you will. Right now I can tell you, none exists.

At the same time, Taiwan has a lot of expertise in contract manufacturing. Existing big companies find it very hard to service the needs of IOT startups, very hard. They're just not set up to do it and I have direct experience going through that process. And I had my own hardware engineers, still it was hard and it remains a challenge.

So there is a very big opportunity for a Taiwan-based company to become the factory for IoT startups. This demand is global. I have seen IoT startups in Silicon Valley fly to China to find factories because there's no turnkey solution. I haven't seen anybody actually targeting that opportunity.

TSS: What are some differences you’ve experienced between running a company and now as an investor?

Dan Wong: The perspective is completely different. Being a founder, an executive in running your own company versus being an investor, the perspective is completely different. The issues that you think about, the areas that you focus on are quite different between these two.

When you are running a company, a lot of the issues you're thinking about are How do I do the partnerships? How do I develop my product? How do I market it? Lots of these are operational issues.

From an investor perspective, you'll ask about it, and this is certainly part of the due diligence. I think what you're more focused on as an investor is the team. This team here, are they going to be able to stick with it when things get tough? When the market changes on them, are they going to be able to shift?

Because you're almost guaranteed that the business plan you see today will be different tomorrow. Guarantee you and they know that too. So they're looking at the composition for the team, not just the skill sets, but also your mental stamina, your emotional stamina. Can you stick with it?

So you're looking at that, you're also looking for some track record. Are these people have a track record of exiting and building companies that bring value to their investors?

You're also looking at a more macro scale. Investors often invest in certain sectors and they go with it. A lot of people looking at venture investing from the outside. You think, venture investing is about taking risks. So venture capitalists should be very good at looking at risk and taking risk. But I tell you the opposite is true. Venture capitalists often have a very much herd mentality.

This is why you see certain companies with very high valuations because everybody's going after the hot deal because even if a hot deal fails, you're not to get blamed for it because you know everybody else went for it. Actually, venture is a bit of a herd mentality which is why sectors are important. These sectors go up and down.

When we were doing Rokid early on, we were very much in the artificial intelligence space. Back then, it was starting to get hot in China but not elsewhere. But now, AI as a topic, as a domain, it's very high.

For our startups looking for investments, you need to position yourself in the right domain. Sometimes this is not just about what you're actually doing, but also about packaging. So you're doing big data and some people think big data is now AI. From that perspective, what's the macro level transit? Are you part of that trend? Because from a venture perspective, we’re looking for the big, the big one.

You’ve focused your investments on IoT or Smart Home tech. Where do you see these industries in the next 5 - 10 years?

Dan Wong: This is a very interesting period of time to be in technology. You might notice that now there are a lot more new product categories coming to the market and I'm talking specifically about consumer electronics.

A couple years ago, if you look at the landscape, it's pretty standard - you have phones and tablets and computers. Right now, you have wearables, you have drones, you have robots, you have smart speakers. You have a whole host of different things. You have self-driving cars!

I tell you, these are the things when I was growing up, this is like fantasy. You're reading a book, “In the future, your car will drive you” and I remember reading it ands thinking that's that's just never going to happen. I tell you, it’s happening right now. I talked to some car manufacturers, you know, it's happening right now. In our lifetimes, we're going to be in self-driving cars. I guarantee you that.

The broad trend is that there's a lot of new product categories coming to market. One of the areas that is really interesting is within IoT, home. The use of artificial intelligence in the home, products like the Amazon echo. It came out two years ago and now depending on the reports that you look at, five to eight million units sold in the US alone. It's starting to build some scale.

Very quickly, we're going to see a revolution into home in terms of the types of products and capabilities that you can now do inside your home, one of those being “Voice” in terms of a new interface. I think the timeframe will be fairly quick. I think in five years, you'll see of every different landscape and products than we are seeing today.

TSS: What words of encouragement do you have for our startups?

Dan Wong: Tagging along what I just said, this is a very interesting time to be alive. There's a lot of areas that you can tap into. You can choose all sorts of different areas. Even for building IoT products, lots of modules are becoming available.

There's a lot of open source stuff - Google is opening up their AI, their tents are flowing. If you want to tap into that, there's a lot of open-source stuff and so there's a lot of opportunity that's available.  

For the entrepreneur, for the startup, for the company that's paying attention, going out there looking for these resources, I think in many ways, the barrier to entry has lowered.

At the same time, the world has become a more complicated place. How do you go to market? It's a lot of competition and you know having worked in China, it's hyper competition. You do something and guess what?! A couple hundred other companies doing the exact same thing and so then how do you compete in this environment?

I'm very optimistic, I mean there's all this innovation happening right now. Things that even a couple years ago, people thought were impossible are now happening around us. Even things like voice - Siri has been around for a long time yeah it's not really working out. Who ever thought there's now a new product category called smart speakers? Alexa is coming out and it's actual powering lots of IoT products.

So if you're building an IoT product today with voice, you don't have to develop your own. You can use Alexa you can use lots of third-party services and platform that are out there today.

About Startup Sofa

The Startup Sofa is video blog interview series created to provide practical knowledge and valuable know-how to the Taiwan startup ecosystem. We've sat down with successful startup founders, industry experts, mentors, and guest speakers to have honest discussions on overseas sales & marketing, breaking into new markets, differences with Taiwan's startup ecosystem, and more! Please let us know what you think at ask@startupstadium.tw!

[Startup Sofa Vlog] Souped-up Sales Strategy with Michael Zung

TSS is excited to present the Startup Sofa, a new video blog interview series created for the Taiwan startup ecosystem! In this episode our guest is Michael Zung, Marketing Director at Fung Global Retail & Technology. A full transcript of the interview can also be found below:

TSS: What makes really good sales culture?

Michael Zung: There's two schools of thought when you think about startups. There's the Google school of thought and, of course, they've obviously done incredibly well and so it's kind of proven that this way of doing things can work, which is:

Engineers build something absolutely incredible and it shouldn't even need salespeople, it should just sell itself. Some people should just come to the site sign up and if you do need sales people they are not put front and center.

Whereas another school of thought is - well we have a decent product, I think we compete with everybody else pretty well, but let's supercharge the salespeople.

Let's put them front and center. Let's really cheer on every deal that they bring in. Let's encourage them to get bigger and bigger deals. Let's take the top salespeople to an exotic island when they get the top sales. That's more of a sales culture and I think you could do both in a sense.

You could also balance the two. There's two extremes - one is a complete sales culture and one is a complete engineering culture and others are "Let's try to balance all that." When the engineers release a nice product they also go to a nice island or something like that and maybe it's not an island, maybe it's just a nice place to eat.

So just trying to reward the sales, trying to put them front center or at least on the same page or same table as engineers. Because sometimes, especially in tech companies, it's usually founded by engineers and controlled by engineers or controlled by technical people.

And so, the salespeople may not get sort of the attention that they deserve and I'm just saying perhaps it should be more equal, and perhaps it should also be more front and center of the organization.

Also, instead of you see a lot of startups come up with - Let people come to the site and then just sign up - $99, $199, $299, gold, silver, platinum and then they just sit back and say, "OK, let's wait for the money to be counted."

Usually, you're not getting the full value for the product because what enterprise sales people tend to do is you don't even necessarily have a rank card. You go into every single client, you understand what the value of your proposition is to that client, and then you help them calculate it.

You might have a price optimization solution, for instance, and you're selling to a $4 billion grocery store. And with your price optimization solution, they could sell their products for $40 million more. So $4 billion, they add $40 million more on their top line because of your product, and you say, "Okay, I'll just take 10%, I'll take 4 million."

Whereas if you don't solution sell it like that, you might sell it for only ten thousand dollars and so you're not getting your share of the value of that product if you don't have that enterprise sales culture, so you can sell yourself very, very short.

TSS: What are the challenges of entering foreign markets? Do you have any specific strategies?

Michael Zung: Every market is a little bit different. For instance, when you talk about Asia as a whole, you have Australia from one end of the spectrum - it's been called California with kangaroos - and then there's also China on the other end of the spectrum that has a different market completely, different ways of doing business, different ways of paying.

I still think it gets back to, "What value are you providing that local market?" and trying to prove it to the customer that value, so there is that undercurrent.

I used to be told it's a 70/30 rule. 70% is not changed by any market, whether you're in Japan, or China, or Australia, it's still that 70% whether it's DoubleClick or anything else. But 30% should be adjusted to that market depending on different cultures. Again, Australia maybe it's 10% and China might be closer to 50% needs to be changed, but that's just a rule of thumb.

Certainly from a sales perspective, like an enterprise salesperson, you really have to be conscious of - like in Singapore, nobody ever wears a suit jacket so don't even bring it. Nobody wears one. Whereas in Japan people still wear suit and ties to all their meetings. There are those standard things that you learn over the years in each of the countries that you do business with as an enterprise salesperson.

Then, there's other more technical things, like Chinese don't put tags on their site and it's very difficult. Japanese are somewhat reluctant to that, whereas Southeast Asia, Australia they don't even have an issue. There's certain other things like technical norms that you also have to be aware of with each particular country but that's what makes it interesting, isn't it?

TSS: Have you noticed common pitfalls that Taiwanese companies/startups face when entering new markets?

Michael Zung: I think, in general, marketing is a new art for Asia as a whole, whether it's Taiwan or greater China or Southeast Asia. They understand marketing because they've been marketed to. You look at how Apple markets itself, or you look at how BMW markets itself, Coke or Pepsi or McDonald's, they understand that concept.

Especially in the technology area, it's so classically been but OEM - Original Equipment Manufacturer - We make stuff for people so the branding comes from the US or France or somewhere else; The design comes from US, France, or somewhere else and we just make it to their order.

Now, of course, there's companies that are coming out and owning that branding and design themselves and you're just beginning to see some traction in those areas, whether it's a Taiwan company or otherwise.

There have been some breakthroughs, certainly HTC has done a good job outside of Taiwan. All of the bike companies in terms of Giant or Specialize or otherwise have done well but I still think there's a long way to go.

It's just that look and feel, that attention. There's a tendency to put more money, like if I have a dollar, I'll spend another dollar on the engineering rather than spending that dollar on the market. Making it look good, making your brand look good, making your logo look good, hiring a copywriter to make sure that there's no typos.

Perhaps the companies, that's not their strength or the knowledge that they have, but then they tend to put that aside. But in some sense, that's just as important as making sure the technical aspects work well.

TSS: Why should Taiwan companies focus on "Marketing" and not only "Engineering"?

Michael Zung: I would say that when you look at the history of whether it's a SAAS firm or a software company, it tends to not be the first mover; It tends to be the one that marketed themselves better. You look at Salesforce in the way Mark Benioff markets Salesforce, when you look at Larry Ellison in the way he markets Oracle, he's done an amazing job.

When Bill Gates came out with DOS, it certainly wasn't the first operating system but it's the way he marketed and sold it to IBM and others Same with office, Excel wasn't the first spreadsheet software, Lotus 123 was and others. Word wasn't the first word processor, WordPerfect was. But he bundled it together, and he marketed the hell out of it, and he won the market, even though it wasn't the best.

So I think it's important to understand - “Don't let perfect get in the way of good,” as they say. You gotta get out there, you gotta put more money in marketing. It's a very rare case, I mean, Google is almost an anomaly where engineering can take a company that far.

TSS: Any final words of advice for Taiwan startups?

Michael Zung: I think it's just more about refinement - understanding your customer, understanding where you need to be at, looking at the landscape around and showing how you can be a global company.

When you look at how a French company, or an American company, or a Japanese company even markets themselves and refines themselves globally. I just believe the time is coming.

We're global world today, there's so many books written about this ever since like "The World is Flat" but many many others since then about "Nation is not important." There's nations in the world but it's almost globalizing to the point where the nation is secondary and in some ways it just needs to hit a global standard of look and feel and what people expect and really it's incidental that it's from Taiwan necessarily.

So I think it's just to take it to that level and we know that the people in Taiwan can do that so I'm excited to see since there's a lot of potential for growth here and a lot of potential for global growth.

About Startup Sofa

The Startup Sofa is video blog interview series created to provide practical knowledge and valuable know-how to the Taiwan startup ecosystem. We've sat down with successful startup founders, industry experts, mentors, and guest speakers to have honest discussions on overseas sales & marketing, breaking into new markets, differences with Taiwan's startup ecosystem, and more! Please let us know what you think at ask@startupstadium.tw!

Startup Sofa: The Hard Talk about Hardware with Jerry Yang

TSS is excited to present the Startup Sofa, a new video blog interview series created for the Taiwan startup ecosystem! In this episode our guest is Jerry Yang, General Partner & Hardware Lead at Hardware Club. A full transcript of the interview can also be found below:

TSS: How do Taiwanese Hardware Startups stack up with their foreign counterparts?

Jerry Yang: In Europe, in the United States, we've seen a majority of founders, actually they're not from the hardware industry. The’vey brought in a very different perspective compared to let's say hardware native founders when they create companies.

Whereas in Taiwan, just by the nature of our history, we have a lot of hardware industry, electronic industry, semi-conductor people, so founders that usually have a hardware background.

I think the major difference there is what I see is that the Taiwanese founders, many of them actually do incremental innovation. This is basically, whatever they were doing in their previous companies, they were not comfortable with and believed it can be done better. As a result, they improved maybe 10-20% more and create a new company, which is not exactly what innovation should be.

Basically, I think quoting something that is kind of cliché, “People think inside the box too much.” So that's the first signature and I'm still looking for entrepreneurs, whatever their background are, basically that could really come up with something that is really outside of the box and try to break through that first wall.

And the second thing is that, because we have a very complete ecosystem here, so you tend to rely on that ecosystem a lot. As a result, when you first set out, whether it’s market development or business development, you tend to rely on the things you are comfortable with, which unfortunately is not big enough.

So if you’re doing hardware businesses, it's sort of like if you're trying to take a small cut of the value chain system inside. If you think about before, we had semi-conductor industry when you design a chip, you're trying to sell to all the OEM companies, but their clients are huge clients. They usually deploy to that.

But now if you are doing an IOT startup, you say I can actually help big companies like Pegatron, or Quanta, improve a certain part of their business but that stops there. It's not a solution that gets them through their clients. So if that's that kind of innovation, then you’re severely limited in terms of the market size even though you are dealing with really world class, really big potential clients.

The same solution might be able to find much wider and more scalable industries elsewhere, but just by the fact that it's easier and more comfortable to get potential clients here. We see founders spending lots of time just going back and forth in Neihu and in Hsinchu and just focusing on that.

They feel that it is low hanging fruit, but actually not it's like. If you are work in Taiwan, you know that most of the companies are not that interested in spending money on things that can help improve the efficiency more or things like this and that.

That's not the nature of Taiwanese companies and as a result, even though they are close to you, it's the same language and they view is hardware, it's not the necessarily best kind if you are doing b2b.

So I think those are the two things that I observed in the past 2 or 3 years after hearing many pitches especially on the b2b side.

Q. You’ve mentioned that two key defenses for hardware startups is “community” and “brand.” How do Taiwanese startups improve these two things?

Jerry Yang: Specifically when I referred to community and branding, I was referring to consumer electronic startups. If you are doing consumer electronics, today luckily we do have a lot of, let’s put it this way, for example, we have a lot of open-source communities. The open-source community like Github or the Raspberry Pi community is very active.

In Taiwan, because we traditionally have very mature development environments, so our engineers tend to stay inside the system. They ask their senior engineers, they ask their colleagues. They think that they didn't need to go to the open-source community which is kind of a shame because that's actually where all the brainstorming and things that build there.

I think that's the first step, whatever you're doing, whether you're doing or software or doing hardware, there are a lot of open-source communities that very big. If you’re doing blockchain, that's by default an open-source community - you have to get in the community to talk to other people.

From there, you will get to know people that are working on the same things as you are and be able to build that thing. Maybe you can leverage something out of it, and build a brand, at least within the developers.

Another thing, if you are going to ask Taiwanese founders to do whatever American young people can do in terms of branding on kickstarter or Indiegogo, I guess it's asking a little bit too much.

I wouldn't dream that growing up in Taiwan, you will be able to execute the marketing campaign as well as a native American.

But on the other hand, we do have the strength where we are all developers and so you can leverage on those sort of developing community, and get to the next step.

Branding, again it’s the same thing with community, where after years I really feel that this is something by nature I think Taiwanese people have a hard time doing.

Most of the problem we see is that - OK, you might have some idea, but then the execution is not there. Execution is like 80% or 60% or 40%. The one thing about branding is that if you’re missing even just 10%, you're not there. The 10% mistake can just wreak havoc.

For example, you could have a very beautiful website, you could have a very beautiful app, you could have a very beautiful package. And then, because the back-end system people are not really engaged or not really motivated to keep it working, and then users, they click on thing and it's broken. Don’t underestimate that it's “Just a web page. My product is awesome.” But that's the overall branding.

It could be a very simple things, like filling out a type form and click submit and nothing happens. User experience is part of the branding, it has to be there. The same thing is like when you open a box and things fall out in the wrong way, and drops on the floor.

Another simple mistake is if you are doing branding and you are selling consumer electronic products - we see that kind of mistakes in American founders as well - they ship to UK and they give you an American plug. “It's nothing, just buy an adapter,” but that's not the point. The point is these are your consumers, you have to really care about them.

That kind of things can be avoided with extra care, if they’re not taken care of, you can do 95% good job and 5% bad job and it pretty much will just ruin your brand.

Q. How can Taiwanese Startups up their marketing to be more on-par with American Startups?

Jerry Yang: I think in terms of marketing campaigns, we are not very familiar, in terms of marketing tools that we can use, we are still like one generation lagging. Most of the Taiwanese spend their time online and on PTT. Yes, we do spend some time on Facebook but very few people create content on Facebook.

As a result, if you’re doing consumer electronics, your first market should be the United States. As a result, most of the natural social networking skills, we acquire here, they’re not directly applicable - the languages, the methodologies - they are not directly applicable in the United States.

This is one of the reasons why we've seen very few kickstarter campaigns successful. By successful, I mean more than 1 million dollars here in Taiwan. I think that's one of the reasons. Those jobs cannot be outsourced - either you do it and you do it right, or you don't do it.

Q. What are the differences between startups in San Francisco, Paris and Taiwan?

Jerry Yang: Actually Silicon Valley has been leaning heavily now towards deep technology startups - I wrote about that. There was some signs a year and a half ago but now it's like super clear that all the Tier-One VCs that I’ve been talking to them, you can call them Anti-LEAN. They’re actually moving money back into the things that used to characterize Silicon Valley back in the 90's.

Which is kind of nice for us because we are based in France and France has always been doing deep tech innovation, even so much so that even because of that trend, now financial times, the economies, they are talking about Paris being a good place to do investment because of all the deep tech tradition.

That's one thing that's very sure in San Francisco, where the mood is now shifting towards. But obviously, you have to apply the new methodology, but then the core tech, now the people care about it more and more.

Paris pretty much has been doing that for a while so we’re now seeing Silicon Valley VC’s coming to Paris quite often, a little bit too often.

Taipei, I think you guys have done a good job here motivating the entrepreneurs. We are playing a catch up game, that’s for sure. A lot of the PC ecosystems are still not there.

On the other hand, some of the seasons throughout the past few years, every time I give a mentorship here or I gave a speech here, they remain valid. Methodology is just part of the picture. You can learn methodology everywhere, whatever kind of startup you are doing, but the scale or the size of market is always the number one priority.

If you try to scale a business in Taiwan, let’s say consumer service business or e-commerce company, you should be aware that's probably not a VC target. Because the scalability, the size of the market is not there, and you just  have to find a market that you can scale internationally, sort of like country-agnostic in a certain way.

That pretty much defines the Taiwanese startups to be more B2B than B2C actually. By all means, I always say that there are types of entrepreneurship - you can do exponential scale or linear scale. Linear scale is more like bootstrapping.

You can bootstrap for like 5, 6 years, have a good business and make some money, but it's not VC target. It's not a bad thing, it's just different type of startups.

Q. How are things going with Tokyo Startups?

Jerry Yang: Tokyo last year, everyone was talking about FinTech. I think what's interesting is San Francisco has always been the center of attention so people know what's happening there.

Tokyo has been playing catch up and the environment now is quite nice. The result is still pending. We are still seeing very few fast growing startups, really few.  Compared to the sort of atmosphere of entrepreneurship, the results are sort of paling in front of the atmosphere.

The reason is because that atmosphere features heavily the corporates. You see all the corporates doing open innovation, corporates ventures, and all that which is very different from the situation in Silicon Valley or even Paris. So I think that kind of friendly environment driven by corporates might philosophically limit the growth of the startups.

We tend to see startups in Tokyo that got into comfortable funding situation with a corporate VC at a decent valuation, but no money from independent VC. But then they started to hire people and grow very slowly. They hire a lot of people, they try to manage the team, took them one year to ship the product or ship their services. They forgot that they have to focus on the growth matrix.

They talk about the ecosystem all the time as if ecosystem can make a startup successful. Those kind of problems, it’s a different problem compared with what we been seeing here in Taipei. Result-wise, it was a little disappointing the past year in Tokyo, actually.

Q. What hardware trends in 2017 should Taiwanese pay special attention to?

Jerry Yang: So, this is very important to Taiwan. We are a hardware country, so we see a lot of startups trying to do IOT products. They talk about IOT and there's big data and there’s a play.

The whole question has always been “How can I monetize the data?” That's always been a big question. A lot people fail to monetize the data. Very, very few people worry about monetizing the data.

The real important question for the Taiwanese, not just the startups but the big companies as well, is that yes, now you have the cloud, now you have all the sensors sending everything to the cloud. One thing missing in this country is that the capability of processing the data.

4 years ago, no one had that capability outside of Google and maybe a little bit of Facebook. But now, all the startups in the US and Europe, they're using machine learning to sort of process the data and give a constructive feedback model that can allow those data to be used.

Think about a smart building, if you have a lot of sensors, that's fine but who is going to deal with the data? But now, all the startups are using machine learning to train for the model.  

The model will allow the cloud system to preempt, or not just to notify that there is something wrong. It will preempt and learn about the evolution of the building in terms of energy consumption, in terms of activity in different rooms

Which is kind of dangerous in the sense to Taiwanese companies because we have so many IOT startups, but I haven't seen many that really implement this part. They talk about it, but in terms of implementation, it's kind of green. I think that's something that people have to put in more effort.

Q. What kind of investment should Taiwanese startups focus on?

Jerry Yang: One principle very, very important even at seed stage, you need to get independent VC's money. There is good money, and bad money, and there's smart money and dumb money. But one thing that's very clear - whatever money you get, if you don't you get the real VC to invest in your seed stage, it's very difficult to raise Series A. By Series A, you’re starting all over again.

If you couldn’t get any VC’s to do investment in Series A, you can pretty much kiss goodbye to VC money from Series B and onward. This is not a secret. People know that, but somehow people keep ignoring that, some people delay the process.

The independent VCs are very different from corporate VCs or from other let's say strategic investors. Strategic investors and corporate VCs, their angle is not financial return, so when they come in, they might want something else. They might want you to work with them on business, they might give you a valuation that is generous because they don't know how to do valuation.

This blocks you from raising money from real VC’s that seek financial return and be able to invest in a disruptive startup. We see that over and over again. It's the same thing in Silicon Valley because there is so much corporate VC money chasing them from Japan, from China and from United States.

You almost always see every time, if you have cooperate VC that actually did your Seed Round almost completely, that's actually a bad thing because by the next round you start over, and people realize that already you have a high valuation from the previous round and we don't want to get in, and it gets kind of ugly.

So whatever you do, which ever kind of way you get the money, try to raise from real VC’s as early as possible.

Q. What should Taiwanese hardware startups focus on this year?

Jerry Yang: In general, still the scalability. If you are doing something, it’s the way you do it  that's more important than that thing itself. Which market that you’re trying to scale? Why are you doing it?

Some of the entrepreneurs I talk to they say they are deploying the data system in this kind of environment and when you question them why are you doing it there, what happened there? Sometimes it’s just random.

In Taiwan it's very common that it's random - “Oh, we just happen to run into someone at a tradeshow they said they want to try the system.” Yes it's good to have someone try your system and deploy that, but every week, every month you spend on them, and if that's not a scalable market, you're wasting your time.

You’re getting some proof that it works, but why don't you prove the same in a more scalable market? You tried it in one vertical, but that vertical is not the one you're going to scale eventually.

I’m not a big fan of pivoting. I think usually pivoting is basically you just couldn't figure out where to sell your product and that's what you're changing.

But if you're doing B2B solution, which might be the natural habitat of Taiwanese startups, then make sure the first market you’re attacking, that you are experimenting, that that's a scalable market that has the right target market size globally, so that everything you do is not wasted.

Q. Do you have any words of encouragement for our startups?

Jerry Yang: Stop complaining that it's difficult. Everything is difficult. The startups are difficult, the hardware, software are the same, VCs are difficult. I mean, VC’s have their own challenges. I think complaining doesn't really change anything. I heard complaints more than I heard pitches, which is kind of weird.

Your mindset determines how you execute and how you define strategy. If your mindset is trapped in negativity and feeling that you are being betrayed by the whole world, or something like that, that won’t lead you to a very good strategy.

As an entrepreneur, there will always be shitty things happening, and there will be some crises. You have to keep finding new strategies and lead your team.

One thing that I really want Taiwanese founders to stop doing is to stop complaining on Facebook. I think this is really childish. Look at Travis Kalanick (founder of Uber), he got caught on a video arguing with a driver and now overnight it’s around the world.

It doesn't really help anything. It might get your friend to give you a like or you know a pat on the back but everything is out in the public. You don't know the kind effect that has on your team, on your investors, and all that.

It doesn't really get you anything. You would never hear real founders complain about “How come people don't like my products?” or you know ”This is so hard,” and stuff like that.

At least not until they are successful. When they are successful, they can look back 10 years ago it was super hard you know, to get that first. That's when you publish books and that kind of thing.

Stay positive. You are the leader of the team, so you have to keep fighting. If you stop fighting and start whining, it's mostly negative for your team. It won't be positive for your team.

About Startup Sofa

The Startup Sofa is video blog interview series created to provide practical knowledge and valuable know-how to the Taiwan startup ecosystem. We've sat down with successful startup founders, industry experts, mentors, and guest speakers to have honest discussions on overseas sales & marketing, breaking into new markets, differences with Taiwan's startup ecosystem, etc. Please let us know what you think at ask@startupstadium.tw!

That’s Handy! Adventures on the User Journey

[中文版在下面]

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During our most recent trip to Hong Kong as part of our 2017 #TaiwanRocks tour to RISE Conference, we dropped by the Tink Labs office to learn more about how they're disrupting the hotel industry.

On the road to success, many startups struggle to find their worth or value in the world. For Tink Labs, it was a shift in thinking and a creative business model that allowed their product, Handy, a cell phone for tourists, to become successful and reach all corners of the world. We’ve distilled some learnings from Tink Labs’ business evolution below:

Keep your Eye on the Target!

It’s common knowledge that most startups will eventually need to pivot at one point or another. However, pivoting does not necessarily mean starting from scratch. Instead, you might have to reach your target demographic more creatively, or as in the case of Tink Labs, switching to a completely different business model.

Tink Labs originally positioned its flagship product, Handy, as a rentable cell phone that allows tourists to make calls and access the internet in a foreign country. After several months of renting Handy at airport kiosks with lackluster results, Tink Labs was forced to reassess their business model.

Instead of paying pricey airport fees to target tired tourists who couldn’t wait to leave the airport, they hypothesized it might make more sense to reach tourists through hotels. After all, there are millions of tourists but much fewer hotels.

If you haven’t caught your target audience’s attention, don’t give up on your mission as you could be reaching them in the wrong way. Keep your eye on the target to find out when and where is the best time to catch them!

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That sure sounds “Handy”!

Even as Tink Labs evolved from a b2c to b2b business model, it never lost sight of its original goal, helping travelers. However, the change meant they needed to create value not only for tourists, but also for the hotels.

Initially, it was a huge challenge to convince hotels to carry Handy in their rooms, given the extremely traditional nature of the industry. In the end, Tink Labs successfully demonstrated that using Handy would help to increase usage and overall sales of amenities such as pools and spas. Handy also allowed the hotels to gather data and increase customer satisfaction.

Likewise, similar startups switching from b2c to b2b should think hard about how to provide the most value for both your paying clients and also your clients’ customers/clients. Then, you’ll have a solid product or service that’s just asking to be sold!

Milk that Value Cow

To Tink Labs, there were the obvious players that would benefit from Handy: hotels and their guests. However, a little creativity helped them share even more value to additional players who could benefit from Handy’s unique positioning.

For one, their platform allows advertisers to better target tourists over more traditional offline methods (e.g. print materials). Also, tourist data from Handy could benefit local governments and other hospitality businesses in the future.

Even now, Tink Labs is constantly thinking about where and how it can maximize value. For example, they’ve recently made it even easier for hotels and guests by collaborating with their manufacturer, Foxconn, to make Handy double as a room key card.

Likewise, your startup should always think about how to benefit current or possible future stakeholders. The more players that benefit, the more valuable and powerful your company becomes!

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Now, Go Find Your Way

If you’re a struggling startup still confident of the value you provide, you might just need to reassess the mode in which you deliver this value. Additionally, startups can constantly examine how to increase value for their client, their clients’ clients, or even outside third parties.

The key is to be creative, flexible, and open to all possibilities in order to fully maximize the potential of your product or service!

We’d like to thank the Tink Labs team for recently hosting the #TaiwanRocks delegation while making our rounds throughout Hong Kong!


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TSS 2017 年度 #TaiwanRocks 新創商務團在七月來到香港參加亞洲科技盛會 RISE,我們在緊湊的行程中拜訪了當地的新創公司 Tink Labs,跟他們聊聊旗下正夯的產品 Handy如何改變整個飯店產業。

在通往成功的道路上,許多新創團隊面臨找不到自身價值的困境,常常在想,團隊的產品/服務究竟能帶給這世界什麼樣正面影響或改變?對 Tink Labs 而言,「思考方式的改變」與「具創意的商業模式」是讓 Handy這支專為旅人設計的手機得以成功並觸及到世界各個角落的兩大關鍵。以下是我們從 Tink Labs 的商業演進中擷取的一些重點心得:

專注在你的目標上!

大多數新創團隊在接觸市場後,遲早會來到策略轉向的十字路口。這點在新創圈已經是個常識了。然而,策略轉向並不全然代表要砍掉重練、從零開始,反倒可以著墨如何更有創意地觸及到你的目標群眾,或是像 Tink Labs,直接轉換到一個完全不同的商業模式。

Tink Labs 最初將他們的旗艦產品 Handy 定位為一支讓旅人在國外能輕鬆打電話及漫遊上網的出租型手機,並在機場開店提供此租用服務。不出幾個月,Tink Labs 就因慘澹的經營結果,被迫重新評估他們的商業模式。

與其支付昂貴的機場店租來鎖定一群疲憊不堪、只想趕快逃離機場的國際旅客成為他們的目標客群,Tink Labs 認為,或許透過飯店來觸及旅客才是一個更明智的作法。畢竟,旅客人數有幾百多萬,而飯店的數目明顯少了許多。

如果你還沒抓到目標客群的目光,千萬不要就此灰心而放棄手上的事業!你有可能只是使用了錯誤的方法在接近他們。專注於你的目標,並找出何時何地是吸引他們的最佳時機!

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聽起來真的很 “Handy”(方便)!

儘管 Tink Labs 的商業模式從 b2c 進化到 b2b,他們從未忘記初衷—幫助旅人。然而,商業模式的改變也代表他們不只要為旅人創造價值,更要為飯店創造價值。

由於飯店產業較為傳統保守的本質,Tink Labs 一開始在說服飯店業者引進 Handy 服務時,就面臨巨大挑戰。最後,他們成功向飯店展示使用 Handy 的成效—提升游泳池、溫泉等設施的顧客使用率及整體消費量。此外,Handy 也能幫助飯店收集數據資料,用以提升消費者滿意度。

同理,跟 Tink Labs 一樣將商業模式從 b2c 轉換到 b2b 的新創,必須絞盡腦汁思考如何同時為「付錢的客戶」以及「客戶的顧客/客戶」創造價值。如此,你將擁有一個強而有力的產品服務等著上市。

將你的價值極大化

對 Tink Labs 來說,飯店業者及其入住房客是兩個明顯因為 Handy 而受益的群體。然而,運用一點巧思,能幫助他們將更多價值傳遞給更多可因Handy 特殊市場定位而受惠的利害關係人。

例如,與傳統的線下行銷法(像是紙本廣告文宣)相比,他們的平台能讓廣告主更精準地鎖定遊客。而Handy 所收集到的旅客資訊在未來也能讓當地政府及其他旅館行業獲益。

即使是現在,Tink Labs 依然持續思考將價值最大化的可能性。像是最近他們與硬體製造商富士康合作,將 Handy 提升一個檔次,讓它不只是手機,也能當房卡使用。產品升級讓飯店業者及房客都便利許多。

同理,你的新創團隊也該不斷地思考,如何讓現有以及未來可能的利害關係人獲益。愈多人受惠於你的產品或服務,也就代表你的新創變得愈有價值,也愈強大!

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就是現在,走出你的路

如果你的新創仍處於掙扎階段,但仍對自己能貢獻的價值有信心,或許你只需要重新評估傳遞價值的模式,就可能帶來很大的改善。除此之外,新創團隊也應持續檢視如何為客戶、客戶的客戶,甚至是第三方團體加值。

這一切的關鍵在於創意、彈性以及對所有機會抱持開放的態度,就能將產品或服務的潛能發揮到極致!

特別感謝 Tink Labs 團隊在我們馬不停蹄的 #TaiwanRocksHK 2017 新創商務團行程中給予熱情的款待 !

What’s the Secret Sauce to 9GAG?

[中文版在下面]

During our most recent trip to Hong Kong as part of our 2017 #TaiwanRocks tour to RISE Conference, we made a quick stop to the popular internet company, 9GAG, where we received pointers about running a startup in Asia.

LOLcats. Rage Comics. NSFW memes. This is the essence of online platform and social media website 9GAG. Starting 2008 in Hong Kong, 9GAG quickly became synonymous with hilarious and user-generated content (like the image above). Fast forward 9 years and 9GAG still has millions scrolling and giggling mindlessly for hours on its platform each day.

Be like H2O, My Friend

What kind of company culture does it take to run the unique and zany company that is 9GAG? Luckily, 9GAG cofounder and CEO Ray Chan spilled his secret sauce with the TSS team in a recent visit. Avoiding the typical lot of dull and hard to remember company policies, 9GAG sticks by a simple H2O formula: Hustle, Humble, and Open.

  • Hustle - ‘Hustle’ is not only about Working Smart but also means Working Hard. “If two competitors are working smart, the one working harder will make it!”
  • Humble - “It’s not about that Asian humility BS in the traditional sense.” Instead, 9GAG humility means accepting your weaknesses, and setting aside your pride when it comes to making decisions and working with others.
  • Open is about team communication. The 9GAG team is encouraged to communicate openly and share issues or problems as they arise.

It hasn’t always been Smiley Cats & Rainbow Unicorns

9GAG’s ultimate mission is to “make people happy.” However, the road to starting 9GAG wasn’t always rainbows and unicorns for Chan and his cofounders. In fact, there were many hairy challenges along the way.

In the beginning, Chan and his 5+ member team crammed into his parent’s tiny apartment for work. Another time, Chan and two other cofounders had to share a tiny couples’ bed for a one-month business trip. “You can imagine how horrifying it is to wake up to that kind of thing in the middle of the night!” Chan laughs.

Chan dismisses the so-called myth that being in a startup is like riding a roller coaster; To him, it’s more like a prolonged low with a constant barrage of problems you need to overcome.

Follow the Fun in your Heart

Surprisingly, 9GAG was almost a no-go. During their time at a top accelerator, Chan’s team worked on other projects, such as a photo-sharing app, as their flagship product. However, after a late-night discussion with one of their mentors, Chan knew that 9GAG was the project that his team should focus on since they were more passionate about it, and 9GAG also showed good traction. Chan taught us not to quickly dismiss our “passion projects” as those could be the ones to bring you success.

TSS General Manager Holly Harrington Presents giant todd the rock cat to 9GAG CEO Ray Chan

TSS General Manager Holly Harrington Presents giant todd the rock cat to 9GAG CEO Ray Chan

Despite all the fun and jokes, 9GAG was born out of hard work and perseverance, as any successful startup should expect. Next time you’re scrolling through those humorous pictures and videos on 9GAG, just remember how much Ray and his team suffered just for your happiness!

Special thanks goes out to Ray Chan and the 9GAG team for hosting TSS and our Taiwan startups during our #TaiwanRocksHK 2017 tour.


9GAG 成功的獨家秘訣是什麼?

近期我們因為 2017 年度 #TaiwanRocks 巡迴到香港參加亞洲科技盛會 RISE,我們在緊湊的行程中路過全球非常火紅的搞笑內容網站公司 - 9GAG,同時在亞洲做新創公司的我們指點迷津。

貓咪梗圖,梗圖漫畫,黃色笑話等等,這些就是 9GAG 這個網路社群平台的精髓。2008年創立於香港,9GAG 就因為原創搞笑內容在網路上快速崛起成為家喻戶曉的網站。快轉9年,9GAG 至今仍有上百萬個用戶天天邊笑邊刷他們的網站。

貫徹 H2O(水)的精神指標

什麼樣的公司文化可以造就出像 9GAG 一樣獨特奇葩的公司呢? 9GAG 創辦人兼執行長 Ray Chan 娓娓道來他經營的秘訣。9GAG 避免古板又無聊的公司規定,取而代之的是非常簡單的 H2O

配方:快速奔忙(Hustle) 、 謙卑(Humble)、 開放溝通(Open)

  • 快速奔忙:不只是要找到聰明的方法工作,更指要很努力的工作。如果兩位競爭者都很聰明的工作,那就是更努力的那一位會成功!
  • 保持謙卑:「這不是指那種傳統亞洲社會講求謙遜美德的屁話。」9GAG 的所謂的謙卑是接受自己的弱點,跟其他人共事和做決策時能把個人自尊放一邊。
  • 開放溝通:開放講的就是團隊溝通。 9GAG 鼓勵團隊中的每一個人遇到問題或發現值得討論的議題時,要透明溝通、公開分享。

千辛萬苦的創業過程

9GAG的創業宗旨就是「讓大家開心」,然而 Ray 還有他的夥伴在這過程中並不是走得很順遂。 其實,他們在創業的過程中遇到許多困難。

一開始, 沒錢沒資源的Ray還有他的團隊只能在他雙親的小小公寓裡設立辦公室,還有一次Ray跟另外兩位創辦人出差一個月,沒錢只好三人共享一張小小的雙人床一個月。「你可以想像半夜驚醒看到那樣的景象是多嚇人吧。」Ray 笑笑的說。

他不認為創業的過程像一般人以為的雲霄飛車一樣,對他來說,創業的過程除了有很長一段時間的低潮,還要面對不斷出現的困難與挑戰。

跟著那顆愛玩的心走

出乎意料的,9GAG 有一次差點失敗。當他們還在國際知名加速器的階段時,他們有發想過其他的計畫,像是照片分享 app,然而跟一位他們的創業導師徹夜長談之後,Ray了解到 9GAG才是他們真正有熱誠 、真正應該專心發展的計畫,9GAG 也有很好的流量表現。Ray 教會我們不要太快放棄「夢想」,因為那些真的讓你感到熱忱的事物,說不定就是帶領你通往成功大門的鑰匙。

TSS 總經理 Holly 向 9GAG 執行長 Ray 展示 TSS 吉祥物 - 巨大型搖滾貓 TODD

TSS 總經理 Holly 向 9GAG 執行長 Ray 展示 TSS 吉祥物 - 巨大型搖滾貓 TODD

除了歡樂還有搞笑內容之外,9GAG 跟其他成功的創業公司一樣,是在努力還有堅持當中孕育出來的產物。下次你在看他們的幽默梗圖還有搞笑影片時,記得 Ray 還有他的團隊努力了多久,才能帶給你這些歡樂的內容!

特別感謝 Ray Chan 還有 9GAG 團隊在我們馬不停蹄的 #TaiwanRocksHK 2017 新創商務團行程招待 TSS 還有台灣新創團隊們。

跨國募資成功經驗談 How do other companies complete their cross-boundary investment?

跨國募資成功經驗談 How do other companies complete their cross-boundary investment?

聽投資人們、財務法律專家的提點,我們也邀請海外募資成功的台灣創業家們,到場近距離與新創團隊們分享他們的實戰經驗,了解募資過程中秘辛、以及從中學習的要點。Besides helpful advice from investors, finance and law experts, Crash Course: Term Sheets also featured Taiwanese entrepreneurs that successfully raised overseas funds and expanded their business empire to the next level. . Here, they shared their practical point-of-view about the sweat and tears shed during fundraising and the valuable lessons they learned.

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投資條件書,必爭之地是?(二)What should you fight for in your term sheet? Part II

投資條件書,必爭之地是?(二)What should you fight for in your term sheet? Part II

When you’re at the table with investors, good timing and thinking quickly on your feet are critical skills in negotiating your terms. Having a basic understanding of the contents of a term sheet will prevent a situation where you need to say something like, “Um, I don’t know, but I’ll get back to you after talking with my lawyer.” 談條件,確切時機和敏捷思考是重要的。身為創業家對於投資條件書內容必須要有基礎認識,與投資人接觸時才不會一直發生「額,我不知道,讓我回去再問問我們律師」當下無法應付的窘況。

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投資條件書,必爭之地是? What should you fight for in your term sheet?

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拿到投資條件書之後,如何談判快、狠、準,在幾張充滿著術語的條文大海裡,省時間找到最關乎團隊權益的條款?When you are looking through pages and pages of legal jargon, how can you save time by identifying the key terms that will impact your team the most?

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