The inaugural Mosa Conference was a fantastic opportunity to hear from startup industry experts we don’t normally see in Taiwan, and brought together the whole Taipei startup ecosystem for one awesome event. During Mosa, TSS had the opportunity to take the stage with two stellar panels to talk about accelerators and startup growth from two different perspectives: the investor perspective and the startup founder perspective. Here’s what the 8 panelists had to say:
- Advice from the Investors -
Rui Ma, Partner at 500 Startups
When you meet with venture partners, prepare to be asked about anything and everything. Rui explains that when interviewing startups, accelerators “are trying to understand if the FOUNDER understands what they have built.” In other words, you should be intimately familiar with the product, team, market size, and traction of what you’re giving to the world. What’s most important to investors is seeing a capable team and having hard proof that you can make things work.
William Bao Bean, Managing Dir. of Chinaccelerator
As Partner at SOS Ventures and Managing Director of Chinaccelerator, William has seen other firms and even governments do everything in their power to stop startups that disrupt the current system. Think hard about the current system, he says. It’s in place because it works, but how can you make it work better? You must have courage in your ability to challenge the existing model. "You find a way,” he says. “You've got to be able to break the rules."
Alex Lin, Head of Infocomm Investments
Alex emphasizes the importance of mentors and teachers. Learn from where they’ve succeeded, and more importantly, from where they’ve failed. Mentors are everywhere in the industry, so it's up to you to make use of them. If you are already doing your best and are prepared to ask the right questions, then there is absolutely no shame in asking for help.
Ed Roberto, VP of Middle East & Africa at Techstars
On investor input: "Your business is YOUR business. YOU have to make the decision… No one is going to tell you what to do." You should always be open to advice, but just because someone says you can’t do something, doesn't mean you can't do it. Be assertive and recognize that you are in control of what you have created.
- Advice from the Startups -
The idea of relocating part of a team to a foreign country can be intimidating for many startups, but when Renee began applying to accelerators, she welcomed the opportunity. In an accelerator, there are no limits to the amount of creativity and diligence you can find around you. "We wanted to go somewhere where people support our philosophy," she explains - and it worked.
"You need to know why you're joining the accelerator. You're taking a lot of risk by doing it, so you have to know how they can help you, and why they should help you." Consider how long you’d like to be in an accelerator, and with how many people. Do you want a relaxed atmosphere, or a more crowded one full of hustle? Each accelerator has different policies and styles. Know exactly what your company needs so you can make an informed decision.
It’s important to recognize that there can be a language barrier for Taiwanese companies in other countries. Adms notes, "If I want to be a co-founder and survive in Silicon Valley, then I need to work on my language abilities." If no one on your team speaks English, then language is going to be a barrier in going global. Having co-workers or employees with strong language abilities can be instrumental to success.
Victor Chen of Duable Chinese (JFDI alumni)
“It's a team effort, and everyone needs family and friends and fun activities to let go of the stress.” In an accelerator, you’ll likely be working more hours than you ever have before, and the stress levels will be high, but try to remain realistic. Stepping back to take a break will help you maintain a healthy perspective; everyone needs to keep themselves sane.
Are you ready to join an accelerator?
As announced at our TSS talk on accelerators at Mosa, our Accelerator Bootcamp: Squad 2 runs 11/15 to 12/4. During the free 3-week program, Squad 2 will learn how to apply and interview for global accelerators, and practice with Taiwan Startup Stadium mentors Kai-Fu Lee (李開復) and Wayne Huang (黃耀文).
Plus, startups who graduate from Accelerator Bootcamp and successfully apply to an overseas accelerator will receive up to USD $20,000 and 3 round-trip tickets to get your team to the program. Click below for more details, and to apply. Deadline is November 5!