In our last segment about Armorize founders Wayne and Matt Huang, we brought you the tale of two brothers who successfully built a Taiwan-based international cybersecurity firm that was acquired in 2013 by Proofpoint. The Huangs’ success makes for an inspirational story for new startup founders in Taiwan, but the brothers aren’t content to simply sit by while the next generation finds its way. Instead, they’ve started giving back to the Taiwan startup ecosystem.
MOSA: A brand new startup conference in Taipei
This year, Wayne served as Voluntary Program Chair and Matt served as a moderator and panelist at MOSA, Taiwan’s premiere international startup conference held in October.
Throughout 2015, Wayne worked alongside the programming committee led by the kickass Changee team to identify the speakers who could make the greatest contribution to the discussion of entrepreneurship in Taiwan. Contrary to what you’d expect from a typical tech conference, Wayne hoped strongly to highlight failure as much as success. "If Taipei City becomes a place that embraces failure and mistakes, then it can become a real hub for entrepreneurship, both for startups and for enterprises."
Thus, Wayne was proud to have the privilege of leading MOSA’s opening fireside chat with Larry Ho, whose company Inforian famously crashed and burned in 2001 when the dot-com bubble burst. Unlike in the US, where serial entrepreneurship is a badge of honor, it’s hard for founders in Taiwan to come back from failure. But that’s precisely what Ho has accomplished with his latest company, Light Harmonic.
Wayne says that Ho exemplifies the spirit he hopes Taiwanese entrepreneurs can truly embrace, moving beyond failure and coming back for more. "What I really want to do is make Taipei City a place that will embrace failure,” he says. "The fact is that most of these startups will fail, and that doesn’t matter. You move along and start another one."
SilverLink-Aranya Founders Fund: Investing in Taiwan’s future
In 2015, the Huang brothers came together with fellow industry veterans Andrew Tsuei and John Chi of SilverLink Capital to form SilverLink-Aranya Founders Fund, a USD $50 million seed stage fund to invest in Taiwan’s next generation of entrepreneurs. The goal behind SilverLink-Aranya is to support Taiwanese startups that have set their sights beyond Taiwan, particularly those planning to enter the US or China markets.
How does SilverLink-Aranya decide where to invest? According to Matt Huang, “The main criteria is about the founders, whether they have it in their blood.” The fund is special in that all four people who’ve contributed to the fund are entrepreneurs themselves, and thus they bring their own experiences into the mix.
“When we meet with these teams, I feel that we bring a lot of value to the table. We spend a lot of time with our teams. That’s the value we bring,” says Wayne. What’s more, given that there are no outside contributors to the fund, SilverLink-Aranya is not under pressure to bring profits to investors. This means that more energy can be devoted to long-term growth over short-sighted profit goals. “It’s not about making money. It’s about making an impact,” says Wayne.
Under General Manager Johnson Sher, former president of HTC, the fund has in its first months distributed more than USD $2 million to early stage Taiwan startups. Among the 6 investments the fund has made so far is DeepBlu, which will soon bring to market its Triton wearable diving companion, as well as an international sharing platform for divers. Wayne first met DeepBlu CEO Brad Chen during TSS Accelerator Bootcamp Squad 1 in June 2015, and has worked closely with its team to expand the company’s vision while capitalizing on its founders’ hardware backgrounds and love of diving. Other investments include early-stage startups like Installments, Trigger, and Niceday, and both Matt and Huang are always on the lookout for talented young teams with global spirit they themselves had as they began Armorize.
Rocking with TSS
Of course, we'd be remiss if we didn’t also acknowledge the contributions Wayne and Matt have made to the Taiwan Startup Stadium community. Their efforts have not only included serving as mentors to founders, but also as supporters of the TSS mission to push Taiwan startups to go global. Through these contributions, on top of their work with both MOSA and SilverLink-Aranya, it’s clear that the Huangs out to shake things up in Taiwan, and they're just getting started!