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.
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.
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。
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）
- 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。
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。
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。
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。