What a dream it would be, to unravel the complex, multi-layered decision processes that shape how and where investors devote their attention and, more importantly, funds.
At WIT Japan & North Asia 2017 Bootcamp, five investors shared their observations on the state of startups in Asia, key lessons from their own careers and common mistakes startups make when building a company.
An investor’s early career will often shape their perspective on the startup world. The experience can shape individual outlooks on innovation, failure and the importance of making a personal impact – lessons that Ted Cho (Principal Entrepreneur, Skelter Labs) believes are best sought out through experience in larger, more established companies.
Building your early career experience in established tech giants if possible, is important, said Cho. It will expose you to types of working culture you may one day aspire to channel into your own. Not only that, it will show you more about the importance of keeping innovation alive in the workplace.
Learn from the best, then set off on your own path
Cho for example, held a position as site director for Google in Korea and drew tremendous benefit from embracing the values upon which the company is run.
“Google is fuelled by innovation… most people forget that, they don’t emphasise it enough.” Though he eventually opted to leave Google, Cho emphasised that it was not because it placed any restraint on his potential but because he felt he could not achieve the personal impact on the company he wanted. “I left Google because the innovations that I could make are so little in their perspective.”
Cho believed that his ideas, though credible, couldn’t create the degree of impact on the company that he would have wanted it to have. Even if he could design and execute an idea that would drag $100m in annual revenue – an incredible amount to any self-made entrepreneur – it’d have been mere peanuts to a company of Google’s magnitude.
Nevertheless, Cho praised a key part of Google’s corporate culture that he feels many other businesses take for granted. “They don’t penalise, but celebrate failure.
“I’ve seen so many startups, after they get funded, worry that their investors will get mad. So, they work on revenue, revenue, revenue, instead of innovation. That’s a big mistake in my opinion for a tech startup. They have to try these new things and the one that sticks is going to make you rich.
“That’s the kind of mentality I see in startups and I really think that Google, more than any company in the world, does it better.
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