9 Shocking Truths about Silicon Valley – Lessons from 100 Startup Founders

9 Shocking Truths about Silicon Valley – Lessons from 100 Startup Founders (Live Blog)

April 5, 2013 by Krish Raghav

Onwards to Startup Asia’s final sharing session, and we have Loo Cheng Chuan, Head of Singtel’s Local Life and Group Digital Life.  9 “Shocking Truths” about Silicon Valley are on the agenda. Colour us intrigued.

Here’s his colourful presentation. Live blog below:

#18:30: “I networked a lot in Silicon Valley.” These are truths distilled, then, from anthropological observation.

Truth 1: Multi-billion dollar businesses need multi-trillion dollar markets.
Take this as a reality check, Cheng says. HungryGoWhere was sold at $15 million in Singapore – they would be much larger elsewhere in the world. “If you want to remain small, play small.”

2: Most starting directions and eventual destinations are different.
“Those who fail are those persisted on a single line or focus.” Pivoting can be crucial sometime. “Success is a frontier, not a point.”

3: 97% of online businesses fail.
“You need to try a lot, and a lot of different things.”

4: Goliaths don’t usually win.
Nimbleness is a significant factor, and there’s no reason to be afraid of big companies. InSing.com, a Singaporean “hyperlocal” portal, even with giant Singtel’s backing couldn’t take on the tiny HungryGoWhere. “David can win.”

5:  Simplicity sells. Simple, dumb products can succeed. You don’t need to be Steve Jobs. Singtel tried to back console game streaming service OnLive, which went bust. But a simple site like Tinyprints, which made baby announcement cards, sold for $333 million. “A simple product we made called Itzme…all it does is send Facebook voice SMSes. How difficult can that be?”. 3 months, 800,000 users.

6: Most in Sandhill Road (where the VCs hang) are not interested in SEA. Go local with your funding sources. Think regional.

7: Foreign Talent: Singapore hates them, Silicon Valley loves them. Silicon Valley is a magnet for the best in the world. Singapore isn’t, not yet.

8: “X-factor” > ideas and experience. What does that look like?
Well, it’s:

9: PASSION x 3
Cheng narrates the story of a lone passionate baker who became supplier of muffins and cakes for half of the continental U.S for Starbucks. She told the roomful of MBA types discussing optimization matrices and business plans: “I succeeded because I love to bake.”

And finally:
“You don’t need sexy products. You don’t humongous funding. You just need fire in the belly and a glow in your eyes.”


About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (www.heroinnovator.com), the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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