Career Forum Oct 2015: Lessons from a start-up launcher
Setting up a business can be a daunting task – as Shing Chow, founder of van rental app EasyVan, knows only too well. His seminar, “10 things I wish I had known before I started EasyVan”, will shed light on the common mistakes that start-ups make and how to avoid them. It will be particularly interesting to anyone looking to go into business.
“Being a CEO of a start-up might sound exciting, but there is a lot of boring necessities. Having a disciplined approach to work is a must,” Chow says. “You look at footballer Lionel Messi and see all this amazing footwork, but he got there because he has the discipline to go through boring practices every day.”
Being an excellent communicator is essential for anyone looking to set up their own company, Chow says. “I see myself as a preacher. I preach to investors, our staff, our potential candidates, our users and our drivers to [get them to] believe in what we are doing. My daily routine consists of a lot of meetings with investors, our team and potential recruits. I often find myself repeating myself again and again, but I love what I am doing.”
But it’s not just about being an inspirational speaker – solid practical skills relevant to the line of business are also desirable for budding entrepreneurs.
“I wish I had learnt coding back at Stanford. I was at the hottest place for the internet in 1999, yet I was studying economics instead of learning to code, which would have been better preparation for launching a start-up.”
Wannabe start-up CEOs should also be aware that attracting top talent isn’t always easy. “We don’t have enough programmers here in Hong Kong, and the best talents sometimes don’t want to work in start-ups.”
Chow’s seminar will cover some of the other challenges that Hong Kong start-ups face. He hopes to help graduates decide whether entrepreneurship is the right career path for them – and point them in the right direction if they choose to go down that route.
“The Hong Kong market is too small to sustain an internet start-up,” Chow says. “You need to either look north to expand to the mainland, or look south to expand to Southeast Asia.”
Chow stresses that the art of persuasion is also key to getting investors on board. “It’s very hard to get people in Hong Kong interested in investing in an internet start-up that will not be making money for a long time. People invest in property, financial products and companies that generate profit right away. Start-ups are all about the future.