Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning

The formula for a successful entrepreneur

Dr Dominic ChanHong Kong is still in an early stage in terms of high technology start-ups when compared to places like Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and Los Angeles. We are still trying to put the pieces together and the eco-system is evolving slowly but this creates particular challenges for tech start-ups.

Typical investors in Hong Kong are looking for quick returns of the type they usually find in property and the stock market.  So high-tech investment isn’t something that everybody comprehends. Although there is an argument to say you shouldn’t invest in something you don’t understand, that doesn’t seem to stop people investing in the stock market!

I have been involved in a range of start-ups, some with research from university, others with a solid tech team coming out from big hi-tech companies.  Some have built the venture from scratch from a business idea, others have spun-out from an established company or even listed company.

All the companies, have  related to my degree and PhD in Electrical and Information Science and Digital Signal Processing, they include Englishtown (English language e-learning provider), Cedar Audio UK (Digital Signal Processing equipment and solution), SpikeCyberWorks (web-solution provider), Portable Innovation (PDA OEM design company) and oCen Communication (VoIP, communication portal).

Looking back at these ventures, there doesn’t seem to be a set formula for a successful start-up.  It is the market that will ultimately decide if there is a demand for the products and if your products appeal to the customer and can reach them efficiently.

However, in terms of the people that succeed, it is those who don’t give up, who are passionate for their ideas, and also who know how to find and manage all sorts of resources. This could be human resources, financial support or partners that will stick around long enough so that the company may turn many corners and finally see success down the road.

Entrepreneurs are not necessary always the right managers for the company in a stable, sizeable stage.  It really depends on the personality of the entrepreneur; some people like to see their companies to continue to grow while others enjoy running a company at start-up stage, the excitements and the uncertainties.

This is where support from a rigorous programme such as the Postgraduate Diploma, could help, as it provides an overview of the wider management issues so that an entrepreneur can understand what is required in a successful, scalable, business.

Entrepreneurs can benefit tremendously by learning from other people’s experience successes and failures. The education and sharing becomes very relevant when you are living the same experience.

About Dominic Chan

Based in Hong Kong, Dominic is the Founder and CEO of Decisive Consulting Limited (business consulting) and a co-founder of Dark Horse Investments – an investment company that focuses on early-stage technology companies.  A University of Cambridge graduate he consulted with McKinsey & Company before becoming an entrepreneur.

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