Original ideas and coming up with them is hard. Very hard.
As we navigate Southeast Asia (and Taiwan) working with entrepreneurs in various cities in Southeast Asia, it is extremely challenging to come up with an original idea that matters and lends to your strengths and passion. Getting the formula right is tough.
As I looked at our portfolios (over 12 now going on 14 - most of which are not publicly known) and ideas from Founder Institute in the Southeast Asian region that have received early attention, funding offers and even exited via acquisitions. I noticed there are generally 3 idea types.
A team solving a very local problem or creating a movement or change of behavior within a market that is large enough to be sustainable and not to be distracted about scaling too early because of revenue pressures.
A team solving a local problem or creating a movement or change of behavior first with ambition to bring the solution to other regional countries. Most of the time it shows the ambition of the team but sometimes it is because their chosen market or markets are still too small to be sustainable.
A team solving a problem or creating a movement or change of behavior in a new and original way that position them to be global from day one. For some reason, there are limited and weak to no competitors.
From our data, companies in the 3rd category achieve customer, investor and media interests rather early on in their lifecycle. Even for myself, I am more excited if teams presented something original and unique than something that is a “clone with a spin or a twist”.
As such I am building a little research experiment to help founders work towards ideas that are original and have product hooks that engage users all in a pace and direction that suits the founder on a personal level.
I hope the outcome can help more founders move their ideas to another level (if they wish to) and also to help more aspiring founders to be slightly more prepared as they get involved with events such as Startup Weekend, Lean Startup Machines, hackathons etc.
Ping me if you are interested to discuss or join in the experiment.
Interns ah, how we love to brainwash you.
At Golden Gate Ventures in 2013, we have our largest cohort of interns ever since we were in business a year ago. Our first intern in 2012, Justin Hall has since joined us as an associate just a few months ago.
Most of them joined us for the summer and I had great fun working with some of them, sometimes too much fun. I have promised them that I will brainwash them whenever I could and try to make their internship a win-win for both parties. I believe I accomplished most if not all of those promises. They have diligently helped us with investment activities, startup research, event organization, and also working with aspiring founders at the Founder Institute (Singapore). We hope the various activities and people you met has broaden your horizons in what the startup world is like. (99% chaos x ambiguity)
Some parting advice for the interns whom have crossed my path this year and also to those who have not.
- Your clear advantage now which no one can take away from you, is your youth.
- You may or may not have found what you would like to do for the rest of your life but at least you had a glimpse. A glimpse of what it is or is not, things that you should do or do not.
- Experienced industry folks are not that hard to reach. Hunt them down and ask questions, what is the worst that can happen?
- Look outside school for what is to come. Reality sits outside the school yard. Google is your best friend (for now). For some of you — Stackoverflow (hint hint).
- Finally, for those heading back to school. Cherish the time left, be a kid, play hard and work hard and make as many friends as you can (trust me - especially those who have different backgrounds as you).
Hit me up if you need anything. You know where to find me.
And for all the hard work and laughs. Mahalo.