Michael sharing a moment with Investor-Mentor, Randy Komisar

A Week in Stanford & Silicon Valley – Part 1

Taking the Local, Global! An Inspiration from the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW)

The Co-Founder of Youth Entrepreneurs Malaysia and Youth Catalyst for the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) Malaysia, relates his recent experience to be absorbed into the heart of Silicon Valley, through a 10 days learning, networking and pitching experience, organized during the Stanford Summit by Stanford University last April.
‘The event may be over, but the lessons are timely to be shared now on the site, especially when start-ups are looking for inspirations to recover from the global economic downturn. I hope this article, written in different parts can help inspire Malaysia’s young entrepreneurs to succeed and think global,’ said Michael Teoh who contributes towards Entrepreneurs.my’s editorial work as well.
‘I was inspired with the efforts put together by GEW and its partners both globally and locally here in Malaysia, and I echo the calling of our country host – Dash, who encouraged us locals to go global! And the Stanford Summit was a platform for me to spread our young Malaysian wings overseas!’ said Michael Teoh, an avid supporter of GEW.
The excitement and suspense to go through a highly selective pool that unites the world’s emerging student and youth entrepreneurs at one of the world’s leading universities, had certainly moved Michael Teoh to utilize such a golden opportunity to showcase Malaysia at the prestigious Stanford Summit. Michael, 23, was invited to participate and speak at the annual Stanford Summit, a prestigious summit of its kind, held in Stanford University that unites 40 of the region’s youngest and brightest minds in business with fellow business accolades, venture-capitalists, investors and researchers from the heart of Silicon Valley.
The Stanford Summit was packed with notable activities throughout its one week course, aimed to expose this exclusive group of 40 young entrepreneurs from 7 countries towards the culture, the entrepreneurial eco-system and the lessons, behind the walls of Silicon Valley, where entrepreneurial success stories like Facebook, Google and Twitter were born.
These 40 young, aspiring and hungry entrepreneurs were selected from the world’s leading universities from a global pool of talents, which saw thousands of youths applying to be part of the annual summit. They were selected based on their contributions towards the development of young enterprises in their respective communities, coupled with their influence and business experience at home.
‘We were given special tasks from pitching to Venture-Capitalists who invested in the likes of Google, Amazon and Facebook about our business ideas, to unique business tasks like setting up a business with products and services within 48 hours and trying to sell a common ball-pen for the highest price!’ recalls Michael Teoh, who co-founded a community that unites and promotes young entrepreneurs in Malaysia, namely Youth Entrepreneurs Malaysia.
The Stanford Summit experience can be summed up as ‘Eye-Opening and Thought Provoking’ for the young aspiring Malaysian entrepreneur. There were many highlights to the event, with one being a special lecture series presented by the investor and mentor to global technology giants – Google and Amazon.com, along with different forum discussions headlined by fellow Silicon Valley experts on Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, Technology, International Business and Start-Up Culture. A lighter side for the summit would have to be the networking opportunities presented to the 40 young entrepreneurs with notable business luminaries, investors, lecturers, alumni and students of Stanford University.
‘The lessons learnt in Silicon Valley must be shared to Malaysian entrepreneurs, and at the same time, we must showcase what we have done with our entrepreneurial landscape locally to a global audience, like the ones who were involved with the Stanford Summit,’ quotes Michael Teoh, who spent most of his time networking, collecting notes and interviewing key figures behind the growth of Silicon Valley.
‘I Invest In People!’ – A conversation with Venture-Capitalist, Randy Komisar

For Michael, the biggest headline of the entire summit, would be his close interaction with Randy Komisar, the Partner in Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, CEO of LucasArts and most notably – The Investor for Google & Amazon.com. Mr. Komisar shared some valuable lessons for entrepreneurs around the world, especially those who want to get their start-ups into Silicon Valley.
The iconic venture-capitalist spoke about the staggering ratio of an average of 3,000 ideas being pitch to Silicon Valley investors, with 300 of them being looked at, leading up to 100 appointments to interview the entrepreneurs and ultimately leading up to only 2 ideas being funded to take-off!
‘I invest in You! I invest in People’ was possibly the strongest advice uttered by Randy Komisar, as he points out that most experienced investors from the Valley, does not only look for a sustainable and a sound business start-up to invest it, they would also look at the team of people behind it. As he shared that a weak business idea can evolve into a business success story, should one have the right team, with the right talents and most importantly drive to see the business flourish! Another startling find was that, more often than not, an entrepreneur’s initial pitch or idea for a business would most likely evolve, as he hits the market.
The sad scenario around the world is that, investors tend to judge an entrepreneur’s proposal and pitch based on its first draft, without noting that the product or service would most likely change, to adapt towards the market when the business is physically launched. It was suggested that start-ups should not only be judged for its business-viability during its initial business plan, but rather have investors judge the people who would be driving the start-ups instead.
‘Plan A is often flawed. Judge people as individuals instead of ventures alone. Plan B, after going through some scrutiny and feedback among fellow investors and experiences entrepreneurs would often work!’ as shared by Randy Komisar.

To be continued…Part 2

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