The International Panel of VCs share their Thoughts

A Week in Stanford & Silicon Valley – Part 2

Starting World Class Start-Ups among the Youths – How Stanford Grooms ‘Rockstar’ Entrepreneurs

From multibillion dollar investments to young start-ups, Michael had the opportunity to connect with Stanford University’s next wave of emerging youth entrepreneurs, all crediting their business success towards the supportive environment and culture embedded within the curriculum of the acclaimed university.

The special Web Panel which featured students from Stanford University, whom are already in the midst of running their own internet start-ups shed some light, from the youth’s perspective on how ideas were launched into real start-ups and how funding was raised from ground up in this exciting, yet mind provoking discussion. The panel included founders from financial portals to blog sites to social networking applications – All whom have made quite a few success stories around the Valley themselves.
Key lessons shared by the panel revolved around conceptualizing their initial ideas and business models, to gathering the right talents to work with them with minimal to no compensation, to attracting investors’ funds to bringing their start-ups global. What really caught our Malaysian delegate’s attention was the fact that all of them started with minimal to no capital and they had to convince the best skilled talents to work with them to launch their start-ups, by sharing their vision and impact that the business will make in the near future.
‘According to the session, you will be amazed on how you can attract the brightest talents in university to be part of your team, simply by having a clear vision and some strategies on how the start-up would grow in the next few years. You have to share your vision and rope people in with your passion. From this panel, I realized – Not everything or everyone are up for money, especially during the start-up phase in university,’ says Michael.
On gathering a talented team to launch the business and bring it to success, the panel recommended that as students who aspire to be entrepreneurs, they could seek consultation from their lecturers and professors in university to provide them with the knowledge, networks and tools to launch their start-ups. Surrounding themselves with a group of peers who have started their own businesses before is also very useful, in terms of exchanging experiences in spearheading enterprises. Lastly, the panelists attributed much of their successes in business is due to a supportive environment, embedded within Stanford University and Silicon Valley.
‘Incubation programmes like the Y-Combinator not only provides a space for young entrepreneurs to launch their start-ups, but moreover, they too provide their incubates with learning programmes – featuring renowned Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors to major networking events for market expansion to access to client databases and referrals, to venture pitching nights over dinner. The experience was simply priceless,’ adds Michael who had the first hand experience with such a programme line-up during the Stanford Summit.
Going Global, the Silicon Valley Experience

From investors to young entrepreneurs to global entrepreneurs, the Stanford Summit exposed its 40 participants to fellow investors and entrepreneurs based in Silicon Valley, responsible for bringing in foreign start-ups into the Valley, and how they have prospered while leveraging on the uniqueness of the Valley.
One of the venture-capitalist firm, specializing in bringing Indian technological start-ups into Silicon Valley commented that start-ups being physically in the Valley adds a lot of credibility towards their products and services, being offered to overseas markets. They also credited the environment where start-ups in Silicon Valley are helpful towards one and another, and often share expertise, mentoring and networks among themselves.
On a separate note, another venture-capitalist firm, focusing on bringing Silicon Valley start-ups outside of the valley to penetrate international markets, remarked that investors are always looking for proven concepts overseas, which can be implemented and is profitable for the local USA market or the larger Asian markets in general. It was also noted that investors in the valley value a company based on its capacity to grow market share outside of its home base and to think ‘Global’ to take more of its products and services overseas.
Lastly, a technology start-up incubator cum investor firm also advised entrepreneurs to be more proactive in getting involved with global business communities like TiE (The Indus Entrepreneur network), the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) and more to extend their reaches to other markets via their global database and to learn from people who have done it.
‘The most valuable lesson that I learned from this as well, would have to be a very interesting point made by one of the speaker – No one can replicate Silicon Valley. It has been our culture to spur start-ups since we started many years ago. You cannot replicate culture. You can learn from our best practices and create you own, unique Silicon Valley in your country,’ says Michael who shared briefly with the panel about Cyberjaya being Malaysia’s own Silicon Valley to stimulate technology entrepreneurship.
Attached are some statistics about Foreign Entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley and their Contributions;

• 52% of start-ups in Silicon Valley are founded by international people – People born abroad
• As of 2005, 25.3% of international people founded businesses and move the economy of America
• Indians founded more companies than other ethnic groups combined in the world
• 12.8% US global patents have Chinese authors – Indian and Chinese have founded the most patents in America
Source: International Sharing Panel @ Stanford Summit 2010

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