Taiwan used to be one of Asia’s economic tigers, but has a hard time to follow dynamic change of the past decade. VC-veteran William Bao Bean tells the Red Herring what the island can do to improve its startup culture and lure Taiwanese entrepreneurs back.
The Red Herring:
Now, with Southeast Asian neighbors hopping aboard to make the region one of tech’s brightest, Taiwan is trying to get its tiger roaring once more.
Taiwan is home to around 140,000 manufacturing SMEs, the majority of which are based in the country’s densely-populated capital, Taipei. Few, however, have transitioned into software. William Bao Bean, a partner at investor SOSV and managing director at Taipei-based mobile-only accelerator MOX, believes there are three reasons why.
The first, he says, is investment: “There are many well known Taiwanese internet entrepreneurs. The issue is that they founded a startup, left Taiwan and never came back. One of the most important things about having a startup ecosystem is that they come back and invest through angel investment dollars. That did not happen.”
Bao Bean’s second reason for Taiwanese startup stagnation is that hardware investors are “quite risk averse. In the early days of the internet, ten years ago, they did a couple of internet projects and ended up losing money. So they came to the conclusion that either their family lacks investment or the internet sucks.”…
Bao Bean and his MOX colleagues are trying to “encourage people to come back” to inject life into Taiwan’s startup ecosystem. “I pay for plane tickets and hotels for anybody who wants to come back and mentor for a few days,” he says.
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