Planning a world-class tech startup
Article based on studying billionaires, billion dollar companies and basics from some personal experience
Most Singaporeans are clueless about building a large-scale startup, because there are simply too few examples around in Singapore to have much knowledge on proven successful entrepreneurship formulas to pass down to other Singaporean entrepreneurs; or at least for those who are not in the entrepreneurship scene in Singapore, it's very hard to obtain such information in our risk-averse environment.
While the US has its own Silicon Valley with many tech giants, Europe with its Rocket Internet, China with the likes of Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu; South Korea with a strong Google-like competitor Naver (also owns Line messenger app, Line translator, Line chinese-thai-english multilingual dictionary website) and Japan with its very high-tech Softbank providing sale of assistant robots and likely to be the next Microsoft, Singapore doesn't have much technopreneurship examples to learn from, other than Garena and Carousell. (I'm not affiliated with both). [Edit: GushCloud and NuffNang are two other very prominent internet companies based in Singapore, especially GushCloud with its yearly Influence Asia awards show.]
I'm not a professional tech writer, nor have I built a million or billion dollar company yet, but based on my binge-watching experience of video interviews of billionaires and documentaries, articles on billion dollar companies for the last near-3 years as well as some interactions with non-tech multimillionaires and VCs, I think I might know a little more than the normal population. Might be good information to share with starters or those considering entrepreneurship, but take my article lightly then think through my points in your own terms because my theories may be wrong.
To build a large-scale business from scratch, you need to design your business right from the start to make maximum use of "leverage", leveraging anything that can push your business to the highest level. That includes anything from automating your operations, outsourcing overseas to lower your operation or development costs; getting available business grants and sourcing for OPM (other people's money in Robert Kiyosaki's terminology) from wealthy investors to hop onboard your company.
Think of it this way, when you're starting up a company, you're actually doing something for your country, which may include creating new job opportunities, earning money from abroad channeling back into your country which also means directly improving your country's economy. It is as noble as any civil service job such as being doctors, lawyers, soldiers, police, nurses, or teachers. You are the catalyst for your country's economy — only if you leverage your business enough to be that impactful.
To maximise leveraging your new world-class tech startup, your new company should:
- Have a development team or a single solid web/app developer that can create your minimum viable product (MVP) or a fully-built product.
- Thereafter, to assemble an operations team. Preferably co-founders. Anything that falls under this operations team can include sub groups such as a marketing manager, user-acquisition staff, sales people, customer support staff etc. Recruitment is also the tricky part. As you're a new company, you got to find highly motivated co-founding partners or employees who are very motivated to contribute more and at a much faster pace than those who may be just assigned to a fixed routine job in a large company. You want to find group of leaders, who will want to be part of your new company's success and not see it as just another job. As much as possible, you will want to work on the founder-level; setting up the working environment that is needed, tweaking policies, getting fundings and hiring the right people. I say this with my own experience. You will need two or three useful skills on the operational side (sales, marketing and product development?), but after that you should focus as much as possible on the founder-level to avoid spending too much time on the less important stuff. If you hire and partner up with the right people to lead different areas of your business while passing to them some successful methods that you tested and proven before, theoretically, that should take care of most other parts of the company operations.
- Fund raisers & lawyers — Now you want to leverage on the monetary capital of your company. The average and the majority of people in this world do not have much savings so most of the time you shouldn't see most people as potential investors. There is a wealth inequality out there, with top 1% owning 50% of all the money in the world. S$10,000 could be a big investment sum to most individuals while it could be extremely little for big organisations and VCs. From what I know, most startups start with a valuation of at least S$1 million, and gets seed funding from between S$50,000 to higher sums like S$100,000 to S$1 million base on the potential of your startup team, usually for 5% to 10% stake in your company. Do not sell yourself low on this. You have the ideas, you have the time, they have the money, don't have the time. Now you want to build your team to execute and scale your ideas, it's a win-win situation. Do not be afraid to tap to a higher level of network and do not think you're inferior. There's a saying that goes "Think. Be. Do". Once you reach the right level of productivity and mental state, you will be able to accomplish things more easily. To find the right investors onboard, you should be finding the ones with money and the big companies out there which are interested in your company's vision. But before that, do also consider other business grants options available in your country.
Many would prefer to go without investment dollars at all, those work for small-scale businesses that can see immediate profits month on month. For large-scale businesses and especially technology startups, if you look at all the successful ones like Facebook, Microsoft, Alibaba and Uber, creating new shares and selling equity to raise more funds regularly to a larger company each time is part of the game.
End of the day, you really need to believe in your own vision of your company, because if you don't, who will? All the best for your entrepreneurship journey!
(P.S. I'll be applying my own theories to my own startup ideas)
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