Tips for Taiwanese Startups Who Aim to the Globe: Be Positive and Believe You Can Change the World

Author: Yuning Chang, Translator: Abner Chen, Editor: Yunchieh Tsou

Founders Space, having been included in the Forbes’ article “7 Leading Accelerators For Overseas Startups Coming To Silicon Valley”, is one of the best pathways for foreign startups trying to find their way into Silicon Valley. They have also been an active advocator of China’s development and key player of startup education in Europe.

Located in the center of Asia, Taiwan has been culturally influenced by Japan up North, and is within easy access to China in the West. It is also an important strategic location for those planning on going south to Southeast Asia. With deep roots in both manufacturing production chains and producing semiconductors, Taiwan has been one of Founders Space’s main locations for growing startups in Asia.

Founder Steve Hoffman, a serial entrepreneur and also angel investor in Silicon Valley, has invested in startups spanning more than ten different categories. In 2010, with “Education” and ”Globalization” as the two main pillars, he founded Founders Space in hopes of further opening up relationships between foreign accelerators and local governments.

Founders Space believes that “Innovation does not have to happen in Silicon Valley,” considering the differing circumstances that foreign teams may have, they offer a one-month intense startup acceleration course with plentiful online lessons, and a twelve-month mentor counselling program. Their flexible services have made them a favorite among foreign startups, and they also boast connections with over 1200 American investors, largely thanks to founder Steve Hoffman’s contacts in Silicon Valley.

Being one of the top accelerators in Silicon Valley, TechOrange’s chief editor Chang sits down for a chat with Steve Hoffman on his recent visit to Taipei, and dives into the daily operations and objectives of Founder Space, and to understand his mission on educating entrepreneurs worldwide and how globalization has changed the landscape of startups. The following is an unabridged transcript of the conversation.

TechOrange’s chief editor Chang (short form Chang): I read an article on Forbes that says Founders Space is one of the top accelerators in Silicon Valley, what element makes Founders Space so special?

The founder of Founders Space, Steve Hoffman(short form Hoffman): We were the number one for startups coming overseas to Silicon Valley, because our focus has always been global. There are other incubator and accelerators that are very good, like Y Combinator, but to join YC you have to relocate your company to Silicon Valley and incorporate here in the America.

Our philosophy is different, we believe in global incubation, so our focus has not been bringing everyone here to be American companies, but to incubate and accelerate all around the world, that’s a huge difference between us and other very good ones. The other thing we do that makes us different is that we send our instructor all around the world. We send our instructors to Taiwan all the time, and we work with TIEC and III as really good partners. We also send our instructor to Korea, Japan but we haven’t focused on Singapore yet.

Chang: What other countries does Founders Space go to?

Hoffman: Well we do a lot in China, it’s vibrant there, a lot of capital and a lot of startups there. We do a lot in Europe too, we work with Germany, France, Austria, Czech Republic, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium all these countries. Our instructors often go to our partners, their incubators, accelerators or their government programs and train startups there how we would train them here in Silicon Valley. So they can understand how we innovate, how we come up with products, how we test the market, all those things we do well here in Silicon Valley. So basically, we got to number one because of our focus on education.

Entrepreneurs are not geniuses, Education in Needed to Face Market Challenges

Chang: So you mentioned that education is an important element, could you explain what education startups need?

Hoffman: Education is the number one criteria we focus on. There are many incubators and accelerators around the world, a lot of them just give startups space, they’re like co-working space. Startups have a lot of options in space and capital, but if they don’t learn how to use the money, when they get money from the government, venture capitals or angel investors, they’ll just spend it all and have nothing to show. So we are really focused on how to educate startups so that they understand how to figure out their business, how to come up with new products, how to develop that and take it to market, and really know if it’s going to work and test the market in advance. So that has been our strength, and why we spread so fast around the world; in doing that, we form different relationships with governments, incubators, and startup organizations around the world. Not only startups need education, governments also need a new leading method to help entrepreneurs.

Chang: What role do you think the government should play in incubating the environment for startups?

Hoffman: So I think it’s very important for the government to play a role. I think they need to play a central role in helping grow the ecosystem, bringing in the right partners, educating their startups, and forming relationships around the world for startups to access to new markets and new talent, I think these are all critical for government to play. The Taiwanese government has put in a lot of effort, and I thinks it’s a great process. The Taiwanese government asked me questions like: What kinds of relations do we need to make? What programs should or should not a government do? I told them that a government should educate their startups.

Chang: Educate the teams instead of investing them directly?

Hoffman: I said they should put a little money into startups in stages, not just hand them a lot of money. Because without a lot of education, they may not know what to do. So the government should focus on educating startups, how to make relationships with key strategic players and start investing in startups. But only a little bit in the beginning, only when they start to go,  then you put more and more money into it, and after that, the market takes over. When I was in Singapore, they gave startups a lot of money without educating them, and a lot of them just spent the money, nothing happened. After thinking it through, I thought it would be good to match you funding to certain goals, not just giving them the money; like you get selected into programs like Founders Space, make certain strategic relationships, reach a certain amount of revenue, or get venture capital and we match it, those type of goals can be good.

Chang: To push them?

Hoffman: Yeah, and to know your money is not wasted, that they actually achieved something. Taiwan has a unique niche market.

Chang: So will Founders Space consider setting a space in Taiwan?

Hoffman: Taipei? Yes, we’re in talking right now with TIEC and III and others. We don’t have a date yet, we’re figuring out all the details. Our goal is to set up in the major countries, we’re in talks now in Japan, Germany. So gradually when all the pieces come together, we will have connections all around the world. Even in the locations, we haven’t set up our own Founders Space, we go to our partners who have been building and everything, we will work and collaborate with them.

Taiwan is actually pretty similar to Silicon Valley when you do business. It’s much easier to do business in Taiwan for an American than in China. China is rough and tumble, you have to be very careful. But there’s a lot of capital and opportunities in China, so we still do business there. We’re now one of the leading foreign institutions that work in China, but still, it’s tricky.

Chang: Is it tricky because of the market size? Or the culture?

Hoffman: It’s not tricky because of the market size. How they do business is just very different from Taiwan and Korea. You really have to understand how they do things. It’s easier for a western to do business in Taiwan, it’s clear. In China, you have to figure everything out, but we’re doing pretty well. So, we have a really close relationship with the government in China, just like they way we have in Taiwan, Japan and Korea. For us, working with the government is really important, especially in China, you can’t do anything without the government.

Taiwan has a Lot of Advantages, but Lack of Confidence Can Be Fatal

Chang: What are the factors that you find Taiwanese startups have?

Hoffman: Chinese startups tend to be very aggressive, they want to get the money, get the market. Taiwanese startups are more polite, not as aggressive. I think they’re good, I think Taiwanese startups are more aggressive than Korea ones, but not so aggressive than Chinese. Taiwanese startups tend to cultural fit here in Silicon Valley, no problem for them to adapt here. Taiwan has a lot of experts in hardware and semiconductors, but not enough in software. So I really want to see more expertise in software coming out of Taiwan, because the future is software. Hardware is still important, but software is where most of the value is being put in. So I want to see more software startups coming out of Taiwan, I want to see a little more creativity.

Chang: Taiwan is not creative enough?

Hoffman: Well, somewhat. But they can be more creative, there is room for improvement.

Chang: Is it because they are too polite?

Hoffman: No, a lot of young people say they want to join in big company, they want to follow what everyone does, instead of going on their own path, away from everybody else.

Chang: What kind of training or lessons do you give the Taiwanese startups? Like, help them gain confidence?

Hoffman: This is a very nice question. In general, startup founders tend to have more confidence than the average Taiwanese people. So I also want to see more optimism, when I go to Taiwan, I often hear everybody say, including government officials to business leaders, to startup founders, we need to work harder because things are really bad here in Taiwan. I hear that over and over and I believe that you hear that all the time too. So I think they need to be more optimistic.

Chang: I think this is a kind of culture.

Hoffman: That what I’m saying. But that psychology is not right for an entrepreneur. They’ve done studies, and the most successful entrepreneurs are overly optimism. They see optimism everywhere, even when it doesn’t exist. Because if you don’t, you end up giving up too soon. So if Taiwan is going to succeed as an entrepreneurial society, they need to train themselves to be positive thinkers.
The first lesson for Taiwan entrepreneurs: Be optimistic, believe that your product can change the world

Chang: So is this the first lesson for Taiwanese entrepreneurs?

Hoffman: Yeah, my first lesson to them is, the future is bright you can do it. Taiwan can be the most innovative hub in the world. But to get there, it up to you. In order to get there, we have to believe we can do it and believe that we have a lot of advantages others don’t have, like international culture, relations with Silicon Valley, Japan, China, Southeastern Asia, we have a lot of advantages. We have huge hardware industry, some of the biggest corporates in the world, we can do it. We’ve done it once, and we can do it again, I don’t want to hear any negatives. that’s the first lesson I give to Taiwanese startups.

Chang: OK, then what is the next lesson?

Hoffman: Then we teach them how we innovate here in Silicon Valley. I just wrote a book on innovating that will be published in China. Hopefully, if you know any good publishers in Taiwan, let me know because I want to get it in Taiwan. The book has a lot of my ideas that you’re kind of scratching the surface here, but in much more detail on how we train startups, how we do everything. You can tell that I’m really passion about this, I do this because I really love this.

Chang: I can really feel it.

Hoffman: That’s why I founded it just for fun, it wasn’t going to be my job, I was going to do another startup but then this became my startup. Now, it’s more fun because I can travel all over the world which I love doing, and work with creative people, get in all these ideas.

Founders Space Strategy for Rapid Global Expansion: Use Education as a Stepping Stone

Chang: In Forbes, they mentioned that every accelerator has its own ecosystem, culture and networks. Can you describe what ecosystem Founders Space have?

Hoffman: Most of our ecosystems is built around Silicon Valley. We do that because we started here, we have our headquarters here, and we built a very strong ecosystem here, but we’ve been working on tying that ecosystem together, inversing the gap of different ecosystems around the world. So we see there are many innovations hubs around the world, like Taiwan is a great innovation hub around hardware and semiconductors but now it’s maturing, Israel is an innovation hub for software and security, Germany is an innovation hub for manufacturing, London has been an innovation hub for fintech, and Hong Kong too has the potential. So we are looking to bridge all different kinds of ecosystems, and when a startup comes to Founders Space, they may come here to San Francisco, or China, it depends on what they want. They may go to Shenzhen if it’s hardware, semiconductors for Taiwan, fintech for England. Our kind of mission is to give startups many choices around the world, and that’s a big difference between us and other ones, we’re very international.From day one, our goal was to educate and go global.

Chang: So to go global, what do you have to do when you formed your Founders Space team?

Hoffman: We formed very organically, we started off just me and my partner, and we brought in more partners into our teams, instructors, mentors, and it just kept growing and growing. As because Founders Space has a very good reputation, we started to have people all over the world coming to Silicon Valley, and came to us to partner. So most of our relationships formed by people who came to Silicon Valley and asked us how to work with us. Some of these partners are deeper, while others are much shallower.

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Chang: How do you maintain your relationships with partners all over the world?

Hoffman: I would say that Taiwan, China, Korea and Austria are the ones we have deeper relationships with. We’re now working very closely with TIEC and III, and we are putting more and more time into Taiwan. If you look at other relations like Brazil, we haven’t done much there, and like India, kind of just beginning.

Chang: What make you choose to work deeply or shallowly with you partner? Does it depend on the aggressiveness of the partner?

Hoffman: It depends on a number of things. Some of it is what our partners want to do. Some of our partners are happy just sending startups to us, they don’t need or don’t have the budget for us to send our instructor there. We have a three-month online program, so for three months, startups can study online, getting videos, or course materials sent to them, and some of them only want this three-month program. It really varies, some of our startups only want us to visit once or twice, while others may want a more comprehensive program. Honestly, we can’t do everything at once, it’s just too many, so we tend to put our focus on our existing partners, spending more time on them. When a new partner goes on board, we will start working with they when we have the extra capacity.

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Chang: You just mentioned earlier that in 2011 most of the teams come from Europe or Silicon Valley, but in recent years, there are more and more startups coming from Asia, is that a change to describe globalization?

Hoffman: I think Asia is exploding right now with startups, Asia is really focused on creating their startup ecosystem. I spend 60 or 70 percent of my time travelling, and I spend most of that in Asia, it’s one of our strongest relationships right now.
Asia countries have been more aggressive, and also we formed a better relationship and our name has gotten out in Asia. In China we’re very famous, everybody knows us. When something gets going, more opportunities keep coming. China is just exploding right, now. I travel to China, to meet with the leadership there, speaking at two different conferences, and only be there for about five days. Then I come back to Silicon Valley to speak at a big for here, and then I go back to another city in China.

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Chang: Is there any accelerators doing the same thing as you? When you founded Founders Space, was your goal being a global accelerator?

Hoffman: There are others that do that, that are going global, some of them do not have as much training lessons as us, they usually focus more on coworking spaces or something similar to that.

Chang: You just mentioned that one of your philosophy is very different from YC. What reason do you think you chose this philosophy of not making foreign startups American companies?

Hoffman: We don’t mind if they want to, we just don’t require it, many startups who come here sets operations here in Silicon Valley, but if they don’t want to, they can go back to Taiwan. Because there are other big markets in the world like Europe is a big market, so they may want to target Europe and you do that by being in Europe, but meanwhile they may still want to make some connections, raise capital here in Silicon Valley.

South America has also become a big market, Asia is already a big market like Japan, India. India is a big market with a lot of unicorns there, China is an enormous market. So, our job is to bridge all these markets, not just saying you have to come to Silicon Valley to succeed, but you can come and we fully support you. We’ve recently launched Founders Space in China, our headquarters is in Shanghai.

Chang: Are all the mentors from China or?

Hoffman: We have mentor and staffs that are Chinese, but we also bring over our Silicon Valley people to teach. Shorter times for the mentors from Silicon Valley, but permanently for our partner there in China. So our Chinese partners and staff live in China, they’re Chinese. We’ll be opening in Shenzhen, Hangzhou in the coming years.

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Chang: What is the standard of the teams you choose to join in your program?

Hoffman: We look at a lot of things. First, we look at the team, we want to see a strong team, whose founder and teams may find a job in Google, Facebook, who are really talented but chose to do this startup.
Chang: So the background of the team members have to match certain standard?

Hoffman: Even if they just got out of college, people who could have gotten a good job but chose not to take the job because they believed in their startup, not because they’re not employed, and they just needed a job; or they just have an idea, but not really qualified. Also, we don’t just look at the CEO, but who surrounds the CEO.

A great CEO never builds a startup alone, like Zuckerberg didn’t build Facebook alone. When you look at the co-founder, they can tell you more about the CEO that anybody else. If the CEO picked very strong co-founders on their team, you can be sure that the CEO has some ability. First of all, if they had a weak co-founder, why did you pick them? Is it because you’re not good at picking people? Because if you’re not good at picking people, you’re not going to succeed, because picking people is your number one job. If you want to build a billion dollar company, you have to pick the best people around the world. Or could you not attract good people? If you couldn’t attract good people, is it because your idea is really bad? Or is it because you have a personality problem, and nobody wants to work with you. All those are signs that a startup has problems. So that’s why the team is so important.

We also look at the market, it has to be in a position to grow into a big market. It could start to be a small market, but it has to have to path to become a big market, otherwise not venture will be interested. If the market’s too small, they can only be a small business, which is fine, but it’s just not what we do.

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Chang: So entrepreneurs have to target global market or bigger market in the beginning?

Hoffman:Asia market is a big market, as long as it’s an at least billion dollar market.

Chang: So teams in Taiwan, can they just think about the Taiwan market?

Hoffman: It’s too small.

Chang: So they have to think about the Asia market?
Hoffman: Yeah, the Asia market, they can target Southeast Asia, China, Japan, American or Europe. But they have to be beyond Taiwan, I’m sorry, Taiwan is just too small. Taiwan is like couple cities, good cities, big cities, but still not big enough for most venture capitals. Definitely not enough for Silicon Valley ventures. Maybe a Taiwanese venture would do it, but there expecting a small exit for a small market.

Steve Hoffman: Walk Away from Startups Who Cannot Describe Their Customers

Hoffman: We look at a good CEO, that has to understand their customers.

Chang: So they need to know what market they want.

Hoffman: Right, because if you don’t understand the customer, how are you going to sell a product to them? You just have to get lucky. So, one of the first questions I ask startup founders is: Who are your customers? Tell me about you customers. So, if a startup founder comes to me and says my customers are women, I would just walk away, I won’t even invest or help them, do you know why?

Chang: Because they have to describe what kind of women and why they need this product.

Hoffman: Yes! You’re very smart. So women isn’t enough, they have to tell me whether it’s women living in the suburban or out of the countryside? Are the women teenage girls or middle-aged housewives? What kind of car do they drive? Where do they shop? What kinds of movie do they watch? I want you to know you customers, and why they buy your products. If you know your customers, you’ll make just the right product for them. If you don’t you usually fail. So they have to know their customers. I also want a person on the team that understands the latest technology and is able to use that to change the market. You can’t compete head to head with whoever is in the market already, you have to have a strategic advantage. So how you get that kind of advantage? Well, usually technology gives you a way to open up the market, a way that the others cannot compete.

Attention entrepreneurs: You product has to be ten times better than the current product.

Chang: You mean their product has to have some kind or technology or disruptive innovation?

Hoffman: Yes, it can be disruptive or open up a new market that nobody has had, or can add enough value. But it has to be a lot better than what is available. Little better, than nobody changes, it has to be the order of magnitude better, like ten times better. If it’s ten times better than people will be like “”Oh yeah! I want that product.” So we want to see that at a startup. We want to see startups know something that other people in that market haven’t figured out yet. So we call it “Secret Sauce”. What secret sauce do you have that none of you competitor does, and tell me why your product will succeed. So that is another critical point.

Usually, for almost every product on the market, you have to offer some value to you customers that you competitors haven’t offered. If you think about it, you use Line as you chatting applications, if somebody comes out with another chatting application, you’re not going to change.

The only reason you’ll adapt that chatting application is when it offers you something different than Line. If they really do something different that you really need it, then you’ll change. We’re always looking for that, we want them to tell us what you do differently than you competitors, what have you figured out. And if it’s really compelling, then we’ll go to the customers themselves and ask them what do they think about the product, and if they are super excited, then we’re interested.

Chang: So according to your experience, what is the percentage of teams coming to you that have this kind of characteristic?

Hoffman: Usually, they don’t have everything, it’s hard for them to have everything that we described. But if we think they have potential to get there, we will help them.

Chang: Even if their product or technology is not so unique?

Hoffman: Yes.

Chang: But you think that they may go to develop that kind of characteristic.

Hoffman: We think if you can get there, we will help them. Basically what we do is we look at all the startups, we know we had to get rid of at least 90 percent of them. We look at these criteria for example: the market’s too small, they’re out; they don’t have a good team, they’re out.

Chang: So the teams have to match all the criteria?

Hoffman: No, sometimes if all the other elements are strong but their product isn’t very special, we help can them find their unique value, we’ll take them on.

Chang: So the team is the most important criteria?

Hoffman: Usually that’s our number because the team can change the product, but the product and market can’t change the team, every can change but not the team, that why we always say in Silicon Valley that the team is the most important part.

Future Technology Trends: Gene, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics

Chang: You just said that when a startup targets some kind of market, venture capitals will see how big their market is and how the market can potentially grow. What kinds of topics do you think will be the trend in about 5 to 10 years?

Hoffman: Good question. Ten years is a long time, we didn’t even know what virtual reality was at that time..

Chang: Maybe 3 or 5 years in the future.

Hoffman: OK. We are constantly looking at new technologies, and how they have the potential to change the world or market. Technologies get old quickly, so we saw many technologies that were popular a while ago aren’t doing much right now. So there were a lot of innovation in Silicon Valley around virtual currency, like bitcoin, that went away very quickly.

There’s a lot of innovation around wearables, now it’s very hard to get any wearables, after all, you just have two wrists, and the market is already dominated Apple Google and a few others, so that market is pretty much taken unless you have a really unique device or it’s just so much better. You look at new markets like AI, big data, robotics, fintech, they’re all very hot right now, entrepreneurs can still use them to create new things. DNA editing, it’s a whole new area that’s taking off. We are always looking for new things that using those technologies, that will open up a business and do it in a new way. I can’t tell you a few years from now what would be hot, but I have some ideas about what is coming. So I think chips embedded in our body would be a big one.

Chang: Why?

Hoffman: Because of the power of a chip in your body. They already have chips they embedded in a monkey’s brain, they can just by thinking, control a robotic arm and make that arm grab a banana for them so they can eat. Isn’t that amazing! A wireless chip in their brain.

Chang: Can they control the monkeys to do things?

Hoffman:The monkey can control a robotic arm just by thinking, A monkey can drive a small car just by thinking.

Chang: For some people who are seriously injured, who cannot move their body can do a lot of things just by thinking.

Hoffman:Yeah! Like Stephen Hawkings, he can’t move stuff but they’ll be able to move things, to talk just by thinking. So, for a medical view, it’s huge, people with Alzheimers, maybe you can help them; but even for actuating us to be smarter, I don’t have to pull out my phone, I just have to think about it.

Chang: So we become like robots?

Hoffman:Yeah, they have invented a new nanorobots that they can inject into your blood stream. The problem was that they can inject it but that could move it around. Now that have invented a power source, a nano power source that can be controlled through the body, and put them where they want. They can kill cancer cells, or do all sorts of things. And the have ingestible robots, that you swallow and goes through you digest systems.

Chang: Is this a material technology?

Hoffman:Well, some of it is material, and some of it is just putting stuff together. There are chips they put into people’s body that they regulate diabetes, blood pressure all these different conditions.

Chang: So you still need to combine this with data programming technology?

Hoffman:Yes, there will be software, wireless, it’s going to be amazing. And that’s just the beginning, with augmented reality, we’ll be able to go through spaces and interact. Like you could be in Taiwan and me in the States, but we could still interact and you would look no difference, all you need is to wear glasses or eventually without glasses. There are all kinds of technology emerging, which will absolutely change everything, how we live our lives, how businesses operate. So you know sensor going into everything, sensors on assembly lines to make factories more efficient, sensors in offices controlling communications and data between coworkers, sensors in restaurants that will know what you want to eat the second you enter the restaurant, preorder it and it’ll be ready for you.

Chang: Is this concept outside IoT?

Hoffman: That will be under IoT. It’ll be scary because we have no privacy, but wherever we go, things will be happening already. So if I am late for a meeting, I’ve already alerted everyone that I’ll be late, when I show up everything will be organized. Or as soon as you decide to go abroad on your calendar, a robot will go and find you the cheapest air ticket and send it to you, you’ll only need to get on they plane, you don’t need to order or search for the best price or timing.

Chang: Do you think that we’re in a great revolution?

Hoffman: Yeah, of course. With the gene splicing technology, we’re going to create new species of plants and animals in a more accelerated pace. In the future, small startups will be able to do it, you don’t have to be Monsanto. You can buy CRISPR gene spicing kit for only 800 dollars, and do it in you home, you can create new animals and plants in your house, for 800 dollars, it’s absolutely amazing. It’s only a matter of time before we start designing our next generation of human beings, and these human beings will be super smart and be resistance to cancer, diabetes, and they’ll live for hundreds of years. We can design this if we wanted to, with genetic splicing. We’ll power impact our species, it’s impact is beyond what we can imagine. And if you start connecting them with brain chips and other technology, you get into a world where science fiction is reality. So to me, the money is not that important, it’s what we do that is important.

Chang: The teams you have contacted, is there any teams that work in this kind of area? Gene splicing or something like that?

Hoffman:Yeah, one of our startup uses CRISPR to do gene modification to make new pharmaceuticals. They are called Intelligenomics, and they’re from Taiwan, I think they’re great. Entrepreneurs have to read a lot, only by self-education can you achieve success.

Chang: Do you think innovating is a kind of skill, not trained. Because here in Taiwan, many people think that innovating is for geniuses.

Hoffman:I think innovating can absolutely be trained. Most of the great geniuses you see were very smart, but there are a lot of smart people around the world, but they were very self-training. Like Elon Musk, he read every book he could get his hands on, as a kid he read the whole encyclopaedia, constantly educating himself. He isn’t so smart because he was born with it, he had not just the intelligent but the drive and the ability to learn and absorb knowledge. You look at Steve Jobs, he reads everything, people don’t have ideas from nowhere, they have to educate themselves. So you need to be smart at some kind of threshold, but on top of that, you need to educate yourself, or you need to seek out education. That’s why I read a new book every single week, sometimes two.

Chang: 1 to 2 every week, so you read at least 52 books a year?

Hoffman:Yes, that’s my goal every year, and I love it. But I don’t just read business books, I read poetry, science fiction, history, sciences and others. I’m curious.

Chang: So is curiosity a good character?

Hoffman:I think it’s one of the most important characters, because you want to be a visionary entrepreneur. That’s why I love this job, I’m always learning from startups founders, so it’s interesting to me. So I think education is absolutely critical for startup founders, it can turn a very smart person who is a good entrepreneur, into a great entrepreneur if they pursue it diligently.

Chang: My last Question is that what is the most common mistake does many talented and great startup teams fail?

Hoffman: They do so many things wrong. But the biggest thing they did wrong is to fall in love with their product. They shut off hearing because they love this and they think it’ll work. They can’t love their product, what they have to love is their customers. If they love their customer, and their customer loves their product then they may succeed. Not that you think you have a lot of vision and that your customers don’t understand.

原文連結: 台灣創業者進軍國際要點:請保持樂觀,相信自己可以改變世界──專訪矽谷加速器 Founders Space 創辦人 Steve Hoffman


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