By @SimonCocking. Interesting interview with Claire Chang

Your background?

I used to stuy and work in textile industry. Most of time I work with whole supply chain since Taiwanese are really good OEM. We help brands to manufacture many good quality products and ship around the world. When I studied my MSc degree in UK, I expanded my research interest to image processing.

After finishing my study in UK, I joined a team to set a whole new imaging lab in Taiwan. This lab is very important division to develop upgrade technology for industry. It is very important experience to do pioneer research for me.

I joined a startup after being as research memeber. This startup type is rare to see in the market. Our domain is colour. We had some unique solutions for our customers but also we created some tools for general people. When I worked in this startup, I had a chance to work in China for a year. This expat working life was very special. My office in Beijing was very close to a place where Chinese startups, makers and new technology developers work. It’s easy to meet a person who worked for startups or makers. I had chance to talk to them and learn from them.

Now, I am organising my own team to support startups in Taiwan. We will provide marketing strategy and product development consultant. The company will be launched soon.

How you found Web / Surf Summit?

As I mentioned, Taiwan is very good at OEM especially for electronic products. In the past years, Taiwan hosts a very big exhbition show “Computex” for buyers and manufactures. However, due to many reasons, this exhbition is not as shining as it was. This year, the organiser invited the founder of Web Summit, Paddy Cosgrave, to visit this show and give some suggestions. Paddy mentioned the way how they organise Web Summit. It really interested me and made me curious. I’ve been to MWC Barcelona early this year. I would like to see how different these shows could be.

Of course, these two shows are different. MWC is mainly focus on hardware and infrastructure. The ways they present is more traditional. Most of things they show were based on what we have now and these are “real” products. But for Web Summit, many startups, like ALPHA, their services or products are something in the air. These people have to put more effort to convince their audiences/investors to believe. I like the way they arranged for startups. They provided Pitch, Mentors time, and booth for demo. It is a very intensive ways for startups to present their ideas. Startups need to know exactly what they want to get from the show. Also, from these intensive schedules, they have to repeat their ideas thousands times, it’s a very good way to practice how to deliver their messages to audiences and get feedback to improve their products/services.
For Surf Summit, I would say it is really a brilliant idea to bring people who have similar interest closer. From this event, I met many people who have similar interests and talked more detail about possible projects. Not only good for business, but also nice to know this beautiful country.

What useful encounters came out of it?

Before coming to this event, I had setup a goal for myself. However, there were much more opportunities than I expected. For example,I met some startups who are interested in Asia market, it was really nice to know more and more people come to Asia and have chance to collaborate as well.

What’s your goal for Taiwanese startups?

Taiwan is a small island and has a very complicated situation with China. Many Taiwanese companies like to expand their markets in China because there are 1.3 billion people and their internet/mobile market grows very fast, and of course we could communicate by Mandarin Chinese. ASEAN is another big market in Asia. It will be another battle field in the coming future. Many startups go to Southeast Asia to test water. It would be a very good opportunity for Taiwanese startups because we have a geographic adavantage. I think it is time for Taiwanese startups to step out of the comfort zone. At Web Summit, I kept hearing people talked about collaboration and trust. I totally agree with it. We should leverage each others’ strenghth to have better perfomance. It’s teamwork times, I think it is not only to work with Taiwanese teams, but also people from different parts of world.

How was last 12 months?

I left my previous company in July because of my personal career plan. It was not easy to leave a team I worked with almost 10 years. I am interested in innovational technologies and startups for a while. I joined some groups and talked to some people/companies, I thought it’s time to do some changes. Sometimes, we just need to step out and test how good we could be.

Anything you’d do differently?

Start earlier? Maybe.

Tips for new startups?

Don’t be afraid to step out comfort zone. Try as much as you can to find the resources. It might be a surprise to find something you never think about.

Naming no names, what mistakes have you seen start ups make?

There is a very popular topic in town recently. A hardware team posted their idea to a crowdfunding website and raised USD 240,000 two years ago. At the begining, this team was very promising. But two year past, they delayed the delivery many times. Suddenly, one day, the sponsers realised they couldn’t get any information about this product. Of course people would be mad and try to find the one who should be responsible for this. Few days later, CEO posted a letter to appologize. He mentioned that they underestimated the developing cost and process. He asked sponsors to give the team more time to solve the problems. However, due to the “Bad communication”, the sponsors have no trust of this team. They started to claim their money back.

From this case, there are some points for startups. First, how to estimate the developing cost in a proper way. They could consult experts or ask for help from some professional organisations. They’d better to understand whole process of manufacturing their product and find good suppliers. Second, they need to have a marketing strategy and know who will buy their products. If they want to go to crowdfunding, they need to operate it carefully. People could help you to achieve your dream but they could also make you down. Third, communication skill is very important. If they could communicate with their sponsors in early stage and be honest, the situation wouldn’t go worse.

Of course there are many things I can talk about it, but it would be too long. I’d better stop here.

Future trends you’re excited about?

IoT is a hot issue now. But it still takes sometime to achive an ideal way. In the future world, Health Tech and IoT would be important especially aged society is happening now. It would be a very exciting thing to see how health tech change our world. It will need not only software technology or hardware technology but also medical knowledge and user experices to get involved.

What’s next for you?

I just started my business. The next step we will take is to bring Taiwanese startup to global market.

How do you manage life / work /online / offline?

2014 was a very important year for me. Before 2014, I worked as a workholic, 24 hours stand by. It is very common to see in Taiwan. But when I saw one of our team members was sick and passed away, I realised it’s time to make some change. Now, my work gives me more freedom, every Sunday is family day, no e-mails or phone calls. I found myself become happier and have more quality time for family.

Anything else to add / we should have asked?

As an island country, I think both for Ireland and Taiwan encounter the same situation. We want to expand our market overseas but also bring people in Taiwan. It will be a sustainable eco system for startups.

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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