Thursday, March 15, 2012

Startup Asia Tips for Entrepreneurs: Kai-Fu Lee

The following is an excerpt from my Startup Asia interview with Kai-Fu Lee, founder of Innovation Works, in China. Based on his experience as former president of Google China and now head of his own incubator and venture fund in Beijing, he shares three key lessons for the next generation of Chinese entrepreneurs.

Startup Asia writer Rebecca Fannin with
Kai-Fu Lee of Innovation Works

Any advice for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs coming up in China?
My first advice is don’t think your idea will change the world, but understand the trend. That’s much more important. If you are growing in an explosively growing trend, you just have to do a good job and it will take you to the top. And if you are in a flat trend and you think are going to do something that will kill all the competitors, I think that is going against the wind and not productive. The trend is your friend.
The second trend is focus and simplify.
The entrepreneurs are all smart and they all want to do everything. They have a new idea every day, a new product, a new feature, a new market. The model to develop new companies — especially new Internet companies — is to build something simple and target a very small group of people and then experiment and grow from there. The lean startup process, for example.
The third thing is, don’t go it alone.
So many Chinese entrepreneurs want to be that big boss. That is very Chinese to want to be the big boss, and everybody is your underling. But in the road to build a startup it is so challenging and lonely and there are so many downers, you want a partner who can encourage you and work with you and help lift each other up to go through the troubles. And you also want someone whose skill set complements you, and who has implicit strong trust with you to take it to the next level. Almost all our entrepreneur proposals are a one-person show. I would encourage more two or even three people working together.
See the Startup Asia video for other out-takes from my interview with Kai-Fu Lee, who by the way, wrote the foreword to my latest book, Startup Asia. Stay tuned next for his view on serial entrepreneurs, which happens to be the theme of our Silicon Dragon Beijing 2012 event on May 31.
Read more posts at Forbes.