Friday, June 26, 2009

The end of another year

After a long hard-working year where there has been very little time to do much else. We reach the stage where it's possibly the last time the whole class will be together. Lot's of people will be going away on their exchange in the Autumn (Fall to you USA English speakers), and some people will not be returning to Hong Kong afterwards.
Earlier in March, me and my team went to San Francisco to attend the Business Plan Competition. We didn't fare so well, but the experience was worth the journey. Having your plan assessed by real Venture Capitalists, rather than academics gives a different perspectives from the entreprenurial point of view. A lot of the classroom exercises and teachings are from the VC point of view, rather than from the business starter, so you can't always apply the same valuation methodologies. One thing for sure, any valuation of a non-operational start-up, is usually made-up. How can you value a company that is not operational, does not have customers, and draws in no revenue? This part of the pitching exercise I found most interesting, because selling the concepts and business models are important, and most importantly is whether the investor trusts you as the person who will execute the plan.

Ideas are ten a penny, the capability to execute the idea succesfully is what investors are looking for. Therefore a combination of a killer idea with an exceptional operational team is the ideal make-up for a start-up.

As for myself, I will be going to Berkeley on exchange to finish off my MBA, and at the same time, trying to start up a business in China with a couple of classmates. For sure the thing which is most valuable for me from my time as HKUST is the diversity of the class.

Friday, April 17, 2009

HKUST Entrepreneurship Club - Enrichment Talk by Roger King

Nice talk overall by Roger King (See bio here) organized by the MBA Entrepreneurship Club. Roger is an Adjunct Prof at HKUST-Kellogg eMBA who teaches Entrepreneurship and Family Businesses, has worked on several family businesses, headed companies such as SASA and Pacific Coffee and has had a pretty interesting career. I'd heard him speak the last time about Pacific Coffee and it wasn't very inspiring I must say. Partly because that wasn't his best (he will say luckiest phase) although he did end up making a good chunk of money on it.

Some takeaways:

  1. Look for a rich father-in-law who will fund your ventures and allow you to use his strong network. :-) I was all ears!!! ;-)

  2. Always keep an eye out for your exit strategy. His reasoning for why he chose to exit Pacific Coffee was that they had a few failed attempts at growth thanks to an overzealous person-in-charge, Starbucks had come in a few years back and was expanding quite fast and he just didn't see the kind of growth that he wanted. Around the time came a rich realty focused conglomerate looking to expand into F&B.

  3. His narration of how he negotiated a deal with SASA to pay for his services as CEO in share options (over a three year period) instead of funds was intriguing. Again Negotiation rule 101 - there's always a Win-Win option. Need to use this in my negotiation on the Zeopane patent transfer with HKUST TTC later this week.