Date
15 October 2018
The would-be startup founders should be as unbiased as possible in making a critical assessment of the resources they can marshal and other factors that will determine the outcome of their endeavor. Photo: Reuters
The would-be startup founders should be as unbiased as possible in making a critical assessment of the resources they can marshal and other factors that will determine the outcome of their endeavor. Photo: Reuters

The $64 question facing startup founders and would-be founders

As StartmeupHK (http://www.startmeup.hk/), Hong Kong’s annual flagship startup event, gets set for its 2018 lineup of programs and events later this month, we examine a core question that underlies the very startup process: deciding to pursue the startup path.

In the last several years, Hong Kong has been catching up with the worldwide startup trend. For a place not historically known for startup activities, it is now socially acceptable to pursue startup as a career. That’s all good. But the high mortality rate among startups is a fact. Most startups eventually would not be able to make it to the promised land. For their founders, the risk of failure could be high, and this carries numerous implications such as financial and opportunity costs.

So for many would-be founders, the $64 question is: Should I take the plunge or not? How do I make a wise decision to avoid regrets or financial ruin? This is not something individuals should take lightly.

The calculus should start with a hard look at the likelihood of success of the idea and the various resources at hand. The would-be founder should be dead honest, and try to be as unbiased as possible in making a critical assessment of the resources he can or has marshalled, cogency of the solution to a significant problem facing humanity or a specific sector thereof, the strength of IP, uniqueness of the innovation, founding team completeness, execution abilities, market size and access, appeal to prospective investors… in other words, the whole gamut of criteria for evaluating a startup.

Of course, in addition to self-examination, a better, more objective source will be evaluation by disinterested third parties. The intending founder should listen not only to his family and friends, but also seek out and talk to as many knowledgeable people in the relevant industry, experienced entrepreneurs and professionals as he can, for their honest opinions on the viability and competitiveness of the proposed business.

Caveat here: do be defensive about saying too much especially to non-trusted parties, or you risk divulging your valuable trade secrets.

Based on all these inputs, you should carefully weigh them against your own gut feel or conviction. Going through this process should be the first threshold every entrepreneur should do, to justify his decision to go, or not go.

– Contact us at [email protected]

RT/CG

Partner of Nixon Peabody CWL; Director and Legal Advisor, AAMA PRD Chapter; author of Angel Financing In Asia Pacific – a Guidebook for Investors and Entrepreneurs

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