What makes a successful entrepreneur?

By Claire Lynn - 21 December 2013

Hong Kong is still at an early stage in terms of high technology start-ups, when compared to places like Silicon Valley, Tel Aviv and Los Angeles, according to Dr Dominic Chan, Founder and Chief Consultant at Decisive Consulting.  The ecosystem is evolving slowly, he says, and to be successful entrepreneurs need to know how to find and manage a wide range of resources. Dr Chan is a guest speaker at a learning and networking event organised by the University of Cambridge’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL) based at Judge Business School.  The event is chaired by Mr Paul Lynch, Director for Trade and Investment, British Consulate-General Hong Kong.

Dr Chan, a Cambridge graduate was formerly a consultant with McKinsey & Company before becoming an entrepreneur.  He has been involved in many hi-tech start-ups including Englishtown (English language e-learning provider), Cedar Audio UK (Digital Signal Processing equipment) and solution) and SpikeCyberWorks (web-solution provider).

“I have been involved in a range of start-ups, some based on research from university, others with a solid tech team coming out from big hi-tech companies, some built the venture from scratch from a business idea, others spun-out from an established company or even listed company.

“Looking back at these ventures, there is no set-formula for success. In terms of people it is those who don't give up, who are passionate about their ideas and know how to find and manage all sorts of resources.  This could be human resources, financial investment or partners that will stick around long enough so that the company may turn many corners and finally see success down the road.”

Dr Joanna Mills is the Programme Director for the Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship at CfEL; she comments that the experiences of other entrepreneurs can be used to increase the success of business ideas.

“Cambridge has developed a mature entrepreneurial ecosystem and as a result there are many entrepreneurs at all stages.  We encourage the involvement of these entrepreneurial individuals as contributors to the Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship as they inspire, stimulate and challenge the students.

“A good idea isn’t enough on its own.  Students are encouraged to develop their business concept as an entrepreneurial project, where they have to validate the idea and build a financial case that impresses investors. This helps build the skills necessary to assess an idea objectively and to improve on the original concept.”

Dr Chan agrees, “Growing a start-up in Hong Kong meets with a lot of challenges. Typical investors in Hong Kong are looking for quick returns as they usually find that in the property and stock market. Hi-tech investment isn't something that everybody understands.

“Entrepreneurs can benefit tremendously by learning from other people's experience successes and failures. But sometimes, you have to be in a certain situation or similar circumstances before you can really appreciate it.  That is when the education and sharing become very relevant, because you are living the same experience.  I think it’s a benefit of the diploma is that it can be taken while people are working.”

CfEL’s new Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship, accredited by the University of Cambridge, includes three weeks of residential study interacting with Cambridge entrepreneurs and fellow students.  This collaborative experience continues within a ‘virtual learning environment’, which includes a programme of online lectures, and the chance to develop your own business concept with the support of mentors.

At the event entitled ‘Is Entrepreneurship a Contact Sport?’ which is being run in collaboration with the UK Trade and Investment and supported by the British Council, there will be an opportunity to hear Dr Chan discuss the entrepreneurial environment in Hong Kong and learn more about CfEL followed by networking and refreshments.

If you're interested in attending the event please register your interest by completing the online form so we can add you to our invite list and send more information.

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