Excerpt: "Mike Merrill was thinking of pumping up his workout regimen with mixed-martial-arts classes and boxing lessons. The scheme would involve seven and a half hours a week at various gyms—a big commitment. So he put the matter before his 160 shareholders."
Notwithstanding my post the other day about a shortcoming of one specific government support scheme for tech entrepreneurs, Singapore continues to be seen by entrepreneurs as an attractive place to do business , and rightly so.
Taslima Khan quotes me and several others in Business Today, a fortnightly publication in India, about Indian entrepreneurs' Look East Policy, specifically focusing on Singapore as a destination for Indian entrepreneurs to move HQ to, raise money or otherwise expand.
Singapore's advantages over India? Briefly:
Ease of listing Singapore-domiciled companies on various stock exchanges. India-domiciled companies cannot be listed directly on a foreign stock exchange.
Singapore's small market, perhaps paradoxically, gives start-ups the cachet of being a regional or global company, as opposed to an Indian (Chinese/Malaysian/American/Indonesian/etc) company, which might be seen as focused purely on the domestic market
No capital controls
Comfort among customers and partners from around the world to work and sign contracts with Singapore-registered companies
Established brand in the business world
Being a regional centre for decison-making for some industries, such as advertising and financial services
Indian entrepreneurs feel culturally comfortable in Singapore
Having said that, only moving one's legal HQ to Singapore while maintaining substantially all operations within India may not achieve much, as I said in the Business Today piece.
There are of course disadvantages too, two of the most commonly cited in my experience being higher cost of operations and a much smaller base of potential employees to choose from.
Excerpt: "When SurveyMonkey LLC Chief Executive Dave Goldberg wanted to raise money for his Palo Alto, Calif., company, he didn't lean on the venture capitalists that scour Silicon Valley looking for the next Google Inc. or Facebook Inc. Instead, Mr."
Excerpt: "Big Data is suddenly hot, winning Harvard Business Review’s recent “sexiest job of the 21st century” sweepstakes."
Very interesting but I wish people wouldn't brandish the Big Data buzzword at anything and everything. This is good old-fashioned analytics at work, but analytics does not equal Big Data (or vice versa).
VimpelCom, the global telecoms operator, has signed an agreement with Microsoft and Nokia that will allow its customers to use their mobile accounts to buy applications and content on the Windows Phone platform.
Under the agreement, VimpelCom customers will be able to use their mobile accounts to find, try and buy digital content from the Windows store. The cost of any applications, games or music purchased will be deducted from pre-pay customers’ phone credits, or added to subscribers’ monthly bills.
VimpelCom will create its own virtual “shelf” to help customers find digital content in the Windows store, some of which will be tailored to local services.
I wonder what form this “shelf” will take. If it’s yet another operator attempt at a walled garden, it’s doomed to be dead on arrival. But if the parties involved are smart about it -- a very big IF -- it could turn into quite a useful tool for consumers.
Every now and then, I get asked how to get started as an entrepreneur, yet protect one's business idea from being copied or stolen. This is an irrelevant question. Or, at least, there are bigger fish to fry.
Here's what I said on Quora to someone who asked me to answer a variant of this question:
I've seen over and over that ideas are pretty much useless. Execution is where it's
at. There are several businesses that are considered successes today, which originally started out doing something quite different. So it's
about execution and adaptability.
There are also several successful businesses that were followers not leaders, yet today they
are more successful than the pioneer (e.g., Netscape->Firefox/Chrome, Altavista->Google, Friendster->Facebook, etc)
How do companies protect themselves? Technology is patentable but not business ideas. Even if you do have a patent, that doesn't mean the patent is valid (because patent offices generally don't have the resources to validate whether every single patent application is for something novel) or that you will have the financial muscle to enforce a valid patent in a court of law. So one can protect one's business by doing one or more of the following:
constantly innovating to keep ahead of the market -- Google? Apple?
devising a business model that makes it hard for your customers to leave -- MS, FB?
devising a business model that allows you to control your suppliers -- Apple? Walmart?
expanding quickly across your desired regions -- Groupon?
obtaining special rights and concessions that protect you -- defence companies, banks, utilities...
offering the best value -- Amazon?
providing the best service in your specific region or location
building a good brand over time -- Coke is Coke, Singapore Airlines is Singapore Airlines, no one can copy this
All of the above have risks, of course. (and not all the companies named above are successful at every single thing they do. I'm no fan of Groupon, for instance.)
Plus there's inertia -- just because someone hears your idea doesn't mean he's going to start doing it. People... ...are lazy. ...have other priorities. ...are risk-averse. ...may not share your dream or be imaginative about the problem you're seeking to solve in the same way as you. ...are sceptical. All of this is a form of in-built protection for you.
So the short answer to your question is: have an idea? Who cares. First step: get started. Next step: keep moving.
of this means you should disclose every last detail of your business
idea to someone else. This is usually not necessary anyway.
If you're specifically worried about venture capitalists stealing your ideas, read this post as well.
In just the past 6 weeks or so, I've spoken to five different large corporations with newly launched corporate venture capital operations. Is this just a coincidence or a true trend? Seems like a trend though unscientific, of course.
Let's be clear: each of these has slightly different structures and need to satisfy fairly different goals, such as
As a path to future acquisitions
Understanding what new innovative technologies and companies are out there
Helping to seed a market for their own products
...and so on, with set-ups such as
Extensions of the existing M&A department
Wholly owned venturing arms funded with balance sheet money on an as-needed basis
Capital ring-fenced specifically for venturing and handed to a professional manager
R&D or strategic marketing personnel double-hatting as investment managers
Entrepreneurs who seek or are sought out by corporate venturing arms should understand the differences between each approach.
If a trend is truly taking hold, this would mark probably the first renewal of the corporate venturing scene since the dotcom bust. I worked on an academic research project just after the bust to investigate the motivations of corporate venture firms. At that time, corporations were just as caught up in the dotcom frenzy as VCs, entrepreneurs and the general public, but most of them shut down their venturing arms soon after. We'll have to see whether the current trend will prove to be more sustained. It's certainly a possibility, not least because capital markets are currently much more circumspect than they were a decade ago.
Short answer: no. Facebook, Apple, Google and all the rest can eat their hearts out. The medical device industry really shows us how to capture and exploit important data from vulnerable users. Quote: "Because device makers see their primary market as physicians rather than patients, they are less motivated to make this information available to the people who actually live with the devices in their bodies."
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