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Posted by Admin | 5 years ago | Filed Under Entrepreneurship

Building a startup is hard, and learning from your mistakes is crucial. Smart entrepreneurs learn from smarter entrepreneurs who have failed and learned along the way. Rather than me pass on advice, I decided to ask five of some of the most successful startup leaders in Asia to give their advice on how to build a unicorn company (A startup valued at over a $1billion dollars). Here are some tips from some of the best entrepreneurs in Asia who have raised millions, built brands and learned from mistakes.

1) Experiment and find the brilliant 10%

Mikaal Abdulla, CEO of 8 Securities, is familiar with the struggle of getting things right. Building one of the leading stock trading and robo-advisor fintech companies across Asia he knows about how experiments can help in the long term. “It is imperative that startup founders are prepared to take risks and fail. Seventy percent of the things that you try as a startup will fail. This is particularly true in the early days. Whether it is a new product feature or marketing campaign, 70% will fail, 20% will be mediocre and 10% will be brilliant. The aim of the game is identifying the 10% of brilliance very quickly and putting resources behind it. Learn from your failures and then try 10 more things. You will find your success rate increases over time”.

2) Don’t waste too much building your first product

Building one of the largest design marketplaces in the world and a unicorn was never as simple as it sounds. Cyan Ta’eed, one of the founders of Envato, which runs websites like Themeforest and Envato Elements, says entrepreneurs should look at being lean. “It’s of paramount importance to launch as lean as possible and then test. You never know what the market is like until you interact with it. When we built our first product, we built in every bell and whistle and burned a lot of cash. When we launched we realized the market didn’t want half of it anyway. You want to launch leanly so you have the runway to pivot if you need to.”

3) Set your priorities straight

Blake Larson, COO of LaLaMove believes that founders should set priorities. As one of the fastest growing startups in Asia, Blake has lead the operations of the company as it scaled Southeast Asia and China. “The natural instinct of startups is to do too much, but there are only 24 hours in the day. Always think in terms of addition by subtraction. If you want to add something new, first make sure you get rid of at least one thing that you feel like you “should” do, but really isn’t adding value. This way you both increase value to your users and focus the finite energy of your team. Everyone will thank you for it.”

4) Get your first 100 customers

As an entrepreneur, before you even begin to speak to investors about raising money you must find product market fit. Simon Loong, CEO of Welab which raised over $200 million in total funding and claimed the title of Hong Kong’s first tech unicorn, attests to this. From securing funds from Silicon Valley investor heavyweights like Sequoia Capital and Yuri Milner, the road to building a unicorn has to start with clear goals. “I think for a pre-A company, the most important thing is to be super pragmatic and results oriented. They have to be very clear that the most important thing is to build their first product and to acquire their first 100 customers. Anything else is a distraction and they can live without it. I recall one of WeLab’s first investors once taught me that you learn a lot by acquiring your first 100 customers. It also proves to the potential investors that your product and process is working.”

5) Get your infrastructure right to help your customers buy

Building any product requires you to invest some (or a lot) of time into your infrastructure. From a simple website, or to a large scale hardware project, getting the right tools is imperative to your business. Luke Grana, CEO of clothing label GRANA, has scaled from Hong Kong to globally in less than two years, and knows that infrastructure helps build a better customer experience. “For GRANA, it’s about building a strong backbone for infrastructure to host our e-commerce website, manage logistics, the supply chain, data analytics and insights to optimize business operations and our digital marketing approaches. This in turn, delivers a consistent and seamless brand experience to encourage customers to convert to purchasers and advocate the brand on and offline.”

James Giancotti, CEO of Oddup, the startup rating system.(

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