“Taiwanese American entrepreneurs have been disproportionately successful,” said Steve Chen, co-founder of Youtube, who had started his one-year stay in Taipei, Taiwan with the Employment Gold Card, “but the question is what makes it different when you board a plane, cross the Pacific, and start a company in California, versus you don’t go to California?”
These entrepreneurs include not only Chen himself but also, among others, Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin and RedOctane co-founder Charles and Kai Huang, who co-created the popular video game series Guitar Hero, named KMT congressman Jason Hsu.
This is one of the main reasons that brought him back to the island where he was born. Compared with doing video chats in Silicon Valley with leaders from Taiwan, “it’s another thing to actually be here,” he said, to know what it’s really like in the startup community here.
“One of the things I imagine doing in the next months is to try to create something here in Taiwan,” said Chen.
Meanwhile, he hopes to “carefully jot down all the steps [he needs] to take to create a startup and see the problems [people] are facing here.”
Several weeks ago, it has been learnt from Chen himself that he will be working as an advisor for SparkLabs Taipei to deepen his understanding about Taiwan's startup ecosystem and offer help accordingly.
Drawing on his experience in Paypal’s 12-person team with the goal of building a global P2P payment service, Chen encouraged startups to “always think outside of the 23 million people in Taiwan.”
He also called for “an environment friendly to failure” and “a spirit that gets everyone to work together” as in the Silicon Valley.
As it becomes more and more difficult to launch a startup in the Silicon Valley, “it’s great time for Taiwan to step up,” he said. With lower cost of living and employable engineers, it’s much easier to do so in Taiwan.
Despite the hurdles that remain to be overcome, it would help if Taiwan can build stronger ties with the aforementioned Taiwanese American entrepreneurs that have been successful, he said.