James Sun Giveaway Results And Tribute To Your Co-Founders
May 4, 2010 by Gwendolyn Regina T
In our James Sun Luncheon Tickets giveaway, we wanted to bring the people element that is often the most important variable in a business back into the spotlight. We asked readers who wanted the opportunity to meet James Sun, self-made millionaire at 22 and the first Asian finalist in Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” at a special luncheon seminar this Thursday, to tell us stories of their co-founders or mentors who made an impact in their businesses. It was really hard to pick the two winners because it felt like we were placing a value on each individual’s story when we have no right to. But of course, we only had two tickets. So here are the winners.
Learning From A Mentor: How Great Friends May Not Be The Best Business Partners
(1) Niles Toh of UBidIChoose
“Despite reading many books about the importance of forming a good team, the knowledge of the books did not turn into wisdom until recently when my mentor saw that I was exhausted by the issue of trying to choose between friendship or business partner.
My ex-business partner was my childhood friend and he was the guy that I always trusted. But after working with him for a couple of months, I felt that it would be better for us to remain friends rather than as business partners.
During that period, I focused all my energy on him which makes me overlook the core objective of the business. My mentor gave me a piece of advice: “Choose your co-founder properly; you will be married to them for awhile and divorce is painful and expensive. If there is no passion, there is no point going on.”
With this advice, I met up with my partner and things got really great after it.”
Learning From A Co-Founder: A Company Is Not A Party That Everyone Is Invited To
(2) Kristabel Quek of Hemeryx
(Some bits of Kristabel’s entry have been taken out as the whole entry was really long. So here we present her core story.)
“Even though my company is not yet registered, Martell VSOP The Ultimate Start-up Space Challenge gave me a chance to work with many people to bring my idea up another level. [Editor's Note: find out more about what Kristabel is talking about by reading our interview with her when she was taking part in the Challenge.]
Many people were involved in helping me bring a concept in my mind onto the papers of the business plan. I’ll take this opportunity to thank my mentors, past and current team members for their voluntary contributions and enthusiasm.
During the short period of two months, I’ve learnt a lot about forming the right team. In the course of the competition, the enlightenment for my mistake came in the form of a couch chatting session with Erwin, one of my teammates. He said, “Kris, you cannot run your company like a party, where you just invite lots of people and tell them to have fun.”
That was when I realized I was doing it all wrong.
I started choosing team members based on their ability to get the task completed if we happen to win. However, that didn’t work too. Once the competition is over, no one seem to be as enthusiastic enough to bring the idea another level for execution as we didn’t win the shop space.
Through a Business Enabling Workshop by Microsoft and A2 Partners, I learnt the need to look at the three A’s in forming a team – Attitude, Ability and Approach. The attitude will determine the internal driver that the person has to do his or her best in completing the tasks given to them.
The ability of a person to complete the task may be important, however, not the most important. I personally feel that if a person is determined to succeed, he will push himself to learn the ability he needs, therefore, it all boils down back to the attitude of the person. Ability can always be acquired over time.
Lastly, the approach – the method of completing a task is important too. There is a need to share similar working styles in a team. I realized, when the style is different, arguments may occur. I have been there done that, and I will not do that again.
Learning from past mistakes, I’ve made careful selection of my new team members over the last one month. As we all know, the team is the most important part of a company. With a A-product, a B-team may not bring it as far as it should. But with a A-team, a B-product can make it beyond what it was suppose to be. Other than choosing the team and mentors based on their attitude, ability and approach, I had identify our individual strengths, weaknesses and resources to ensure that we compliment each other, so there is no weakest link on the team.
I’ll like to take this chance to welcome on board my team of passionate individuals, Natasha, Jun Liang, Eugene and Marcus, to join me for some smiles and tears on this exhilarating and entrepreneurial learning journey.
After all is said, according to Sun Zi, there are five key elements that define competitive advantage and one of this elements is leadership. Having a good team is after all not the only thing to take note of. It is essential to have the person with the right attitude, ability and approach to lead the team on their mission and aligning the team to move towards the vision.”
Congratulations to Niles and Kristabel! You will be receiving details regarding the luncheon this Thursday in a short bit.
Image credit: Kevin Krejci.
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About The Author
Gwendolyn Regina T - Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief
Gwen is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of SGE. Previously, she was a partner of early stage technology investment firm, Thymos Capital and she has had two exits, one of which is iHipo. She is also an investor in Padlet, a Y-Combinator startup. Gwen also sits on the Board of Advisors for the Singapore Innovation & Productivity Institute, Steering Commmittee for the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation Awards 2013, and Board of Advisors for Social Media Week 2013. A frequent public speaker, mentor and judge at various startup bootcamps, events and competitions, Gwen loves meeting founders, developers, designers and scientists across all ages. An alumnus of the National University of Singapore and its University Scholars Programme, Gwen also spent some time in Silicon Valley and is a graduate of the NUS-Stanford University overseas college programme. She is also a mentor at Polish tech startup incubator Gamma Rebels, the Singapore curator for US-headquartered StartupDigest and the Singapore Ambassador for the Sandbox Network - the leading global network of innovators under 30. Gwen has also been a Worldwide Judge for Imagine Cup - the premier student technology competition helmed by Microsoft. She has also spoken in Hong Kong at one of its largest youth conferences, MaD Asia, and was recently in Austria to help envision the future of the country's economy in 2032 on invitation from an Austrian governmental organization. Gwen speaks 3.25 languages, loves physics, travelling, dance and adventure sports. She can be found on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Gwendolyn Regina T