Startups: No kids allowed
June 12, 2012 by Terence LEE
Shit got down at a panel session on startup growth and scaling during the first day of Echelon 2012.
A very frank Brian Wong, the celebrated wunderkind entrepreneur and co-founder of US-based mobile advertising company Kiip, dished out some rapid thoughts about the early stages of building a company.
His most memorable quip though were his thoughts on first hires.
“During your hypergrowth, hire young people with no kids,” said the 21-year-old, who joined the panel late.
He reasoned that people with families are less able to handle the stress and commitment that comes with being an employee at a startup.
Dropmyemail’s John Fearon, a fellow panel member, sounded on edge when he disagreed with Brian’s sentiments, highlighting the fact that he has a family. However, he took it down a notch and agreed that startup employees have no work-life balance, since they often work into the wee hours of the night.
It’s essential that the wife or partner understands this, said John. He’s had a potential employee who backed out simply because the spouse said no.
Brian later qualified his initial comments by clarifying that startups should hire people “who can work like they don’t have kids.”
“I love people that have kids,” he emphasized.
His brashness and candor during the panel was certainly a breath of fresh air for the audience, although some might find him a little overbearing.
But many agree that he was the most entertaining speaker at Echelon 2012.
— David E. Weekly (@dweekly) June 12, 2012
Peppering his American drawl with the occasional f-bomb throughout the two days, Brian is as real as it gets. He wore a casual grey shirt and jeans, dropping entrepreneurial wisdom that casually combined practical experience, philosophical musings, and pop psychology.
Back to the topic of hiring: He said that the first startup employees should be generalists as they are better suited to the rapidly changing work environment that a startup possesses.
Things change, however, once a company gets bigger. For every multiple of seven a company takes on, the corporate culture changes, said Brian.
Fun facts about him:
- He was an exchange student at Singapore’s NUS Business School in 2008, doing “business-y” stuff.
- He was laid off from Digg, and that led him on a journey around Asia.
- He came up with the idea for Kiip while on a plane in 2010 in the midst of the abovementioned sojourn, after observing that everyone in the aircraft was on their mobile devices.
- He raised venture capital funding at 20 years old, believed to be the youngest ever to do so.
Organized by tech blog e27 for the third year running, Echelon 2012 is a key startup launchpad in Asia with over 1,100 delegates in attendance and 50 startups exhibiting in the Marketplace. Check out SGE’s coverage of the event.
Find out more about SGE’s research arm: SGE Insights, providing customized in-depth research reports to help you navigate the business of technology in Asia.
About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE