Asian startups should learn to fail

Companies in Asia looking to make a mark in the IT industry will need to dissociate shame from failure and get used to learning from their mistakes instead.

SINGAPORE--Asian startups will have to learn how to take failures positively and learn from their missteps rather than associate it with failure and give up on their ideas. To encourage this, a venture capital (VC) firm will be bring Failcon--a conference looking to instil lessons derived from failure to entrepreneurs--here in October this year.

Low Teck Seng, CEO of National Research Foundation (NRF), said Failcon will be organized in conjunction with Techventure 2012 and the conference hailing from Silicon Valley will provide a more holistic view of innovation and bring greater value to tech startups attending the event.

Many startup owners are often young and inexperienced, so it's important to educate them on the importance of failures and successes, Low said. They need to know "failure is the mother of success" and there are many lessons to be learnt from adversity, he added during a media briefing here on Wednesday.

NRF is one of five organizers for this year's Techventure and Failcon conferences. The former is a networking event which brings together tech innovators and investors in Asia , and will be held from Oct. 16 to Oct. 18 this year.

Fail to succeed
Failcon will be held a day before the start of Techventure 2012, and the full-day event will feature talks by entrepreneurs sharing their failures before achieving success and how they got there, noted Vinnie Lauria, founding partner at Golden Gate Ventures and Failcon organizer.

The program will be customized for an Asian audience and strives to be a good mix of Eastern and Western philosophies on failure, Lauria added. That said, he was keen to stress the mindset of companies in the west hold up failure as a "badge of honor" and this is something that should be embraced by Asian companies too.

Conversely, failure is usually entwined with feelings of shame among Asian cultures and this is something that needs to be addressed. "It is important for startups in Asia to know that most successful entrepreneurs have failed at least once before they become successful, so it's okay to fail because some lessons can only be learnt through failure," he emphasized.

For instance, before Groupon became successful and completed its IPO (initial public offering), it had been an online donation system for a non-profit organization, the partner pointed out. The site almost shut down before realizing it could make money as a daily deals site, he said.

Lauria is hopeful the speakers, who will come from countries such as Japan, China, and Singapore, will inspire and motivate young startups and entrepreneurs to be more confident of accepting failure as part of their business plans.

One such speaker is Ho Kwon Ping, who lost his wealth initially before building his business empire to include the Banyan Tree group of luxury hotels and resorts of which the Singaporean entrepreneur is executive chairman of, the organizer pointed out.