Elias shares his experience about investing in Taiwan

We did a new series called “Invest in Taiwan” dedicated to this talk, and we provide you, in 3 minutes, easy-to-get and insightful tips from our experience.

Watch Elias about investing in Taiwan here:

Elias had the opportunity to share his experience at a Taiwantrepreneurs meet, brought by the online forum Taiwanease. He could therefore a during an hour, followed by a Q&A session, discuss about a wide range of topics, from choosing a company’s registration entity to hire people, and from adapting to the market to moreover talk about entrepreneurship.

Hi, my name is Elias, and I am on a daily basis the boss of Enspyre, and I decided a long time ago that I don’t like to spend to much time in the morning that is why I don’t have hair and wear the same clothes everyday. It makes things streamlined. (Yeah it might not be choice, but…Ok).

I came to Taiwan 13 years ago. And, within literally weeks of coming here I started to work on starting a business. The very first business I wanted to launch was a laundromat. Back then in Taipei there were only 3 of them in the whole city, and we start working on figuring out what does it take to run a laundromat. I even became a member of the American coin laundry association, any fellow members here? No. I bought the start-up kit, it was a binder about that thick with some VHS tapes and what not and we did a lot of research, eventually, we chucked it out, we needed NT$ 3 million to start the first one and at the time it was a lot of money. What we did start instead was an online business. We started a website, we were doing this at night, week-ends, you know we wanted to keep our daily jobs for income and so on.

It went quite well, one problem was that we needed somebody to answer phone calls, because you know you can send off the quotation at night but then the next day maybe you want to follow up with the customer and they want to follow up with you. And to answer the phone on a mobile and say:”Ahem I’m sorry my boss is here I can’t talk to you right now” would not work.

So my first option of course was to hire somebody. But we were an internet company with absolutely no need of an office, and I tried to hire somebody, but it was a little bit hard because when I was talking I was like:”Susanne I’m working in my bedroom would you come and work for me?” It just wasn’t an option. Then the next choice is that we wanted to find a company that we could outsource our phone answering to. But that was actually also not so easy. Because all we could find were companies that just wanted to take a message. “How much does your product cost?” “May I take a message” “Where is your office located?” “Can I take a message?” “What’s your website?” “Can I take a message?” So that wasn’t really feasible either. Eventually we sold that company to somebody else, we were sitting on a little bit of money and we wondered what to do.

So we figured well no one else is doing this phone answering outsourcing business very well and in other countries that is big business. So we figured “let’s start a business that does that.” You know it doesn’t really exist it must be big right? Well we started Enspyre, we did phone answering and we are still doing that, but it’s actually a fairly small part of what we do, because first lesson that we learned there was just because something doesn’t exist and just because something is popular in another country doesn’t mean it will be popular here. The Taiwanese bosses that would be buying this really are not that keen on outsourcing so that was a big lesson.

You know you can’t just expect that you’re bringing products in from another country and it’s gonna work.