“Have you ever thought of starting your business in the future? Why and why not?” Elias Ek, CEO of Enspyre and author of book How to Start a Business in Taiwan, asked during his speech at the Global MBA (GMBA) program in National Chiao Tung University (NCTU).
The GMBA program in NCTU is the first all-English teaching program in Taiwan that offers MBA degrees to multinational students, with around half foreign and half local students. Within the class there are students from Taiwan, the US, Peru, Thailand, Vietnam and more, and over half of them are eager to set up their own business.
Mr. Ek started with his own entrepreneurial experiences, from the 15-year-old who delivered fresh bread to neighbors in the morning, to the founder of several businesses and an active participant in the entrepreneurial circle. The students were especially interested in Mr. Ek’s current business Enspyre, which was founded in 2002, and has grown and become the leading B2B telemarketing company in Taiwan. The participants asked all kinds of questions, ranging from the realization of the business idea to the possible technical problems during actual operation.
Among the sea of raised hands, one student was curious about how Enspyre came to attract customers in the beginning. Mr. Ek admitted that as most of Enspyre’s clients like to be kept confidential, it was hard for the B2B telemarketing company to do marketing. However, he stressed the importance of “leveraging,” using every possibility you have and make them beneficial to you. By using his previous connections with the computer press, Enspyre’s business story was covered in a computer magazine. Their big break came when Next Magazine discovered the article and interviewed Enspyre. With recognition by one of Taiwan’s most influential media, Enspyre started to receive more and more interview opportunities and most importantly, a growing number of customers.
Aside from introducing Enspyre, Mr. Ek also shared some technical stuffs and problems when starting a business in Taiwan, and encouraged the students at the end of the speech: Resources are out there, share your ideas as much as possible. Just do it, don’t be a “wantrepreneur”!
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The students gave very positive feedbacks to Mr.Ek’s speech. Jolie Lee found the speech the most impressive seminar ever in the class, and hoped to join Mr. Ek’s other workshops again. Arturo Heyner Cano Bejar, winner of a free book after answering Mr. Ek’s question, said it was a great honor to meet the arthur of How to Start a Business in Taiwan, “The book is a magnificent guide for foreigners who are willing to start their own business overseas.”
Mr. Ek also enjoyed the heated atmosphere with the class. “I am VERY impressed and happy about receiving so many questions,” he said, “I always encourage people to ask questions but sometimes I don’t get any. This must mean they are used to question ideas and discuss concepts which I think is a very important skill.”
The GMBA students in NCTU have no doubt great potentials in problem solving and entrepreneurship. Hope they can maintain the enthusiasm and bring some innovative twists to Taiwan’s future.