The forum has been one of the main highlights of InnoVEX. In 2018, 6 major topics were presented in the forum over 3 days: startup ecosystem, AI, blockchain, women entrepreneurship, future mobility, and gaming. On June 6, the first 3 sessions focused on the Startup Ecosystem, named the Entrepreneurial Game Changer Forum. It started with 2 fireside chats with global accelerators and continued with a panel discussion with global media. The three sessions were moderated by Rich Fuh, Manager of Taiwan Tech Arena – Ministry of Science and Technology.
LUMO Labs – Global and Local Expertise for Expansion of Startups
The first fireside chat featured the founder of LUMO Labs, Andy Lürling. LUMO Labs is a venture builder from the Netherlands with a 2 year acceleration program held in Eindhoven. Mr. Lürling believes that coaching and focus can improve the quality of the startups and their products/ solutions. To help the startups focus, LUMO Labs also provide back office support to make sure they can focus on the business operations. To ensure the coaches can have a more hands on approach and take immediate action, LUMO Labs prefer to have a smaller amount of teams in their cohort: 5 startups per location per year.
He said that LUMO Labs will only start in a new location if they have local former entrepreneurs in the team, to ensure the availability of local expertise as well as global expertise. He believes that every continent has some specific elements in the culture which are very good and he wants to bring the best qualities from all continents to the startups.
Mr. Lürling also gave his advice to the startups to have work hard; start with self-confidence; adapt to the culture where they are going to, get used to local common elements, find the right partners locally and move step-by-step from there. Startups should not focus on money, but on enthusiasm for the ecosystem and wanting to change the world. His final suggestion was for people to pursue their dreams. Do it step-by-step and learn every day.
Techstars – Startup Cooperation with Corporations will Benefit both
The second fireside chat's speaker was Dave Drach, Vice President of Corporate Strategy from Techstars, a startup accelerator from US with locations in over 150 countries.
He said that when accelerator programs are executed, there are 2 things that transform on the corporate side. The first is pure innovation sourcing. Many of the ground-breaking, economy moving innovations of today come from startups or startups that grow into industry leaders. Corporates then source this pipeline of innovations to experiment and evaluate alternatives and how to engage customers with founder based entrepreneurial driven ventures.
On the other hand, startups can get support for product validation, customer research or customer discovery process in collaboration with corporations; benefiting both sides of the equation. This can be done through partnerships, acquisitions, and finding the potential markets.
The second change is how corporations drive corporate transformations. It is more common to find established companies discover disruptive technology, move it to their portfolio, and then start delivering it as a product. This happens especially with corporate programs with senior executives where a paradigm shift occurs with both CEOs and founders. The founder can think like a corporate operating infrastructure while on the corporation side, they can think more innovatively like a founder.
The accelerator's main role in this cooperation is to host or organize events where meetings between startups and corporations can happen. The focus of accelerators is on the innovation pipeline and how to expose corporations to existing innovations. They also promote corporate transformation. They have found that utilizing accelerators are 3 times more cost-effective to execute pilots compared to the conventional alternatives such as consultancies. The corporations benefit from accelerators by leveraging on their expertise in driving innovation faster and in a more cost-effective manner; while the startups benefit by utilizing the accelerator's network.
Meet the Media – Pitch to the Audience
The third session is a panel discussion on how to get media interested in startups; featuring speakers from BBC, Bloomberg, Business Next, and e27. The discussion highlighted how different media have different main focus metrics and different pitch methods which appeal to them.
Samson Ellis, the Taipei Bureau Chief of Bloomberg said that he would prefer to see the size and scope of the startups. This can be in the forms of the funds they raised, the value of a deal they made, or others. They are also interested in knowing any superlatives, meaning the startups which are the biggest, fastest, first, or other criteria. Of course, these are not the only defining factor, but they certainly would help the startups' chances.
Bloomberg would also be interested if the startups are connected to big companies or well-known investors. The startups should also be able to tell a unique and interesting story, will be around for the long haul, have a long term strategy and have a secure future. Ultimately, their main criteria are the startup's story should be interesting and it could sell for a global audience.
Cindy Sui, a Correspondent of BBC said that she is more interested in startups with good visuals; either pictures or videos that would make the coverage more interesting. They also would prefer founders who can explain their startups in common language, not what she referred to as “tech-speak”; essentially, easy to understand language that is clear to the general public. Their main interests are stories that look and sound good. It is also important to note that startups should not give up on journalists and try to reach them again, even if they were not given a response.
Kevin McSpadden, an Editor of e27 which is based in Singapore. As e27 is a startup focused media, they are more interested in authenticity. They are less concerned with the long term numbers, the success stories, or the superlatives, but they value authenticity and honesty the most. One of the points he stressed was how startup jargons should be avoided as they might deter interest from both the media and the public. Mr. McSpadden suggested startups should explain their solutions like they would to a family member. At the same time, he also mentioned how important it is for startups to be persistent, make the effort, and reach out personally to the media.
The Director of Community & Media Business of Next Media Corp, Kyle Chen is looking for unique startups that can be the next superstar. His aim is to discover early stage startups and then cover their every possible angle. This could be what solutions they offer, how they started, what problems are they aiming to solve, and many more. As they are a media company, acceleration or incubation programs is not their forte. However, Business Next can help startups through their network and resources. Mr. Chen stresses on the importance of readiness and preparation for startups before their pitches. Presentation materials and content must also be prepared; startups should avoid telling the media what they can and cannot cover after showing it.
After the introduction from the panelists, startups in the audience were invited to do a short pitch which the panelists would comment on. 8 startups joined in the short pitch. We've listed several suggestions from the panelists on how to pitch to the media below.
Different media generally focus on specific metrics differently. One media might care more about the numbers, while others the visuals, the story, or anything else. Some media might not cover a startup, because of a lack of expertise. This is important to note because these days, many media are interested in startups; not just business, technology or startup media; but also general media.
During the pitch, the main message should be summarized into 1 sentence. This sentence should cover what the startups do and how. It is also important for startups to use common language to make sure the audience understands the pitch, which means jargons should be avoided when possible. To emphasize the message, startups can prove their claims with test results, data, and video; or having a well-known company as a user is also helpful. Ultimately, the pitch presentation method should fit the products or solutions offered.
Startups need to tell a great story that is relatable to people or draw a personal reaction from the users. One way to do this is to focus on the team, meaning that startups' founders refer to their teams instead of only on them. In addition to the 1 sentence summary, the message of the pitch should tell what problems the startups are solving and what currently available solutions are disrupted. This will make it easier for them to appeal to the intended consumers and help explain why their new solution is important or necessary. However, the focus should not be on the technology at work, but instead on what the new offered solutions do and how. One of the key messages will be how the startups' solutions can help people. Startups should also be careful when using certain marketing expressions that are too overly used, even though they were effective in previous times.
Overall, the speakers mentioned how important it is for startups to be prepared and use simple communication to make sure their product offering is more easily understood.
Watch the forum videos here:
Fireside chat with LUMO Labs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kE0QAptsyLk
Fireside chat with Techstars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlTdkWhX2Io
Media panel discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rikARNpIlwc
InnoVEX will Return in May 2019
InnoVEX 2018 hosted 388 startups, 17,867 visitors, and over 200 global investors; many of whom gave a positive impression of InnoVEX. After a stellar 2018, InnoVEX 2019 will be held in late May. As there will be a new exhibition hall for COMPUTEX, the scale of InnoVEX is also expected to grow even larger than this year. The registration of startups and speakers will be announced in October 2018.