Entrepreneur Asia: Power Players

So you have a start up….

Michelle Loh | News Assistant
What 500 Startups looks for when investing

Dave McClure is known for courting controversy.

Speaking at the Echelon technology conference in Singapore, the entrepreneur and angel investor had some salient advice for Asian entrepreneurs: "Good students aren't always good entrepreneurs."

"Entrepreneurship is usually about people executing in the face of other folks telling them that it's not going to work. Companies that tend to survive are the rebels," he added.

McClure founded 500 Startups, a venture capital firm whose popular incubator program in Silicon Valley famously turned down car-sharing app Uber.

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"I must say I have turned down several great companies, so I'd probably say I have to keep learning," McClure said.

The 48-year-old said there are promising startup hubs springing up in Asia, and believes it's only a matter of time before the local tech scene comes of age.

"There's been entrepreneurs working in the Valley for probably 50-60 years," he said. "It's not to say that you can't create that in other places, but I think people are a little bit impatient about creating the next Silicon Valley."

Thomas Barwick | Stone | Getty Images

Startup Asia

Vincent Lauria, founding partner of Golden Gate Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on internet and technology companies in Southeast Asia, shares McClure's view.

"[Strong gross domestic product] growth in some countries, smartphone adoption that's huge, startups, talent, developers, engineers - all of that exists, it just takes time," he said. "I look at the Singapore government as a bit of a pressure cooker, reducing a four-hour cook-down down to two hours."

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Lauria believes homegrown startups have an advantage over foreign ones, and is keen to see startups that understand the local market.

"We have penalized some startups for being a completely foreign team going to a market. They're actually at a huge disadvantage."

Nothing comes easy

Singapore's Ong Peng Tsin should know. The co-founder of Encentuate, Interwoven and Match.com has been to Silicon Valley and back. While the technology has gotten cheaper, the process of creating a successful company hasn't gotten easier, he said.

"This is really hard to do…you might get lucky, but chances are, it's 5-7 years of hard work," he said. "Nothing significant comes easily."

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Ong recently started Monk's Hill, a venture capital firm focused on software, mobile and internet-driven businesses. It primarily provides Series A and B funding and is looking for companies that want to raise between $1-$5 million.

The "career entrepreneur" advises startups to focus on creating value: "The exit strategy is a side effect of success. Don't focus on the exit strategy when you're building a company. Focus on building value."

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Have an exit strategy

However, when it's time to consider an exit strategy Exitround can help.

Exitround's proprietary algorithm matches companies looking to sell with potential buyers. Its database currently has 1,100 sellers and 1,300 buyers spanning 36 countries.

Former entrepreneur and Exitround's CEO Jacob Mullins has one piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs: "Have options. Have the option to raise more money, have the option to continue growing your team, have the option to sell your company - make your investors a lot of money, make yourself a lot of money. None of that is bad; just make sure you have a lot of options."

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