Zachary Lo, Co-founder of USThing, participated in CUPP and visited Silicon Valley and Stanford University. He had a fruitful lesson, and wish to tell you to kick-start your project now!
From Prof. Baba Shiv at Stanford Graduate School of Business, there are two type of mindsets: Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 mindset refers to fearful of making mistakes and Type 2 refers to fearful of losing out on opportunities. We, espcially in Asian Culture, always fall in Type 1 mindset while places like Silicon Valley are full of people with Type 2. Always remember to be a Type 2 person is the biggest learning from Stanford.
In September, as a participant of Cyberport University Partnership Programme (CUPP), our team has a chance to step into Silicon Valley and study in one of the top university in the world, Stanford University, for a week. Frankly speaking, the one week course cannot provide us many knowledge of becoming an successful entrepreneur, however, the one week experience changes our mindset, behaviour and way of decision making.
“Silicon Valley is a place where you can have your own dream.”
This sentence is not from any professors nor any startups in Silicon Valley. This is from a security guard in Plug and Play (Startups Accelearator). In Hong Kong, everyone follows the “right” career path, getting into a good school and then get a good pay job. Only a few people dare to talk about their dreams. If we want to really make some difference in our lives, try chasing your dream. For me, I am studying in BBA in HKUST and to be honest I really don’t like it. I learn programming in Year 1 and now trying to build up my own startup in FinTech and a software warehouse. Before I went to Stanford, I always fear of telling others building a startup. Major reason is the Type 1 mindset. Many people think it is very likely others will attack or even laugh at your ideas and fear of facing your failure. However, please just share what you are thinking in your mind and don’t miss out any opportunities. You and your peer will never know if that is success until you do it. Okay, now please start working on your idea and deliver an MVP to test it. Always be Type 2, keep fearing of losing opportunity!
Your idea is nothing
Talking about sharing ideas, this is also a strong atmosphere in Silicon Valley. I think most of us always keep our “IDEA” secret and we don’t want any one copy it. However, this is completely different in Silicon Valley. Everyone share ideas everywhere. Sharing ideas help you get more insights from others and they can never copy your idea becuase the idea is yours. You are the best person to implement your idea! Also, we always think our ideas are perfect and irreplacable. In the journey of Silicon Valley and Stanford, all of our ideas were questioned by Dr. Edwin Lee, faculty members in Stanford and seed funding founder. An easy question like, How can you implement your ideas?, can even challenge us becuase we always think our idea too perfect and didn’t stop a while to think we should need to do to get started. So, just share more about your ideas and discuss more with your peers. Try being attacked to shape your idea better. Most importantly, don’t just talk. Try it out!
“Never find your best friend as your partner”
Idea is important to an startup, but never see it so important. There should be someone else in the world have the similar idea with you. The biggest attract point of a startup is the team, and their chemistry. A good team can always deliver the best thing to their customers even the idea is not the best, the most innovative one on the planet. Contrastly, if you have a bad partner, you never become a good startup. Venture Capital Investor or Startup accelerator always see the team of startup first and then the idea. In 500 startup, an angel investor share about her views on partners. She mentioned “Never find your best friend as your partner”. Your best friend usually not the best partner in your startup team. A best-fit guy should be someone else.
Stanford Life and Productivity
So how it actually feels like when studying in Stanford? (although it is only last for 1-week) Let me share about our schedule in that week first:
|Time||Things to do|
|7:30am||Wake up & Breakfast|
|8:00am||Study Group for preparing lesson questions|
|7:00pm||Team Time for preparing pitching|
|11:00pm||Back to room + Read materials for next day|
Normally we start working at 8:00am for preparing a new day. After having two lessons in morning and afternoon, we have time for preparing our pitching. In the final day in Stanford, we have a pitch to get some comments from Stanford faculty. Every night, we were preparing the pitch for that. That was a high productive week. We have to work for the biggest output in the shortest time. During that time, we really develop a very good time management skills for our team. In our team, every time when I start to discuss or work on something, I will say “Let’s finish before x:xxpm”. And we use the time constraint as our target to maximize our output in shortest time.
The amaze of Constructvie Comments
In the lesson, I love the culture. Before the first class of lesson in Stanford, I was really afraid of being asked questions. And this is also very common among Hong Kong students. After some lessons there, and I realised that I even want to share my answers with the professors. This is not becuase they are professors in Stanford, it is because the constructive comments by the professors. Every time when we answer a question, we will not get the “Correct” or “Incorrect” feedback, instead professors try to elaborate on your point to let you learn more. Even, he will make comments to let you think more and get the answers. The constrcutive comments encourage us to answer the questions to improve ourselves while answering the question. (That is not answersing actually, that is discussing) We always can easily criticise others, but is that really constructive comments for them? Or you just want to criticise only? Constructive comments help you to think more and help others to gain from you!
You may ask, “the trip is very demanding, you don’t even have time to have any fun?”. We did have a lot fun! Free Time (and Dinner time) was our time to have fun. The most memorable moment for me is the Fountain Hopping in Standford. Fountain Hopping is a tradition in Standford and students (normally freshmen) get into the fountain around the Stanford campus. Although we are not Stanford student, we didn’t miss the chance to experience this tradition. We make friend in this trip, work hard togehter and play together. That is very unforgettable.
Start Now or CUPP next year
If you want to build something, build now. Don’t miss any opportunities becuase of the mid-terms, heavy coursework. Joining CUPP would be a very good starting point if you have any interest in entrepreunur. The experience in Stanford and also the whole process of this programme is a life-changing experience. You will never know if you will success until you do something.
Written by Zachary Lo @ USThing