When venturing the challenging road of entrepreneurship, every founder, whether optimizing products, exploring new markets and channels, or seeking investors, inevitably faces a myriad of unknowns and hurdles. It’s a common occurrence that dealing with unfamiliar knowledge domains, technical fields, or adapting to diverse consumer habits in various markets can leave the company going round in circles or even caught in a tough spot with no clear path ahead.
“Private boards bring forth a force that acts as a guiding light for these stressed-out CEOs, illuminating their bewildering journey,” said Steve Hsu, Founder and CEO of TXA Innovation Accelerator and Secretary General of Management Intelligence Sharing Association (MISA), during an interview with “The Icons.”
Steve Hsu, Asia’s Private Board Pioneer: Spreading the Blossoms of “Private Boards” Across Nations
In the past few years, the “Private Board” coaching model has been flourishing within the global startup community. Starting as simple “roundtable” discussions, it has evolved into a well-established “Private Board” approach. With a history of over 60 years in Europe and the United States, Chinese entrepreneurs have brought this concept to the mainland, propelling it to new heights of development. Now, it stands as another platform, besides EMBA, where business owners and the investment community engage in profound exchanges.
Over a decade ago, Steve Hsu recognized the immense opportunities this wave could offer to budding startup leaders. He wasted no time and expanded this concept across numerous Asian countries. Presently,he has nurtured over hundreds of new startup enterprises and organized more than 400 private board meetings, making him the foremost figure in Asia. Fondly referred to as the “The pioneer of Asian Private Boards” within the startup community, his influence spans across vital cities in Malaysia, Tokyo, Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Ho Chi Minh City, Bangkok, New York, and Paris.
Born and raised in Taiwan, Steve Hsu has not only been driving the development of “Private Boards” on the international stage but has also been deeply committed to fostering the startup ecosystem in his homeland. Back in his early days at the Industrial Technology Research Institute’s incubation center, he relentlessly worked to bring American incubators into Taiwan, blazing the trail as the first to introduce accelerators to the country. Subsequently, he successfully introduced four accelerators to organizations including the Industrial Technology Research Institute, Institute for Information Industry, National Chiao Tung University, and Chung Yuan Christian University.
Moving forward, Steve Hsu made significant improvements and introduced innovations to the “Private Board” model, earning him the esteemed ECI Awards for International Digital Economic Innovation. This award stands as the first globally to evaluate digital economic innovations based on their “innovative effectiveness,” recognizing exceptional achievements in business models, products, services, technology, and marketing management.
Private Boards Emphasize Mutual Assessment: You Can Also Choose Your Own Investors!
According to Steve Hsu, in the early stages, startups often receive investment from the 3Fs: family, friends and fools. However, as the company expands, these initial investors might struggle to provide enough professional advice and technical support. They may find it challenging to play the role of a “think tank” for the growing business. To tackle this issue, the concept of “Private Boards” came into play.
“We invite experienced guest chairpersons, supervisors, and independent directors who have practical knowledge in different products, services, regional markets, and team dynamics. They won’t alter the company’s existing board structure or take any ownership stakes,” Steve Hsu explained.
Steve Hsu stressed that “Private Boards” act as an “equal assessment” platform, bringing more than just an expanded business think tank. “Beyond assisting CEOs in understanding the cultural context and market dynamics of various countries and regions,” he explained, “the real gem lies in helping teams gain deeper insights into the mindset of potential investors. This not only facilitates market entry but also increases the likelihood of connecting with investors who hold significant investment potential.”
When it comes to helping investors directly, the “Private Board””model goes the extra mile by pre-matching potential investment opportunities for companies. This plays a vital role for startups aiming to expand their business and secure much-needed funding.
“With mutual trust, support, and evaluation, they can explore potential business partnerships and other opportunities,” Steve Hsu pointed out. “In this setting, it’s definitely a win-win situation.”
Steve Hsu also emphasized the key feature of “Private Boards” – its communication style. Unlike the traditional top-down approach, the exchanges in “Private Boards” resemble equal dialogues. There’s no more one-sided relationship between the company and the directors. Instead, they respect and understand each other’s perspectives, collaboratively making decisions based on mutual assessment.
“Investors choose teams, but teams can also choose investors!” Steve Hsu remarked with a grin.
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