As co-founder of White Knight Group, Joseph Kam brings a wealth of experience in the digital landscape to the startups he works with.
Previously the regional general manager at Edipresse Media Asia, leading its digital business operations across eight countries; holding senior positions at Nielsen and Yahoo!, where he established the region’s internet audience measurement protocols; and contributing to the education and growth of the local digital advertising industry, Kam has also spent the past decade investing in startups, helping build their products and businesses as well as mentoring them.
The latter is among his more recent roles, particularly at Hong Kong Cyberport. As a mentor for Hong Kong Cyberport's startups, Kam has imparted invaluable insights to startups on the areas of developing business models, marketing, and fund raising.
He has also gathered some observations on the major pitfalls common among startup founders and their teams.
“Startups only focus on fund raising and think that company success is measured by valuation,” says Kam. “From my experience, the most significant reasons for startup failure have to do with building products that do not serve any market needs; a lack of vision among the founders and a lack of skills in another area of their business; and the absence of a business plan.”
Serving no market need
“Most founders are too stubborn and refuse to build something according to market need,” says Kam. “By the time they realise their product serves no need in the market, it is already too late.”
Some founders, observes Kam, are resistant to helpful advice. “For instance, some have too much pride to accept comments that run against their will.”
Startups will do well to conduct more research internally – amongst themselves as designers and developers – as well as externally, involving individuals that are representative of their market.
“Do not fail to build a customer-centric product,” Kam notes.
An imbalanced skillset
Another common mistake among founding teams is being a master in one trade – with virtually zero knowledge in another.
“Startups are usually formed by a few co-founders, and the majority of them come from the same background or expertise, usually technical,” observes Kam.
“To build a successful startup, founders need to have various skillsets. Different founders with different expertise would be ideal.”
Failure among startups is common, but White Knight collaborates with startups to upend this trend. Success can be the norm, not the exception. Hard work and grit are key, but so are adaptability and, most importantly, humility.
“Flexibility is key to success, as well as a lowered pride, and being more customer-centric,” concludes Kam. “Startups should keep their eyes on the stars – but their feet on the ground.”
About White Knight Group
White Knight Group is a revolutionary investor dedicated to partnering with startups and helping them succeed. Get in touch with the White Knight Group at whiteknight.asia.