Recently I had a conversation with a church pastor in Seoul. He asked me where I came from. I told him stellar nucleosynthesis, but he didn’t seem to be interested in this. He informed me that I came, “from nothing”, followed by a speech suggesting (I think) the vanity of social hierarchy and materialism. I still don’t know what he meant. But if I’ve come from nothing, I haven’t gotten very far. Below is a checklist of what I and my startup have.
- Ten years experience succeeding and failing in various small time entrepreneurial endeavors
- Experience operating a very small, and very stressful, Hong Kong based scrap recycling and trading company
- A couple thousand dollars in the bank, life support for Xingergy and myself (from scrap business)
- GED certificate and a couple college credits at various community colleges and universities in Texas, New York, Hong Kong and Korea
- Business plan and founders agreement, self composed
- Hong Kong Science and Technology Park, incubation program application in progress
- Hot air
We have no funding, no mentor, no promises, and a very limited budget. This experience is likely shared by many other startups. You’ve got to first realize you’re a slave, then lead your people (even if you’re the only people) into the desert, only then will you receive some support. Or die of exposure. This is the room I’m renting, $650/month:
You only have to walk up 8 flights of stairs to get there
Startup, College, Social Life, Sleep: Pick two.
On a side note, don’t try to go to college and run a small business at the same time, especially when they’re in different countries, neither of which you’re from. It’s a bad idea, I know.
Funding, the Painful Way
One might ask, how did I get the capital to fund a scrap trading business? This is how: I made a deal with the buyer to pay 50% upfront, a deal with the seller to accept 50% down (after shipping the containers), wrote the contract, arranged shipping and trucking, AQSIQ licenses, CCIC inspections, flew to Tianjin and visited the buyer, flew to Dallas and loaded the containers, got yelled at by the seller, ignored by the buyer, had a heart attack before closing my first deal, and eventually walked away with enough cash in the bank to fly to Hong Kong and get on it.
Once I arrived in Hong Kong (March) I contacted some people I knew from attending Chinese University Hong Kong. One of them developed into a co-founder of the company and, as a prolific networker, located our third and final co-founder within days. As an introvert loner type, I absolutely loathe casual social gatherings and large, casual groups of acquaintances. I am a bad networker. Therefore, I am very lucky to of recruited a person so different from me in this respect. Founder rule #G: recruit people who are both smarter and different than you.
This coming Sunday the three of us will get together to finalize our business plan and founders agreement. The following week we’ll continue the process of applying for a position at the Hong Kong S&T Park’s incubation program. If everything goes to plan we’ll have our own laboratory and employees in a few months. Though I still have no idea how we’ll pay for it……