Learn From Leaders with William Bao Bean

Wiliam Bao Bean is General Partner at SOSV and Managing Director of Chinaccelerator and MOX. SOSV is one of the most active early-stage investors in the world, managing $700m+ AUM and running 7 accelerators globally. 

Before joining SOSV, William was Managing Director at Singtel Innov8 Ventures supporting China investments. Previously, William was a Partner at Softbank China & India Holdings, a venture capital firm backed by Softbank and Cisco. William also spent 11 years as an equity research analyst most recently with Deutsche Bank where he was responsible for Internet and Telecom Equipment in Asia and China technology, media and telecom. 

In 2006 he was ranked #3 All-Asia analyst for Technology/Software and IT Services by Institutional Investor Magazine Asia. In 2005, he was ranked #1 stock picker in Technology, Media and Telecom, and #3 overall for Hong Kong/China by Starmine Thompson Reuters. He holds a BA from Bowdoin College.

William’s recommendations for you

Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and investors have been called many things from arrogant navel gazers to immoral jerks. But it pays to keep an eye on the leading global startup and innovation ecosystem and the best way to do that is by reading The Information. It’s amazing the amount of crazy stuff that goes down in the valley and The Information hands down has the best coverage. As a bonus, they also have great Asia coverage led by the amazing Shai Oster who attended Chinaccelerator Demo Day 8 in the winter of 2015 and in 2016 chose Bitmex as the subject of a feature article, then just another early stage startup but now the most valuable startup in the history of Hong Kong. The Information costs money but it’s well worth it. Hit the link to check it out for just Usd1.00. http://thein.fo/r/shai 

Kissinger on Kissinger: Reflections on Diplomacy, Grand Strategy, and Leadership

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Henry Kissinger is one of the world’s leading diplomats and consultants and at age 96 still has much to share. Last year my uncle Winston Lord wrote Kissinger on Kissinger based on a series of interviews he did with his former boss. Recommended reading for anyone interested in leadership, negotiations and decision making.

Podcast: How I built this with guy Raz.

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Founding stories and founding myths are always interesting to hear especially because we are based in China and sometimes don’t get to use so many of the products and services that are popular in the US. Startup founders the world around have many of the same challenges and its awesome to hear how these challenges have been overcome in the past. Check out lyft episode – so different than uber!

Five Questions with William

Q1: One habit that helps you keep focused and productive 

Understand what are the things that only you can do and focus on them. As much as possible delegate everything else, hopefully to someone who has a passion for it and is better than you at it.   

Q2: One piece of advice for entrepreneurs in your industry

Figure out what your superpower is, your unfair advantage, and focus on it. When taking a startup cross border, the obstacles are massive – its that much harder than just doing a startup in one’s home country. But the process is the same as you need to focus on a problem that people have and solve it better than anyone else can. Without an unfair advantage – be it tech, partnerships or even business model – you should question whether this is something you should be doing in the first place. 

Q3: One of the most important lessons you learnt from your career 

When you wake up each morning, think about all the things that you have to do in the day. How many do you look forward to? What do you dread? Strive to have over half your day be filled with activities that you have a passion for, that when you are in the middle you lose track of time. And think about the things you dread. Very few lucky people get to do what they want to do every minute of every day but understanding what you dread is useful. Maybe you are not the right person to be doing those things. People who don’t like doing something tend to execute poorly when they finally drag themselves to do it.

Q4: Something you’ve changed your mind about in your career

An important thing is to be able to change one’s mind. It takes hard work to keep an open mind, especially as one gets older. Wisdom from experience is great but it must be tempered as deep tech early stage investment is focused on change. Every day we attempt things that would have previously failed but because of change – usually brought on by technology based innovation – are now possible. Be open to change.

Q5: One trait that you would like to see in people you work with 

Determination. The entrepreneurs we work with have it tough. A few years back, the term cockroach became a popular way to describe lean startups that are indestructible. Step on them and they might lose a leg or two but get up and keep on going. The successful startups are led by people who failed and didn’t quit. I’m not advising doing the same thing over and over if it’s not working. But determination in the face of repeated failure wins the day. I want to work with cockroaches.

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