At Vulcan Post, we have written much about how entrepreneurs are taking the plunge and starting their own companies. We have written many stories, including those of Forever 21 cofounders; Malaysia’s next Jimmy Choo, Christine Ng; Singapore’s Bakerzin’s founder, Daniel Tay; and many more.
While their stories might be glamorous, entrepreneurs and founders put in a lot of hard work and sweat before they caught their first break. It is also often said that starting up and being an entrepreneur is not for everyone.
The question regarding nature versus nurture has long been debated.
Can entrepreneurship be taught?
When it comes to entrepreneurship, which matters more: talent or confidence?
We spoke to 5 entrepreneurs to find out what’s their take on the topic.
Joseph Phua, co-founder of Paktor, the popular dating app which has hundreds of thousands of users in various Southeast Asian countries:
“Confidence definitely. With confidence, you attract people with talent that you lack. Nobody has talents in all areas needed to be successful. I’m neither a coder nor an analytics guy. But I have a team of ex-Google/Amazon/IBM/Oracle developers working on our platform, and a few data scientists with PhDs and years of experience in the mobile field crunching through user behavior data to build the ultimate dating algorithm.
They definitely didn’t join Paktor because I’m a talented Excel spreadsheet financial modeler – it was more likely because I used to sell for a living (my last job was a timepiece salesperson in China), and I sold them my dream.”
“Definitely confidence. Talent and ability are the price of entry into the world of entrepreneurship – everyone needs to have some of it, but ultimately, success is more dependent on confidence. When your servers melt down and you need to do an emergency data migration, you need confidence to pull it off without melting down yourself.
When that critical partnership deal doesn’t go through, you need confidence to keep going and not let the set back get you down. When a competitor launches and raises a ton of funding, you need confidence to rise to the challenge and not be swept aside. Everyone has great ideas, and some people can even execute those great ideas – but it takes balls to take a great idea and turn it into a great company over the course of many years and many obstacles in the way.”
Karl Chong, co-founder of Beeconomics / Groupon Singapore:
“Talent matters more to me. As an entrepreneur-turned-angel investor, I appreciate investing and teaming up with talented and capable individuals. I like to steer an individual’s unique talents towards achieving the startup’s mission. Whether it’s the talent to code or the ability to knock on doors and close deals, a team’s combined talent is what creates measurable results.”
Roshni Mahtani, cofounder of Tickled Media, the parent company of LiveJournal Singapore and The Asian Parent
“Sheer, non-apologetic confidence surprisingly gets people quite far in life but truly successful entrepreneurs ooze a delicate blend of confidence and talent. Talent without confidence gets you nowhere and confidence with zero talent can be a problematic combination. Just remember that the entrepreneurship journey does not have to be a solo one, get involved with brilliant entrepreneurs and learn from them.”
Hew Joon Yeng, co-founder of Pigeonhole Live:
“If I have to choose one, it would be confidence. As entrepreneurs, we spent a lot of time convincing ourselves and every other person we meet. Confidence will see the team through the low points of the roller-coaster rides, and in making tough calls and execution.”
So what do you think: talent or confidence?