Taiwan Startup Stadium: The Innovation Cluster That Rocks The East Asian Ecosystem

“Startup entrepreneurship has a lot in common with what it takes to be an athlete on a playing field: excellence, competitiveness, persistence, speed, teamwork” 

says Anita Huang, team captain of Taiwan Startup Stadium (TSS), the new startup cluster launched this May in Taipei. The initiative is supported by HeadStart Taiwan, a project driven by the Taiwanese Development Council to develop and foster the country’s tech ecosystem. By coming to Silicon Valley, TSS is on track with its mission: help Taiwanese startups go global.

Mentor Office Hours with John Fan, co-founder of PicCollage
Mentor Office Hours with John Fan, co-founder of PicCollage

San Francisco, Startup Alley at TechCrunch Disrupt: the energy is bursting off the all-women led Taiwanese Pavilion. Twelve startups made the trip from Taipei to Silicon Valley to exhibit at Disrupt as part of the Taiwanese Pavilion with TSS. Sebastian Ang CEO of Linqapp, an app that helps people overcome language barriers by connecting them to native speakers, was one of them.
During his stay in Silicon Valley, he had the opportunity, like twelve other Taiwanese teams to pitch to investors and media, visit major Silicon Valley Companies and take part in a 3-day series of workshops and mentoring with 500 Startups. Anita Huang who is in charge of operations and planning for TSS tells us more.

Robert Neivert 500 Startups. Big Camp Pitch Workshop

Anita, what is Taiwan Startup Stadium? How did you select the teams for Disrupt?

TSS is a not for profit accelerator based in Taipei. Our mission is to internationalize the Taiwanese startup ecosystem. We are running various programs (training, mentorship…) with a focus to help our startups to go on the international market. That’s why we are here in San Francisco.
We launched six months ago in May; the program is fairly new. For Disrupt we ran a preselection campaign, call ROCK the Mic to get the brightest startups and those who are aiming for the US market to join us. We got great feedback and we selected six hardware startups and six Saas or mobile startups to come with us. Some of the startups already have some traction, the hardware team have functioning prototypes. Most of them are ready to bring their products to market and ready to be invested in.

Rock the Mic 2 - Pitch competition to choose 12 TCDisrupt teams
Rock the Mic, the Pitch competition to choose the TCDisrupt teams

What’s the difference between incubators in Taiwan and incubators in mainland China?

Taiwan is a pretty small Island which makes the market fairly limited. It is almost mandatory for us to not limit ourselves to the Taiwanese market in order to really grow and shine. We have to extend out of the local ecosystem and build international bridges and partnerships to push the entrepreneurs to internationalize. We often joke that our first-year focus has been to literally kick our entrepreneurs out of the country.

Can you tell us about the advantages of being here in the Silicon Valley?

Before Disrupt we ran an all day mentorship session in the Bay area. We had around eight mentors who are building businesses internationally; we also had legal experts and professional investors. The teams also visited top tech companies in the Bay area such as AirBnB and Facebook.

Networking Workshop (Accelerator Bootcamp) (1)
At a networking workshop

As for TechCrunch Disrupt, it runs for three days, and it is a fairly concentrated experience. The startups founders are able to get some press. Some of them actually got on TechCrunch and other tech media. Two out of the twelve teams got selected by TechCrunch as Wild Cards to enter the final battlefield. They are competing for the votes to be able to pitch in the Startup Battlefield finals. During those 3 days there has been a lot of business exposure. It is a very productive and intensive journey for our startups and Taiwan Startup Stadium.

Photos courtesy of Taiwan Startup Stadium.

About Eva Nean

Eva is passionate about innovation, startups and people. After receiving a Master in Marketing and Advertising from the Paris Graduate School of Management in 2008, she moved to San Francisco to join the French-American Chamber of Commerce. She helped the organization foster the French-American business community. In 2010 she joined Yelp to help launch in France, the recommendation website’s first non-English speaking country. She joins StartupBRICS in 2015 as a contributing writer. Eva specializes in the tech diaspora based in Silicon Valley. She tells the stories of the people who make, shake, disrupt the emerging markets' ecosystems.