[Interview] Daniel Zen Chang, Co-Founder and CEO of icommoni Inc

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2015/04/17 by lingdecklee

 [The following is an interview on Daniel Zen Chang, Co-Founder and CEO of icommoni Inc, with authorization for publishing on the personal blog of Start Jeffrey Up and the FB page of Entrepreneurs Society of Taiwan (EST).]


About the startup:



1. How would you describe your startup to someone you meet for the first time?

This is the most connected world in the history but we don’t have a way to fully utilize our connections/networks. “People” is Google for People. Imagine when you’re going to Shanghai for business, a system recommends you who to contact, or you want to go to Dubai and it shows you friends who have been to Dubai. People is your “Contact book” for social media age.

2. Who are your target customers and what is your business model?

Startups, headhunters, PR, sales people are TA. Business model is display ads.

3. Who are some of your direct or indirect competitors? How do you seek to differentiate yourselves?

Guanxi doesn’t equal to Connection. Take LinkedIn as the example. According to LinkedIn’s official blog, the top five countries for LinkedIn users are US, India, Brazil, Great Britain and Canada. They are all western cultures (India was colonized by UK for 335 years) but it doesn’t work much to eastern people. Asians like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Thai and Middle Easterners take Guanxi seriously which clearly has way more weight than “professional connections”. This is why WeChat and Facebook are widely popular even for keeping in touch with professional networks.

The essence of “People” search is not only for business related info nor private only but the person itself to discover what users have in common to build Guanxi. As Taiwanese and Japanese, we have deep understandings about that in our blood which Westerners (Western companies) don’t.

4. How are decisions made in your company? The advantages and disadvantages of this process?

Everyone comes up with ideas and makes decision after a discussion. No disadvantages since we are a small team.

5. What has been your best marketing investment to date?

Content marketing and social network.


About the speaker:


1. Why entrepreneurship?

Life is short and what doesn’t kill you will only make you stronger including being an entrepreneur.

2. What is one great experience you’ve had working on your startup? What is one not-so-great learning experience?

Every experience is worth learning. From efficiency point of view, we should avoid many mistakes we have made but running a startup isn’t like running a project. It is a life long learning. Greater threats or difficulties bring us greater experience and we have been through things such as running out of money, having a surgery, losing a member, failing a project etc.

3. What helps you keep going in the face of challenges and obstacles?

Having a failure doesn’t make us a failure. We tackle serious problems with our creativity, determination, skills and teamwork. Nothing feels better when you can work with talented and yet determined people.

4. What skill has been most useful to you in our entrepreneurship journey?

Communication, Critical/Logical Thinking, Languages (Japanese, English and Mandarin) and Being Patient.

5. What do you need to learn or improve to take your startup to the next level?

Psychology and human behavior.


[Daniel will be a guest speaker at the upcoming EST event on April 17: EST Speaker Night. Join us and listen to his startup stories!]

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