Asia vs. Silicon Valley on Failure

August 31, 2012

1:00 pm

Yesterday, we hosted a day-long Twitter discussion about the culture of failure in Asia. As Asian startup scenes grow, can they embrace the failure, uncertainty, and risk of the entrepreneurial life?

We hope to discuss this more at SXSW, where I applied to host a panel on the topic. (Voting closes tonight, so if you’re intrigued, give it a thumbs up and leave your comments.)

Below are some responses from entrepreneurs in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia.

1. Do Asian entrepreneurs embrace failure enough?

Most people said that Asian entrepreneurs don’t embrace failure enough and are sometimes hesitant to take risks – although, according to one entrepreneur in Indonesia, failure can be a way to improve your startup or gain experience.

Hong Kong:




2. How does culture contribute to fear of failure or risk aversion in Asia?

Respondents talked about the influence of history, social pressure, and “kiasu” (a term used in Chinese culture to describe the fear of losing).





3. Who are some inspirational companies or entrepreneurs who have overcome their failures and gone on to succeed?

Entrepreneur cited companies like Toyota (Japan); ASTRA International, Kaskus, Citzel, ValadooDisdus (acquired by Groupon), and PriceArea (all in Indonesia); and construction conglomerates (Asia). But, as mentioned above, more role models would go a long way in motivating uncertain entrepreneurs.

4. What can we learn from Silicon Valley about failure?



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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact

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