Successful entrepreneurs need to be persuasive and able to communicate their vision to investors and employees, Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai said Tuesday.
Speaking at the Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund Jumpstarter competition, Tsai said convincing others to believe in you and your company “can be learned.”
“Marketing yourself is not an innate skill,” Tsai said. “The most-important thing when you want to be persuasive is that you have conviction in yourself and your product and your customer base. Otherwise, whatever you say is not going to sound real,” Tsai told the audience at the event’s final. “Conviction is the foundation of persuasion.”
Tsai said effective leaders need to be able to communicate their thinking to employees as they grow and scale their companies.
“Your team needs a leader who can articulate the vision. If you can’t stand onstage and articulate the vision, your team is lost,” Tsai said.
Tsai is one of the judges of the Entrepreneurs Fund competition, which will crown three winners later Tuesday and see the Fund invest up to $1 million in each, as well as offering know-how and support through Alibaba’s rich technology ecosystem.
The competition, also sponsored by Hong Kong Cyberport Management Co. Ltd. and Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corp., started earlier this year and has winnowed competitors down from the original 600 pitches.
Tsai congratulated finalists for making it this far, noting the probability of being one of the last six finalists is only 1%, and to be one of three winner is 0.5%. Numbers and winning aside, Tsai had encouraging words for the gathered competitors.
“You will learn a lot from this process—what it takes to build a company,” he said
Tsai also plugged Hong Kong as a good place to found a start-up company.
“I’m very optimistic about Hong Kong, and Hong Kong as a hotbed of innovation for start-ups,” Tsai said.
Tsai said 12% of the competitors in Jumpstarter 2017 were women, which was encouraging, but not good enough. A total of 12% of the entries also originated from overseas teams that have based their start-ups in Hong Kong, also not bad, but a number that he’d like to see be even higher.
“We need more women entrepreneurship, and we need more recognition that Hong Kong is a viable place to start your business,” Tsai said.
The Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund has invested in 14 startups since its 2015 founding. Its investments span e-commerce, O2O, fintech, healthcare, wearables, the sharing economy, media sectors and virtual-reality entertainment. Companies that have received funding include Shopline, which provides online tools to e-commerce vendors, designer dress rental platform YEECHOO, logistics service GoGoVan, online recipe hub DayDayCook and genetic-testing startup Prenetics.