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Persistence is for Pussies

Keith Tan
January 2, 2017

Persist, persist, persist — flip through a dummy’s guide to entrepreneurship and you’re probably going to find a whole chapter devoted to persistence. Which is a pity, because persistence is for pussies.
Think about it. If you persist with a bad idea, you’re just wasting your time. By refusing to shove your idea into the trash, you waste time, money and opportunity. Think of everything else you could have done if you had just admitted that your Big Idea wasn’t so big after all.

I learnt it at our previous startup, Start Now. There were plenty of entrepreneurs in the social sector who refused to give up. And somehow they still survive today. It's kind of like they started companies just to underpay themselves — would you?
Start Now grew abysmally by startup standards — there we were, growing 100% year-on-year, when we should have been growing 20% month-on-month. Investors were impatient, growth wasn’t scalable. But the moment we graduated from university, we got serious. We decided that Start Now would NOT make us rich (and we mean, “f*ck you” rich).

What did we do with it? We thought of closing it, but we realised the company had some value for us. It took us 8 months to find a buyer, but we did and we walked away hundreds of thousands richer than when we went in. It was a net gain. But the lingering question was, could we have walked away a few million richer? Maybe, because we became Singapore's “smallest tech exit” to date. 

Onto the next adventure
But now we could focus all our energy on working till we found something that struck gold. We went through 7 different business ideas — that’s 7 logos, MVPs, apps, namecards, Facebook pages and more. We spent 95k of our own money over one year, as we tried to find the next Big Thing.
There was the Accounting Outsourcing Business, the Corporate Secretarial Services Platform, the Will Writing Platform, the Instant Dating App, the business directory creation software, the Natural Language Processing Developer Platform and finally, the In-text content recommendation software.

And finally, we arrived at a service that helps businesses hire top technical talent in Indonesia, and build their offshore teams there. Ever since Start Now, we have been running our technical development out of Indonesia. It was initially for cost considerations, but eventually, we were drawn to the great talent there. And we had to jump over countless legal and administrative hurdles to get our infrastructure up and running. Our friends took advantage of this, asking us to build stuff for them on the cheap, or give them advice on how to set up an offshore team. And then it struck us. This is it!

So, bottom line? Keep pivoting until you strike pay-dirt. You owe it to yourself. Stop wasting time chasing a dream and proving naysayers wrong. Persistence, is for pussies. Man-up and pivot.

PS: This is an opinion piece by Keith Tan, Group CEO of Wonderlabs. Wonderlabs is the leading service provider helping companies build and manage software development teams in Indonesia and Vietnam. Across our various shared and dedicated centers, we have over 350+ active software developers. Since our founding in 2015, we have grown rapidly through innovation and our relentless mission focus - Connecting you to success and productivity. Alumni of Wonderlabs have gone on to work at some of the biggest companies in Southeast Asia.

Why Singapore Startups should consider setting up here

"I started Wonderlabs because I experienced the problems of building and managing a distributed software development team in Indonesia from 2011 to 2015. I wanted to make it seamless and frictionless for companies to build and manage teams. On the other hand, I found that there are so many amazing software engineers in Indonesia and Vietnam and wanted to connect them to employers in Singapore, Hong Kong and Jakarta" - Ivan Chang, Executive Chairman, Wonderlabs Group

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