What you need to know
An online thread discussing Taiwan’s environment for startups is generating discussion. While some people defend Taipei, some cultural drawbacks are also worth pondering upon.
Translated and compiled by Yuan-ling Liang
On February 2, a post on The BackStory, a platform currently with over 6,000 users discussing technology, marketing and startups, asked for people’s experiences working for Taiwan’s startups. In the thread, a user named stevelucas replies, “I have been in Taipei for a few years. Sorry to say, the startup ecosystem in Taiwan monumentally sucks.”
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The unchangeable culture behind the problems
Stevelucas states that the main problem for the startup environment in Taipei can be attributed to the local culture. He points out that people seldom spend their time on fields worth development but focus on issues that cannot be fixed immediately, and that Taiwan lacks good judgment.
Several points criticizing Taiwan’s environment have also been listed, including corruption, over obsession with its food safety scandals, and the lack of honesty. The user observes that Taiwanese people do not take on real challenges, and are incapable of inventing new things. He writes, “Taiwan’s lack of true talent is unparalleled.”
The user also brings up the phenomenon that Taipei pretends to be a design capital, yet is very dirty and polluted. Additionally, it is an unfriendly place for people to dwell in due to the “self-centeredness that is typically seen in third-world countries.” He says that this influences the working attitude in Taiwan, pushes away talents, and therefore Taiwan is definitely not the perfect place for starting a business.
Other users reply with different point of views. A user named StanleyLin, who claims to have lived in Taipei for over 33 years, also supports stevelucas. He states, “Taipei is the worst place for a man who really wants to change something,” and people’s ignorance of real conditions is because of their lack of knowledge of this country. “They just focus on how much $ they’ve got,” he says.
How do the Taiwanese view the issue?
Xdite Cheng, founder of Growth School, a learning institute helping people enhance competitiveness, has translated and shared the TheBackstory post on his Facebook page. Many comments below agree with these accusations of the Taiwan society with one saying, “The criticisms are harsh, but rather true.”
However, Tony Tsai, founder of TS Media Group, a startup helping companies optimize their operation, posts on his Facebook page challenging these harsh criticisms. He says that Taiwan is rather “a heaven for startups” with the trend of encouraging startups and abundant governmental support. Tsai also points out the tax rate in Taiwan is much lower than Western countries.
He thinks the real gap between Taiwanese and Western professionals is language, but says this can be solved through conversations.
Taiwan’s location, being close to China, is something else that Tsai believes Taiwanese companies can take advantage of in terms of gaining access to products manufactured in China.
The final advantage he brings up is that advertising costs are low in Taiwan, which saves startups a great amount of money.
Another user of The BackStory, Hana Chang, summarizes on the original thread that the public atmosphere is undeniably superficial sometimes, saying, “people do tend to follow what’s the most popular, and it does seem to be a bit more than other countries.”
But then she follows up by saying these are rather cultural issues and characteristics of the Taiwanese people. Chang says that many of the examples brought up by Lucas (stevelucas) have nothing to do with working in startups, and while some of them are true, they are not in line with the topic in question.
Edited by Olivia Yang