Female entrepreneurs face three distinct challenges to success; namely persistent negative stereotypes, capability to balance one’s family and work, and the ability to handle one’s feelings with relation to company’s interest.
What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?
I graduated from a university in China 17 years ago, and I still remember it was in 2007 that I came across the MSc Technopreneurship & Innovation Programme (TIP). During that time, very few people had the desire to become an entrepreneur. Even for myself, I wasn’t very sure whether entrepreneurship is for me. But I had a dream during that time, which was a desire to help myself and the people around me. Armed with that dream, I decided to apply to TIP. What motivated me most was the advice given by Professor Tan, who was the interviewer for my admission. He managed to sow the seeds of entrepreneurship in me. It was then that I decided to become an entrepreneur. It took me 7 years after that, with multiple thoughts and reflections before I embarked on the entrepreneurship journey.
Was there a stark change when you started out as an entrepreneur as compared to when you were an employee?
I had gained experience managing different areas and departments in the three companies I worked for. I would say, I was very familiar with them, be it management, financial planning, marketing, product design, etc. However, when I started out as a founder, I experienced a steep learning curve. Chinese gaming is something novel during that time. The tasks on hand were beyond my previous knowledge. I was responsible for promoting the Chinese gaming products and exporting the games to overseas market.
What challenges did you face in the gaming industry and what contributes to the success?
In 2014, very few companies in the gaming industry dared to venture out from China. I think less than 1% of the companies did that. I would say my company is amongst the pioneer generation which brought the Chinese online games to an international audience. Back then, many companies refused to collaborate with us as they thought this venture was too far-fetched.
Looking back, the decision made by my company was truly rewarding. Today, we have gained huge success in many regions around the world. We have developed more than 100 different games for the overseas market. In fact, our games are among the top 10 most popular games in more than 50 countries. The Chinese gaming market currently occupies up to 50% of the global gaming industry.
As a successful female entrepreneur, what would you consider to be some of the major challenges faced by other females in the realm of entrepreneurship?
I would like to share some statistics regarding female entrepreneurs. Currently, the percentage of females holding leadership positions in the corporate world is less than 10%, and the percentage is even lesser if we talk about female entrepreneurs. That is the sober reality about female entrepreneurs in the field.
In my opinion, female entrepreneurs face three distinct challenges. The first and possibly one of the most perennial problems, is the negative perceptions and stereotypes faced by female entrepreneurs. Typically, we are perceived to be emotional and conservative, which is an unfair judgement. I have even encountered companies or investors who bluntly said to me that they would not consider investing money in companies helmed by a female!
The second challenge is to balance your job and family. Sometimes, you just find yourself caught in a myriad of events which constantly demand your attention and time. This happened to me when I first started out as an entrepreneur.
The third and final challenge is to strike a balance between the company’s interest and your personal feeling. As a female, I do find myself less “aggressive” when handling company’s affairs. No doubt making profits is top on the agenda, but I always try to balance them with humane. It also took me some time, to convince the board of directors to accept my idea.
Is entrepreneurship an art or science?
I think art and science are non-contradictory, and they complement each other. Art, if mastered to perfection, becomes a matter of science and the vice versa. For example, people have found out that the musical pieces composed by the renowned musician Johann Sebastian Bach followed a regular pattern, akin to the methodical approach of science.
Similarly, we can apply both scientific and artistic approach to entrepreneurship. To run a company efficiently, there are various KPIs to achieve. My company executes every decision based on statistical analyses of the click rate of our advertisements, the ROIs (return on investments), etc. But at the same time, it is not possible to develop a good quality game without creativity and innovation. I would say creative imagination and being culturally aware of your potential customers are important for achieving long-term success.
Angel graduated with a Master of Science in Technopreneurship and Innovation from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). She is the founder and CEO of Uzone Network Technology Pte. Ltd, a company which engages in the distribution and operation of cultural content Chinese games internationally. The company was founded in 2014 and is based in Shanghai, China with branches in Beijing, Singapore, and Taiwan.