пятница, 19 октября 2012 г.

Dr. Pehong Chen, CEO of BroadVision: "You just need to think bigger"

On October 6 during the SKOLKOVO Open Day we had a great chance to talk to one of the most famous online-business entrepreneurs Dr. Pehong Chen, CEO of BroadVision. So we asked him and Gary Fowler, SKOLKOVO Startup Academy mentor, a few questions about Russian entrepreneurship and the Silicon Valley impact on it.

- Good afternoon, Dr. Pehong Chen. Thank you for spending a few minutes on our quick interview.

P.C.: Hi, it’s also my pleasure to be a part of the SKOLKOVO Open Day.

- First of all, could you share with us your strategic plan for Russia and its market?

P.C.: Well, it’s not just about Russia, but also about other countries. We want to primarily work with partners rather than do direct sales as BroadVision is not a very big company. The thing is that it’s more important to establish an eco-system where many partners would work together. Especially in Russia that is a new market for us. Gary (Gary Fowler- editor’s note) is our new representative, country manager here, and his goal is to set up several partnerships for us, for example, with the government or other clients from different sectors and industries in order to have their own cloud. Basically, it calls for a more partner oriented approach than direct sales approach.

- Returning to the SKOLKOVO Startup Academy, you’ve already met our students, right? Do they differ from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs or not?

P.C.: In many ways they are not different! All entrepreneurs look alike anywhere in the world. In terms of talent they are also very much alike. If you are well-educated, you have good ideas, it doesn’t matter where you are – in Japan, Moscow or Silicon Valley – you probably look and think very similarly. The real question is your understanding of different parts of your business. The SKOLKOVO Startup Academy is a programme which I think is making an exposure of good ideas to the rest of the world. It gives its students a high-impact learning experience in order to develop very quick understanding of aspects of building a successful company. I hope that it will be developed and it will bring more cases and entrepreneurs over here. I will also encourage my friends to be a part of this programme, to participate and make some sort of exchange in order to make local startups more capable of taking opportunities to become successful on the global market.

- What do you think is the main lesson that the Silicon Valley can teach Russian entrepreneurs?

P.C.: I think that number one is the fact that there’s a real global market out there. You don’t have to think about just small, domestic things. Throughout the history of business we can see that every successful company always have a balance of domestic and international markets, especially today, when everything is one click away from everywhere. I would encourage Russian entrepreneurs to think that their product is built for the whole world, not just Russia. And then you have to learn how to do that! Like I said in my lecture today, it’s a lot easier to sell anything to the rest of the world, than 5-10 years ago. There is an opportunity you can tap into now, you just need to think bigger.

- Thank you very much! Gary, now I’d like to welcome you and ask you a couple of questions. Could you, please, tell us how this partnership eco-system will be developed in Russia?

G.F.: Thanks! One of the things is that we need to make people more aware of BroadVision and the opportunities out there that Clearvale Enterprise represents to their partners. It’s like Facebook for business. Part of it is just getting the word out for people to have the message, to understand it, because there’s something we all know we need to do, but we don’t know how! And there’s an interesting technology and vehicle to do those things.

 - As I understand you are looking forward to seeing our SKOLKOVO Startup Academy students with all of their ideas and projects of the cloud, aren’t you?

G.F.: I’m looking forward to hearing their ideas and projects about everything, because it’s fun to see their smiling faces full of optimism, beliefs and dreams and with all of that I don’t care what project sphere it is. The cloud is interesting, obviously, but everything in the end is a passion and we want them to have “the heart and the mind”.

- Our students have visited to the Silicon Valley this summer. What do you think, how strong was the Silicon Valley impact on their minds?

G.F.: Well, first of all, it has opened them up! They all started to understand other people from many countries doing many things. The key point was that in Silicon Valley it’s not just the Americans, but it’s Americans from China, Greece, from anywhere! And people are still coming there for one reason – Silicon Valley develops passion, which they can express. And they bring it back home, so each time taking a look around we can see more people smiling and understanding. And that’s probably the biggest impact.

- I think that they just start believing that they actually are able to do something

G.F.: That’s right!

P.C.: Let me, please, add that Russia, as well as other Eastern countries, has a strong education system. Students here are very well trained, highly skilled in math, science, analysis. Those are very important foundations needed to enter a business and do good work. What you need to improve is an additional business scope, business vision and business understating. Then you combine it with a lot of new businesses and startups and successful entrepreneurship forms.

- Thank you very much for your time. It was my pleasure to talk to you. I hope that you enjoy your stay at the SKOLKOVO business school.

P.C.: Thank you too! Good luck!

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