Lessons from 3 Incredible Asian Women Entrepreneurs

April 9, 2015

Starting a business is tough. Starting a business when most of the odds are against you is even more difficult. After talking to many female colleagues in frontier markets I have nothing but respect for the amount of sheer willpower they have to succeed in their professional lives. With that brief introduction, today I’d like to straight away start talking about 3 incredible Asian women entrepreneurs. Whether they were born here or continue to do business in the region, we all have a lot to learn from how they achieved their hard won success.


Janna and Tessa Lam – IP Mirror


Many people believe that you can’t start a business without any funding. Of course this is true in many cases but you have to hear about the Lam sister’s success to believe that it’s not always needed. They founded IP Mirror, a service which helps with domain registration and brand protection. Coming from a poor Chinese family, they had extremely strong values of being highly independent, hard working, humble and keeping an eye on their finances.


Success requires investment – if not money, then time for sure. During the early days, Janna slept only 3 or 4 hours a night. And though they didn’t have to apply for funding, they did borrow USD 150,000 from friends and family which they had to eventually return. She told Tech in Asia:


“The other hardest moment we had was when the team has disagreements among partners. It happens in business. It is the hardest part because we put trust and faith when we work with people. And when the partners fail you and did not do their part, it strains the partnership and spoils friendships. “



Take Away: There will be challenges in any business which must be overcome to succeed. You simply cannot give in.


Weili Dai – Marvell’s Technology Group Ltd.


Women and tech is an exciting combination. Much of the world is still pushing the inclusion of women becoming leaders in tech companies but then again you have women like Dai. She’s has the incredible recognition of being the only female co-founder of a major semiconductor company. Marvell’s Technology Group Ltd. produces storage, communication and consumer semiconductor products and has design centers all over the world.


I could go on endlessly about all the recognition that she has achieved. But what stands our for me the most is her incredible success in a society which doesn’t always pave the road for women. Born in Shanghai China, Dai talked to Asian Entrepreneur about what drove her towards being an entrepreneur:


“When I was a young girl growing up in Shanghai, I often saw my parents as mentors or quite simply entrepreneurs to me and my siblings… It’s because of my parents that I knew I too wanted to be an entrepreneur and change the world. My upbringing helps us to have a freedom of vision and innovation, as well as make a positive impact to the world.”



Take Away: Never stop encouraging women and girls around you to achieve their dreams and inspiration. Your encouragement could become a key to their success.


Kay Wong – Milky Way


Women who encourage women in business deserve a great deal of recognition. After all, you can best understand the specific needs required by women if you’ve been there yourself. Wong, founder of Milky Way runs an online store for maternity clothes which are designed and manufactured in Singapore with distributors and sellers around the globe. She has employed four women who work flexi-time to help manage the business.


I personally appreciate her take on work-life balance. So many women working in Asian societies are trying to find the “right balance” between home and work. Many of them just end up finding unhappiness because they don’t recognize and appreciate all that they’ve achieved. In a talk with Tech in Asia, she says:


“Throw the ideal of having a balanced work and personal life out of the window, because it is misleading. And if you are a perfectionist, it will frustrate you to no end trying to find that balance. A more useful way of looking at things is how one manages priorities, and being at peace with the trade-offs. For me, growing the business has been at the expense of my personal time. But it is a choice I happily make.”



Take Away: Understand that you may not “have it all” in the eyes of the world but if you’re happy, you’ve found success.


Janna and Tessa Lam – IP Mirror


Many people believe that you can’t start a business without any funding. Of course this is true for in many cases but you have to hear about Lam’s success to believe that it’s not always needed. She founded IP Mirror, a service which helps with domain registration and brand protection. Coming from a poor Chinese family, they had extremely strong values of being highly independent, hard working, humble and keeping an eye on their finances.


Success requires investment – if not money, then time for sure. During the early days, Janna slept only 3 or 4 hours an ight. And though they didn’t have to apply for funding, they did borrow USD 150,000 from friends and family which they had to eventually return. She told Tech in Asia:


“The other hardest moment we had was when the team has disagreements among partners. It happens in business. It is the hardest part because we put trust and faith when we work with people. And when the partners fail you and did not do their part, it strains the partnership and spoils friendships. “



Take Away: There will be challenges in any business which must be overcome to succeed. You simply cannot give in.


Asian women entrepreneurs are the definition of perseverance in business. They go against many tides and often surprise us with the incredible results they produce. If you have any other examples of women entrepreneurs in Asia, please leave them in the comments below.

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