Before moving to Taiwan, Paolo Lising was an award-winning journalist in the Philippines, working for major financial media such as Financial Times and Business Worlds. After receiving his Master’s degree in Business Administration from National Taiwan University(NTU), he started his first business “MillionDC.com,” which was soon named one of the Top 100 startups in Asia.
What made him decide to come to Taiwan and become an entrepreneur?
“I wanted to be more international,” he replied firmly.
From an interviewer to an interviewee
Covering central banks, stock markets, and the energy sector, Lising produced many headline stories during his career as a journalist. His reports were even followed by Bloomberg, Voice of America, Reuters, etc. He was awarded of reporter of the year in the third year of his career, and received another Filipino award three years later (the Jaime Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism).
After digging news for eight years, however, he began to have doubt about what he had been doing. “You know what the next question is, and how to ask them. You feel like you know every move you need to take to complete the story. However, how authentic are the interviewees’ responses? This has always been a question for me.” As a business reporter, he wanted to shift his perspective from the interviewer to the interviewees. So he decided to go to business school, and applied for GMBA of NTU, Taiwan.
In the beginning, he thought of going to China. “I have been to China several times for my reports, and also visited Taiwan during the economic recession in 2008. I think Taiwan’s living environment is better, and it’s a good place for me to stay for a while before moving forward to China,“ said Lising.
Inspired by the growing trend of startups in Taiwan
Originally he came to Taiwan because he wanted to be an international journalist. “But after studying GMBA at NTU, I found what I learned in class could be integrated with my experiences in journalism. And I started to think that I don’t want to be the interviewer anymore. Being the interviewee, the one who tells the story, is more interesting. That’s why decided this shift in career,” Lising explained.
At first, he only saw Taiwan as an access point to China. After living here for a while, however, he fell in love with the island. “Taiwan doesn’t develop that fast, but not so slow either. It suits my introvert personality. The growing trend of startups in Taiwan also inspired me to start my own business. Even if I expand my business to China one day, I will still live here and have my company based in Taiwan.”
“I noticed that many international venture capitalists are interested in Taiwan’s startups. Last time when I visited Singapore, the local VCs all seemed interested in knowing more about the current environment of startups in Taiwan,” recalled Lising. “Now Taiwan’s government is gradually opening its door to foreigners, and I think it helps improve the national competitiveness.”
Foreigners really need luck to find jobs in Taiwan.
However, it was not easy for him to find a job in Taiwan.
According to Taiwan’s “Qualifications and Criteria Standards for foreigners undertaking the jobs”, foreign employment is strictly regulated to secure jobs for locals. For local employers, for example, they have to meet the requirements of minimum paid-up capital and revenue(*1), and the base salary paid to a foreign employee can be no lower than NT$40,000($1,300).
For foreign employees, they also have to meet the criteria specified by the government (*2). Furthermore, foreign students who have left school have to find a job in 6 months (18 months for Germany students), or their residence visas will expire.
The regulations made it difficult for Lising to find a job. Though he is now a senior specialist for digital marketing at ASUS, he said he was lucky to receive the offer from Cyberlink before he graduated. It was a pity that many of his talented foreign classmates weren’t so lucky, and had to leave Taiwan to pursue their careers in other Asian countries.
A new social media to connect global entrepreneurs
In 2013, Lising started his very first business, MillionDC.com, making him the first Filipino tech entrepreneur in Taiwan. “There was no social media that provided a platform exclusively for entrepreneurs. The existing sites were too crowded, not precise enough for those who aim to build their own enterprises. So I wanted to create a platform to help entrepreneurs connect with each other, to share ideas and find potential partners.”
In just two years, MillionDC.com was selected as among the Top 100 startups in Asia. Such achievement did not come easy. He slept less than 5 hours a day, and spent nights and weekends creating his website and preparing for startup competitions.
As a Filipino entrepreneur, he hoped that his platform could also stimulate the entrepreneur environment in the Philippines. “The trend of startups hasn’t begun in the Philippines yet.”
Maybe in the near future, more international startups will find the right person to collaborate with via Paolo’s platform, including entrepreneurs from both Taiwan and the Philippines.
About Paolo Lising
Paolo Lising is a senior marketing specialist for ASUS, where he heads the company’s global social media campaigns. Before moving to ASUS, Paolo led in creating communication plan and new product launches of CyberLink’s photo editing software. He started his career in Taiwan in a tech startup, where he was responsible for creating the company’s new business unit.
*1. Domestic company:
(1) Established for less than one (1) year, and its paid-up capital has reached five million(5,000,000) New Taiwan Dollars and above.
(2) Established for more than one (1) year, and its average turnover, actual import and export revenue, or commission in the most recent year or for the past three (3) years has reached no less than ten million (10,000,000) New Taiwan Dollars, one million (1,000,000)United States dollars, or four hundred thousand (400,000) United States dollars,respectively.
*2. Other than meeting with other criteria specified in the Standards, foreign employees have to acquire one of the following qualifications before undertaking the jobs/assignments specified here above:
(1) Acquire certificates or operation qualifications through the procedures specified in the Examinations of Specific Profession and Technician Guidelines.
(2) Acquire credentials of Master degree or above from universities in the ROC or in foreign countries or acquire Bachelor degree and with more than two years working experiences in the specific field.
(3) Expatriates to the ROC that have been employed in multi-national companies for more than one year.
(4) Specialists who have been trained professionally or self-taught in the specific field and have more than five years experiences in related skills and have demonstrated outstanding performances.