Meet Horace Luke – Founder of Gogoro
'Young People Can, They Just Don’t Have The Stage'
Born in Hong Kong, raised in USA, the founder of the most potential Taiwan-based unicorn startup tells you how he led his team to the global stage.
'Young People Can, They Just Don’t Have The Stage'By Sydney Peng, Liang-Rong Chen
Black T-shirt, jeans, and a pair of heavy framed glasses seem to be the icon of Horace Luke, the co-founder and CEO of Gogoro. Born in Hong Kong and raised in USA, this entrepreneur based in Taiwan had his interview suddenly switched into English before finishing a sentence in Mandarin with a heavy Cantonese accent.
Former Creative Director of Nike, Microsoft, and HTC, Luke is now leading Gogoro to become the most potential unicorn startup (valuation over $1 billion) in Taiwan, with its current valuation over $800 million.
Aiming for the global stage by starting off in Taiwan, Luke has always been a caring leader of a team of talents. How did he lead the team to fight this international game? Read on for an extract from the interview.
I am not Taiwanese, but I often say how much I love Taiwan. Going global is not only about the competencies, but the market. If you keep focusing on the domestic market, you won’t be able to develop international talents.
The fact that many Taiwanese companies have achieved global success proves that the people here do have the ability. It just depends on how you look at this fact.
I’ve heard many people comparing Taiwan with Holland. But Holland shares a continent with other countries, while Taiwan is an island. Our parent’s generation barely had their first flight by plane when the Dutch has already been sending talented people around the world for generations. New concepts need time to get rooted. As the world keeps speeding up, young people now have their own views and perspectives. But you still have to give them a little more time.
I think it’s not that the Taiwanese can’t. It’s that we do not have this stage for them. If we create our own technologies, products, infrastructure, brands, or markets, we will have a stage for them.
Young people starts their own coffee shops and restaurants, which is a sign to me that they no longer want to work for outsourcing companies. They want to start their own brand.
They just don't have that much money for investment, so they can only start from small-scale businesses such as restaurants. All we have to do , is to give them the time. They do have the will.
Taiwan has great competencies. As you can see, all components of our scooters, except the bearing and the battery cell, are Made in Taiwan. What other country can do this? Given this quality, I believe there aren’t many.
Image: Kuo-Tai Liu
Recently, we are planning to do expression courses, because education in Taiwan lacks this kind of training. We haven’t started it yet, but we believe we have to do it.
Sometimes, the problem is not that you can’t make it happen, but you can’t clearly tell others what you can do. The key is the ability to tell the story, and this has nothing to do with which country you are in. Now, story-telling training is required for all employees of Gogoro. What have you learnt outside? What was your toughest challenge? What do our customers like or dislike about Gogoro?
However, besides story-telling, passion is even more important. If you don’t have the passion, no matter how much training you get, it won’t make any difference.
No matter the expression courses, the story-telling training, or any other international competency cultivation, they all lead back to one fundamental question: Do you have passion in this? If you don’t, you will never get motivated. But if you do love what you are doing, and you strongly believe in it, others will be able to feel it, even if you never try to prove it.
Both my parents are accountants. At first, I planned to follow their path, but my mother told me that the most important thing is to find what I really love to do.
My school once gave me a career test when I was 17, to find out what profession would fit me. It turned out that mine was “environmental keeping.” I had no idea what that meant, so I took a bus back to school, only to get myself a translation, which was“cleaning the floor.” But you see, the result of the test did turn out to be pretty accurate. Now, I am doing environmental keeping.
So the key is whether you have the passion. We like to give our employees a big picture, and tell them how to look at it and what to do to achieve it, instead of asking them not to do this or that.
Some say that one of the shortcomings of Taiwanese is that they never know how to say ‘no.’ But I think that is just exactly what their strength is. They don’t say ‘no’ because they are willing to try, willing to create.
We should see them as teammates. By coming here to work, they have devoted their lives into the company. It’s an exchange. Watching my teammates buy a house or a car, get married or have a baby, is what makes me feel the most proud of. It means that I have given them the sense of security, and the stage.
Translated by Sharon Tseng.