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2019 XFail: To Failure and Beyond


The fifth “XFail” entitled “To Failure and Beyond”, an annual gathering to promote entrepreneurship, was held on December 14 at SYNTREND, Taipei. Sharing at the event are the “once failed,” including Pokai Michael Chen, the founder of AirSig; Ben Jai, founder and CEO of Hope Bay Technologies; Ju-Chun Ko, the first Taiwanese graduate of Singularity University; Luke Hsu, a famous figure in the field of self-media; and Greg Hao, an angel investor. The speakers hoped to encourage and inspire Taiwanese entrepreneurship through their personal stories about learning from failures.

The 2019 XFail was supervised by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) and jointly organized by the Science and Technology Policy Research and Information Center (STPI), the Silicon Valley Entrepreneur Association of Taiwan, and the Department of Economic Development of Taipei City government. In previous years, “XFail” has invited Sheng Tong Dai, the “king of hat” who has been through ups and downs in his career; Mayuki Chou, the founder of the former Tokichoi (now YOCO Collection) and Wstyle; and Calvin Lin, the chairman of the board of O'Pay Electronic Payment, to share their experience. Their original and inspiring stories have encouraged the participants to “be innovative and not to be afraid of failure.”


Pokai Michael Chen, the founder of AirSig


In a pre-recorded video that was played before “The world between us and ‘failures’: entrepreneur forum,” Liang-gee Chen, the Minister of the MOST, said that if one has never failed, it might be because he or she never tried new things. He also urged people not to avoid trying for fear of failures and to persevere in the pursuit of their dreams. Mei-ling Chen, the Minister of the National Development Council, encouraged participants not to be discouraged by failure. Keep innovating and learn from failures, and most importantly, be adventurous. Dr. Yuh-Jzer Joung, the Director-General of the STPI, said that success can be achieved with relentless attempts and called out to the youth that no matter they were venturing into new fields or facing setbacks, they should always believe in the saying “failure is the mother of success.”


Pokai Michael Chen had been a security engineer at Acer before founding AirSig in July 2014, with six employees cramming in a 10-ping office. His team and their “air signature” technology won over Hon Hai, who invested a whopping 20 million US dollars while holding only 10% shares. Chen’s net worth, therefore, ran into billions of dollars. However, five years later, AirSig has lost the attention of the press and is now back to its starting point. Chen gave a talk on the topic “From zero to 600 million, and back to zero” at the event, sharing his experience in establishing a company and learning from setbacks. A boss, according to Chen, must face the difficulties of commercialization and has the courage to be hated by others.

Ju-Chun Ko (second from right), Luke Hsu (far left) and Greg Hao (second from left) shared their personal stories about learning from failures at XFail


Another speaker Ben Jai, the founder of the Hope Bay Technologies, had been a researcher in Bell Labs and the third employee recruited in Google Taiwan. Moreover, while he was in Delta Electronics, he emphasized entrepreneurship spirit in his leadership, developed a cloud technology center, and recruited a team of experts to establish their own business in 2013—the Hope Bay Technologies. The open and innovative company culture allowed its employees to play to their strengths. However, as many entrepreneurs, they were too optimistic about the market, and the popularity of their products thus ended up having to reduce the capital. Jai stressed in his sharing that doing something that results in failure is not shameful, as the real failure is “doing nothing.”


Apart from the two talks, the event also invited three renown figures who dabble in various fields to join “The world between us and ‘failures’: entrepreneur forum,” including Ju-Chun Ko, who has founded three companies but none survived; Luke Hsu, who at 27 restarted his life in the field of self-media; and Greg, who has been an entrepreneur in America and seen the growth and demise of many start-ups as an investor. They all shared their experience in facing setbacks in the forum. Ko said that he knew himself better from his failures, and found an ideal position in life. Greg also thought that experiencing failures helped him understand himself. Hsu encouraged everyone not to be intimidated by failures because the experience made one grow stronger.


In addition to all the inspiring talks from those who had experienced failures themselves, the organizers also put up a “Wall of Failure” and a “Setback Sharing Area” for participants to write down, confront, and share their frustration. This is an era of entrepreneurship, an era that allows one to fail. By celebrating the gains of failures, the event indeed injected new energy into the Taiwanese entrepreneurship field.

STPI Director General Yuh-Jzer Joung (center) photo with VIPs and speakers