Foster Silicon Valley mindset

Derek Sivers. Picture: Raul Padernal

Friday, October 21, 2011

BRUNEI can adopt the best practices of Silicon Valley through a shift of mindset and the creation of an empowering culture, said the founder of an online CD store for independent musicians.

Derek Sivers, who was guest speaker at the Think Big Innovate Forum 2011, yesterday said that Brunei can foster an environment for innovation effectively through a simple mind shift.

"It's all about the mind shift. Silicon Valley is a very tiny little microculture where people talk about big dreams, embrace risks, always pushing themselves and to each others to go beyond what they can do," said the founder of CDBaby.

"You don't have to worry that the Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are not here, but instead cultivate the culture that's practised there. If there's a decent-sized community of people developing that same empowering mindset, I believe Brunei can certainly do brilliant things," he added.

The money will come as there is plenty of funding provided by Brunei and anywhere else in the region, he said.

"If people are doing something that's bold, proven and has a good chance of success, money becomes incidental," he said as he urged startups not to get distracted by the prospect of fame or riches.

Sivers also shared an anecdote when he spoke to a business school class in Singapore on starting their own companies.

"In a room of 50 people, only one hand reluctantly went up. If I would have asked this same question to a room of 50 business school students in California, I would've gotten 51 hands, with someone running in from the hallway just to raise their hand!"

He said cultivating the Silicon Valley culture will take time, but Singapore, where he lives, has already taken steps towards achieving the vision through financing schemes for startups, laws and regulations that favour startups, a good number of venture capitalists and angel investors and a conducive infrastructure.

A professional musician since 1987, Sivers founded CDBaby in 1998 when he was selling his own CD on his website and friends asked if he could sell theirs too. He quickly created one of the easiest solutions for an artist to get their music into digital delivery stores like iTunes and Amazon. In a few years, CDBaby became the largest seller of independent music on the web, with over US$100 million in sales for over 150,000 musician clients to date.

In 2008, Sivers sold CDBaby to Disc Makers for US$22 million.

He was the winner in the 2003 World Technology Award in the field of entertainment and was labelled by Esquire magazine as "one of the last music-business folk heroes".

He advised startups to not just follow trends, but instead, try to come up with products and services that help make people's lives better.

"My advice is to start small. A lot of the companies we call world-changing today started out really small. Twitter was a little three-day-act before it got caught on so well. Sometimes, the little things might get people so interested and keep coming back," he said. The Brunei Times


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