To Share, to Achieve

Incubation expert Rickey Lin shares his advice on how to become an entrepreneur and achieve success. Find out how he is helping to develop business in Dongguan, and what he sees for the future of Songshan lake.

Watching him in his seemingly natural element at Songshan Lake’s (SSL) Innovation 48 on August 10 and 11, Rickey Lin, a business incubation expert and founder and director of counseling at Inno17 (a Taiwanese incubator in SSL), effortlessly showed his ability and passion for shaping entrepreneurial minds.

After the winning teams were announced, Lin had time to sit down and talk about what he does and his role in business incubation in Dongguan. His charisma did not change from onstage to the interview, and he kept a pleasant and approachable demeanor as we began talking about where he is from.

Originally from Taiwan but studied in the U.S. and lived there for 12 years, Lin developed an international openness and worked in the family business until 2007, which is what brought him to Dongguan.

That was when he ventured out to build his own company that focused on data loss prevention and IT security products. He sold the company last year to continue in incubation with Inno17 and has helped 216 companies in the past three and a half years and hosts an estimated 168 companies at the center located at the Taiwanese High-Tech Park.

“I really love helping people,” he said, which is why he started doing incubation. He thinks it’s a “beautiful thing to help someone and not look for returns,” this is not only his personal belief but Inno17’s as well.

“Our motto is ‘I share, I achieve’,” he said.

There is symbolism behind the name Inno17, with “17” sounding similar to “together” in Mandarin. “It’s about coming together for a better life and striving for a better future,” Lin said.

When asked how he made the transition to incubation, he thought back to three and a half years ago, when he got involved in a Taiwanese business association for young adults on a national level as one of the executives.

“We started off as five of us and now there are seven…. We didn’t really know what it was (when starting) but the government wanted us to do incubation for Taiwanese entrepreneurs, and I thought it was pretty interesting because we could help bridge the gap between the mainland and Taiwan. Especially for the younger generations,” Lin said.

He openly admits to stumbling into this industry and likes being able to teach people starting out how to avoid what he had to learn the hard way.

“I have been an entrepreneur for the past 13 years. When I first started, I didn’t know about this (incubation)… I thought starting a new business you’re on your own,” Lin said.

He realized that wasn’t the case, looked further into the industry and discovered Techstars through Google, then became certified by them as a facilitator.

A lot of entrepreneurs start their business because they are looking for money, but success is not promised to everybody. Lin wants to show people how to examine the markets, customers and products with a scientific view and measure what they can with that kind of mindset.

His advice is to not focus on making money but instead focus on how to help people and fill the demands. “That’s where the money is. If you focus on the money and don’t see it rolling your way, you’re going to look away and miss opportunities,” he said, adding this often causes people to misjudge a lot of decisions. He was very open in saying he learned most of what he knows now from failure and paid a hefty sum.

As far as the future of development in Songshan Lake, Lin thinks it is about collecting the “know-hows” now. “We (Inno17) are one of the very first ones that actually went out of our way looking for different communities to support us,” he said and added what entrepreneurs do is different from what people do at work or learn in school.

Lin wants to continue to teach entrepreneurs to grow their vision and make connections in the area.