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  • Invest in Taiwan.

  • My name is Laurent Renard, a French citizen, living in Taiwan for 9 years now.

  • I'm the CEO of Toro Development Ltd, a company that has developed and is commercialising

  • a platform for global payment or NFC .... it's a mobile wallet software.

  • So what we do, basically today we work with mobile operators globally, today we have two

  • big projects ongoing. One is T-Mobile in Poland and the other is Telenor in Norway.

  • And we work with these mobile operators because they are investing today in platforms to deploy

  • mobile wallet, NFC mobile wallet, and we provide these software platforms on the phone, and

  • the servers, and we connect with all the back office.

  • Why Start a Business in Taiwan?

  • When we decided to set up Toro, we thought 'okay, this is a global business, so it doesn't

  • matter where we actually start the company'.

  • So we thought 'should that be Europe, as we are French, or should it be Asia'? Maybe Asia

  • is best because the technology growth, the adoption, and where in Asia? Should we go

  • to Singapore, mainland China, or should we stay in Taiwan?

  • And we thought, no, we should stay in Taiwan, because that is where the infrastructure has

  • been laid first. So that's where we see there is usage, and Taiwan will probably be the

  • first country to migrate to mobile payment.

  • So we got it all wrong, because it actually started in Europe, as I mentioned before,

  • we have projects in Poland, in Norway, in France. So it all started in Europe, but we

  • still believe Taiwan was a good choice.

  • Your major difficulty in Taiwan?

  • In Taiwan specifically, one of the big problems we had is that we are a mobile group with

  • mobile software. Taiwan is a fantastic Tech country, but it's all about software, I mean

  • they do hardware all the time, and the culture around here is all about building hardware.

  • So when it comes to finding developers that can really understand what software is, it's

  • a real challenge.

  • And we really had a hard time finding developers, good developers, and keeping them onboard.

  • We have French, we have Spanish, we have Slovak, we have Czech, we have Indians, but very few

  • Taiwanese.

  • And that was a big challenge, because when you start a business, you only have the right

  • to have two foreigners in your company. So I decided to go directly to the Government,

  • and said 'gentlemen, I love Taiwan, I want to stay in Taiwan, what can I do to make it

  • happen? I cannot find the resources to develop this technology. This technology is going

  • boom, it's NFC, it's mobile technology, and you have to recognize there is an issue to

  • find good mobile developers in Taiwan.'

  • And surprisingly the government said 'yes, we know, it's difficult, and Taiwan wants

  • to move to a more knowledge-oriented economy, so we will help you.' And the Taiwanese government

  • actually helps us to hire foreigners for our company, so we have no issues with work permits,

  • we negotiate case-by-case.

  • Any tips for foreign entrepreneurs?

  • It depends what kind of business. In my business, I think for the resources today, working in

  • the software industry, Taiwan is a great environment, except for the talent. So you have to talk

  • to the government, and explain what you are doing, that you have no other choice, than

  • hiring outside Taiwan to bring in to Taiwan.

  • And understand that they have a desk that they call Invest in Taiwan, which is very

  • open and very helpful.

  • And, how is your Chinese?

  • My Chinese is bad, but good enough. So, again, I have no time to learn Chinese, words I pick

  • here and there, and move them round, and have a basic conversation in Chinese. I can survive.

  • Do you have a final word for entrepreneurs?

  • Yes, I think that Taiwan is, in the end, so I mentioned before that we made the wrong

  • choice in Taiwan because our market is in Europe. But still I think for Asia it's the

  • right choice. I think when we see the coming 12 to 18 months, it was the right pick, because

  • we are now, NFC technology is coming strong, in Asia we catch up and go much bigger, much

  • faster than Europe to adopt this technology, I'm sure. Taiwan will be a front runner in

  • that race.

  • And in Taiwan, to address the Chinese market is probably the best place, very good progression

  • to the mainland, and you can find here good people that can help you on the mainland.

  • So I think that finally it will show that the choice was right.

Invest in Taiwan.

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Invest in Taiwan - Interview 1, Laurent Renard, TORO Ltd

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    Peter Yang posted on 2016/04/29
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