Alibaba’s Joe Tsai Tells Entrepreneurs to Focus on People

August 7, 2020/Alizila

Dorothy So

Businesses and entrepreneurs would be well-advised to make finding and hiring the right staff their top priority, Alibaba Group Vice Chairman Joe Tsai said in a recent livestreamed webinar.

“As you scale your business and the bigger your business gets, the more time you should be spending on the people,” Tsai said.

The webinar, titled “The Story of Resilience,” was hosted by the Alibaba Entrepreneurs Fund for its portfolio companies in Hong Kong. During the online session, the first in a series featuring prominent business founders, Tsai drew from his own entrepreneurial experiences. He shared his advice to members of AEF’s portfolio companies navigating challenges such as those presented by Covid-19.

Speaking to moderator Tony Wong, CEO and co-founder of the Shopline e-commerce platform, Tsai explained that the global pandemic has become an unlikely opportunity for closer collaboration among his team.

“A lot of CEOs who have teams are starting to think about whether they should all go back in the office or whether they can do a combination of work from home. In fact, what I have learned personally is that colleagues can actually get closer together, even though they’re distanced apart, working from home,” Tsai said. “We now don’t think twice about jumping on a call on DingTalk or Zoom or whatever video chat tool…You develop a closer bond with your colleagues in a strange way, in a virtual way.”

WATCH: Top Tips to Entrepreneurs from Alibaba’s Joe Tsai

Tsai also said that finding the right people was always the “biggest challenge,” but also “the most rewarding” for any business. “The learning here is, as an entrepreneur, you want to be very focused on people,” Tsai said, adding that companies should be prepared to invest time and effort in developing their staff and ensuring that there was always “the right talent in the right place, at the right time,” especially as their businesses begin to grow.

The Alibaba co-founder encouraged portfolio companies to leverage AEF’s extensive network of mentors as well as fellow entrepreneurs as a way to exchange knowledge and ideas.

“If you can find another entrepreneur who has tons of experience and wisdom and they are willing to spend time with you it’s great. But, guess what? I don’t think one single person would have all the answers. So, having that diversity of perspective, [talking] to other people that are also running businesses is really the most rewarding thing that we can do,” Tsai said.

You can watch the full video of Tsai’s AEF webinar here.

Since launching in 2015, the AEF has offered financial backing to more than 80 startups in Hong Kong and Taiwan. The non-profit initiative also hosts the annual Jumpstarter competition, which offers investment commitments, mentorship support and other resources to young entrepreneurs from all around the globe. According to the fund, its Jumpstarter 2020 competition, which concluded in February, attracted more than 2,000 applications from 65 countries and regions. The top five startups won a combined $5 million in investments and $100,000 in cash prizes. Last week, the fund announced that it was accepting applications to Jumpstarter 2021.

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