Who will join you on the Startup battlefield?

TOPICS: Entrepreneurship , Hong Kong

by Fred Ngan

Whenever a new colleague joins Bowtie, they will  upload a photo of their favourite hero as their profile picture. This profile picture can  feature a comic book hero or even their family cat. For me, I opted for Captain America from the Marvel series. Although he is not the strongest or fastest amongst his peers and is just a regular guy from Brooklyn, New York, his extraordinary vision is what distinguishes him from the rest.

Bowtie is all about talent. When recruiting, we prioritize values over skills. People’s performances may fluctuate but values don’t. What we look for is whether the candidate believes in the company’s mission and their willingness  to solve fundamental problems in our society.

Values can even attract talent from outside a company’s own industry. When individuals  feel inspired or moved, they yearn to become part of the story and head to the “battlefield”. These values can include support for providing free education for those in need or reforming the medical system so that everyone gets the protection they deserve.

In a startup environment, not all procedures are listed in black and white. When you do not have a HR handbook to guide your decisions, you rely on  the company’s intrinsic values to count on to guide the company forward.

People who share similar values will fight alongside you and even stay until the very last moment. Their contributions often surpass their scope of work and will grow with the company, taking on vital roles in the face of adversities. 

At Bowtie, when circumstances arise, doctors may become underwriters; actuaries may transform into system  engineers; lawyers may find themselves as HR managers. Put simply, we do not care who built the space shuttle engine, we only care if the team can make a successful landing and return safely to earth.

I like a saying from Netflix, which is to view startups as more of a professional soccer team than a family. A family is about unconditional love. Rather, we should be more like professional athletes, to give everything once we are on the field regardless of our rank or form.

Captain America is my role model because of his clear values and vision that has always allowed him to make the right decisions. Even in times of war, he might be afraid but will always work up the courage to fight. The Marvel films are popular because characters are humanized. Each Marvel superhero has outstanding traits and weaknesses. During the process, they learn to be honest with themselves, face their weaknesses and cover for each other to create a synergy effect.

I am not the smartest person nor do I possess super powers. Understanding that I have my own shortcomings is why I wish to partner with people better than myself to fight this battle.

I have learnt to take things as they come, identify real opportunities when faced with temptations and always find ways to improve through failures. To succeed, it is not up to how smart you are or how hard you work, but rather how much you are willing to sacrifice.

Entrepreneurs need to stand by their beliefs. People can always tell if who is sincere and who isn’t. Outstanding individuals will not work for fame but instead, a clear company vision. As long as you have the right values, people will follow you until that “battle” is over.

I believe that is the spirit of Captain America when he formed the Avengers. By lifting Thor’s hammer,  he has proven himself to be a leader worth following.

About the Author

Mr. Fred Ngan is co-CEO of Bowtie Life Insurance Company Limited, and co-founder of Coherent Capital Advisors Limited and Seasonalife Limited, two insurtech companies in Hong Kong. He leads the customer acquisition and engagement for the first digital insurer in Hong Kong. He has over 13 years of experience in the insurance and consulting in Hong Kong, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom.  He worked as a consulting actuary at EY specializing in financial reporting, risk and capital management, and asset liability management serving life insurers across Asia.