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Paolo Lising Startup Taiwan Author: Shares His Knowledge on Starting a Business in Taiwan Ep 180

By Felicia Lin

A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:

Paolo Lising, who is the author of Startup Taiwan, shares his knowledge on starting a business in Taiwan in this in-depth conversation.

In February, I did a follow up interview with Paolo Lising, who I’ve had on as a guest previously along with Ramon Ray in episode 168, which was about solopreneurship. Paolo is the author of Startup Taiwan: Foreigners Business Guide, and the founder of Startup Taiwan is the second book written to help foreigners wanting to start a business in Taiwan after How to Start a Business in Taiwan, which was written by Elias Ek in 2013. Elias has also been a guest on Talking Taiwan.

I spoke in depth with Paolo about his early interest in entrepreneurship, what brought him to Taiwan, and how he transitioned from journalism to corporate life and the startup scene. We had an in-depth conversation about what went into his book Startup Taiwan. For those wanting the most up-to-date information they should subscribe to a digital version of Startup Taiwan, which Paolo regularly updates on his website He also has a podcast by the same name Startup Taiwan, that I’d recommend you check out.

Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:

  • Paolo’s background and upbringing
  • Paolo’s career as a journalist covering the Philippines energy sector and banking
  • When and how Paolo became an entrepreneur
  • Paolo’s first business, which was an antique shop in the Philippines
  • How Paolo decided to go from being a journalist to pursing an MBA
  • How Paolo decided to go Taiwan to purse an MBA degree
  • How the MBA program at NTU (National Taiwan University) is taught in English
  • Paolo worked at ASUS and Rayliant Global Advisors in Taiwan before getting into the startup scene
  • Paolo’s current startup in Taiwan,, which is a learning platform for entrepreneurs from developing countries
  • The special needs of entrepreneurs from developing countries
  • Where the name MillionDC comes from
  • How his bosses at ASUS and Rayliant Global Advisors were supportive of Paolo’s interest in starting his own company on his own time outside of his work hours
  • How one of the problems for people in the Philippines is having stable internet connection and access to information
  • What led Paolo to write Startup Taiwan
  • How to Start a Business in Taiwan by Elias Ek
  • How so much has changed since 2013 when How to Start a Business in Taiwan by Elias Ek was published and Paolo felt a need to write a book with updated information
  • How Taiwan has changed it policies towards accepting foreigners and allowing them to open up businesses
  • The two ways that foreigners can enter Taiwan and start a business: entrepreneur visa and Gold Card visa
  • The requirements for an entrepreneur visa include submitting a plan of what you will to do in Taiwan, and the growth potential of your business
  • Incubators in Taiwan and the support they provide to entrepreneurs
  • The Gold Card visa is for those with expertise in their fields, similar to an APRC (Alien Permanent Resident Certificate)
  • The requirements for a Gold Card
  • The process of writing and doing research for Paolo’s book, Startup Taiwan
  • There are six steps to starting a business in Taiwan
  • How Paolo’s book includes interviews with entrepreneurs and case studies
  • The KPIs (key performance indicator) for grants given by the government of Taiwan
  • The difference and added value of Paolo’s book, Startup Taiwan compared to Elias’ book, How to Start a Business in Taiwan
  • How the interviews in Paolo’s book, Startup Taiwan offer some real life examples of what people go through in the process of trying to start a business in Taiwan
  • How Taiwan is in general very technologically advanced, but its banking system is not
  • Why there aren’t many venture capitalists setting up in Taiwan
  • How a chop aka seal aka stamp is still commonly used by Taiwan’s banks as form of identification
  • The inspiration behind the book cover art for Startup Taiwan
  • The challenges that Paolo has experienced in doing business in Taiwan
  • Common misperceptions that people have about Taiwan or doing business in Taiwan
  • If any of the case studies from the book Startup Taiwan have been translated into Chinese
  • How Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s digital minister has received a copy of the book and thought the recommendations were helpful informing policies to make Taiwan a startup hub in Asia
  • How Paolo wanted the first version of the print version of Startup Taiwan to look like a coffee table art book with grey paper vs. white or off-white
  • How there are three versions of the book, Startup Taiwan 1) the print book released in 2020, 2) the online version available at which is regularly updated 3) the 2022 version which is available on Amazon Kindle and print (updated up to January 31, 2022)  
  • If you go to you can get a digital version of the book with real time updates based on current events and news
  • How it is more challenging for foreign entrepreneurs in Taiwan to get access to funding than local Taiwanese entrepreneurs
  • How helpful it is for startups in Taiwan to have at Taiwanese co-founder
  • How Startup Taiwan includes both failed and successful case studies
  • How Taiwan is a welcoming place for foreigners
  • How foreigners need to do research to make sure they are prepared with realistic expectations before coming to Taiwan
  • 9 out of 10 startups in Taiwan fail
  • What opportunities there are for people who want to do business with Taiwan rather than to do business in Taiwan


Related Links:


Paolo Lising on LinkedIn:



Startup in Taiwan website:


Startup in Taiwan Podcast:


NTU (National Taiwan University):


Taiwan’s Entrepreneurship visa:


Startup Terrace (an incubator in Linkou, Taiwan):


t.Hub (an incubator in Taipei, Taiwan):


Gold Card visa (aka Taiwan Employment Gold Card):


APRC (Alien Permanent Resident Certificate):


Chinese name chop (aka seal aka stamp):


UFO houses in Taiwan:


NCCU (National Chengchi University):


Ramon Ray and Paolo Lising: How to Become a Solopreneur in Taiwan and the U.S. (Episode 168):


Dragon’s Chamber with Elias Ek author of How to Start a Business in Taiwan (Episode 59):


Taiwan Gold Card Community:

About the Host

Felicia Lin is the Host and Producer of Talking Taiwan, a podcast which seeks to introduce you to interesting stories connected to Taiwan and the diverse individuals who make up Taiwan’s global community.

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