A fireside chat
30 Jan 2019
31 attendees from the startup community came together at a fireside chat to discuss the role of trust in startups.
Part of PwC’s Building Trust programme, the fireside chat brought out some provocative viewpoints on trust and why it matters to businesses that are starting out or scaling up. From the discussion, it was clear that trust is multi-faceted, presenting opportunities for startups to use their agility to their advantage, to innovate as they grow.
Attracting various players from the startup ecosystem (from startups, venture builders and investors, to accelerators), this initiative sets the tone for PwC’s journey to broaden the conversation on trust to the startup community.
“Trust is a long term investment, you build on it as you go along, through your different interactions with your stakeholders – whether they are your investors, your customers, or others like regulators, the local council or consumer associations.”
Sridharan (Sri) Nair, Managing Partner, PwC Malaysia
Just a few weeks before the event, a survey was shared with the startup community to find out what they thought about trust and what they’ve been doing to build trust with their stakeholders.
The findings from the survey shaped much of the conversation amongst the diverse panel of speakers.
The audience raised top-of-mind questions, including how to rebuild trust after a crisis, as well as ways to inspire confidence in investors.
Trust is created when you’re able to solve a problem or meet a need. And continuing to solve this problem for your stakeholders, including customers and investors, is a journey that is key to achieving your business goals.
On whether big really is better: “People tend to think that big is better. For example, banks are too big to fail, as they have more to lose. But ultimately a question that needs to be answered is, “Does it align to your interest?”
On how technology and communication builds trust: “We get questions all the time about how our technology works in helping people to invest. Having technology doesn’t mean people trust us more. What they want to know is how we can protect their interests if they put their trust in us.”
On earning trust: “Trust is at the heart of any business, but it’s the one thing you don’t have in the early days of starting up. So you have to buy, borrow or create trust.*”
On being aligned: “Experience is important. I ask everyone we work with, “Have you tried it (the GoGet app)?” because you need to experience it before you can begin to trust us.”
On how big and small co-exist: “Sometimes, an established reputation may hinder big businesses from entering a new market. To address that, a company may spend time cultivating a separate brand identity through spin-off businesses that’s disassociated from the mother brand.”
*in promoting the startup in the early stages
On the importance of values in investor-startup relationships: “Just because you have someone’s trust on day one, doesn’t mean you have their trust in year three. As investors, we want to work with founders who share the same values; we continuously re-evaluate our relationship to make this work.”
On scaling trust with technology: “Building and then replicating trust across a community takes a long time, but technology allows you to scale that, and build trust faster. Putting a service on a platform crowdsources trust by allowing people to weed out the negatives, and share the positives - the platforms then become a ‘trust bank’.”
Two startup personalities on the role of trust in their business.
“We decided early on that we wanted to build trust with our customers, and we needed to build it in a way that was sustainable.”
Adrian Yap, CEO, MoneyMatch
“The role of trust in an accelerator has one foot in the corporate world, and another foot in the startup world. With so many third parties, it can be hard to maintain trust and make sure that everybody has a successful outcome.”
Johnny Mayo, Asia General Manager, SuperCharger