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HTC's Cher Wang on Innovation and the 'It' Product

HTC's Cher Wang on Innovation and the 'It' Product
HTC co-founder and chairman Cher Wang

If you own a mobile device then you've probably heard of tech giant HTC Corp., the Taiwanese maker of tablets and smartphones such as the HTC Incredible, Thunderbolt and Evo 4G. You may be less familiar with Cher Wang, the 53-year-old woman who co-founded the company in 1997.

Under her leadership, HTC has grown into one of the biggest players in mobile tech, partnering with Google and Microsoft to develop devices that are powered by their respective Android and Windows Phone operating systems. HTC has often been cited among the fastest-growing and most innovative brands in mobile.

The daughter of former Taiwan management icon Y.C. Wang, she's married to Chen Wen-Chi, president and CEO of Taiwan-based computer-hardware company VIA Technologies. Last year, the couple's combined net worth was said to be about $8.8 billion.

In an email interview, we discussed what's helped Wang find success and how others can, too. What follows is an edited version of our exchange:

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Entrepreneur: What was the one thing that helped you the most in breaking through in the technology business?
Wang: I’m not sure it’s ever one thing, but if I had to pick one it would be a relentless focus on delivering a product that meets the needs of customers. Since the beginning, HTC has focused on developing strong research and development capabilities and keeping a close eye on consumer, market and technology trends.

Entrepreneur: What in your opinion makes a tech company great?
Wang: There is usually an "X factor" that is hard to define. For HTC, I think it is our culture. We embrace the best of our Eastern roots and combine it with the best of the Western cultures where we have leadership and offices. It makes the culture colorful as well as energetic and creative.

Entrepreneur: HTC has had successful partnerships with Google and Microsoft. What are your tips for working with other tech entrepreneurs?
Wang: The most essential element is to bring value to the partnership. All partners have their strengths and weaknesses. The most important thing is to find ways to create benefit for everyone involved. We work closely with our partners to understand their challenges and business, and provide them with the products or support that they want and need.

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Entrepreneur: When it comes to product development, how do you stay ahead of the curve?
Wang: Keen observation. We must always keep an eye on our environment, to keep track of what changes are happening in technology, in infrastructure, in markets, in how people across the world are living their lives, working and communicating. We need to anticipate these trends and innovate to meet them. Within HTC, hundreds of ideas are tested and discarded to find those rare ideas that define the HTC user experience.

Entrepreneur: What's the biggest mistake a tech entrepreneur needs to avoid?
Wang: The greatest pitfall is standing still. As entrepreneurs, we must continue to ask ourselves "What’s next?" It takes humility to realize that we don’t know everything, not to rest on our laurels and know that we must keep learning and observing. If we don't, we can be sure some startup will be there to take our place.

Related: RIM Founder Mike Lazaridis on the Challenges of Reinvention

 

Jason Fell is the managing editor of Entrepreneur.com.

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