Co-building a diversified Forbole


28th Nov 2020, 8:00 am

Even our teammates feel curious about why we have such a high female ratio when compared with our peer early-stage tech startups, especially engineer role which is traditionally dominated by males while we have nearly a 50% female engineer ratio. As a decision maker in building this team, I want to give you my rationale.

➡️ See our team:

First of all, I am not saying I prefer one gender over another. I am not calling myself activist of any kind of diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI movements. I am far from qualified to claim that. What I tried to achieve is a better balance which I think is critical to the future success of Forbole.

Forbole is a startup founded by Kwun and me, two "post-1980" guys from Hong Kong who have partnered for more than 10 years. We have established our thinking routine based on our own experience, status and worldview which will lead to some blind spots.

As we all know, an early-stage startup is about the cofounders. No matter how leaderless and decentralized we hope to achieve, we cannot deny this reality. On day one with only two cofounders, Forbole is everything (100%) about these two guys with a set of ingrained values and philosophies.

Even after we have made our first hire, co-founders are still the dictator as they are treated as the boss. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to minimize the influence of the co-founders, no matter good or bad.  Even the two co-founders are now only 67% of the team, their influence is still way above 67% (eg. 99%). This is an inborn imbalance every company or organization is facing.

To equalize this inborn imbalance, I impose a proactive policy to hire people who are different from the cofounders: genders, ages, ethnicities, languages, religions, and so on.

This diversity has to be started early on. New teammates take time to build their influence which will be easily nipped in the bud due to the inevitable dominance of the cofounders. By diversifying in the early stage, we hope the the influence of our diversified team can grow exponentially.

This never, never, never means we have to compromise on meritocracy. Diversity and meritocracy can live, and should live peacefully together. Through this diversity, we can make better communication internally and then externally. This will eventually empower us to build better products. I am never an activist. I only believe DEI will drive Forbole's success.



  • Forbole
  • Startup
  • Diversity
  • Equity
  • Inclusion
  • DEI


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