Taiwanese startup breaking into market in Middle East

By Ann Chen, CNA

CNA–Hanging on the office wall of a Taiwanese startup company is a Saudi Arabia flag. Not your typical office decoration. But to a team of young entrepreneurs, it signifies hope and opportunity.

The idea for Gogolook Co., which was founded 10 months ago, was spurred by a chance remark by Google Inc. Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Speaking to a group of technology heavyweights during his visit to Taiwan in late 2011, Schmidt mentioned a Taiwanese app that had caught his attention.

“An app called WhosCall tells you who a strange number’s from. It’s growing fast in the U.S., India, and China, and it’s made in Taiwan,” he said.

Jackie Cheng, one of the three developers of the app, said he could not believe his ears when reporters told him about Schmidt’s remark.

He and other two developers — Jeff Kuo and Reiny Song — were hit by a rush of adrenaline and they decided to quit their jobs at big companies and start their own business.

A long-time college friend Edgar Chiu who was a consultant at IBM Corp. joined them and the four of them founded Gogolook Co., Ltd. Their ages were 28-33. At the time, the app was just a moonlighting project.

Less than a month after the app was released, the developers noticed some interesting but puzzling trends.