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MoLex: Leading a Technology Start-Up in a Fast-Changing Environment

HBP Product : ST88
Case Author : Prof Mark Young ; Prof Joon Nak CHOI ; Marcella HO
PublicAction Date : 08.07.2020


This case study is based on a Hong Kong technology start-up specializing in chemicals for the electronics industry. The company received substantial private funding, as well as funding from a government-backed incubation program, Hong Kong Science and Technology Park. The three founders encountered conflicts in various strategies, including relationships with the two non-executive shareholders, several key suppliers such as a marketing consultant, and a China sales agent. There were substantial pressures to build sales and marketing traction and ensure timely delivery of the product to distributors.

Over two years, the three founders and two non-executive shareholders (all anonymized here) had nurtured MoLex from an award-winning concept to a market-ready product. Yet, the partners struggled to reach an agreement on some major decisions, such as whether to register the business in Shenzhen or Hong Kong. Also, the partners had an ongoing debate about whether to manage marketing and distribution in-house or to outsource it. One partner favored the former option while the other partners had a different point of view. These conflicts left the founders questioning the future of a company in which they had believed so strongly and invested so much time and energy.

In this case study, students will play the roles of the founders and shareholders. The case is designed to set up conflicts among the players to teach students how hostile team dynamics can make inherently solvable problems intractable.

Learning Objectives

After analyzing the case, students should be able to:

  • -Understand how people with different backgrounds, values, and personalities might understand the same situation very differently
  • -Understand how difficult it could be for a diverse team to work together
  • -Understand how interpersonal conflicts could derail accomplishments on the verge of succeeding
  • -Describe the “lean start-up” model and the importance of learning client needs to make it work

Company/Organization MoLex
Industry technology
Major Discipline Organizational Behavior
Subject(s) Interpersonal conflict, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, Team dynamics
Geography Hong Kong, China, Asia
Case Nature Field - Disguised
Page count of the Case 8
Teaching Notes 8
Publisher HKUST
Last Revision Date 08.07.2020