Start Right Now
The Inventive Journey Podcast for Entrepreneurs
Start Right Now
The Inventive Journey
Starting and growing a business is a journey. On The Inventive Journey, your host, Devin Miller walks with startups along their different journeys startups take to success (or failure). You also get to hear from featured guests, such as venture firms and angel investors, that provide insight on the paths to a successful inventive journey.
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say someone who have not yet started well start do it do it do it do it the world need you need your idea need your vision whatever you have is your beautiful vision do it if not now when we all can die tomorrow [Music] hey everyone this is devin miller here with another episode of the inventive journey I'm your host devin miller the serial entrepreneur who's going several startups in the seven and eight figure businesses as well as a founder and ceo of miller ip law where he helps startups and small businesses with their patents and trademarks if you ever need help with yours just go to strategymeeting.com we're always here to help now today we have another great guest on the podcast I'm gonna kill the the slaughter the name but I'm doing the best I can but when was from china it was from china a small town and went to high school and I realized that she didn't fit into the mountain community um where predominantly women stayed home and and they're at home and wanted to go out and learn English so I went and learned English for about four years came to the us went to university did a couple startups um they failed but enjoyed every minute of it um and did this for about five years and then decided to go get an nba duke moved to austin for about three years ago and worked for dale sells team and then with kovit decided to try her hand again at doing some startups and small businesses and that brings us to a bit where she's at today and she'll let her and she'll give us a bit more details there so but that much is a is an introduction welcome on the podcast thank you so much devon for having me and hello everybody super excited to be here so I just gave a quick run through of a much longer journey but take us back in time a bit to when you're growing up in a small time small town in china and how things got started from there yeah so when I say small town I do want to clarify they do have a million of us so people wise population wise we are huge but when this is small I mean more like geographically is you know literally a town on the mountain where you had to go around the mountain drive around seven eight hours car ride to visit any near the city and plus we don't grow up with cars so nobody ever left and at that time when I grew up internet is not available we don't have a computer word in that way so literally it's isolated all the mounting and small in the sense of people's mentality about I think this is the world they don't see what is beyond that and my mount in my mountain town like you said you know women are meant to be a mother a wife and it's beautiful choice if that's what you love to do but in my hometown that is the only option for women and and that just never really fit in with me as much as I think you know I think that's the toughest job in the world I of course agree with that but I just felt always this telling curiosity to see what is beyond the mounting line I'm just so curious about the world outside of the mountain that we just live and breathe every day and funny stories today you know my friend will be like oh my god one let's go hiking this weekend and I'll be like no I think that's so weird because when I grow up I go to school I hike I go home I hike so I hide every single day and I didn't understand why people think you're such a such a funny you're doing a leisure time but yeah that's how I grew up um and you know my my entire family our high school dropouts and already go to school or college um but I just just always curious you know what is what is I just felt it always more I don't know what I is so I want to explore and that curiosity of wondering what is beyond the mounting is inspired me to actually discover a cassette machine in the library and that is you know how I decided to teach myself English um and like quickly mention it took four years because first of all is I of course sucks um it's not that easy to just follow the question machine but anyhow four years um I didn't just fail one time just fail twice it's not three times not four times not five not six not seven not eight or nine major failures in total in the fourth in a four year time and all the you know sprinkle of all the stuff in between and in that period of time where everybody thinks I'm crazy everything I'm out of my mind I think who are you like oh my goodness like all those moments oh they are not easy but I should tell myself well girl you have big dream to go so so that's how I you know really he just keeps um keep moving forward and that's how I came to America 2011 August 8th and that's how I first played in America tonight I said okay you know I'd like to come to America like you know studied English which props to you to you know find a cassette tape learn English and be able to kind of get that or pursue your passport is to you know take a different direction I think it's very commemorable um but so now you come in you know you learn English you come to the u.s I mean you decide okay I'm going to go to you know school for a bit so kind of as you're coming to the u.s if you already have a plan this is what I want to do this is where I want to go or just hey I'm going to get here and I'll figure it out from there kind of how did you decide once you've learned English come to the us what was the next step in your journey yeah that's a great question and first of all you know career counseling it was not existing where I come from which is no one had a career neither do I know direct neither do I have any role model to look at to so I don't really know what is a weight in front of me neither have any idea that I need to have that information so really I just show up and I remember like still remember the day when I showed you airport with four suitcases because there's a maximum you can take the international student I didn't I still remember that day that moment I think I'm just staying in the middle of a airport if you know where I'm referring to it's a huge airport and there's so many people they are moving you know fast and I was just stunning by wow first of all I actually made it and wow this is actually America and lastly I have no idea what what I'm doing I have no idea how to find the exercise I have no idea how to speak exit even this word and I never speak to any human being in a real lifetime besides my cassette so I just remember excited by shot mostly and just standing in the middle of the swallow people they all going places and I'm just like shot just don't know what to do and yeah so that's how I you know first came to a university of Illinois I wanna champagne for my first master's degree and you know finally you asked me my plan I thought gonna be a great time I thought gonna be you know your land you're gonna party life is good um but honestly the first three months first six months ish I hated everything I hated everything I hated it that I could not know how to order food I I was so embarrassed whenever I went in a subway line because just oh my god all the vegetables those names it's like so much pressure just water cucumber tomato in my head I know they're chinese name I could not speak fast enough and then people wait in front of you oh god oh goodness so I don't know I don't understand the culture the food the people I don't make friends and in in a classroom where I remember this one moment I I I take a conscious notification around me it's a small classroom discussion I know I noticed all my classmates are so excited and participating they always say hey I'm thinking myself is it just me well the only one person who do not understand what's happening right now like I literally can't do not I did not understand anything at all what's happening around me so you can imagine time so diving in just like now you've come to the us you know you kind of have language barrier learning all these things you know do other people understand things I don't understand and definitely I've been on the flip side and I've lived in taiwan for a couple years and on the flip side of kind of learning that language and wondering if people are understanding what you're saying and trying to understand them but you you make it through your school you get your undergraduate degree and you come out and you try and do a couple startups is that right yeah so that's my first master's degree and yes so now what was that what was the the because you mentioned you did it you know before we chat or we chatted before the the podcast you did a couple startups and they both ended up failing in the in the end but what were those startups and kind of what was the ideas and what did you try and do yeah okay got it so fast forward um two years then spend get my master's degrees um just figure it out and my first startup was a service-based business that was about eight ten seven years ago it's called internship desk it doesn't exist anymore but at the time the idea here is because I was an international student and I actually see this huge opportunity for those students who have experience where they travel abroad and have those business exposure so essential we do our ideas we help if you from say minneapolis for example you want to see oh I want to see how business work in china for example would buy the platform maybe you'd go to china say the fancy city like shanghai beijing having a summer internship summer immersion experience to learn about the business the local culture spend the whole summer and then come back so vice versa if you found china if you're from japan you want to come to America for the summer spend you know two three months in chicago learn about u.s business etiquette we provide a platform for that so we have china israel and us three locations happening um in the in the in the program structure so either idea me and my um um friend probably right we start together and oh my god like it was so fun because at the beginning you know even though you don't make much money but who cares like you're learning to start I felt like at least I felt like it's my full heart and soul into this business I'm super excited and I felt I'm truly making a making impact making a change I'm really really excited um well what really you know kind of you know well I'm first I'm still very proud of at the time from the idea to build a business become one of the largest service providers in chicago in the midwest area I'm very proud of it it's I it's one of the best times well why fail is you know at the end you know me my co-founder slash friend um we're gonna have a different direction here's the way the business is going to go and and that just really um did not run really well so um that is the first startup still a lot of fun though still anytime I think about it I just feel like oh my god like what a good time so now you so now you do that you know you have your friend co-founder do the startup do it for a while grow it at the end you know that you guys decide hey we're going different directions didn't work out startups and failing yourself having to set it down now where did you go to for the the second startup or kind of how did you you know what part of that journey was okay first started didn't work did you come did you already have another idea did you go you go different direction you go on your own with a different boundary kind of what was that like yeah so I I just you know kind of after that the first one and then I joined the second like a startup but I did not co-found I joined it when it's already eight nine people and at the time the premises of second businesses it's a software business and I I I discovered that they have a lot of press in the united states they actually have no cluster international so I thought you know what that would be a great opportunity for me to really take you know all the information that I incur like you know just the marketing the go-to-market um the knowledge expertise I have helped them to launch the business in international asia pacific specifically so that is a premises that's intention so so yeah that is um so then the following year I'd really just literally do exactly that I you know it's a software business I had to help cash cash management for hotel for luxury hotels so I saturate do not help them to open up the entire asian market um in asia yeah it was a lot of fun it actually took them five to ten years to even establish the base in the united states and took me one year in china which I'm very very proud the invite is one of the only only vendor actually to join their international um controller once a year I can control the conferences for all the fancy hotel but I'm only going to be invited so I got a chance to exclusively speaking all to the marriott hotel which is just so much fun and you know I I love you're good no I was gonna say so now you do that second startup and it's you know you join that you know small business you get you have some success you grow it you you know over the period of a year bring out a lot of partners and to make a lot of connections now what did you you know did that start up fail did you decide to move on was it not paying well enough decided to go different direction or trying to how did you transition from that startup to the next phase of your journey yeah so one thing that made me always happy javen is I always want to make sure I always growing whether it's today this week or this year and for me you know in the startup platform at the time I helped to open up the market which is so exciting so I wanted to grow so then I transitioned my role from just you know leading the entire market from business development perspective into like oh software implementation so I need to enjoy the entire market everything that the company has to offer I do all that in the asian market so I kind of you know really getting really exposure about every single piece about the business in asian market which is you know really grow significantly since I joined I joined however you know at year two mark I realized everything I can do in the company already done them and there's no nothing more for me to do the year after besides just more account besides and I I don't like the idea and I thought to myself you know devin when I stuck in a little mountain town the promise I made to myself is I'm going to go see the world now I have sense that I see startup world I want to see the bigger world and I will see what is world beyond just the startup scenes and that intention brought me to duke and that's how I got my mba for foreign two years and that's I'm moving to austin Texas 2018. join dell del computer company and be part of their go to market team now what just out of curiosity what made you decide to first of all go get the you know the nba duke and then go to Texas was it you know you mentioned a little bit hey I saw the startup scene wanted to do something different but what made you decide to get an nba was still intend to do your own business still wanted to be an entrepreneur or is it more just wanting a business experience or kind of and then how did you decide to go to her to toss her to Texas was it more that was where dell the job offer was or that's where you wanted to go see a new part of the country kind of fills in a little bit on those details yeah yeah devin for sure first of all you know not to be stereotypical but I'm asian I love to learn and I I I think I you know I think I have you know decent understanding about the business how I work based on my experience in startup world but I felt they have bigger you know more comprehensive business knowledge I would like to acquire understand really how business run in this scale and I felt empower myself with a degree with experience with the network I think will really help me to go to next level so that is at the time my logic about go to business school why choose duke well domino bran I think if anyone thinks about business well do you bambi is one of the best in my personal opinion just because I really love not just about the academic not just about you know the professor and all the incredible award all that but most importantly the culture the people truly will win my heart and I and I remember what day and I want to visit the campus I walked in there I just it's a weird feeling you just felt your home like even though it's not I see this student body people have the dining hall there's a ping pong table people drink coffee people talk about project I just felt so welcoming so sense of belonging there and you know that in the next two years honestly it was one of the worst time and the best time in my lifetime which is so hard to describe it to people where it's such an intense two year in my lifetime but yeah one of the best times where I actually see what I'm made of you know with all the incredible pressure we've been through and but I also gained incredible friendship as you know as and and you know we embodied they called a team field spirit and really we collectively as a team is a community we hold each other accountable and lift each other up and you know truly I felt is a transforming two years for me so so that is a logic about an nba duke regarding why Texas well I mentioned I was in chicago before and that's actually how I met my husband and I love chicago I think you guys amazing city however my husband he was like oh my god is winter getting cold when it goes somewhere warmer and I was like okay warmer so I look in your south and there are of course all the wonderful cities and I think about well taxes or my husband really wanted he kind of really want me to put it into taxes because summer is very hot so looking at taxes I actually don't know any of those cities and I thought wow our thing sounds a lot cooler and hippie and I think I'm a hippie so well in heart and I love all things you know if you guys don't ask me other things um slogan is called key absent weird and I interpreted it as I mean we are weird you are weird I am weird she is we are heard we are because we all unique and we're in our own way and I love that slogan so much and I almost felt when I visited city it's almost the same when I visited geocampus I fell home and I felt I can be who I am I can be this weird funky or fun or whatever I wanted to be that day that moment I can be that and still be part of a city and I can call it home so that's how we kind of decide location on the Texas austin and that's how I moved into austin three years ago and also part of adele as well but yes also job offer as well no that definitely makes sense so now you go down to you know Texas sounds like a new and exciting place you know maybe a bit more of a different type of culture that you can get experience too as well as a good position within a great company and you're down there you do sales for a period of time and I think as you mentioned no one chatted before but then as you're going through doing the sales for dell topic came along and that necessitated you know people being let go or work slowing down or layoffs or whatnot and that kind of reinvigorated um doing kind of your own thing or going back to entrepreneurs is that right um yeah so you know I'm part of dell go to market so I help manage about 320 million dollars portfolio go to market north America channel sales I work with 400 sales teams across the entire north american region I have tons of fun through a lot of strategy and data and all the things which is exactly the global exposure I was looking for so in really providing a great platform to learn and grow and you know it's a fantastic company fantastic culture it's all they check all the boxes I guess you know what they made me to think about is you know when pandemic hit when you know somebody like myself well extremely extrovert and suddenly have so much time on my hand it just gave me some space to think about okay now I checked pouring coach at other boxes I got degree I got another degree I got you know started like a corporate right now what do I really want what is really true when what is you what kind of impact you want to live in a planet and what if I die tomorrow what would I have in a regret so those questions just kind of really surfaced to me and gave me a lot of time to think about and I thought about it society writing those questions that I think about literally ten years ago when I you know came to state when I truly made my dream come true when I become I believe one of the millions you know the chance of me a mountain girl ever come this far is just beyond imagination even to myself I thought that moment really means so much to me I realized I would love to help others maybe your dream come true as well and that is kind of like where you know it could um derive the idea come from and that's how I start my consulting business how I've not not went so today we have startups specifically with a pitch um help them to pitch through the the pitch that services help them to grow and skill their business and I love help supporting entrepreneurs specific helping them to grow and skill and their dream their their vision because I think entrepreneur our biggest dreamer so if we can if I can support entrepreneurs and think about the community the customer the the partnership he going to go out and build and create I think um anybody everybody if you have a dream if you have a vision whether it's start a business start a bakery start a family whatever thing is for you if you just go out to do whatever you want to do I think the whole world is better it's a brighter place it's like you are the light bulb on the light bulb if you're one pixel rider the world is a brighter place so that is what I want to support and that's how I decided to start my consulting business and help people to do exactly that so now and I think that that kind of brings us a bit to you know through your journey where you're at today and kind of what you have going on and where your focus is so I think that was a great walkthrough of your journey so thank you so now with that you know as we wrap towards the end of the podcast I always have two questions that I'd like to hit on so we'll jump to those now so the first question I always ask is along your journey what was the worst business decision you ever made and what did you learn from it so I just you know skipped a couple steps so in between me and my husband we also started another business called evergreener so that was actually our first taste to start business together and we we actually have been married for eight ten nine years now so I would say if I have a hindsight I didn't know what it take to start a business with a partner and it's it's really not easy I like I we we talk about business in the daytime and evening in the day in the weekends like it's just so much and at the part where no it's just hard to differentiate me and my my husband versus business as a partner so if I'll evolve in the high side I can do it again I would like to kind of have the clear boundary and clear separation and clear defined about role and responsibility so we can really um not jeopardizing anything and really still go out and build the business yeah well I think that's you know and I think whether a spouse I think that's a whole other level of complication because you know with the normal business partner you go home after the end of the day you get to get a break apart you know you're not with each other all the time when you're doing it with the spouse but even without a spouse it's still a lot of time together a lot of strain on the relationship a lot of frustration and stress but now you got the addition of having a spouse and now it's not only that when you go home your business partners also your you know your your spouse and that and you're now dealing with family issues and you're even you know if you have a bad day at work and trickles the home or if you have a bad day into work it can be a great thing I think it can provide a lot of synergy and leverage and you know the person you're working with and you're trying to be successful together but I think it does add that extra layer of complication so I think that that's definitely one to something I would not do that again for sure so now second question which is if you're talking to somebody that's just getting into a startup or a small business would be the one piece of advice you give them what depends what stage they are right if they just about to start a business were they already in the mix of business what are they about to grow and explore their business I would say someone who have not yet started well start do it do it do it do it the world need you need your idea need your vision whatever you have is your beautiful vision do it if not now when we all can die tomorrow well somebody who already started business in the process of skilling well will they know really think about what is the next step what's next level for you whether it's you know seeking funding whether it's seeking partnership maybe it's go to market is whatever that piece is and I think I think you know maybe myself and also other can felt the way when you start your business especially when you just begin whether it's one person two three person you file your day forward all the tasks all the activities and I think it's really important to really prioritize and one tip I want to share is um you have all the lists are all the things you need to do and on the right hand side you pick two pans one is green one is red think about is those activities revenue generated activity put in the green pans if it's just like nice to have if it's just not um anything that's revelated make a rat and especially in the early stage if your goal is to grow and whether it's a cash flow whether it's no revenue expansion if that's the case focus on those revenue generating activity first before you go to the other piece whether it's infrastructure whether it's make a nice logo all the wonderful things I think that's very important at the beginning to really launch your business and really help it to be sustainable before you can be you know be consistent and have a true beautiful plan no I love that I think that's a great piece of advice so now as we wrap up if people want to reach out to you they want to be a client they want to be a customer they want to be an investor they want to be an employee they want to be your next best friend any or all of the above what's the best way to reach out contact you or find out more yes um well check out my website is if not now when dot com and you can find my information there and yeah love to hear from all of you and once again thank you so much devin for having me very honored super grateful for the opportunity absolutely it's fun to have you on and appreciate you sharing your journey now for all of you the listeners if you have your own journey to tell and you'd like to be a guest on the podcast to come on and share it feel free to go to inventiveguest.com apply to be on the podcast two more things as a listener one make sure to click subscribe to your podcast players so you know when all of our awesome episodes come out and do leave us a review so everybody else can find out about all of our awesome episodes last but not least if you ever need help with your patents trademarks or anything else feel free to go to strategymeeting.com grab some time with us to chat and we're always happy to help well thank you again for coming on it's been fun it's been a pleasure and what's the next leg of your journey even better than the last thank you very much devin I I really appreciate you you