HKUST Holds Second Entrepreneurship Fireside Chat to Guide and Advise Budding Founders
Founders, potential entrepreneurs, and interested members of the community once again tuned in on July 29, 2020 to the second episode in the HKUST Entrepreneurship Fireside Chat Series, titled How to Build the Next Global Unicorn of Hong Kong. The featured guest speaker was Miss Edith YEUNG, an experienced venture capitalist and technology executive who has invested in over 2,000 companies, and frequently speaks on the China and Silicon Valley technology and investment landscape. The hour-long webinar was moderated by Prof. Jack LAU, and started with a warm welcome from Dean of Engineering Prof. Tim CHENG.
Miss Yeung, having been in Silicon Valley since the beginning of the pandemic, noted, “This crisis has created a lot of really, super interesting opportunities.” She commented that many companies were still pitching to venture capitalists even though funding activities had slowed down in the United States, and emphasized the need for founders to build something that is long lasting, to sustain beyond COVID-19. As a partner at Race Capital, she could foresee businesses and enterprises to continue the behavior of conducting business online, and pointed out that there was still a lot of room for growth in video conferencing as a service.
With regards to advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, she listed questions she would ask as a venture capitalist, such as about the start-up’s install base, retention rate, or monetization method for consumer start-ups, or its contract value, potential average revenue per user (ARPU) or sales cycle for business-to-business (B2B) or software as a service (SaaS) companies. She concluded that the process was very metric driven, and that investors would always ask and quiz them on these numbers.
She also stressed the need for founders to be passionate about their own idea. “No one should build a company just because a venture capitalist wants you to,” she advised. In addition, she gave the analogy: “We don’t want to invest in another vitamin, we want to invest in the painkiller.” She explained that she would rather founders draw from their own experiences to craft a solution, as it would then be a problem they really cared about.
Beyond passion, Miss Yeung also touched on character. “It’s just so much better, and it shows you as a much more pragmatic and genuine person, if you say, ‘I don’t know’, than trying to say, ‘Yeah, I have it all figured out’.”
Having worked in corporate for 10 years herself before founding her own company, Miss Yeung assured the audience that it’s alright to get a job upon graduation, and to consider it to be a part of the journey. However, she found the corporate mindset to be vastly different from a start-up mindset. “I had a very hard time trying to first ask for help. I felt like I had to do everything myself,” she shared. “It took me at least a good half a year until I got to the point where I needed to ask for help.” She also shared her thoughts on the underrepresentation of women as venture capitalists and in founding companies, especially in the United States, adding “It’s good to see other people that look like you.”
Towards the end, aside from three key takeaways from the chat which were to provide a product demo, know your numbers, and know why customers should choose your product, Miss Yeung also provided the audience with a slide deck on habits for pitching. Finally, Prof. Lau wrapped up the session by asking Miss Yeung’s favorite movies, which were revealed to be The Last Dance, a documentary on Michael Jordan, and Something Ventured, a documentary on the history of Silicon Valley.
By student intern Chloe Chan