The number of Asian business women is on the rise nationwide.
A report by the
This week, we spoke with
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background.
A: I am originally from the
Two years ago, I became my parents' primary caretaker. I wanted to be with them, especially with the the health issues they face. I uprooted myself, quit my job, sold my house and moved home for a year to get a sense of what my parents needed.
I didn't know what I could do. Then I reconnected with the
Q: How did you come up with your business idea?
A: My students challenged me to come up with one, and so I did: an idea of how to help people pair meals with wine. Also, I learned that wineries have a burning problem to connect with young consumers.
When you come to a winery, you interact with winemakers, but you don't have that continued connection after you leave. The winery is a
This creates your wine personality. Young foodies can experiment with wine, learn what they like and they'll have an expert to them to answer questions on food pairing and wine education feature, in different regions on wine, to cultivate connections with the winery. We want to have wine consumers support local wineries. We are trying to create experiences and personal connections. When younger consumers develop a more sophisticated taste, they will buy more and support handcrafted wine produced by local wineries.
I built a prototype and entered UC Davis' Big Bang!
On the consumer side, we provide the ability to connect them to their favorite winery and ask questions on what food to pair with wine.
With the prototype we built, we were surprised that the customers were willing to sign up in five days. Things were happening really fast. If you bring a high-tech tool to a low-tech industry, you'll have a compelling way to help the industry. We want to transform the wine industry digitally.
Our team is mainly female and very diverse. When you look at talent and shared culture, most of my team members are younger and learning in a startup environment. They have equity in the company and I am mentoring the team members to help them to gain the skills and experiences (in a startup). It is a multi-layered collaboration. I would not have been able to start on my own.
I am proud to start it (my business) in
I am so grateful for the opportunity in the past couple years.
Q: What are the challenges and opportunities you faced as an entrepreneur?
A: One common challenge for women is raising money for their business ideas. There is no easy answer to that. Only 2 percent of the venture capital money used to go to female entrepreneurs, though there are now more initiatives trying to help women founders.
My kind of profile does not usually attract the majority of the funding in the
Before starting my business, I never asked for anything from someone. I will try to solve a problem for my customer, or create the opportunity for them to solve the problem that they are willing to pay for. Here (in startups) the focus is on helping them with solutions I created. So now, if that is my model and recipe, how can I tailor that to raise money as an Asian woman, in a town with not too much venture capital?
So instead, we'd pitch this: "We create opportunities for angel investors to join us on a journey to transform a
The fact that we already have customers makes our lives easier, and we paint a map on what we envision it to look like. I hope someone accredited would want to invest and support those early in their journey who want to be successful like them. I am confident that we would be successful in raising money and we are creating opportunities for investors who want to be game-changers on industry for transformation.
I grew up in a traditional household. My parents are respectful, quiet and reserved. I was very shy. I was left handed when I was young and the nun at my school forced me to switch to right hand and I stopped talking for a year. But I listened and observed, which allowed me to get a keen perception of people. I got a sense of how to connect with people when I was working in the banking industry in the
Initially I was offended. But when I tried to understand, the people who asked were curious, so I took it as an opportunity to be a conversation starter. You shouldn't be offended. I learned that I have to speak more -- and when I do speak, I have something meaningful to say. You want to make sure you provide something of value, to be able to establish your ground. I held my ground to my manager and peers with points that were well thought out and articulated. And people respect that. Be respectful to your listeners.
There are definitely pockets of (Asian) communities in
My students are very diverse and it is empowering. Why can't an Asian woman be a founder of a software company in
Q: Do you have a mentor or a person who inspired you to pursue this path?
A: There's always a constant figure, besides parents.
Q: Do you have any advice for upcoming entrepreneurs?
A: Don't pass up any opportunity -- it may become the game changer of your life.
Q: What is next for Pair Anything?
A: I hope we can double our size in
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