SoGal is a global network of emerging entrepreneurs and investors with 2,000+ community members in 26 countries around the world. I started SoGal simply because I did not like being one of the only girls at tech and startup events. Our first event was in November 2014, and now we have hosted 20 high impact events. We are in LA, NYC, and expanding to Singapore.
What do you see for your future?
I am starting SoGal Ventures, a cross-border venture capital firm investing in diverse founding teams in both the U.S. and Asia. It is a ballsy move and I am very scared and excited about the next steps! If it doesn’t scare you, it’s not big enough.
How can we help your business?
Right now we are seeking legal assistance to form a fund with international complications. Also looking to build a strong advisory board for SoGal Ventures.
So, breakfast today?
Protein shake! I am on a 30-day challenge right now. So far so good! It’ll be a good way to practice self-control.
Where did you grow up? How is where you came from material to your identity as an entrepreneur?
I grew up in a small city in Northern China till I was 18. I consider myself bicultural because I got “Americanized” much faster than other Chinese students in the US. I have always wanted to utilize my unique advantage to bridge business gaps between the US and Asia.
Tell us a story about a success in your business.
November 2014 was my first time ever hosting an event. Just four months later, I pretty much single-handedly created and produced the first annual SoGal Summit for over 500 diverse entrepreneurs. Attendees reported that connections they made helped them get good jobs, find the perfect hire, build business partnerships, and even meet their co-founder. Some participants were so inspired that they decided to start a company. This makes my heart sing.
How about a mistake?
For a long time I thought I did not have much to offer because I was just a college student from China having a hard time to fit in. When I finally realized how my experience gives me special success factors, and how much value I can create to others, my career and my life totally changed. Knowing what you are worth is the most important lesson for a woman.
Do you work out?
I used to work out a lot more! I love hot yoga, Zumba, weight training and jogging outdoors. Where I live in LA does not allow many outdoor activities though. It’s too dangerous!
What do you love about being an entrepreneur?
Our business is an extension of ourselves. I love that I can directly make impact, evolve rapidly, and make my voice heard. There are many barriers in a corporate environment that will not allow you to express yourself freely. Being an entrepreneur also means you are on an equal level with any other entrepreneurs, instead of being judged by what your title is. You don’t need to climb the ladder designed by others. You don’t need to depend on a value system created by others. You don’t have to build other people’s empire!
What about your business matters most deeply to you? How does it engage your values?
SoGal’s mission is to close the diversity gap in entrepreneurship within our generation. Beyond this, I resonate deeply about female empowerment. I was not feeling empowered a year ago, but now I absolutely do. I feel that there is nothing impossible. When I am empowered, I started empowering other women and men around me. I know for a fact that I have inspired others and created positive changes in their lives. This means, one more-empowered woman can empower many more around her. The effect is exponential! That’s why I feel so passionate about growing SoGal.
What would you say is your “entrepreneurial superpower?”
I am relentless. With my bicultural background and globetrotting experience, I have a talent for making connections with different kinds of people. I also have a very old soul so I behave in a much more sophisticated way than what my age tells you.
What’s the best about being an entrepreneur, as a woman?
It’s an exciting time to be a young, diverse entrepreneur because there are not enough of us. We can lead by example and encourage more to join us.
How about the worst?
There could be biases and discriminations against you. As a woman, it can be hard to stand up for yourself because we are trained to be less aggressive.
Do you think male entrepreneurs are “different” from female entrepreneurs, and if so, how?
In a way, yes. Entrepreneurship takes irrational confidence and a good amount of craziness. Women tend to feel less secure and want to go the safe route. Women are also more timid and underestimate ourselves a lot. Many women choose to build a lifestyle business over a unicorn company. On the bright side, I have heard men say that women tend to be more realistic, rational and responsible. These are generalized conclusions though.
What the best advice you ever got?
Create your own reality and constantly redefine yourself. If people tell you that you can’t,it’s because they can’t. All the obstacles are imaginary. If not, they’re temporary. Be in a constant, relentless execution mode. Fight on!