Crazy Month of May

Last month was one of the most eventful in my life.

May 1 – Get married
May 5 – Meet Luna and Artemis for the first time
May 6 – Husband returns to medical school
May 7 – Find out husband’s cousin my age has cancer
May 13 – Fundraising Seed Deal Closed
May 16 – Move into new office
May 21-23 – Fly to NY and compete in Finals for VISA pitch competition, one of 10 finalists out of 1300 applications
May 22 – Adopt Luna and Artemis
May 31 – Received an apology that should’ve been said 18 years ago
May 31 – Kittens in hospital (luckily ok!)
May 31 – Find out my mother-in-law has cancer

On Resilience

Investors often state that they want to invest in founders who have “grit,” “resilience,” “perseverance,” or any number of synonyms. But how do they measure said resilience? A gut feeling? A well-crafted story of overcoming failure?

We signed a term sheet in December, and our $1.1M seed round has yet to close. The hold-up is the lead investor’s eleventh hour insistence that we obtain signatures from our ex-cofounder who has left the company over a year ago. She and her family are litigious so their concern is understandable. However, at this point the delay in financing is far more damaging to the company than any “distraction” that may occur from a lawsuit.

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State of Female Funding in 2018

It’s well-known that in 2017 only 2.2% of VC dollars went to women last year, and only 0.2% went to women of color. According to a Techcrunch article published yesterday (11/4/18), that number hasn’t improved in 2018 — we’re still at 2.2%.

Having recently gone through (and still going through) months of fundraising, I can tell that change is still far from happening. Even more “progressive” and “female-friendly” firms have unconscious bias. Yet with all the press around equalizing the playing field, I’ve heard people say “aren’t there all these new female-focused firms now? Shouldn’t fundraising be better now?”

Although many new female-focused firms have popped up, they are nowhere near the level of support that is necessary to change the playing field.

Most of the female-focused firms have raised smaller funds (fund sizes of $10M), and thus can only deploy money at super early-stage startups at check sizes of around $100-$300k. This is a great start, getting startups with female founders their first check in the door.

For female-led teams that are beyond the “pre-seed” stage, however, there is little support. Check sizes of >$1M are not yet targeted by this new wave of awareness.

Furthermore, a lot of female-focused firms will fund markets traditionally ignored by male VCs (beauty, childcare, etc.), but what about support for female founders within male-dominated fields like supply chain?

I posed a question to an investor who strongly supports female founders (and puts his money behind his words): do you know a single enterprise SaaS company with a large exit (>$1B or even $500M) that has an all-female founding team, or even just is female-led? Neither he nor I could name one. (If you know one, please tell me!)

It’s difficult to get over that unconscious bias that comes with not a single success if your industry, not to mention the male-dominated supply chain software world.

Either way, all we can do is persist and push forward! The only way to truly enact change is to be that first success in the field.

We’re super grateful to all the investors who have believed in us and our mission to revolutionize supply chain. Together, we hope to change not only the supply chain industry, but the larger tech community as a whole.

Here’s my mini-database of female-focused firms (incomplete):
https://airtable.com/shr9dfFIwxwsLng8i

A larger, more exhaustive list can be found here:
https://www.foundersforchange.org/diverse-investors-list/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyhoey/2018/07/12/ten-female-founded-venture-capital-funds-you-should-have-in-your-network/#517d8e167565

April 28, 2017

Belated post for April 28, 2017.

Today was a great day. I was determined to start the day right. Woke up to Jay Park’s Joah, steamed my outfit, and got dressed in my new Reformation lilac-colored uber-chic dress. Drove down to Palo Alto and worked out of Philz on Forest Ave, with a delicious sausage breakfast burrito for lunch and a mint mojito ice coffee for dessert. Two hours of hyper-productivity. Then, ran some errands at the Stanford mall, rehearsed and performed with Swingtime, and attended a social dance at the Elliot Program Center, where I got a solid 3 hours of exercise. It was great to dance again. The only wrinkle in the day (literally) was my dress, which I found out wrinkles easily. But all in all, still felt like a boss wearing it, so I think it’s gonna be ok.

LA, NY, SF, HI, home

On March 20 at 2am, when I descended upon LA driving down the 405, I felt joy for the first time in ten months. It burst forth, welling up from within, and I almost literally shed tears of happiness. Homesickness has always been a foreign concept to me. This was the first time I’ve ever thought, “Ah, I’m home.”

I spent the first eighteen years of my life in beautiful Hawaii, with summers in Taiwan. In Hawaii, I was the children of Taiwanese immigrants who were always too intense for the locals. “Da loco kine” island life is all about being relaxed, “overachievers” were frowned upon. In Taiwan, I was too American; too tan, too “athletic,” and too accented. I was an outcast, neither a Hawaii local nor Taiwanese.

I then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for college, and spent the next 8 years there. Again, I didn’t fit in. At Stanford, my lack of respect for social norms made me a weirdo. Beyond Stanford, I often felt a suffocating lack of diversity, whether it was socioeconomic diversity, ethnic diversity, industry diversity, or diversity of thought. Luckily, I made a few life-long friends, despite my social awkwardness.

Los Angeles was different. Here, I had friends who accepted me for who I was, tons of family nearby, beautiful weather, and cheap yet delicious food. There was diversity in all ways, every passion hobby imaginable, amazing arts — a true metropolitan city. I could lose myself amongst the crowds. I was no longer in a small town, with a narrow, small town mentality.

Now, I’m based in Brooklyn, New York. We’ll see if this will be another “home” or just another stop in my life journey.

At this point, I’ve moved 24 times since turning 18, and 12 of those times were post-graduation. My heart remains in the city of angels — home.

I end with a poem, which I saw on the metro the other day:

A Map of the World
by Ted Kooser

One of the ancient maps of the world
is heart-shaped, carefully drawn
and once washed with bright colors,
though the colors have faded
as you might expect feelings to fade
from a fragile old heart, the brown map
of a life. But feeling is indelible,
and longing infinite, a starburst compass
pointing in all the directions
two lovers might go, a fresh breeze
swelling their sails, the future uncharted,
still far from the edge
where the sea pours into the stars.

Social Good

With the recent political turmoil in mind, I have began to be more generous in donations to organizations that I feel make a difference. Previously, I had only donated to friends’ Kickstarter campaigns or foundations (Dragon Kim Foundation), on occasion a crowdsourced campaign (for example, Stand with Leah), the World Wildlife Fund, Volunteers in Asia via Amazon Smile, The Stanford Fund (designated to Swingtime), and other various charities that I vetted. I’ve donated time to volunteering at CARECEN, helping domestic violence victims process paperwork to gain legal status. I tried to volunteer at IRAP, but they didn’t have enough attorneys to supervise the willing volunteers.

Yesterday and today, I decide to be more proactive with my donations. I donated to the ACLU and International Rescue Committee. I bought an annual subscription to the New York Times, in an attempt to support honest journalism. I also pledged to help my friend’s Kickstarter campaign, but that has no political implications, only support for an aspiring entrepreneur, haha. (Though I do believe that innovation is the key to “keeping America great.”)

My old mindset was to keep these donations and volunteering pretty private; I’m pretty private about my political beliefs to begin with, and these “causes” that I support seem to me an extension of political beliefs. I also felt that the point of good deeds was to help others, and not to get praise or recognition for these deeds. However, I’ve become increasingly public with my actions…publicly donating to ACLU on Facebook, occasional articles shared on Facebook, and writing this blog post (not that anyone really reads this or connects it to me).

I’m still hesitant to go public with a lot of the issues I care about. Some of them, like women’s rights (equal pay and equal education, domestic violence, sexual assault, etc.) are pretty socially acceptable. Others, like mental health awareness or Taiwanese independence, may have an adverse impact on my career. If by going public, I would have some sort of positive impact on these issues, I would gladly go public; however, I remain cynical that my exposure would have a meaningful, lasting impact.

The last couple days, I decided to be more proactive about taking a public stance. Although I don’t really believe that it will have a meaningful difference (and will potentially harm me instead), I decided to say “fuck it” and take the gamble. As an entrepreneur, I’m always taking risks that may leave me with nothing, so I believe I can survive through whatever adverse effects may arise — I only hope that even a little bit of positive sway will result from my gambit.

If the name of the game is survival, then I have plenty of endurance to tough it out. I also bought some iodine tablets today in preparation for nuclear war, so there’s that too.
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