Inside My Brain

Thoughts about startups, tech, marketing, and life

TAG: entrepreneurship

Remembering the ones that inspired you

Today, February 22, 2016, would have been my Dad’s 68th birthday. He passed away from nasopharyngeal cancer in 2005.

I owe a lot of my life and career to my Dad’s wisdom and the path that he took through life.

He was an entrepreneur by necessity, not really by choice. And I believe his words and actions led me to become an entrepreneur.

My parents had a great life in Malaysia but moved to the US to provide a better life for my sister and me. When they moved to America, my Dad worked in various restaurants and fast-food joints. He learned a lot about the business and eventually opened a few restaurants of his own.

But because being an entrepreneur was really tough, he didn’t always sing its praises, and actually sometimes gave me conflicting advice about where I should take my career.

“It’s tough working for other people” would sometimes be followed by “but a stable job with a big company that pays you a lot is good.”

“The only way to be happy is to work for yourself” would be accompanied by “but running your own business is really hard.”

I didn’t quite understand what he meant until now, because I’ve experienced those feelings the last 3.5 years I’ve been an entrepreneur.

I’ve found out about the ups and downs of being on your own. So I totally get where my Dad was coming from, even though it confused the hell out of me when I was younger.

And I actually pass on this conflicting advice to those who ask me about becoming an entrepreneur, because it’s totally spot on.

Today, I think my Dad would be proud of the path I chose, but he’d still ask why I don’t have a corporate job that pays a lot. 🙂

Miss you and love you everyday, Dad.

This is day 8 of my experiment to blog for 30 consecutive days.

Guest blog post for CEA: 7 More Tools and Tricks for Entrepreneurs to Get Stuff Done

Check out my latest guest post for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) titled, “7 More Tools and Tricks for Entrepreneurs to Get Stuff Done.

In December 2013, I wrote a guest blog post titled “10 Essential Tools and Resources for Entrepreneurs to Get Stuff Done,” which highlighted 10 important resources that I use to help me stay productive.

It’s been a few months since I wrote that article, and I’ve changed and added some tools and tricks to the mix. Here are some additional resources that might help you be more productive like they’ve helped me.

Enjoy!

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Guest blog post for CEA: The 4 Things I’ve Learned About Managing My Psychology as an Entrepreneur

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Check out my latest guest post for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) titled, “The 4 Things I’ve Learned About Managing My Psychology as an Entrepreneur.

Startup founders’ trials and tribulations have been written about frequently in tech and business publications and mostly focus on how brutal it is to run a company. But I believe there are many entrepreneurs like me who are in the earlier stages of building companies, where things are moving more slowly than we’d like, and just aren’t far along enough to relate.

Lack of progress can be very taxing on an entrepreneur’s psyche and confidence, and it certainly has taken a toll on mine. I’ve worked on dealing with these thoughts over the last two years and here’s what I learned about managing my mind.

Enjoy!

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Guest blog post for CEA: How to Validate Your Startup Idea with Online Ads

Check out my latest guest post for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) titled, “How to Validate Your Startup Idea with Online Ads.

A quick and relatively cheap way to validate our startup idea, Locatize, was to run online ads targeting potential users, lead them to a landing page, and see if they give us their email address to stay updated on Locatize’s progress. Here’s what we did to test the demand for Locatize and how you can test your startup idea, too.

Enjoy!

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Your entrepreneurial spirit lives on.

Happy Father’s Day to my Dad and all the Dads out there!

On this Father’s Day, the influence that my Dad has on my family is as evident as ever.

My Dad was an entrepreneur, having owned and operated several Chinese restaurants in New York City. When my sister and I were young, my father always told us that working for ourselves was the best path to both financial success and happiness (or satisfaction), and he instilled in us a mentality of curiosity and continuous learning.

This obviously had an effect on me and my sister. I’ve run my own businesses for almost two years now. And recently, my sister Julia jumped into the world of entrepreneurship by leaving her full-time job to focus on JSC Fitness and other endeavors. My father would be really proud right now.

I think he would be equally proud of the fact that we’ve been able to surround ourselves with amazing family to support us everyday.

My Mom was the bedrock for my Dad, working stable jobs in bookkeeping and accounting to bring in steady income that allowed my father to take on the risk of opening restaurants. My wife Vicky is the same; not only does she have the steady job, but she has to deal with my anxiety and uncertainty on a daily basis. And I know my brother-in-law Manuel is playing a very similar role for my sister. And of course, we all support each other.

Dad, I know you’re looking down on us with a smile on your face. And we hope we’re making you proud.

Happy Father’s Day!

Guest blog post for CEA: How to Think of a Startup Idea (with co-founders)

startupblog2

Check out my latest guest post for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) titled, “How to Think of a Startup Idea (with co-founders)“.

Coming up with a business or product idea is the easy part of launching a startup, but it’s an important one. This is especially true when you’re doing so with an existing team. This post highlights the process my co-founder and I used to agree on a startup idea that aligned with each of our interests, strengths and experiences.

Enjoy!

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.


Guest blog post for CEA: How 100 Hackers, Hustlers and Designers Launched Companies in 54 Hours

SW_washington_DC

Check out my latest guest post for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) titled, “How 100 Hackers, Hustlers and Designers Launched Companies in 54 Hours“.

I’m a co-organizer of Startup Weekend DC, an event where entrepreneurs get together to pitch ideas, form teams, build products, and launch companies, all in 54 hours. We just held an event last weekend, and here’s the recap. The winning team (see pic below) – Orate, a platform for event speakers to get gigs and build their brand – won the grand prize of $25,000 in engineering services!

SWDC Winning Team Orate

It was an amazing, motivating event. Read more about it here.

Enjoy!

I hope you found this interesting! If so, please connect with me on TwitterGoogle+, and LinkedIn for future updates.


Looking back to 2013 and forward to 2014

Happy New Year! Though I believe we should continuously think about where we are and where we’re going, the new year is always a good time to summarize it all. So here goes!

Recap of 2013

Mike Vicky Vows

This past year was really eventful on a personal level. I attended seven (!) weddings in 2013: two were mine (the Best Wedding Ever in Mexico and an awesome family reception in Queens), my sister got married in September in NYC, and four other friends got married in New Jersey, California, and Florida. Combine those weddings with traveling to New York and New Jersey for Thanksgiving and Christmas, it’s pretty clear that Vicky and I have been a couple of weary road warriors. But it was a year full of great celebrations.

Cute

One of the tougher parts of the year was when our dog, Sweet Dee, was paralyzed in her hind legs by a compressed spine. We had to cut our vacation short to take her to the neurologist, get an MRI, and have her undergo surgery. The aftermath was really difficult, as we had to frequently express her bladder (she didn’t have much control of anything in the back half of her body) and retrain her on how to walk. Regardless, she’s a tough cookie and made a full recovery! She probably has no idea that she was even paralyzed. Silly dog.

Regarding my 2013 New Year’s resolutions, I pretty much shat the bed. While I accomplished not drinking for two weeks, I failed to run at least two Tough Mudders (I only ran one) and didn’t make much progress on launching a startup. While 1 out of 3 makes for a good batting average in baseball, it really sucks for New Year’s resolutions. On the career note, some positives included taking a more active role in Startup Weekend DC (I became an official co-organizer), and blogging for the CEA, which has been fun and has increased my visibility.

Onward to 2014

While 2013 was an amazing year, I’m really looking forward to 2014. There will definitely be fewer weddings, so I’ll travel a bit less this year. This should keep me fresher to accomplish my resolutions, which are:

1) Seriously get my startup going

While I didn’t make much progress launching a startup in 2013, my co-founder and I did narrow our list down to three ideas to potentially pursue. Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to run some experiments to figure out which may be the most viable idea and work towards it. I’m excited!

I stress out everyday about the lack of movement on my startup, but making a little bit of progress everyday will help, and that’s what I intend to do.

2) Drop five pounds

I’m blessed with the high metabolism that many Asians have, so I haven’t had to worry too much about my weight. I work out a good amount but I think being more disciplined with my diet, which I’m pretty horrible at, will help me stay healthier and keep my energy up. Dropping five pounds will be the result of this discipline.

3) Avoid alcohol for two weeks every quarter

While it was tough (for me) to not drink for 14 days straight, I’m going to do it 4 times this year. This should also help me achieve resolution #2.

4) Start a family

Whoa! This is a big one that may have a detrimental impact on all of the above resolutions, but it will be totally worth it. I should let Vicky know about this one. 🙂

If all goes well, 2014 will be an unbelievable year in both my personal and professional lives, and I can’t wait.

How did your 2013 go, and what are your resolutions for 2014? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

If you found this interesting, please connect with me on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn for future updates.

Guest blog post for CEA: Recap of Startup Weekend DC

SW_washington_DC

Check out my latest guest post for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) – Companies launched over 54 hours: A Recap of Startup Weekend DC.

I’m a co-organizer of Startup Weekend DC, an event where entrepreneurs get together to pitch ideas, form teams, build products, and launch companies, all in 54 hours. We just held an event last weekend, and here’s the recap.

Enjoy!

Like this post? Then follow me on Twitter at @mikewchan, connect with me on LinkedIn, and add me to your Google+ circles for future updates.

SWDC Fall 2013 group pic

Guest blog post for CEA: Team First or Idea First – What’s the Best Option for Launching a Startup?

Team First or Idea First?

Check out my latest guest post for the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA): Team First or Idea First – What’s the Best Option for Launching a Startup?

Looking back on the experiences of my short career in entrepreneurship and startups, I’ve been thinking a lot about whether it’s better to start with an idea first then build the team, or work with some potential co-founders first before coming up with a specific idea together.

Both situations have pros and cons, but which is the better path to startup success? Read more about this here.

Enjoy!

Like this post? Then follow me on Twitter at @mikewchan, connect with me on LinkedIn, and add me to your Google+ circles for future updates.