Tonight was the first time I saw a real angel! No, I am not talking about the ones from heaven, but rather the ones that have always been on earth and have given out money to fuel people’s ambitions and dreams. Their generous gestures have labeled them as kind as Angels, and therefore they themselves got the name, “Angel investor”. In tonight’s Venture Seed Competition at USC’s Marshall School of Business, I saw some Tech Angel investors along with other venture capitalists who served on the the judge’s panel for USC students’ entrepreneurship pitches and ideas.
I also pitched my team’s business idea during the competition: a Chinese culture and lifestyle online community themed around Chinese food. My teammates and I have seen the growing interest in the U.S. for Asian culture and Asian food in the past couple of years without finding a suitable platform to express such interest. We also think the current $20 billion Chinese restaurant industry in the U.S.’s future growth is partially limited by stereotypical views of Chinese food in America. Chinese food itself is the perfect embodiment of Chinese culture and contains numerous traditions and a vast selection of cuisines from an enormously large country like China. In order to solve the two aforementioned big problems, we propose a Chinese culture and lifestyle online community themed around the food, which would provide a place for people to discover Asian culture delivered by the food, and also help reconstructing a more diverse image of Chinese food itself, which would then inject new energy into the current Chinese food industry in the U.S..
Tonight was a great experience for me to present this Chinese food and culture online community idea to a panel of Tech angel investors and venture capitalists and get their feedback. Even though the idea developed by my teammate and I is not the most innovative or developed one, it contains something we are really passionate about, and during the research process we found millions of people online who share this same passion with us, which is a truly great experience. Also during my preparation for this business competition, I got a chance to taste what it is like to connect an idea to the real world, and make it not just an idea. Even though the process of crunching business data and financial projections was sometimes frustrating and stressful, it was such a fun experience to prepare for the overall business plan and learn so many new things along the way. Many thanks to my teammates Chris, Anthony and Guangyu, as well as Tom, Karen, Jessica Zach, Jessie and Lee who offered great advice and support along the way. I really appreciate it and learned so much from my conversations with them. If there is one thing I wish I have changed, that is I would want to discuss our idea with many many more people and hear what their opinions are, as every conversation has added new element to our idea and helped to shape it into a better form. Brain Nogard, the young but veteran entrepreneur who came to our class last week said that speaking out about your idea is such a great way to test it and add value to it, as if it is not worth to be talked about, it is probably not a worthy idea at the first place. His remark resonated so much with me and has proven to be so true during the preparation for this project. Even though I was a bit shy at the very beginning to talk that much about it, now I am putting it into the blog and inviting opinions from everyone. Your opinion will be so valuable for our project. Thanks in advance!
This is just a start, and through this entire process, I’ve learned so much and have also gotten to see just how much more I still need to learn. Entrepreneurship is hard from the beginning to the end: getting an idea is hard, make other people believe it is a good one is hard, and executing it well and making it into an actual valuable product is even harder. But being creative and working hard to pursue your dream is just so fun, which makes it all worth it. It’s the ultimate rewarding experience. I will take these lessons into my future work and study, so please stay tuned for the next one!