From her experiences starting and running several companies in the technology, digital media and venture space, Yao recognized the need for a culture of collaboration in technology innovation, even between groups often seen as competitors. The Hatchery bridges the gap between entrepreneurs and investors through Yao’s signature tough love approach in exclusive, high-powered, pitch events. Yao frequently works and lectures in the Asian community, and hosts the invitation-only Wonder Women dinner series. Yao has a passion for helping entrepreneurs, women and social causes to build global communities, push more women into executive positions and fun causes in a scalable, recurring way.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: I received a Doctor of Pharmacy degree and started in the pharmaceutical industry. I felt there was more that I could do – more purpose, more things, faster paced, just more. I left to start an Interactive Agency – Gigapixel Creative with a close friend, and now business partner, because I knew the Internet is where the future is, it’s also less regulated and companies can be built faster with less money. My head was geared for businesses – I saw things, ahead, around, and just knew the answers. The company did well and I helped others tackle questions of the business of technology. I structured the business of Internet companies into The Hatchery to help build a smarter, better community of tech entrepreneurs with a fuller ecosystem. This allowed me to work on supporting companies with financing and business development. I moved into international work through consulates and trade agencies of several countries. Now I am looking abroad to expanding the accelerator into other countries and tying them together to leverage each other’s strengths.
Q: What are 3 characteristics that you believe define great leadership?
A: Patience. Perseverance. Purpose.
Q: If a business has several, viable ways to grow and innovate, how do you pick the best road to take?
A: It depends on when in the life of the company. Go for the low hanging fruit initially, get revenue in the door. The plan of attack should be the one with the biggest potential. Also measure margins to see which has the greatest potential to be profitable.
Q: What’s your best advice for an entrepreneur in an early/bootstrapping phase?
A: For bootstrappers, the best advice is to set a budget to get through phase 1, which is getting a prototype up and running and getting some traction. Focus on getting to revenue. All else will fall in place.
Q: How much time do you spend on networking versus focusing on the internal affairs of your business (such as management, strategy, ideation etc)?
A: I spend time building and sustaining relationships. Almost everything I do is based on that. I do get out to weekly events, speak, but mostly I am introduced to some interesting people. I would say 25% of my time is spent here.
Q: A great negotiation can be game changing for one’s business or life. Studies have shown that men are much more comfortable negotiating and asking for what they want compared to women. What’s your advice to women who are uncomfortable negotiating?
A: Negotiation is based on two things – asking for what you want and compromising. It’s about understanding what each party really wants and working from there. I think women could hone their intuitive sense, learn to read people, and don’t take it personally. Remove emotions from the table and treat it based on facts, figures, and terms – a puzzle even… of which set gets both sides to agree.
Q: What simple things in life today bring you joy?
A: Enjoying the company of good friends with great food. Peace.
ON Giving Back
Q: What cause(s) have you chosen to support and why does it resonate with you?
A: Generally those regarding women and children. Give Children a Choice and Step Up Women’s Network. I like helping the underdogs and watching them do great things. GCAC helps build preschools in third world countries and advances early education. SUWN has a great program helping girls in disadvantaged schools advance to college and help them with their careers.