[quote style=”boxed”]Entrepreneurship is not a step-by-step process. It’s about jumping off a cliff and diving into an ocean of unknown.[/quote]
Edith Yeung is the Vice President of International Business Development at Dolphin, a Sequoia-backed mobile browser with over 80 million downloads on Android and iOS. She is also a founding partner at RightVentures, focusing on mobile and consumer Internet investments.
Edith also founded BizTechDay, a media company focusing on news, events, and research for small business, mobile, and Chinese technology, as well as SF-entrepreneur, an entrepreneurship group based in San Francisco with over 3,700 members.
Prior, Edith worked with companies including AT&T Wireless, Oracle, Siebel, Autodesk, and Telstra. She frequently speaks on issues concerning mobile, women, and international entrepreneurship.
Where did the idea for RightVentures come from?
Jonathan and I are angel investors, as well as advisors and consultants to startups. He’s an expert on cloud computing, and I’m an expert in mobile, so we thought it would be fun to join forces — connecting all the companies we currently work with while serving them better at the same time.
What is your business model?
Simply put, we are an angel fund that only succeeds if the startup we’re backing succeeds.
What does your typical day look like?
Both Jonathan and I spend a lot of time operating our own startups, so a good portion of my day goes into running Dolphin’s marketing, PR, and partnerships. In addition to that, I spend a good amount of time meeting startups that other investors introduce us to.
I mainly focus on mobile startups and tend to get involved in the spaces I understand, so if a startup meets those conditions and comes to me via a trusted introduction, I am very happy to learn more. I end up meeting a lot of new — often international — entrepreneurs that way.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
Mobile excites me, of course! Smartphones are revolutionizing Internet access around the world, especially for “mobile-first” countries in Asia, Africa, and South America, giving billions of people who could never afford a PC access to the Internet. It’s amazing to think that a farmer in rural India can now have the same Internet access as those in San Francisco.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
When I was 14, my summer job was selling Gatorade at a department store — my entire job was to get people excited about this product they’d never heard of before for $2 an hour. I was supposed to get people to try it so they’d like it and then buy it. The problem was that I myself didn’t like Gatorade! I had a hard time selling something I didn’t believe in, and I realized you have to really be invested in what you’re selling. I did eventually fix my pitch and sold a lot of Gatorade, but I didn’t feel good about it. In fact, the woman next to me was selling Snapple, which I loved, and I became a peach iced tea devotee instead!
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would definitely start my own venture a lot earlier. There’s no need to wait. Entrepreneurship is not a step-by-step process. It’s about jumping off a cliff and diving into an ocean of unknown.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
It’s pretty simple: Just follow through with what you say you will do. Over-promising and then underperforming is the easiest way to have your team and investors lose faith and trust in you.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Take your time hiring the right people. Your team will define what your company is all about, and when you have the right people, it doesn’t matter how much or how often strategies, products, or markets change; the best team can withstand any challenges or hardships.
What is one business idea you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A great business idea is mobile-to-mobile file transfer — it’s extremely useful for developing countries, where people don’t want to upload content to the cloud.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
I believe knowledge is everything, so I would change our educational system, making all levels of education free for everyone. And there wouldn’t be exams in this education system. Rather, it would be about applying what you learn to make an actual impact on the world (i.e., if you study computer science, you should be challenged to write a computer program that helps people. If you study business, you should build a business).
Tell us something about you that very few people know.
Until I was 16, I trained to be a concert pianist. I practiced three hours a day and got a distinction at the Trinity College of Music — all with the goal of becoming a professional pianist. However, I eventually realized I would never become one. Professional pianists practice at least six hours a day, and I didn’t have the right foundation when I was young. That was a deal breaker.
What are your three favorite online tools, software, or resources, and what do you love about them?
What is the one book you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d recommend “David and Goliath” by Malcolm Gladwell. This book will teach you that facing overwhelming odds can produce greatness and beauty. When there isn’t an easy solution, you will find a way to create your own path, rather than be defined by other people’s standards.
List three experts who have helped you as an entrepreneur and why?
1. Seth Godin: He is by far one of the best speakers and storytellers I have ever met. Seth can make the most complicated theory easy to understand.
2. Edie Gilmore: Edie is the VP of Finance Systems and Global Process Operations at Oracle. I met her early on in my career while working at Siebel (acquired by Oracle in 2006). She was very elegant and poised and always said the right thing in any situation. I remember thinking I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.
3. Jonathan Siegel: Jonathan is one of the most efficient and effective leaders I have ever met. He was the one who taught me about being a person of your word.
What did you have for breakfast?
I don’t usually eat breakfast, but if I do, it’s a pear or oatmeal. However, if my mother is visiting me, we will have a full Chinese feast with rice and three dishes before 9 a.m.