Robert is a three-time entrepreneur. He sold his first company for $300,000 while he studied at the University of Southern California. He is a Forbes Under 30 Scholar and Global Shaker’s Sustainable Fashion Innovator 2019. He is also an Entrepreneur Hall of Fame at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business.
Where did the idea for Mi Terro come from?
I first learned about the food waste problem when I visited my uncle’s dairy farm in China in 2018. He showed me that there was so much milk waste on his farm. He then challenged me to help him find a solution. When I came back to the US, I started researching the process of turning milk into by-products; Mi Terro is the result of this research.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Since I work remotely, I can manage my time more flexibly. I start my day by replying to emails, answering messages, and eating breakfast. I usually schedule calls and respond to emails in the morning. In the afternoon, I will do more work plans and schedule meetings.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I read a lot of articles and news. Whenever there is a big problem, there is an opportunity.
What’s one trend that excites you?
It really excites me to learn that people are demanding businesses to move toward sustainability in a rapid speed. Sustainability shouldn’t be an option, it is a MUST.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I like to have a good mood before I sleep. So I will watch funny videos or listen to my favorite songs. I believe that having a good sleep is important to my next day’s performance.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Learn more, ask more, and do more. Be humble, be confident and be grateful.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
You need to fail at least 3 times to truly learn something.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Reading is very important. Reading helps an entrepreneur gain insights of the world’s problem. Reading other people’s facial expressions can tell an entrepreneur what his or her counterpart is thinking.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Build yourself to become a stronger person before asking for help. Then, think about what I can do for you before receiving help from you.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I failed many times as an entrepreneur. I started Mi Terro when I was a student at the University of Southern California. I applied to more than 12 organizations and clubs in my junior and senior years. Unfortunately, I was rejected by all of them. I felt really upset at the time when I received my last rejection, but now looking back, I am really thankful for all those rejections. Because of the rejections, I was able to create more time for my business and to put on focus on what truly makes me happy.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
There is no special sauce for success. Learning from mistakes is undoubtedly the best way to become better.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 that I recently spent was the airplane ticket from Los Angeles to Chicago. My company won the Startup World Cup Chicago Regional. I didn’t expect to win because I had a fever and sore throat on that day.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I use WeChat to communicate with my company’s suppliers in China.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I really like Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. Not only did Phil Knight depicted his journey of starting Nike but he was also very honest and open-minded about the mistakes that he made. The book didn’t glorify his success as an entrepreneur but rather portrayed him as an ordinary person.
What is your favorite quote?
Vision without execution… is just hallucination
- Execution is the most important key to success
- Read a lot
- Don’t say you are ready until you have failed enough times
- Have a good sleep
- Bring values to others and they will want to help you in return.