Yida Gao (Forbes 30 Under 30) is the Managing General Partner of early stage crypto investment firm Shima Capital. Yida formerly co-ran Struck Capital, an early stage industry agnostic venture fund, and also DDC (Divergence Digital Currency), a multi-strategy crypto fund. Prior, Yida served as a technology investor at New Enterprise Associates, a $25Bn+ venture capital fund, and as an M&A investment banker at Morgan Stanley. He graduated from MIT with degrees in mathematics and computer science and dropped out of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business to pursue crypto investing full time in 2017. He teaches the 15.492: Crypto Finance course at MIT.
Where did the idea for Shima Capital come from?
As crypto-focused VC’s continue to raise massive billion dollar plus funds, we identified a pocket of opportunity to support Web3 founders with their first institutional checks that are considered too small for other investors. At Shima Capital, we take the opposite approach and spend the necessary resources to provide our portfolio companies with surgical support typically found only with larger funds.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
We run a large fund in terms of number of investments made, so my days are often split between calls and meetings with our founders, and meetings with my own team.
As time permit, I try to get a workout in, to keep my mind and body sharp so I can be at 100% for our portfolio companies.
Given that our industry is so global, there is also a lot of travel to developers and industry conferences.
How do you bring ideas to life?
In the regular meetings I have with my team, we always discuss new ideas and how to implement them. I am very process driven, so if we can hammer out a solid plan and the idea seems feasible, I’ll always encourage my team to bring it to life.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I really enjoy following technology trends and how fast new tech is not only conceived but built and implemented. A recent example is AI and how ChatGPT took off in the public consciousness. The potential of this technology is truly unknown, which is both concerning and inspiring.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One thing I am very particular about is scheduling my day properly and fully so I can maximize my time and efforts, while minimizing headaches. Everything from calls with portfolio companies to catch-ups with my team to even dinner with friends. It’s all in my calendar and no minute is wasted.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would simply tell myself to keep on the path I started from an even younger age and make sure to have balance in life that includes strong, healthy relationships with my body, mind, friends, and family – this is easy to forget when work is stressful but also easy to regret later in life.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
The financial and banking industries are not completely broken, but they can be greatly improved with proper implementation of blockchain technology.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I always urge my team to be process driven in everything they do. The way to become great at any one thing, no matter how big or small that thing might be, is to do it well, to do it over and over again, and repeat until you can do it in your sleep.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
One of the best decisions I made with Shima Capital is hiring the best of the best for my internal team. By bringing in specialized experts in finance, technology, gaming, research, and so on, I’ve built a superhero team that can help our portfolio companies with any problem they encounter day to day.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I wouldn’t say that any one failure stands out, but every day brings its own challenges. The way I’m able to keep going and to overcome obstacles is by making every opportunity a learning opportunity, both positive and negative. If a process doesn’t work, we fix the process. If a strategy is resoundingly successful, we try to replicate it so all of our portfolio companies can benefit from the lesson.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
As a venture capitalist I’m always on the lookout for unique projects and ideas to invest in. The hottest topic in tech right now is Artificial Intelligence, so find a unique way to incorporate AI into existing tech to make it 10x better or develop a unique data set that the larger tech companies like Google and Microsoft do not have.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Given the industry we invest in, the best money you can spend on yourself relative to our industry is on a proper cold storage crypto hardware wallet. I really like Tangem’s offering to keep your hard earned funds safe!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Shima Capital uses a messaging service called Telegram. It’s free to use (with a paid Premium option) and it keeps most of our internal and external communications in one easy-to-use place. It has texting functionality with added features like folders to keep conversations organized.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Intelligent Investor” by Benjamin Graham is an obvious classic that’s very relevant to my day to day life. Great place to start.
What is your favorite quote?
Speaking of intelligent investors, Warren Buffett, one of the world’s most famous and successful investor, once said, “Price is what you pay, value is what you get.” At Shima Capital, we try to be the ones also providing value for our founders so that we can increase positive investment outcomes.
- In venture capital, as with any industry, invest in your team as thoroughly as you invest in your portfolio companies.
- Always learn from everything you do; you can take positive lessons from positive experiences, too.
- Have a healthy balance in your life across relationships with your mind, body, family, friends and colleagues.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.