Tag: hanyin_cheng

“Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to great places! You’re off and away!” – Dr.Seuss

10:30 – 6:30 at Vurve, 12 books, 8 blogs posts, a handful of new technologies, Post-PC Era analysis, TEC Commercial, Final Presentation for Vurve, network of influential VCs and entrepreneurs, friendships for a life time. Priceless!

As I read through all the blogs I have posted this summer, I can’t help but to feel sad that it is all coming to an end. I have learned, experienced, and grew so much over the course of 8 weeks. Looking back, deciding to join the TEC program was a rather adventurous decision because I was coming to a city where I had no family and few friends. I came to work for a stealth start up, which I knew little about. I was inexperienced and knew I had much to learn. I can honestly say that 8 weeks later I feel like a completely different person. I have expanded my horizons with new programming languages and knowledge of entrepreneurship and venture capital. I feel inspired as ever to actually do what I have only thought about doing before. I would reiterate how great of a summer it has been and everything I had learned, but I feel like I have covered most of what I wanted to say in previous blog posts. Instead I thought it would be cool for me to give a few advices for prospective TEC 2011 Interns.

Advice 1: If you are reading this and are hesitant about whether it is worth it to move all the way out to California and join TEC. You absolutely should. I can’t think of any good reason why anyone would not want to be part of this. If you are worried about the stipend not being enough for what you need to make this summer, you should consider it a valuable investment in yourself. I wouldn’t trade the experiences, lessons, and network for any amount of money. Maybe $ 100 million, but probably not. :-p

Advice 2: If you are lucky enough to be selected for TEC 2011. Be prepared to work hard. The program is intense and is designed that way. You won’t be doing any busy work, but you will definitely be challenged. I wrote that it feels like a being a part time student with a full time job and I am not exaggerating. I would also strongly recommend coming to TEC with a solid business idea in mind. That’s what did and I felt like having something concrete to build on the side really complimented the educational experience.

Advice 3: Definitely get to know the other interns. Even if you live far away from most of the other interns, always make the trek to see them. Make plans and do things together. Watch our commercial for a taste of what we did last summer. Put 100% into all of True’s assignments. Even if you are not technically “graded” on your them, the more you put in the more you will get out.

Feel free to reach out to me with any questions!

Email: hanyin.cheng@gmail.com

Twitter: hanyinc

A long list…

Lessons I learned:

- It is easy to come up with good ideas, it’s hard to execute.

- It is possible to survive 2 months on ramen, cereal, and easy mac.

- Don’t be afraid of failure. Most people try to live a life avoiding failures.

- Success = [cash / (burn rate * time it takes to iterate)]

- It is ALL about the people

- Post-PC era will hook the rest of the world up to the internet (that’s the other 5/6).

- Do not eat at “Pizza my heart” in Palo Alto

- We are going through a gold rush of personal branding.

- Reading is invaluable, always have time to read.

- Understand your CORE business. Banking isn’t really about banking.

- Every once in a while choose the unconventional path on purpose.

- Do what you love, no excuses.

- Marin is very windy.

- At school, focus on learning how to learn as much as the material itself.

- “Entrepreneurship is jumping off a cliff and building a plane on the way down.”

- “If you are not embarrassed by the first release, you have failed.”

- The VC and startup community are tightly knit. Reputation is everything.

- Happiness is about being apart of something bigger than the your self.

- The burritos at Plug n Play are delicious.

- Peal the onion. Think through the effect of one ripple on the entire spider web.

- Low barrier of start-ups is turning the VC business on its head.

- Identifying hipsters.

- Entrepreneurship is about hustling. “ABC”  (always be closing)

- If you are a builder learn to sell, if you are a seller learn to build.

- People = valuable asset. people = culture. Thus, culture = valuable asset.

- Inspiration is only half of the equation. The other half is to do something about it.

- People are like sponges; you can always squeeze a little more out of them.

- Find a thought partner.

- Being an early adopter is valuable.

- There is a difference between a hacker, a programmer, and an engineer.

- The future is cloudy. Bring an umbrella. EAAS (everything as a service)

- “Don’t bank money, bank on people”

- The only thing more important than big data is bigger data.

- Silicon Valley is a special place. Engineers are the rock stars.

- The best way to learn is to work for a startup.

- Great design is incredibly valuable and always worth the investment.

Books I read:

  • Founders at Work
  • The Google Story
  • Cliff Bar
  • The Business of iPhone Development
  • Head First PHP and MySQL
  • Business Model Generation
  • Mastering the VC Game
  • Delivering Happiness
  • Why’s Poignant Guide to Ruby
  • Head First HTML and CSS
  • The Walnut Case
  • Paul Graham’s Essays

New technologies I learned:

  • Python
  • Python Image Library
  • Selenium
  • Ruby
  • Capistrano
  • Unix
  • Amazon Web Services
  • JavaScript
  • SQLAlchemy
  • SQL
  • HTML + CSS
  • PHP
  • JIRA ticketing tool
  • Google Adwords, Analytics, and Merchant Center/ Facebook Advertising/ Product Search Engines/ Keyword optimization.

Summer Dreams

TEC has been a great experience thus far. Over the last 6 weeks, I have learned an incredible amount about technology, entrepreneurship, and venture capital. The program combines practical startup experience with frequent reading and writing assignments. This week we turned in our summer-long project. For this assignment, we had to work in groups of 5 to analyze the post-pc era and make recommendations to True’s portfolio companies. Being absorbed in technology and the start-up scene has helped me get a glimpse of this exciting future. I want to take this opportunity to reflect on some of our conclusions.

Just to give a little context for the analysis: A few weeks ago at the All Things Digital conference, Steve Jobs predicted that we are headed towards the post-pc era.  He argues that computing in the post-pc era will be dominated by tablet and hand held devices and that desktop and even laptops will eventually become obsolete. He compared this technological shift to changes we observed in the automobile industry when our economy moved from agricultural based to more industrial based.  Although our group fundamentally agree with Steve Jobs’ argument, we don’t think computing will be limited to just tablet or cell phones. Instead, we predict the post-pc era will be characterized by an emergence of everyday ambient devices. Imagine umbrellas that can light up when it knows that it is about to rain, showers that automatically adjust its temperature based on the temperature outside, or car windshields that overlays useful information. In essence, everything will be connected to the Internet and all things are computing devices. For all of this exciting technology to become adopted, they’re a few important infrastructures that need to be put in place. For example, in order support the massive amount of data uploads and downloads, we need to establish wireless 4G standard and leverage technologies like WiMax to set up a truly global area network. In the post pc-era, fast video streaming will not be a luxury but simply an expectation. One of the most interesting questions that came out of our group discussion is what will happen when the rest of the world connects to the Internet.  It is hard to wrap our heads around the sheer number let alone contemplate what the potential consequences are. However, one thing is for sure. This future is coming and it will be here sooner than we might think. As user interface and human to machine interface become more simplified and gesture based. Technology will be completely intuitive even to someone who has never seen a computer before. I personally like to point to the TED video “6th sense” as an example of what I mean by this.

I once read an interview where Steve Job’s said, “I dreamed about computers when computers didn’t exist yet, so I built them”.  Half of being a successful entrepreneur is about having a vision for the future. The other half is going out and making it happen.  Working at Vurve and being in a great internship program at True this summer has helped me accomplish the first half. I feel inspired as ever to pursue my interests and realize my dreams.

Success = MAX (cash/ burn rate * time it takes to iterate)

Every Sunday, I find myself sitting on my bed thinking about this blog and wondering where the week went. Every week goes by so quickly that I am always caught off guard by the email reminders to update our blog. If I were to describe my summer experience thus far in two words, it would be “fun” and “challenging”. Most of the time I feel like a part time student with a full time job.  I guess we were supposed to feel this way by design. After all, starting a company is not easy.  One thing I have learned this summer is just how much hard work actually goes into starting a company. It is really easy to misperceive entrepreneurship as a sexy job where people get wildly rich. I, for one, was under this false perception. After all, we only hear about the success stories and never the failures. Working for Vurve during the day and building my own idea during the night (7 – 2am is plenty of time to do damage) has helped me come to realize that:

-> Entrepreneurship is not about the glory, most of the time it’s about doing the dirty work that others wouldn’t.

-> Entrepreneurship means if you are a builder you have to learn to sell and if you are salesmen you have to learn to build. And most importantly…

-> Entrepreneurship means you have to always be hustling and working harder than your competitors.

I remember once reading an interview of Murk Hurd, the CEO of HP. When asked, “why do you wake up so early?” He answered: “I wake up at 4am every morning because I can’t sleep knowing that my competitors in China are awake and working.“ I thought he was crazy, but now I know that a healthy dose of insanity is important for an entrepreneur.

Anyways, I can talk about entrepreneurship all day. I also wanted to share an important lesson I learned at this week’s Thursday meeting. Apparently there is a mathematical formula for success. Here is the argument: A startup’s ability to succeed is strongly correlated to the number of iterations it can go through. This means being able to release a product, then iterate on feedback, and release again as frequently as possible. It is so important to iterate quickly that “if you’re not embarrassed when you ship your first release, you have already failed.” This means success is maximized when cash, the numerator is as large as possible and the denominator burn rate and the time it takes to iterate are as small as possible. (To keep burn-rate low, I prescribe ramen) Therefore, Success is a simple math function that can easily be maximized with a couple of derivatives. I wish I had discovered this relationship earlier :-)

Meet Me Halfway

Did your parents ever trying to convince you to read often when you were younger? Mine did…I wish I had listened to them! This week at True we meet Tim Young from the enterprise microblogging solution Socialcast. Tim gave a great presentation as he took us through his interesting entrepreneurial background. During his presentation he emphasized the importance of reading. When he first said this, I thought to myself “ya, ya. I have heard of this before. I don’t need you to tell me that reading is important” Then he mentioned he has already read 130 books this year. No big deal. I am pretty sure my jaws dropped, as I started trying to recall whether I have read 130 books in my entire lifetime. Don’t get me wrong. I have always enjoyed reading, especially non-fiction. However, whenever life gets busy, reading is always the first thing I put on the shelf. Ironically, I read less during the school year than during the summer. I have always thought that I read at least as much as the average student, but Tim Young is in a totally different ballpark. There are many intangible qualities that successful entrepreneur have which can’t be taught, but reading is definitely something tangible we can all do more of. After meeting Tim, I was inspired to rededicate myself to reading, especially during the school year. I am glad True Ventures has gotten me started already. A book a week is a pretty good and reasonable pace. Tim still puts it to shame, oh well.

Monday, we were taken to the Giants vs. Dodgers game. It was my first game in the AT&T Park. I am a big Red Sox fan but I have never been to a Red Sox vs. Yankees game, so I guess watching the second best rivalry in baseball isn’t half bad. The game was disappointing because the Dodgers’ made an end of the game rally, but on the bright side, the garlic fries were delicious. I felt really bad because, Phil Black, one of the partners at True, came to sit next to me when my mouth was stuffed with garlic fries.  I probably seemed really odd because I just nodded to everything he said. I named this blog “Meet Me Halfway” because this is the 4th week of TEC. We are officially half way through this amazing experience. I was reminded of listening to “Meet Me Halfway” last summer as I sat in my room at home and wasted my summer away.  What a difference a year has made!

You are an Engineer? You are Hired

Hello readers! I can’t believe it has been 3 weeks already. I mean, I am almost half way through this internship experience.  I feel like my life is an action movie on fast forward.  It is incredible! I am starting to develop a daily routine and getting into the rhythm of things.  For example, I no longer get nervous of missing my stop on the bus, I have developed a pretty good intuition for when I am suppose to get off. This is good because I can read without looking up every 30 seconds. At work, I am more productive than ever before because I have been really involved in our goal of creating a “process” (sorry I can’t go into any details). I am beginning to see how the each individual piece fit together and how my work becomes a part of the larger picture. This week we were supposed to write about the future of cloud computing, which we learned a lot about at the GigaOm Structure conference. However, I figure I’ll let the other interns write about it. To be honest, I feel like I still need to do a lot more learning, and I don’t want to pretend I am an expert in something I am not. Instead I will reflect on my experiences so far and comment on the culture in the valley.

Living in Silicon Valley and working for a technology startup has really changed my perspective on the value of having a technical background. Before this summer I wouldn’t say I was passionate about coding. I mean, I found it interesting and I did well in my classes, but I never developed a strong interest to do too much beyond the school requirements. I never even saw myself working as a programmer because I thought it meant I would just end up working for someone else. Which is the opposite of my definition of success. This typical east coast point of view is skewed. In Silicon Valley, engineers are the gold. If you have a technical background- you are the center of attention, you are the rock star, and most importantly you are in control of your future.  I vividly remember on my visit to Intuit on Tech Trek, Bill Campbell told me: “ You are an engineer? You are hired”. Since I have been here I have met so many successful entrepreneurs who have a technical background. Needless to say, I have gained a new appreciation for my choice of major.

However, this new appreciation also brings an unwanted sense of insecurity. Silicon Valley attracts the best and brightest engineers from all over the country… scratch that…from the world! (Every morning I sit on the a bus full of Asian immigrants who works at Yahoo) I have realized that relative to everyone else, I feel pretty nontechnical for a technical guy. I have realized that what I learned and practiced in school is the bare minimum of what I need in to compete in the real world. A good example of this is in a classroom, the professor takes the responsibility of coming up the problem sets. The professor breaks down the problem into steps and big concepts. Now I realize, the professor is really doing half of the work for you. In the real world, identifying the flaws in a design is often the hardest part. Realizing my own areas of improvement is not enough is the first step forward. This is why I am rededicating my self to my computer science major.  The internship offers me a great opportunity to learn new technologies and a chance to learn what I can’t in school.

Ramen or Easy Mac?

Every week our awesome mentors at True send us guidelines to help us start thinking about topics for the blog. This week, Adam asked us to talk about what we have been working on at our start up as well as how the company was founded, the team, their vision, and etc. I will not be blogging about any of these things because I work for a stealth startup and I don’t want to lose my job or any body parts (joking, but seriously) However, for those of you interested in interning for a start up I will offer these general advice: First do it, it’s the best thing ever! But be prepared to learn, to contribute in a way that impacts the company’s bottom line, to work hard, to love your job, and oh did I already mention learn a lot?

My typical day:

8:00am-wakes up

8:30am-10:00am-read (on bus)

10am- 7:30pm-job

7:30am – 9:00pm-read (on bus)

9pm-2:00am- eat, journal, read

Every day, I come across new ideas and experiences. I feel like a sponge, absorbing as much as I can and some more.  It’s a fantastic feeling.

My work experiences thus far have helped me realize that my 50,000 a year education only makes me marginally more productive.  This is not to insult my school, but working with 8 other engineers, most of whom have PhD in their fields, makes me, an inexperienced computer science majors, feel about as technical as an English major.  I have had to learn a lot on the fly. This is why I spend most of my “free” time reading and ramping up for work. I have only been here for two weeks and I have already picked up two new programming languages: Ruby and Python. I have also benefitted from working in close proximity with the CEO as well as the entire team. Everyone is so eager to help me and I get to listen in on the most fascinating discussions on system design, deployment process, and business strategy. We all work together in one large cubical in a startup facility called “Plug and Play”.  There are literally hundreds of startups in this building. It makes me wonder how many of the other startups will actually succeed.

Most you are probably thinking, this sounds overwhelming how can it be fun at all? Well, I really enjoy learning and there is no better opportunity to learn than at a start up. I find my work challenging and meaningful. I am never doing busy work. Everyday, I make a measurable impact on the company. Last and most importantly, it is all about the free swag. I am serious, I mean our office maybe small, but it is seriously stocked with snacks and drinks and it is all up from grabs. Thats it for now, i hope you all enjoyed it!

Lets Start a Company!

Hello world! My name is Hanyin. (It is pronounced like ‘onion’ but with an ‘h’)  I am one of the 15 lucky interns for the TEC program this year. I am originally from Beijing, China and lived there until I was 10 then came to Boston in the States. Currently I am a junior at Boston College studying Computer Science and Economics. I have a wide range of interests including: entrepreneurship, technology, basketball, TV-show marathons, developing mobile applications, and road trips.

Its good to be back in Silicon Valley! 3 month ago, I was here with a group of students from Boston College as a part of our Tech Trek field study program. Although I was only here for a week, I quickly fell in love with the beautiful weather, nice people, and the strong tech and entrepreneurial atmosphere! I am looking forward to spend the summer in San Jose and to be working for True Ventures in San Francisco and Vurve in Sunnyvale. I hope to use this blog to reflect on my experiences and on new things that I learn everyday.

My own interest in startups and technology really developed this past semester at school. I always knew that I was loved coming up with business ideas. I have participated in several business plan competitions in the past and have done fairly well. However, I didn’t know what I loved even more was taking action and actually executing the plan. It took a combination of two involvements at school to help me realize my own entrepreneurial spirit. First is my involvement with student government at Boston College. Taking a leadership role in the student government gave me the platform to work on exciting school wide initiatives. I loved the rewarding process of starting something from scratch and building a program that benefits my peers. At the time I didn’t see the parallels of working in student government and entrepreneurship, but now its clear. Second reason, which I already mentioned is Tech Trek. This amazing class studies companies from startup to blue chip and had a field study component that took us to all the companies we studied during spring break. What I learned was that although the Google and Yahoo’s of the world were great, the startups we visited were the most exciting. One of the companies that stood out to me was WePay. I was envious of the founders Bill and Rich because they really have the best job in the world. Everyday work to make their dreams a reality. They make the impossible, possible. To me, that is the definition of success.

It is 2010, there is just no reason to not be doing what you love.  We are young and have nothing to lose. People say it is a risky business and it takes luck, I think that’s crap. Being at a University and at a great summer internship with TEC, we are empowered to achieve. So what are we waiting for, lets start a company!

Do What You Love, No Excuses!