Mikkoh Chen and Megan Ruan // Ep 22 // Forging Meaningful Bonds with Gold House
Welcome to Episode 22 of the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! We are very excited to have Mikkoh Chen and Megan Ruan on this week's episode.
We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
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Mikkoh Chen is a Taiwanese-American entrepreneur and diversity champion. The Los Angeles native turned New Yorker is driven by building scalable platforms that aim to shift societal norms and create greater equity across all mediums.
Given his firm belief that growing diverse talent and matching it with premier opportunities engenders stronger leadership, Mikkoh has always had a passion for the intersection of recruiting and technology. Outside of Gold House, Mikkoh leads marketplace operations at Trusted Health, a digital employment platform that optimizes the healthcare workforce, and advises Mathison.io, the first diversity talent marketplace. In addition, he is a passionate member of the LGBTQ+ organizations StartOut and Out in Tech.
Outside of his professional career, he co-leads Gold House’s success arm, including the top accelerator for Asian-led businesses, Gold Rush. Mikkoh has made it a mission to unite all types of entrepreneurs and inspire the next generation of community and business leaders.
Megan Ruan is a Chinese-American entrepreneur, investor, and advocate based in New York City. Born and raised in the Midwest, she is passionate about building communities in which women and minorities have equal access to mentorship, funding, and media representation.
Megan co-heads Gold House’s initiatives for founder and investor success. Over the past 18 months, her team has built Gold Rush (the nation’s leading Asian accelerator) from the ground up, creating a program that provides 1:1 advisorship, networking, and educational seminars to hundreds of founders. To date, Gold Rush companies have raised over $250 million in funding. In addition, Megan leads Gold House’s efforts to build a network of influential Asian angel investors that invest in high potential early-stage companies.
Outside of Gold House, Megan is an investor at the Johnson & Johnson family office. Megan began her career as an analyst at Morgan Stanley and earned dual degrees with distinction from Yale University in Economics and Psychology.
About Gold Rush
Gold Rush is an accelerator for the most promising Asian-led companies. Twice a year, Gold Rush selects two cohorts of Asian founders to participate in a 12-week program encompassing 1:1 mentorship from a slate of industry icons and investors, a growth-focused curriculum, and a complimentary professional PR and marketing package culminating in our signature Gold Rush sale.
The accelerator is a venture of Gold House, the largest nonprofit collective of Asian leaders dedicated to forging stronger bonds that deliver more authentic and successful lives for Asians and multicultural communities.
Learn more about Gold House:
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Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, My name is Bryan.
And my name is Maggie
And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals.
We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
Maggie: (00:00:23)Hi, Everyone welcome to the Asian Hustle Network Podcast. My name is Maggie
Bryan: (00:00:26) My name is Bryan
Maggie: (00:00:28) And today we have two special guests with us. They are Mikko Chen and Megan Ruan Mikko is a Taiwanese American entrepreneur and diversity champion. The Los Angeles native turn to new Yorker is driven by building scalable platforms that aim to shift societal norms and create greater equity across all mediums Camico co-leads both houses, success arm, including the top accelerator for Asian led businesses.
Gold rush. He has made it a mission to unite all types of entrepreneurs and inspire the next generation of community and business leaders. Megan is a Chinese American entrepreneur investor and advocate based in New York city, born and raised in the Midwest. She is passionate about building communities in which women and minorities have equal access to mentorship, funding, and media representation.
Megan, co-heads. Gold houses, initiatives for founder and investor success over the past 18 months, Megan, Nico and their team have built gold rush from the ground up creating a program that provides one-on-one advisorship, networking, and educational seminars to hundreds of the founders. Nico and Megan, welcome to the show.
Megan: (00:01:38) Thanks so much for having us.
Mikkoh: (00:01:39) Thanks so much for having us.
Bryan: (00:01:42) We’re super excited to have you guys today, and that’s an impressive introduction, but I want to hear a little more about you guys as well. Like where you guys grew up, what was your upbringing like and why are you so driven to help the Asian community?
Megan: (00:01:53) Absolutely. Um, I think, uh, first, so I was born in.
Minneapolis Minnesota. Um, so Midwest, very homogenous community growing up, not a lot of people that looked like me. And so for me, I have a sister, so luckily I had, you know, one other person that shared my experience. Um, it was very, it was very different. Yeah. Um, from what I experienced now, having lived on the East coast for several years, having gone to college on the East coast and now working in New York city.
So I think, uh, the biggest takeaway that I have from my upbringing is that it’s difficult to not grow up with a community of people that look like you. And it’s really, really important to try to build that for others so that they can get it as soon as possible in their adolescents. Um, and so that they don’t have to wait until they’re, you know, 24, 25, post-college like, well into their first career, having made potentially life altering decisions based on not having.
Um, that type of community.
Bryan: (00:03:00) Well, that’s really powerful too. And you know, that story really resonates to me. I mean, one of the early use cases that we have, our Asian Hustle network was, you know, Asians who were born in the Midwest, but we felt like there’s a need. To feel like they’re a part of community.
If we want it to great Asian Austin networks, it’s all about problem. Cause I know Mikko and I to relate relating insurance story in a bit, it, we grew up in a heavily Asian area where we never felt like we were minorities at all. If anything, we felt like the majority. Yeah. And feeling the need to treat them that way for people outside our area or circle is really important for AHN and then I really liked what you guys do in Gold house. Mikko you want to introduce yourself real quick?
Mikkoh: (00:03:42) Yeah, of course. Um, yeah, so Mikko I, I grew up in, um, the suburbs of LA, um, if people know diamond bar, uh, it is predominantly Asian. And so, you know, uh, to, to really echo what Megan just talks about in terms of like growing up without a community and kind of that piece, you know, I related a lot to that.
Just, you know, And my experience is being a gay man. You know, I grew up in diamond bar was very Christian. It was actually quite hard to come out, especially as a gay man and having at that time, pretty conservative tiger parents, Asian parents. Um, but you know, I think that that’s kind of why I think this community piece and building this kind of tribe was so important and why it’s important for probably many of us is that, you know, we don’t want to feel alone.
You know, I’ve tried to start companies in the past. And I’ve gone through many startups and that journey is super lonely and, and what I want and what Megan, probably you guys as well is that to build that community so we can really correlate together. We can share, share, share war stories, share resources, mentors, guidance, et cetera.
Um, and that is. It’s just so invaluable and, you know, then money and, you know, all these different things. It’s, it’s really about having that connection in that time. So I think for me, it’s, you know, being, being kind of alone when I was younger, um, uh, and then now, uh, building kind of these platforms and communities to really strive together is, is super important for us.
Maggie: (00:05:09) Yeah. I love that. Um, you know, we always have people who are joining Ahn. And they’re looking for some sort of like community organization and it’s, once you find that commonality, it’s, it’s, you know, without the community, it’s very hard for you to like understand and have people understand your story. So just to find that like common ground for you to like connect with others or for you to like, share stories of like how your parents immigrated here, you know, the type of values and that they installed on you. It’s like very important.
Bryan: (00:05:37) I also want to add the bull. You guys are really brave. Yeah. Starting out in building your community as well. Like for Gold house is extremely difficult, you know, there’s so many situations where it’s so unexpected. You’re like, wow, I didn’t know. You can be that way. Um, but I do want to take some time to talk a little more about Gold House too, and how it got started is mission statement. And, you know, especially, I want you guys to cover gold rush, you know, it’s a great, great initiative,
Mikkoh: (00:06:05) you know, just to, to talk a little about a gold house. So gold house is a nonprofit, uh, it’s aimed to empower the Asian community, uh, to live more authentic lives, to be more successful and to live longer lives.
Um, Megan, as you said before, we co lead the success arm of gold house, which consists of free peace. So the first. Is that gold rush accelerator. The second is the founder network and the third is the angel network. You know, we truly wanted to create an ecosystem where, uh, that focuses on founder success.
Um, and you know, this, this origin story, uh, of gold rush, um, is, is it’s. It goes back probably a year and change ago. So, uh, You know, when I, uh, I told you before that I tried to pursue creating a startup in the past. You know, I wanted to focus on a company, um, that focuses on mental health for men specifically.
And during this time I just, I was having a really difficult time finding a community of like-minded Asian founders, to be honest. And, and actually this is before age, AHN was born. Um, and, and during that time as well, I, you know, I decided to create a super lightweight version of what gold rush is today.
And at that time I also had met just mapping Chen, who is a gold house chairman. And I explained to him, you know, what that vision was for gold, gold rush. And. Uh, ultimately we decided to really Merce ideas. I had known about gold house and its successes through gold open, which promotes and celebrates, um, Asian led films.
Um, and I knew that with the full backing of gold house itself, you know, honestly, I felt like we could really achieve anything. Um, and at that time, uh, it just made a lot more sense for us to that. So about a month or so after that meeting, You know, I signed on to be a first French director of gold rush.
Um, and you know, we say this phrase a lot, but I think it actually was a true example of, uh, of the phrase, you know, we can wait for a secret table or we can create our own. And, um, you know, I couldn’t find what I was looking for. I started to say that we need to build one. Um, but I think what truly, truly was really pivotal in the growth and expansion of.
Success arm and gold rush itself was actually bringing on Megan, um, as my co-director to truly allow for that arm to transpire. Um, Megan, do you actually want to talk quickly about, you know, some of the network, how have accelerators grown the network founder network and angel, just given that, um, you’ve worked on it quite extensively. Obviously with, with us and the team.
Megan: (00:08:46) Yeah. So just to put gold rush also into like the wider gold house context, and you guys might already know this, that gold house originated. And a lot of the, um, founding members were really pivotal pieces of. The entertainment and media business. And that’s why the first kind of runaway success for gold house was gold open because they had this media and PR engine, this firepower, and they realized they were able to harness it to support agents and film agents and, um, other types of media and what have you.
And so I think when we first decided we were going to then. Redirect that into gold rush. Um, we realized that one of the differentiating things that we can do for founders is really, really help accelerate their brands. So our Golder’s accelerator is not only about educating founders and pairing them with mentors who can help them one-on-one and hold their hands through the tough parts of starting a business, but also really, um, getting their brands out to influencers.
Two people who can, um, take it from, you know, zero to 100 much more quickly than you can if you just chip away at the brand. So, um, we had a lot of access doing success, doing that with the gold rush accelerator. But what we realized was the scale is so small compared to the type of impact that we were hoping to have for us to work with 10 to 15 founders.
Twice a year. That’s what, 30 to 40 companies max. And so we realized as they really wanted to expand this. And that was the impetus for the founder network, which we just launched actually a couple of months ago, the founder network is kind of, um, you can think of it as school light. So you get a similar experience to founders going through the accelerator in a slightly less, um, intimate way in you’re part of a much larger cohort of Asian founders, um, who are all, you know, starting companies across.
Variety of industries at varying stages, um, different types of products and services, but what they all have in common is that they’re looking for this community of other like-minded founders who have the experience of being a minority in a very, very tough, um, tough business. So that was why we created the founder network.
The third. Leg of gold houses. Success arm is our angel network. And the reason that we decided to launch the angel network is twofold. Um, one the same type of under-representation and, um, underfunding, uh, that Asian entrepreneurs experience is also experienced by Asian investors. And you can see this when you look at the number of Asian fund managers that there are and VC, private equity, you name it.
And so. Um, one of the pieces that we really wanted to focus on was making sure there’s also a similar community for Asian investors. So our age, our angel network encompasses everything from, um, institutional VCs who are looking for a, uh, uh, ethnicity based affinity community, um, to angel investors who have some experience investing in startups to cultural leaders.
No, you can think of celebrities, people who may not have direct experience investing in startups, but are really looking to. And so you can see where I’m going with this, where we’re building both sides of the coin, where we have not only one of the most extensive capital networks in existence, um, among Asian investors, but also the capacity to connect them.
With founders who are, um, you know, high promise, um, high potential and happened to be raised in capital.
Bryan: (00:12:29) Well, I really love that initiative. It’s so cool. I’m not going to lie. I can’t think of any, the other words.
Megan: (00:12:37) I’d like to put the puzzle pieces together.
Bryan: (00:12:39) Yeah. I like a lot. And then throwing back to what Nico said earlier as well, he does bring out a release. Big issue. Right? We can’t find companies out there like this, you know, why haven’t they had what happened? We’ve been existed for such a long time. Like, why is this all, all the stuff we’re doing, right. Not so recent. Now that’s a huge call. When you look to the history of like Asian communities. Like most of the time we had to start our community because no one else did it before us.
No one, not always underrepresented in many, many different ways. You know, that’s what we feel.
Maggie: (00:13:13) I feel like a part of the reason also is because it goes back to our generational limiting beliefs, right. From our parents. And they’ve often told us that we shouldn’t raise our voices. You know, we should always stay quiet.
And so I think that because of that societal, societal, norm people look at us in that certain way. Right. And that’s why we don’t get as much, you know, benefits as other, you know, groups and ethnicities. And going back to Mikkos’ point about, you know, finding mental health services for men. I think that relates to, you know, the whole Asian community, because mental health is often deemed as something that like doesn’t even exist in Asian communities.
Right. And if we talk to our parents about mental health, most of the time, they don’t even think it’s actually a real thing. Right. And so that’s why a goal for age and, and I’m sure like a goal for a goal for Gold house of bars is. So that we can talk more about mental health and create these opportunities more for Asian communities.
I also read in Megan’s bio that gold brush companies have raised over 250 million in funding so far. So that’s incredible to hear, um, congratulations on all of that success. So Bryan and I, you know, since running AHN we have. Um, I started this community since November in 2019. And, you know, due to COVID, we’ve experienced a lot of, you know, just occurrences where, you know, people will ask us questions like, Oh, why are you guys supporting this community?
You know, why don’t you guys take out the word Asian so that you guys can just be hustling network. You know, little things like that, that try to steer us in a certain direction and try to tell us like, you guys should do this and you guys should do that. Why aren’t you guys, you know, benefiting all communities rather than just the AHN community. Have you guys dealt with any struggles in that sense for gold house? And have you guys had an experiences where people had told you to steer the direction of both houses in a certain direction?
Megan: (00:15:09) Okay. So what I will say is. People always want to give their opinion and opinions are very welcome. We definitely want to incorporate the voices of our community as we build in terms of, um, incorporating other communities besides just the Asian community.
It’s definitely something that we have thought about since the very beginning, that goal. Has thought about since day one and something that we’ve really brought into fruition over the last six months or so with our, all of us movement. So you guys, um, if you’re an aware, I’ll be all of us movement, uh, essentially seeks to bind our community with our black and Brown sister and brother communities. Um, and make sure that the efforts that we are, um, implementing to support founders, to support small businesses, um, are more encompassing of, um, just, and, and even though gold has this pan Asian, we are not just focused on. East Asian or Southeast Asian or South Asian it’s across all.
Um, there obviously we’re obviously not the only minority, so we definitely want to be and, and, and play that role of rising tide, lifting all boats. Um, so that is what our, all of us movement is for. And it’s, it’s meant to represent the third pillar of gold house, which is unity,
Mikkoh: (00:06:05) I think, just to add on as well.
Um, you know, I. I don’t think we’ve received as much about like, Hey, you should guys should be, um, you know, not just doing this for Asian people and whatnot, but I, I mean, I have heard it in the really early days of gold rush itself. Um, I think something that really resonated. With, uh, with me, especially during those timeframes was, um, there’s two things.
One is, uh, I know you guys had Patrick as one of your, uh, co um, uh, interviewees as well, but, uh, you know, Patrick talks a lot about focus and I think it’s really important to recognize, especially when you’re in the beginning stages that. You really should focus on like what you can do, what you should be doing and doing it super, super, super, super well. And I think that’s really important too, to understand, especially as an entrepreneur and, you know, even as me, even as an advisor or a mentor to tell people that like, Hey, make sure you get this right before you can expand your value proposition or even expanding it to a different target audience. I think that’s one really thing that really resonated with me, especially as I said, Started out doing this alone.
Uh, and that advice being given to Peppa from me, from Patrick. Um, and I think the second really big thing later on, you know, is, are you guys the right platform to be doing, even be doing that? And so, um, you know, I think many people reached out to me, Megan, the Gold’s house team for a gamut of things.They’re like, can you do this? Can you do that? Can we do that? And, and, and, you know, I think that’s, it’s great. I think it’s great that we’ve built enough clout and procedures and, and reputation for us to be that person or that organization to be called on, to do X, Y, and Z things. But are we the right organization to be doing that specific piece?
The answer could be yes, but the answer also could be no. And, and, and that route. Maybe it’s, it’s a better option for people to partner with someone who’s better suited to kind of do that piece. Um, and you know, I think that’s a kind of different way to look at it. And that’s some of the advice I would give if someone were kind of like redirecting, um, uh, some advice for you to, to be more expansive or expand even before you’re ready to, or even should be doing.
Bryan: (00:18:45) Yeah, that’s really, really good advice, you know, and that’s classic Patrick right there, our podcasts as well. He’s like,yeah. I mean, it’s awesome that you guys are focusing, but one thing I’m kind of curious about as well, how did your cultural upbringing help you sort of pick a niche? That you want to focus on winning gold house and gold rush. That part always intrigues me a lot because from my background, I really love the entrepreneurial style of doing business.
I love meeting people when it came time to start my own community, like a kind of linked into everything that I grew up with, you know, my cultural identity, um, my, my hobbies, I love. Listen to listening to like DNS great big story. I used to be an avid follower of human’s New York routine content Asian Hustle Network. I wanted to embody all these things. So I’m kind of curious too, like what kind of factors in your personal life help you make decisions that help you guys pick them each gold house,
Mikkoh: (00:19:47) you know, and, um, to answer your question about what I, how I found my way through the many vendors and many opportunities, I think at gold house specifically is, you know, I, I grew up, um, so a little context is, you know, my dad started his own company, um, and he wrote the dot common technology, boom, and, and seeing that, um, you know, from zero to what it is today and whatnot, Was incredible.
It was like, I was like that kid who really wanted to know how to build startups and like, what does it take from go to zero employees to attend to a hundred? Well, you know, all that jazz, I was just enamored by and just in shock of like this kind of experience. And, um, on the flip side though, you know, I also saw honestly a little bit how.
Little bit lonely. That journey is, and you know, how much struggle that is, especially for immigrant parents, you know, trying to make it in the U S and in Indonesia and et cetera. Like I saw both sides of kind of like the exciting piece, it in also that journey of doing this alone and then having a lot of obstacles on the way. And so I think a lot of that led to me wanting to dive into the startup world in general. And then from there, I was just really passionate about. Figuring out how to become the best operator, how to really grow and scale companies from the ground up. Um, and I think I’ve taken that kind of like passion and behaviors and the kind of those learnings to, to find what goal rush, uh, and, and that concept is, was truly, is to really nurture, um, and, and help and support founders to, to, to grow.
Uh, whether it’s a funding perspective, whether it’s this Feldman, whether it’s marketing or brand sick, uh, situation. I think from those perspectives, I was it’s it’s for me, it’s always just like, uh, how can I, how can I best help you guys? How can I best help serve this piece? Um, more so, because I’m just super interested about helping founders and those startups, um, Uh, when I was growing up.
Megan: (00:21:51) I think my story has, um, a lot of parallels to be go and a couple of differences that have led me to, and I know this won’t be a satisfying answer, but not really having, um, the way I would explain that as, so my parents are also immigrants to the us, and they both came to the States on government scholarships.
To get their graduate, to pursue graduate education. And so for them, this idea of security was always number one and their hope for their children was always to be able to make a steady living, not necessarily venture too far out of their comfort zone and not to take, um, outsize risk. So that was always, this concept that was drilled into me was like, you know, find a well-paying job that allows you to support a family.
I think that’s not a, that’s not unique at all to the Asian, to the first generation, um, experience. So what that resulted in though, and this kind of goes back to my earlier comment about timing is that I’d never met an entrepreneur until well into college. Um, so for me, the idea of starting my own business was so foreign and out of the out of the realm of what I would ever imagine that now it’s almost ironic that I, you know, volunteer for a non-profit building their founder accelerator. Um, but I think what it taught me is that I really wanted to be there to create this type of community for others like me, others who may not have had this kind of examples set before them at a young age, and maybe could have benefited from seeing that and having the kind of reassurance, um, and insecurity net.
That if they are to take this leap, it’s going to be okay. So I think that’s why working on our founder and investor initiatives is so valued, valuable to me. And also I think propels, you know, my, my professional interests on top of, um, even on top of gold house, which is, you know, I think investing in these startups, um, is one of the most impactful things that you can do.
Maggie: (00:23:56) Yeah. I can absolutely resonate with that. And I think a lot of Asian people can resonate with that as well. I grew up my family, you know, I come from a very non-entrepreneurial background and none of my family members are entrepreneurs. And my parents had expected me to, you know, just go to college, get a well-paying job and retire at the age of 65. Um, you know, very typical Asian parents. And I think a lot of people can resonate with that.
Bryan: (00:24:21) Yeah. I mean, I can definitely, I mean, I w I wish I met you guys a lot earlier into my early twenties because my child is late, more different. My parents escaped the Vietnam war.
And when they came here, they were extremely poor. In fact, who were so far, I was in a welfare drop, my entire childhood and my teenage years. And when I got to college, like, I, I didn’t know entrepreneur was, I didn’t know what it meant. I thought my parents became entrepreneurs because they had to become entrepreneurs.
You couldn’t speak English that well, you know, and you know, for myself at least. Growing up. I never eat out at all. I never went to any American restaurants going eat. Denny’s I remember going to Denny’s my first time in college and my friends, like this is Denny’s grill. I’m like, dude, Denny is awesome. And everyone made fun of me because I couldn’t hold a fork correctly. Cause no one taught me to, you know, and I was like, really like that or like I was wearing the same clothes. So like majority of high school in college. And I kind of see what you guys are building here and the value that you bring now, it’s not just the community is the mindset and connections, but what’s possible, you know, and I sort of wished that we managed that at a much younger age, because I think that we can totally collaborate early twenties, decent, crazy, but I still think that we have.
Family nights still collaborate and using the crazy. And yeah, I love what you’re doing. The ms. Thing, basketball and life, middle child. And they’re like, yeah, I wish I had the party to consider myself a super late bloomer, but I didn’t think it was possible until I’ve been in my mid twenties where I’m like, Oh, my coworker had files. So what the hell is the final four?
Mikkoh: (00:25:58) I just, I mean, just to quickly comment on that, I think one thing I think is really important. It’s like one it’s better late than never. That one we’re collaborating right now. And I think it’s important for more organizations like us to really come, you know, uh, be more cohesive it’s partner together. I think there’s like this, uh, instant thing where like, Oh, they’re doing something similar to therefore work. Immediate competition. And I don’t really, I don’t think me Megan or any of the gold testing by the way, sees it as that form is that we amplify each other and we’re all here for the same cause. And we’re not here to, you know, butt heads on situations. I’m sure like there’s, there’s a way to, I always think there’s a win-win solution in all these scenarios. And I think it’s important for us to, to have an open dialogue about what’s going on and how do we really amplify and build each other and co elevate together.
I think that’s a really, really one factor. Um, and I think through that to be fully honest, like it’s what you’re saying. Like I would, what we want, or at least when I first started this idea of gold rush is, you know, I wanted to be able to share stories and to show people that like, We are, we’re making it, we’re creating our own table. We’re creating our own businesses to yes, to accelerate, you know, the current and the present founder base that we have now. But truly it is also to inspire the next generation of Asian leaders. Like we, we are kind of. Setting the framework and the foundation and the groundwork of, of those people just as the people, that generation before us did for us to even be able to do a podcast, to be able to cater and accelerator, um, and whatnot. And so I think that’s really important for us to know and then to, to, to add together for them.
Maggie: (00:27:41) I agree. Absolutely. Bryan and I talk about that all the time on competition. We need more of, and I’m sure, you know, after. Gold house was founded. I’m sure you have seen a lot more organizations try to start the same thing. And that’s what we experienced for Asian Hustle Network as well. You know, after we started the Facebook group, we started seeing many, many more Facebook groups and I’m sure it was. COVID as well where people just wanted to bring the Asian community together, but you know, just similar to what you send me go, it’s not a competition. And if we do see it as a competition and that defeats the purpose, right? Our goal is so that we can bring the Asian community to get together. And it’s really interesting because. You see other ethnicities create the same thing? I think there was someone who reached out to us and said that they wanted to start Oh, Latino Hustle Network. And to also was more of like, wow, that’s, that’s amazing. You know, that’s, that’s an amazing movement that we’re starting and for us to be that inspiration where other communities, as well is just very inspirational
Bryan: (00:28:38) going back to what you said as well, like our culture is rooted in competition. Yeah. Or siblings or cousins or friends.
Maggie: (00:28:49) like times of war are ethnicities in the Asian culture.
We compete with each other too. Like the Vietnamese always sticks with the Vietnamese people, the Chinese sticks with the Chinese. And, you know, Bryan always says that our culture is very fragmented, you know, and we have to find a way for us. To, you know, bring ourselves together because we’re all, you know, we have this commonality, we all have the same goals.
Why don’t we come together and reach them together?
Mikkoh: (00:29:16) Yeah. Um, uh, sorry, just one more thing. I actually wanted a comment, especially since I grew up in, you know, on the West coast. You, you too as well. I think that, that was really interesting about moving from the West coast to New York was this idea of. Um, this, this kind of agent helping other Asians wasn’t as common. And, you know, I grew, I went to UCFC I, in December, I lived in San Francisco for years. Like I grew up in LA, like you’re just friends with everybody. People will want to support you. And it wasn’t until I moved to the East coast. And this is not to bag on these coasts or anything, but like, it was a, truly a timeframe where I actually felt like, well, I’m a minority.
Like I am. Like I am an Asian person and if you’re in a room and there are two Asian people or whatnot, I think it’s like, wow, okay. Who’s going to be that token Asian person. Who’s going to survive the circle. And it was similar in when I was in startup, in technology where. Yeah. Like I was one of the few, uh, person of color managers who was in the room and I’m just like, guys, like, I would love for another person to be here, not for a competition factor for us to celebrate and to be, to, to really drive this business together or two to really collaborate together. Um, so I think that’s a, that was an interesting distinction to kind of like feel as I, as I transitioned, uh, the coasts. Yeah.
Bryan: (00:30:43) That’s, that’s good to know. I mean, we have considered moving to New York. Sometime pretty soon, but definitely wanna hear from you as well on your thoughts, um,
Megan: (00:30:56) specifically regarding like the community aspect or,
Bryan: (00:31:01) yeah, no, I’m just kinda curious about like what Mikko said about the East coast and how, what your experience with North.
Megan: (00:31:06) Well, I work in finance, so I think that’s all I need to say. Um, I think it’s, it’s. Even more so here, here’s what I’ll say. I moved to the East coast fully expecting it to be a foreign experience and fully expecting there to be a lot of rooms that I walked into where I was the only woman, the only person of color or both. And that has definitely played out. Um, I think that what I’ve, the attitude that I’ve kind of taken is, um, if you can be different and better. Then do it. And if you can turn it to your advantage and have, and kind of surprise people with either your knowledge or your empathy, or, um, your ability to connect to others, um, even when you don’t look like anyone else who’s around you, then you should lean into that. So that’s kind of the approach that I’ve taken.
My first job out of college was at a big bank. And so I, it was kind of a sink or swim situation. And I think a lot of us. Um, are familiar with what that’s like. Um, but I think a lot of us do sink because it just feels very foreign and, and sometimes very, um, unwelcoming. And so I think like New York is kind of, you know, new Yorkers are not known for being the nicest people in the world, um, whether or not that’s true.And I think it’s. It’s just takes a tough, tough skin a little bit. Um, but I think that it, what it means is when you do find people that feel like a tribe, feel like a community, you clean to them even even closer. And that’s part of the reason why I actually gold house. This has been so meaningful to me is being able to find a safe space and find people who shared my experience and make that journey a little bit easier.
Bryan: (00:32:50) Yeah. I love that a lot too. And to echo both people in New York, not being nice, I. Do we do agree. Sometimes we visit New York good amounts of time and every time we open the door was the one, no one, no one ever says, thank you.
Maggie: (00:33:07) Oh no. I went to New York with Bryan glance and I asked someone to take a picture for us. And he said, no. I said, thank you for the honesty.
Bryan: (00:33:23) But, yeah, I’ll just kind of bring the topic back to like go in house and whatnot. We want to hear more about what’s next week guys. Like, how are you guys navigating your COVID situation? How it has evolved since the very beginning to now. And what have you seen the community too? Like how people have been more helping panicking, uh, more innovative, more security scarcity or abundance mindset. What’s it? What is your observation way?
Mikkoh: (00:33:47) I think, uh, just to quickly comment on, you know, the pandemic itself. I honestly think this is providing our founders new room to create more space, to pivot, to even ask for more help. Like I think it’s, it’s interesting cause you know, Megan and I have, we deal with so many founders at this point and just really intimate basis, you know, whether it’s talking about, you know, temporary financial relief. Or them doing a campaign to support hospitals and health systems during this timeframe, or even doing promotionals. Like it’s just a gamut of things. And to me, it’s, it’s, it’s been really actually awesome to kind of see like, well, how do we help you? Great. Like, we actually have to think on our feet a little bit more about like, okay, What are the right people who can, uh, who are industry leaders who can be mentors and advisors to really help navigate the situation that not every, no one knows what’s going to happen ultimately.
But I think the, what the pandemic has caused is create this new. Playground, uh, and different rule sets that it does leave a lot of more room to for business growth and expansion and, and an opportunity. Um, and so from that perspective, I think it’s allowed for honestly, Megan wanting to keep, uh, keep us on our toes, but to, to just really critically think about how can we best support them in, in the most, um, effective and in, um, um, impactful way.
Um, yeah. Yeah. If you feel differently about that,
Megan: (00:35:20) I think you, I think you’ve had a lot of really good points, Mikko I think, um, what COVID really did for us that I think was a huge favor, was forced us to adapt to this virtual environment in a way that actually made our programming a lot more scalable. So in the past we had worked with a lot of founders. By happenstance, that happened to be based either in New York, LA or San Francisco, because those were kind of our strongholds where we had, um, physical representation. And were we able to host a lot of in-person events, um, now with everything being via zoom or. Yeah, some other type of online platform it’s actually made it feel more accessible.
And now we have founders in all kinds of cities. Um, and they don’t feel like because they aren’t in one of the three places that we’re hosting in person events that they’re left out of the program. Um, I also think that it Mikkos’ absolutely right. Like. COVID forced us to be come so innovative. So just to give, to share a specific example, back in the spring, we were working with a ton of food and beverage founders. And as you guys know, COVID hit the restaurant industry, particularly harshly. So one of the things that we’re very proud of, um, this year was, uh, partnerships with, um, food delivery platforms, including yep. Postmates. Um, and we were able to drive ton of traffic to Asian restaurants, um, across the country, purely by collaborating to have these carousels that featured Asian restaurants and push them to the top of people’s feeds and, and made it really apparent and kind of was that like little behavioral nudge that people needed to then go back and support these brick and mortar, these brick and mortar businesses. So I think. Um, there were actually a lot of positive results as silver linings to everything that’s been going on. And in terms of, uh, our future plans for expansion, it really made us think about what do we want this to look like in three years? So what do we want this to look like in five years? How are we going to create something that lasts beyond either Mikko or me and our current team? How do we make something that stands on its own?
Bryan: (00:37:37) Wow, it’s really powerful. I love that. So much, especially the last name as well. We always think about how can we create a awesome network that would last longer than us because this is something that’s still needed with or without us, for our communities, you know, and listen to listen to what you just said about, you know, having, working with Postmates and pushing more Asian restaurants on top, and it means more highlights, more important is that.
You know, we need to step up and we need to keep advocating for support to our communities. You know, like no one else is going to do that for us. And unfortunately not a lot of us or speaking up, you know, only some of us are when some of us speak out. We only create a little waves. When all of us speak up, it creates a bigger wave.
It makes bigger change. And I want to advocate that more and more for the Asian too. Like you need to speak up, like we need to stand up. Right. A lot of us are just taking things as they come, you know, we’re not, we’re not too reactive to a situation, which is a good and bad thing, you know? In Asian culture is okay. Something bad happens. It’s a test like testing your determination, your will, all in all, if all the jazz for this type of situation, it’s a new playing fields and new board games, new generation, but you can’t sit back and just take it as punished. Bear, take it as like a test, you know, it’s not a test.
They were trying to, to make a change. And I really like that you guys are doing this initiative a lot.
Maggie: (00:38:59) Yeah. And I think, um, You know, Mikko mentioned earlier that, you know, you guys are laying the foundation for the next generation. I think that’s really important to point out to you because a lot of people have this mentality where, you know, why do you guys even do anything?
You know, you guys won’t be changing anything. Um, it doesn’t matter how much work you put into it. Everything will stay the same. Same. That’s the mentality that people have that some people have, but it’s, it’s, I think we’ve seen it more as like, if we don’t do anything, we’re actually heading down Hill instead, you know, for us to create these movements and for the next generation to see them that gives them inspiration to do something for their own generation.
And I will, you know, more so create this trickle effect and it all, you know, go down to more and more generations. So I think it’s really important for us to speak up, like Brian said.
Yeah. I’m so very curious, you know, with the time that you guys have started gold house, Have you guys been experiencing any like struggles or challenges with any of the initiatives that you’ve had with gold rush or don’t then, you know, what are some of the challenges that you’ve faced and how did you guys overcome it?
Mikkoh: (00:40:04) I’m happy to talk about a little bit. I think to be honest, uh, I don’t think we’ve had. Immense struggles outside of the transition period. And I don’t think I call it. I don’t think it would be a struggle per se. I think because, and this is for everybody too, is that as the pandemic shifted, uh, sorry, not shifted. And as it came, um, you know, me and Megan really had to like shift gears really quickly. How do we readjust and create this program that really, um, Uh, provides a platform and mechanism and machine to, to really support these, these founders. Right. And you have to think about it too. Like gold rushing, all of gold house minus, um, two people are volunteers.
We all have a day job, right? Megan, as an investor. I lead a hops for, uh, a healthcare startup, uh, which obviously is a little bit intense right now. But, you know, I think from that perspective it was, you know, how do we really pivot in the right ways really quickly to make sure that we can, um, still support the founders that are in our alumni base, who are incoming and then.
Um, while running kind of our full-time jobs and supporting ourselves and taking care of ourselves as that’s is also really important. So I think for that perspective, I actually think it was a really fun exercise for me, Megan, to be able to be like, okay, what do we do? Um, given our service and our platform and how do we actually expand our value proposition to, to be able to accommodate for the changing environments that we have at this moment. Um, so, so yeah, that would, that I think would be like something that we’ve, we had a Dell deal with in the past year.
Megan: (00:41:53) I think also, um, Just with regards to a more ongoing challenge. I think as we support all these entrepreneurs across different industries, across sectors, across, um, stages in, in whether it be their fundraising or their other types of development.
Um, we tend to think of like taking on the challenges of our founders as our own challenges. And so because of that, there are so many layers to the types of service and the types of support that we need to create. And I think that has been the challenge in terms of how do we build out an advisor program that can not only help a company that, you know, sells e-commerce like retail products.
Versus one that is a CPG company. How do we make sure that the experience and the type of programming and the speakers that we bring in are relevant to people across the board? That has definitely been a learning experience for us, I think for both of us. So, um, or maybe I’ll just speak for myself. I had a ma the, the way I kind of dealt with this was to have a mindset shift to say, like, we are also entrepreneurs and creators.
Um, alongside the founders that we’re working with. And I think the moment I started giving myself that freedom and flexibility to think of myself also as an entrepreneur alongside them. Um, it allowed me to think bigger and remove some of these kind of like self-imposed mental limits on what we could do, um, for our program, for our founders and be able to visualize what.
What else he might be able to.
Bryan: (00:43:26) Yeah. That’s really powerful too. And we can totally relate the last name as well. Sometimes we kind of reevaluate everything and suddenly you feel like anything that we want to do is really possible. That’s also the scary feeling, tears like, Oh crap, we can do anything till we deal.
And once she renewed and you feel overwhelmed, All the time, you know, um, out of curiosity, what does the feature look like? Look like for not only for you guys as individuals, so your organizations as well. I that’s a big loaded question.
Megan: (00:44:00) Yeah, absolutely. So I think for success, arms, specifically, we have our roadmap.
We have the three pieces. Of the program that we want to build to create this intimate experience for founders to create a wider network for entrepreneurs of all sorts, and then to build this investor network, cross collaborate, um, both of the other ventures. And so I think in terms of Mikko, in my specific part of you for, um, founder and investor success, we know what we need to build and we just have to go out and do it. And we have to do it in a way that makes sure that it’s sustainable. And if someone, if one of us were to get hit by a car, God forbid like we’d still be able to, we’d still be able to do this. And we’d be able to bring on someone else who shared our vision and shared our motivation and still be able to build this, I think for gold house overall.
And, um, I don’t want to speak for others in the organization, but I do think that the impetus is similar. I think. What we’re working towards now is building this lasting organization that, um, self sustains and is perpetual and continues to build these strong partnerships with other cultural leaders in our community, whether they’re Asian or not, and make sure that. The members of the gold house community and the Asian community and the broader, um, minority community have access to the same types of resources and representation.
Mikkoh: (00:45:30) Yeah, no, I think Megan hit it on the nail. I think ultimately we’re it’s time where we need to scale. At this point, we got to sell 16. We got to make sure that we had the right playbooks in place. I think. Given that we have, you know, been an hypergrowth, uh, I’d say for the past, uh, two years, it’s now time to figure out like, you know, what’s the next stage of this, this, this company or this non-profit or the startup, and how can we really make sure that. This is going to sustain and last for years to come and do what we both or are trying to achieve is to really inspire the next generation to be that platform.
And then mechanism for young entrepreneurs or gold house members or just aging advocates in general. Um, that’s kind of really the focus for, for gold house, uh, on that front.
Maggie: (00:46:20) Um, well actually, no, you know how founders and investors can get involved with gold house and what our listeners can do to help with gold houses, initiatives.
Megan: (00:46:28) Absolutely. So to learn more about all of the initiatives, go to gold house.org, and you will be able to read about all of our initiatives from the a 100 list to gold, open to gold rush the accelerator to all of these different initiatives for founders and investors. Um, specifically we will be hosting our fall, um, black Friday sale starting November 27th.
And that will be a five day, um, online promotion for our fall 2020 gold rush founders. So you’ll be able to access exclusive discounts, um, buy their products, um, and get to know the stories of these invested of these founders that we work so closely.
Mikkoh: (00:47:31) Yeah. And just to add on there, I think me and Megan are truly.Uh, people who love to meet founders and investors and just that community and ecosystem in general. So if you guys want to reach out to us directly, I’m sure we’ll send us emails are, you know, it’s Mikko and Megan medical test to org. So feel free to email us. We’d love to chat with you guys.
Megan: (00:47:34) You can also subscribe to our newsletter. If you go on the gold house website, there’s an option to subscribe.
Maggie: (00:47:41) It was amazing listening to both of your stories. Do you have any final closing remarks or any advice that you can give to our listeners? I think a majority of our demographic are. Aspiring entrepreneurs, people who are just trying to get started in their side hustle or side business.
So if you guys have any closing remarks or advice for them, that’d be amazing.
Mikkoh: (00:48:01) Yeah, for sure. So I think that advice I would give is there’s no right way. I think, uh, there’s no right way to start. You know, I think that many people really hear that phrase, you know, there’s never a good time, which is true, but I think there are so many other factors in pushing forward that will impede some from Jamie, from taking that leap. And I think it’s more about taking it right. First step that will snowball into something new and magical, um, you know, area Arianna, Huffington talks a lot about the, uh, micro steps in there’s a ton of studies about its strategies, its successes and its benefits. But I don’t think it’s much different here. I think. Yeah. The inability to really move forward, um, whether it’s to start a company or make pivots within the company. I think the more decision debt that you create, the fewer facts, knowledge pieces, you really, really gain. Um, and again, this is not to really say to blindly move forward. Be smart. And intentional by your decisions, but it’s really important to understand that there will be waves that will take you to new Heights and pivots, which will drive your business forward. So I encourage you guys to take that first step and then learn as you go from there.
Megan: (00:49:13) My advice is pretty tactical it’s to practice storytelling. I think that this is the single most important thing that you can do as a founder, whether you are going to be, you know, Fundraising, um, pitching roles at your company that you want someone talented to come and work for you, um, convincing customers to buy your product or service.
I think as a founder, you are constantly going to need to storytell. Um, and I think that people may not always remember what you say or do, but if you are a compelling storyteller, they will always, always, always remember how you made them feel.
Bryan: (00:49:51) Absolutely did that, that you guys so much for being on the podcast today and we learned so much and it’s extremely enjoyable.
Thank you much.
Maggie: (00:50:00) And thank you, you too, for all that you do. And to the gold house team as well for all the initiatives that you guys are driving out for the Asian community.
Megan/Mikkoh: (00:50:10) Thanks for having us.
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