Poseidon Ho // Ep 30 // Betting on Outliers from Student Study Group to $100M Venture Fund

Welcome to Episode 30 of the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! We are very excited to have Poseidon Ho 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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Poseidon Ho (26) is a Taiwanese Founder & General Partner of Outliers Fund, a research-driven venture fund/accelerator betting on the outliers who turn science fiction into scientific facts. Poseidon’s early career was all about curiosity-driven innovation research such as studying Ant-Inspired Collective Intelligence at MIT Media Labbuilding Pokemon GO-like Augmented Reality Gamifications for the 100th anniversary of San Diego Zoo Global, and launching Microsoft HoloLens in China for Microsoft Research Asia. Poseidon is known for building large-scale LEGO cities for ant colonies and raising $2M+ in a week as a decentralized VC when he was a student at MIT. In 2020, 2 of Poseidon’s invested/accelerated startups are filing IPO and he is raising a $100M Outliers Venture Fund.

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Transcript

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 Asian sto 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) Hello everyone. Welcome to the Asian hustle network podcast. Today. We have a very special guest. His name is Poseidon hoe, and he is a Taiwanese founder under and general partner of outliers fund, a research driven venture fund and accelerator betting on the outliers who turn a science fiction into scientific facts. Poseidon’s early career was all about curiosity driven innovation research, such as studying and inspired collective intelligence at MIT media lab. Building Pokemon go like augmented reality. Gamifications for the 100th anniversary of San Diego zoo global and launching Microsoft hollow lens and China for Microsoft research. Asia Poseidon is known for building large scale Lego cities for ant colonies and raising over $2 million in a week as a decentralized VC. When he was a student at MIT in 2020, two of the sightings invested. And accelerated startups are filing IPO and he is raising a $100 million outliers, a venture fund Poseidon.

Welcome to the show.

Poseidon: (00:01:31) Thank you, Maggie and Brian. Thanks for having me and hello. All Asian hustlers.

 

Bryan: (00:01:36) Yeah, we’re super excited. Happy to show. So we’re kind of curious to Poseidon. What was your upbringing like?

 

Poseidon: (00:01:40) Oh, okay. First of all, as Maggie has pretty much in juice. Most of my background, I’m currently 26. I’m born and raised in Taiwan, a knob. My upbringing. I grew up from a pretty normal family in South sort of Taiwan called calzones. And my dad was a soldier. My mum was a teacher. Although those sounds like the most non-creative occupations, but I’m really glad that my parents have always told me that I was different, encouraged me to sing differently and always told me that it’s okay to be different.

When I was six, I was actually diagnosed with ADHD and Torah syndrome. Many of my friends that I noticed that when I learned how to hide or socialize after schools, but my parents didn’t allow me to take any kind of Madison. As my doctors suggested is that they allow me to spend all of my entire six years of elementary school across five different sports teams as opposed to sitting in a classroom for a study and another six years of high school at a break dance club out of school before college, my entire student career was considered a little bit out of track and definitely far from being a good student, more three days students, the reason why I went to NTU national Taiwan university. Or the four colleges afterwards was purely because I wanted to explore the world as I didn’t get much chance to travel or visit other countries when I was little. But luckily I, I came across some very generous advisors and professors when I went to college, who guided me into the world of curiosity based research and let me spend my. Early career. As Maggie mentioned at the MIT San Diego zoo and Microsoft research Asia, as in those research labs have definitely shaped my worldview on that reason. And since then I’ve considered myself to be a research scientist. I don’t know how I ended up as a venture capitalist. Maybe we can talk a little bit more later.

 

Bryan: (00:04:02) Yeah. I mean, all the credit goes to, you know, yourself for being so ambitious and your parents for believing in you not to generalize, but most Asian parents would be like, let’s conform, you know, let’s, let’s make sure our kids it’s going to be like everyone else. But your parents told you from a young age that it’s okay to be different and that’s powerful. You know, we can see that how. That really shaped you to become the person you are today and what you’re doing is really impressive. So congratulations on that.

 

Maggie: (00:05:52) It’s also interesting that, you know, every business has a systems of agreement, right. And every business has to deal with contracts. Um, and it just, it’s just a part of business, but a lot of businesses don’t even know how to read or review contracts and they, I think they get intimidated about it.Right. And it starts to. It starts to get to them because there’s just so much text and so much language and verbiage that they don’t understand. And you were able to figure out, you know, that pin point and figure out a solution for them. So I think that’s really important to point out, um, just for you to, you know, recognize that problem.

 

Bryan: (00:04:28) Yeah, I agree. I think, um, uh, I, I, I feel like I resonate with that a lot because I feel like my parents also, when we go out to, you know, see the doctor when I was younger, they, they didn’t make me take the medicine as well. And they, you know, encouraged me to, you know, you could fight it. And I like how you took that experience and you were able to, you know, use what you were given and that information that you were provided and kind of like grow from it, you know, and really take it in and really grow from it.

 

Bryan: (00:04:56) Yeah. I’m kind of curious too, at what point of your young career did you realize that, Hey, maybe I do have this potential to do something different and do something big because what you’re doing is really big. You know, and a normal person will be very scary, scared about that at such a young age. Like how’d you get into what you’re doing today at such a young age?

 

Poseidon: (00:05:17) Let’s say I wasn’t this ambitious when I was at elementary school, all the way to high school or my first college act. And to you, I, I got changed when I went to MIT pretty much was four years ago. And. 2016. At first, I immediately created a Slack called hashtag outliers was the motivation to discuss some radical research topics with some of my best friends. And by end of 2016, we. We onboarded 88 students, radical mites from different departments and created many channels such as hashtag AIML, hashtag AR VR. And so originally this special interest group that I created was supposed to be a research discussion. Only ever in one of the channels called hashtag blockchain, some of the students started to discuss different token investment opportunities. That channel was so active to the extent that they try to incorporate or a nominate me as a GP to send me a little form. Yeah. Crypto fund back then. I didn’t know what as GP LPs, but after they told me that there’s this. 2% management fee and 20% carry interest. I got to be a little bit hyped. I decided to give it a shot by creating a Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet first and asked everyone to change for their investment capital to these wallets. If they want to invest, they didn’t have any legal entity. We didn’t have any contract or a, but within a week, boom, over slightly over 5 million worth of criminals. Or transfer it to my wallet. It was totally beyond my explanation and competence level. So I immediately hashtag everyone in the Slack by saying that basically I wanted to give up the entire management fee as I didn’t want to be perceived as a professional GP. And I also wouldn’t view them as just a limited liability partner. So I asked them go legal by how we discuss research back in the days, early days to invest as they get decentralized community. Basically I’m trying to do deal sourcing due diligence, investment decision, as well as. Exit and return strategies all together with everyone. And after my, after that message spidey over a stream, Melian capital. We’re a pullout basically because some people are very friendly honesty, the offering that they. We’re just token investment opportunity as opposed to wanting to learn in the frontier. But 2 million was slapped with 20 ambassadors were still willing to learn and be fully engaged in this and investment process.

 

Bryan: (00:08:19) So yeah, it took a step back for our listeners that don’t know what a GPS or LPs or a manager fee. Can you briefly kind of go over what it means?

 

Poseidon:(00:08:28) Yeah. So GP means a general partner. And most of the VCP venture capital and private equity, as saying it means the fund managers who have sole decision powers to decide which projects to invest and basically to make investment calls, pull the trigger. And when this fund turns out to be profitable, the GP will usually be given 20% carry interest at the end, uh, at the exit of the fund and across the entire fund life. Usually. The GP altogether or the fund will be given two to 3% management fee.

 

Bryan: (00:09:07) Awesome. What is the LP?

 

Poseidon: (00:09:10) LP limited partners you can perceive as a ambassador? I guess it was called limited partners because after they invest, they was not expected to do. And it’s an else, but sit there and wait for the return.

 

Bryan: (00:09:30) Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I mean, that gives a good explanation to our listeners. You know, general partner means that you have a lot more control, a lot more responsibilities for good or for bad, you know, LP usually means you’re living in a partner. You don’t really have much of a decision on everything the same time. You’re not completely liable for the entire. Process of the investment cycle management fee is obviously is your payoff or, you know, putting in the time, effort and work into making this fun work for the investments. Kind of curious Poseidon. How did you build your current team? How you find, find these people, did they find you? And, you know, I think, I think right now it’s just give our listeners more perspective. I think our team is amazing. Your reach it’s worldwide. Like you, you know, some of the most powerful people in the world, how would you build this team around this vision that you had

 

Poseidon: (00:10:21) originally, as, as mentioned a little bit, it was just a group of frames for all of us. Matt at a dinner when I was doing inspired collective intelligence research, while autos are research and battery science or rockets or auto radical topics, we found out at a moment, I, I used a Mantenna list of over 200 pyramids that I couldn’t answer it myself, but those students, they were on a back then. They were able to solve my questions. My. Five to 20 questions right away without any previous background and biology neuroscience. So I, I was pretty inspired and just wanted to stay in touch with them. So I created that Slack, but till end of 2016, when it grew too. 88 people mostly are, are on the graduate students back in Boston. Many of them were not, not invited by myself, but people started to invite different people. They know. We didn’t have any dander or criteria, but in retrospect, if I were really to put a tag or to say what’s different about these people, I would say, first of all, they are super radical minds. Secondly, They have super solid hands in terms of execution. And they also have a very unique stories each of them.

 

Maggie: (00:11:55) Yeah. I love that. I’m very curious. How have you seen yourself grow since, like, let’s say starting you, you know, starting when you were four years ago, when you started that Slack channel up until now, how, how have you seen yourself grow as well as outliers fund?

 

Poseidon: (00:12:10) Maybe I’ll give. A slightly little more context about how we, how they all are as fun have from, and to follow with my personal growth. After we collected that 2 million altogether, we collectively read 880 papers and we rated over 600 of them. In the end, we picked 32 to allocate these to 2 million all the way from 2016 to 2017. And from 2017 to 2018, we. Um, study two out of 32 projects, we invested where all those, this dynamic change. So we exit them at 32.4 million with their mouse 60 next return in two years, that’s from the outside’s perspective, from the insight, I would say we didn’t feel solid. If you asked me some of the tokens, why they return at 70 or over 50 yet we couldn’t explain at all. We found out many of them. Wasn’t about fundamental. Or a technical analysis, but purely driven by sentiment. So we didn’t see ourselves bringing much value to those projects, even though they gave us a pretty high return. So in 2019, which is last year, we decided to go back to those startups. We invest one by and recruit them, put together an accelerator called outliers accelerator.

 

And the first batch started with 19 focusing in on. Blockchain or decentralized technologies in general and last year was pretty well. Okay. Imagine this, if it happened in this year with pandemic, but that’s year, we brought our bad startups to 12 cities or for road shows two in the United States, two in middle East and aid in Asia, six of them collectively raised over 500 million with an average of 3.5 X. Average valuation gross. As many has briefly taught in the introduction that two of them are currently filing an IPO this year. So this entire process of running this actually nonprofit Belarus accelerator has given us. A very grounded experience of hiding between or in the back of many serial entrepreneurs to learn how they think, how they act. And especially this year when it hit the pandemic, how they shift their focus and direction.

 

Bryan: (00:14:50) Yeah. Love that too. And kind of curious too, how’d you come up with the name outlier. It’s really cool.

 

Maggie: (00:14:54) Yeah. And what does it, what does it mean to you personally?

 

Poseidon: (00:14:57) As many layers of meanings, I would say after four years, I still considered as the most accurate or my favorite name. If I were to name the fund more the entire community again, at first, it wasn’t called allies fun. It was called hashtag ally. As our local shows, we hashtag basically was meant to be a bearer of that. We don’t want to be restricted to any specific type of ally when we are. ADA people, student group on Slack. We have students coming from a mathematics physics, our space management backgrounds, pretty much cover nearly all the departments at MIT and Harvard izing. Most of us were not considered as straight a student in the mainstream, but someone who were just doing their own research or their adventures being perceived most of the us out of track by our professors or the mainstream, and many of these type of people was radical mind and solid tan sometimes could be concentrator, outliers, ours as like positively beyond. There’s three standard deviation. Um, uh, before they got the mainstreams recognition, most of the time, they could also be view as negatively out of the streets, standard deviation. It’s really about perspective. What are they were given enough chances, enough platform and exposure to the resource that they might need. So the aspiration is. We, we try to be a base for these hours in terms of investment acceleration.

 

Bryan: (00:16:49) Yeah, that’s awesome. I think that the name ally is really cool. And what you tried to do with the name outlier is also really cool. You don’t invest into mathematics, physics, people who don’t think about the norm really, and don’t stay with a normal normalcy for lack of a better term. So I think that’s really cool concept.

 

Poseidon: (00:17:08) I think many of us are people who are dear to walk the walk that really, or none of anyone have travel or an even more extreme statement I would say is many of them are all, are those who are on an extreme, outer edge of what is that is right.

 

Bryan: (00:17:29) Absolutely. I agree.

 

Maggie: (00:17:30) I feel like I read a lot of articles about. Just like the Asian community and Asian founders in general. I’m very curious to see what your perspective is on this. How, um, you know, we always hear about Asian founders continuing to be underfunded, um, uh, an Asian startups continuing to be underfunded. I love to know like what your perspective is on that topic and how the outliers fund is. You know, helping, um, in any areas of that field,

 

Poseidon: (00:18:03) I wanted to give very straightforward example. I don’t know whether it’s bias or, or not, but we are currently looking at two space startups. Most of their founder and CEO, one of them is from Israel. One of them is from Taiwan and during our interview process, Nearly all of our partners notice that DSRL one can speak it out himself and as venture pretty much an idea for now, way beyond what he is currently at at this moment, publicly stated via VAX or three to five years beyond the state, in terms of satellites.On the other side, we, we spotted a team. I luckily spotted this team back in Taiwan this past summer, it is a team of, uh, I really viewed them as an hour all the way up from Taiwan that was for students. They spend their high school career. Uh, a rocket or jet propulsion laboratory when there were a high school student and they focus on building spherical motors to be recognized the Intel back to national science for your second prize. And two of them got the chance to be invited to NTU nation on the Howard university, but they were so humble that they, I think they, they, they have pretty much built the world probably first commercialized vehicle motor. Or just a key of many space components or satellites they even got in touch with Elan. They like all of our partners’ perspective after learning their pitch. Was that why didn’t you. Shine a little bit more. Why don’t you spend the equivalent amount of energy talking about your branding, your IP, your patients, your marketing, I guess I can speak for, for all but many patients that I’ve met in the past four years.It turns out too, when, when they are, they like hundred, they would like to. Introduce himself or of their venture or their background as 17, 18, and probably rooted from, as we discussed earlier. About their upbringing, uh, about how their parents would usually introduced them and how they are usually perceived when they’re in the student career.

 

Bryan: (00:20:23) Just to focus a little bit, a little bit more of the podcast on yourself. Do you have moments where you’re stressed out a lot and when you have self doubt, But maybe this is way over your head. And how did you overcome those? How do you believe in yourself? Someone?

 

Poseidon: (00:20:35) Yeah, there were, there were two times last year that I think I nearly broke down or already broke down one time period as a 60 days in January, February, before we launched the, took a bootcamp of allies accelerated. The second timeframe was August and September before we launched the 300 people demo day. First demo day of all, ours is accelerating at the beginning. We were just a bunch of students after felling to, to build and launch nearly 10 different products. We decided to build an accelerator. It was pretty high, um, by, by, by end of 2018, it was around the moment that we pretty much burnt out of our capital. The accelerator idea was actually. The 11th iteration idea, which we classify as the last shot for ourselves at January and February. Last year, many of our members started to doubt Twitter. They want to associate themselves with this accelerator to the eight core members. None of us have successfully built any company at any company or enter any accelerator. So one by one pull out from this accelerator before we even launch. But we already saying may startup and book. Like all of their ticket hotels and recruited 20 mentors they pick up booking was okay. Because it was just. Five, zero 50 people, but it’s still enough to stress me out and the same scenario around the summer. So last year, this is something that ever told our founders. Like during June, July, August, I was hiding myself somewhere in China that I refuse to go back to United States to face the fact that I needed to host like a final demo day to close this batch one. Accelerated program. It took me around passing over a hundred days to, to overcome the fear and admit that I need to host a final demo day by myself.

 

Full-time so when I got back to United States, it was pretty much 60 days left those 60 days. I pretty much slept one every two to three days, but very luckily, many of the. Early members of that Slack group. Remember we have eight, um, didn’t I came up with a deal, which is like, we’ll come to everyone to come as a volunteer. I don’t have much budget, but I can once or the flight and accommodation that these a few one to volunteer and help support the, the demo day, which in exchange will allow you to get to know a lot of serial entrepreneurs and ambassadors. On October study is last year, which turns out do you have study over 20 of my best friend from everywhere in the world? I think those 20 people came, flew all the way, 12 different cities. Some of them flew from Taiwan. To San Francisco, just for a one day event and then flew back

 

Bryan: (00:23:44) I love your network and your friendship and the dedication. It’s so powerful. And you know, that they believe in revision. Um, I mean, yeah, I mean, it’s really hard touching. I know how stressful things could be, especially. You know, sometimes you’re like, wow, like this is more than why I bit off, or as you’re planning things, you’re too optimistic. I, it happens to us all the time too. It’s like, let’s go out and see event. And then those super big buy these, just the part about the experience, you know, just doing bigger, better things in life. So when you look back a couple of years from now, you’re not going to regret that you didn’t do it. You know, you’re going to be glad that you did do it because now it tells a great story.

 

Poseidon: (00:24:32) Yeah, yeah, of course, of course. And yeah, as after the first time, like, then. Demo day again should be very easy.

 

Maggie: (00:24:45) Oh yeah.

 

Bryan: (00:24:36) We’ll be here to help you too.

 

Maggie: (00:24:48)  You’ve done it. You know, you’ve learned so much from it. Yeah. How has outliers fund been impacted by COVID-19 in any way and what’s your future plan or direction going forward?

 

Poseidon: (00:25:05) Okay. I would say. As was pretty decentralized spread across over 10 cities in the rural right now, since we’re funded three to four years ago, we have been using the score and get up to management and we have never had a physical office. So when the COVID-19 hit, I didn’t see much negative impact on our operation. Is that it actually accelerate many aspects. It was when me and some of the members went back to Taiwan, uh, this past summer that we realized that, Oh, maybe we can use this year to slow down on investment. And the accelerated program, but to raise a bigger, so we’re currently raising a hundred million, all our us venture fund.

 

Bryan: (00:26:00) You guys want to support the fight and please reach out to usand make a difference.

 

Poseidon: (00:26:08) By the way, this one will not be restricted to blockchain. I think blockchain will be a small fraction of it, but this one we. I’m planning to, to go all in, in the direction of ours, which we’ll bet on a lot of space travel, even time travel.

 

Bryan: (00:26:30) I love it. I love how big your thinking time and travel. The first we heard this in the podcast out of this, it’s a ton travel. Love it. I love it.

 

Poseidon: (00:26:38) We have like one inbounding deal flow that has research paper. Um, just got accepted to a space, uh, to a time conference, um, as unpublished yet, but it will be published in one month or two. Now, some people

 

Bryan: (00:27:00) I don’t know what to say to it.

 

Maggie: (00:27:01) What advice can you give to an aspiring entrepreneur? Especially Asian entrepreneurs?

 

Jerry: (00:27:07) Especially Asian entrepreneurs?

 

Maggie: (00:27:09) Especially Asian entrepreneurs?

 

Bryan: (00:27:12) Especially Asian Entrepreneurs, this is Asian Hustle network podcasts.

 

Poseidon: (00:27:16) I would say, especially for Asian has, uh, entrepreneurs, three keywords, think big, start small and move fast. As I realized that many patient entrepreneurs, especially those that I met in. Taiwan or Beijing song sins. And. Many of them didn’t have the worldview or global mindset when they started their first venture, pretty much improve when they started the second one, cert one or after they got to vengeance stage later. But don’t forget to like start small incrementally and iterate. That’s about the speed. I was saying I’m starting a company and. In Asia. I don’t know whether it’s correct, but the villain that I have when I was in Cincinnati, say for example, compare with Silicon Valley by seeing the, the iteration cycle and speed is three X more than how I feel in NAI States and especially many cities or countries. Didn’t have the antitrust policy. So you either go big or go home

 

Bryan: (00:28:44) I love how you besides the key difference too. And I feel like people, I feel like business people in the United States have had grown to the point where, you know, they think the innovation only happens in the United States. Uh, I think from a we’re in a worldview, like a lot of places are catching up and you’re catch up fast, the talent around the world. Isn’t the same, you know? That’s the one, you know, work really hard because you know, people around the world are doing their best too. And they’re innovating in a really fast pace if we have to keep an intervening ourselves back home and, you know, especially in those seats, you know,

 

Poseidon: (00:29:23) Yeah. Yeah. I can totally echo on that.

 

Maggie: (00:29:26) How can our listeners learn more about you on social media

 

Bryan: (00:29:29) to support your fund and support your fund?

 

Poseidon: (00:29:32) That’s the most important, first of all, feel free to connect with me anywhere on Facebook. Check LinkedIn. My email is P at. Outlier. I’m very active on email and I respond to all the emails that I’ve received in the past.

 

Bryan: (00:29:55) Can you say your email again because I cut off real quick.

 

Poseidon: (00:29:57) Yes. Yes. My email is p@ally.fund and start fun as also the URL. For our website.

 

Bryan: (00:30:12) Awesome. Awesome. And for our listeners too, you guys will also reach out to me. I’m also a venture partner at outlier fund. If she needs to chat to beside it or chat about more about how a funnel works, we’re always here to help and support and amplify Asian voices around the world.

 

Poseidon: (00:30:31) Thank you so much.

 

Maggie: (00:30:33) Thank you so much for sharing your story Poseidon.

 

Bryan: (00:30:35) Thank you so much Poseidon.

 

Poseidon: (00:30:36) Of course.

 

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