Quinn Wang and Kristine Hara // Ep 86 // Changing the Story of Eyecare for Good

Welcome to Episode 86 of the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! We are very excited to have Quinn Wang and Kristine Hara 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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Quinn is a UCSF-trained cataract surgeon and 2x Duke alum (BA, MD) who graduated with highest distinction in English Literature. She has published papers in leading journals such as Ophthalmology, designed and implemented a randomized clinical control trial, and pioneered bilateral cataract surgery in private practice. Outside of work, she regularly cycles up mountains and occasionally climbs up volcanoes (on skis.)

Kristine is a 2x founder who graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees (BA, MS) in Biology, History, and Information Science. She has authored academic papers in data mining and computer science, piloted studies in computational cancer research and evolutionary genetics, and shorted the fastest market crash in history. When not working, she enjoys road tripping across Africa and exploring ghost towns. She was also previously at Pandora and United Masters.

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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 today, we have two special guests with us. They are Quinn Wang and Kristine Hara.Quinn is a UCSF-trained cataract surgeon and 2x Duke alum (BA, MD) who graduated with highest distinction in English Literature. She has published papers in leading journals such as Ophthalmology, designed and implemented a randomized clinical control trial, and pioneered bilateral cataract surgery in private practice. She regularly cycles up mountains and occasionally climbs up volcanoes on skis. Kristine is a two time founder who graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees, BA M S in biology has story and information science. She has authored academic papers in data mining and computer science, piloted studies in computational with cancer research and evolutionary genetics, and shorter, the fastest market crash in history. We’re not working. She enjoys road tripping across Africa and exploring ghost towns. She has also previously worked at Pandora and United masters. Welcome to the show Quinn and Christine,


Quinn: (00:01:34)  thank you so much for having us. We’re excited to chat about our story and have a great conversation.


Bryan: (00:01:42)  Definitely. We’re super excited to have you guys on the show as well. So we’ll start with you Quinn, like tell us about your upbringing. What was that like?


Quinn: (00:01:51)  Okay, happy to, uh, I was actually born in China, in Hunan, and my parents came over when I was one. My dad went to med school in China and, uh, came to the us. To do a PhD to get his foot in the door and, uh, become a resident and, uh, eventually work his way up to full professor of medicine at Rutgers. So he’s got like a very. Prototypical Asian immigrant story, where like on this journey, he started out he 30 and he had $50 in his pocket. He loves to emphasize that point. He came to OHS and started doing his PhD. My mom came and joined him for, um, from ages one to two. I was raised by my maternal. Grandparents. And, um, yeah, I, when I came over to the States to Portland, um, my mom said that I didn’t recognize her. And, uh, my dad and I hid behind my grandma and it was heartbreaking for her. Um, It’s weird to think about, but, uh, I’m not the only one who’s had this experience. I’ve talked to other Asian kids who, you know, their parents in an effort to set them up for success, came over to the U S first and then brought their kids over later. And the kids are like, Who are you? Uh, and then it’s like a matter of relationship building. Um, and then from that point on, we moved yeah. Around the country a whole ton because of my dad’s training, you know, it’s did his PhD and his postdoc. He got into a residency program in like a pretty dangerous part of Brooklyn where he dealt with a lot of racism and, um, Kind of hid that from us as we were growing up. And, um, and he did a fellowship and, uh, as I mentioned is now a professor of medicine and, uh, attending at Rutgers. So growing up, there was a lot of moving around. Didn’t really see my dad that much. My mom was in many ways, a tiger mom who sat me down during the summers and made me do math problems and, uh, write Chinese characters. And so every summer I would disappear while my friends, like you went to summer camp and on vacations, I was just like, Studying studying, and then eventually transitioned into like down, been torrenting, anime and know Limewire is stuff like that. Um, and that’s, that’s pretty much, um, the broad strokes of it. Uh, my mom, I credit her. A lot for my work ethic, but have complicated feelings about, you know, the way I was raised. Just like, I’m sure a lot of people who are listening, um, can relate to, so I’ll stop there.


Maggie: (00:05:14)  Well, thank you so much for sharing Quinn. And it sounds like, you know, both of your parents were, you know, very, um, uh, they were, they were very accomplished and it sounds like it had a lot of influence and. Do you know how you were raised and I love how you shared that you, you weren’t, you know, a bit torrenting Adam, Hey, spending your free time doing that would love to hear from you, Christine, on, you know, your upbringing as well.


Kristine: (00:05:38)   Yeah. Uh, I choose between cringing Ave enemy at that time. Who was it? But, um, yeah, actually I didn’t really different experience from queen growing up. Um, I think I’m one of the few Asians that didn’t have tiger parents. I actually am super jealous of all my friends. I wish I had had tiger grants. Okay. My parents are listening. I don’t want to say that. Um, yeah, I think like, uh, yeah, I grew up in a household where there, I think, um, I’m fourth generation Japanese. And so it’s sort of like a mix of, um, maybe the white suburban experience, but then some Asian heritage, like we still celebrate what’s traditional Japanese food on new years, but then it’s a lot more, um, Free reign. I was allowed to run around and do whatever I wanted when I was a kid. Um, a lot of freedom. Um, I guess there’s that stereotype of like, you know, American kids that go home and yell at their parents. Uh, maybe that was sometimes me. Um, but yeah, I think it was a really amazing environment, I think for entrepreneurship, because I, I think I grew up in this environment where I didn’t feel that I was constrained in like, um, anything I wanted to do. I felt like I have the freedom to try, um, Yeah. And then, so I just, eventually that led me into college at UC Berkeley. Um, I, I think almost because I had so much freedom, I actually like didn’t know what I wanted to be in life. And I almost wish I had had some new to tell me that. Um, but I think if somebody had told me it might’ve been damaged in the wrong thing, right. It’s always like the grass is always greener. And, um, so I spent a long time. I, uh, did a lot of different majors. I did history and biology because they were just like polar opposites. And I was like, well, I liked the sciences. I also really liked the humanities. I liked reading a lot. Um, yeah, that’s something Quinn and I have in common, we were both humanities majors in undergrad. Um, but like, yeah, I guess from there, I think eventually I graduated and I got out of college and I was like, Oh, no, the thing I didn’t cover, it was actually computer science. So that was the right fit. It just like, I think, um, yeah, Sacramento is very sort of like agricultural and government focused and it just never occurred to me that like programming computers was a thing. I think somebody came up to me, um, on my very first day at Cal and they were like, Oh, I’m a computer science major. And I definitely offended her because I was like, what is computer science? Um, and so after a lot of twists and turns, I somehow ended up here as a software engineer.


Bryan: (00:07:54)   That’s awesome. I mean, I also come from a software engineering background too, and, you know, moving to the Bay, it was like, it’s a whore, this software that it’s like, you really had to get into tech, you know? So I’m kind of curious too, like how did you two meet and how did it, um, this, tell me talking about.


Quinn: (00:08:10)  Uh, I first wanted to piggyback on what Kristine said about not really knowing what she wanted to do. Um, so I come from clearly a more strict background and when I got to college, I. Also didn’t know what I wanted to do. So I saw the struggles that my dad went through with medicine. And I was like, I don’t know if that’s for me. Um, but I went to a place Duke where it seemed like the only acceptable career paths were medicine, law, iBanking consulting, poly PSI. And, um, I thought. All of them or kind of evil. And to me, medicine was the least evil, but I felt like I was signing a deal with the devil because, um, I knew that I wouldn’t have the freedom to really explore the part of me that was. More creative and more curious and already was feeling very suffocated by the way that I grew up and suffocated by the notion of being in one career path and not knowing how like eyes, the person fit into that. And so doing, um, doing a humanities path, becoming an English major was, uh, my. Give to myself to learn and explore, um, the other side of my brain. And, uh, as I was going through med school and residency with each step, I said to myself, you know, I’m closer to this, to this. Position in society that would be respected and enable me to really help people. And my parents would be proud and their sacrifices would be worth it. And then with each step, I was like, Oh my God, I feel very trapped in my desire to make things. More efficient and humane for my classmates, my colleagues for patients, um, Like, it just wasn’t nurtured. And there was so much red tape and everyone knows that the healthcare system is super broken and I’ve been on both sides. It, and it was just horrible. And so I have, for a long time been feeling like I want to put my own spin. Um, on this path that I’ve ventured about ventured on kind of unwillingly. Um, I fortunately matched at UCF for ophthalmology, which brought me to the Bay area. And, uh, shortly before graduating realized that, um, it would behoove me to learn about tech worlds. And start making inroads, building my network. And, um, along the way, I met Christine through South park commons, which is a community for tinkerers and technologists. And tag is like an in-person community. And, uh, I joined actually shortly before shelter in place came down and, uh, by the time Christina and I met, it was all virtual. Um, so that


Kristine: (00:11:46)   we met in a Slack channel


Quinn: (00:11:49)  and that is Slack channel. And Kristine was wanting to work on something healthcare related and I’ll let her talk a little bit more about that. And everyone was like, you should talk to Quinn. She’s like, A health care person. And, uh, yeah, at the time I was working as an attending cataract surgeon, part-time in San Francisco and my clinic was closed because eye exams were deemed to be not essential. And so there was like this element of, Oh my God, I made it. I made it to the end. Part of the reason I stayed in this was for job security and actually went into private practice. My clinic closed, and I didn’t even have job security. So I was like, I have been tortured for so long and I don’t even get to reap the benefits and, you know, just. Out of, out of a need and frustration. I started working on this tool that would allow me to gather objective data from patients about their eyeballs. Like when they call and say, Dr. Wang, my vision is crappy or my eye hurts. Historically, there’s no way to tell if there’s something actually wrong. It’s a matter of gleaning details from the person’s story. Like I woke up and I hit my head and then a shadow came over my eye and now I can’t see. And I’m like, what do you mean you can’t see. Aren’t you like, can you not see any light or can you just not see as clearly as you normally could? So the problem of not having objective data is something that really bothered me. And, um, I looked into it. I realized there were no remote tools for providing eyecare. Then I started working on that and Kristine joined me after she had an eye problem and I was able to help her with the thing I built.


Kristine: (00:13:44)  Yeah. So I come to Quinn with all of my hypochondriac questions about anything medical related, but I think especially then, um, yeah, it was, there was a pandemic and it was locked down. I was trying to bleach my own hair because salons were closed. Um, I normally have ABG hair. It’s it’s a little sad right now. Um, but yeah, I think during the process, I got bleach in my eye and I discovered how. Um, how kind of like annoying it is to do you try to do I care? Like I talked to my GP, but it’s like a zoom meeting. And so he can’t really like actually examine my eye. Um, and then my eye was like getting worse and worse and, um, I was, I was like putting these drops in, but it just seemed like it was so hard to tell is like the steering, anything when it’s like, something goes wrong with my vision. And it’s sort of like, I think to any job, vision is like essential. Like especially, you know, if you’re a programmer and you can’t see, well, uh, I think it’s, you have to change careers. Um, but like, yeah, I think when I tried it, I was really like, Oh, you know, this is. I think it also resonated for me because I’ve had chronic health issues my whole life. Um, and it wasn’t until this year, actually that I found a lot of them were Jude is rare immune system condition. And I think this resonated because it’s very similar. It’s like when you have more visibility into like the human body, like the more tests you can do, the more like objective data you can gather, the more you actually like have their reality of what’s going on. And then people don’t, you know, people don’t get misdiagnosed or mistreated. Um, so that was something that really excited me about or working with Quinn. And, um, it’s funny because like, we actually only met once in person before diving into this like insane journey of entrepreneurship. Um, yeah, we met in a Slack channel, uh, chatted a bit. I like went off to Mexico to live, uh, uh, um, by the beach for the pandemic. Um, I figured there wasn’t a lot going on in San Francisco. And, um, actually through this time when I went to Mexico, Uh, you know, we’re trying to. Do remote work without really having done remote work before? Um, in Mexico, actually, like when I went there, it was hurricane season. So there were a bajillion hurricanes. Um, sometimes my power would get knocked out for days. I was taking these like fizzy water showers and like, Gwen would just like, I think the community communication, like working with a new co-founder is already hard enough if you like don’t know each other that well. But then you’re like when you add that natural disasters to the mix and like, um, about a month after we met, we had our YC interview. It was like crazy, but. It’s one of those things where it’s, it’s definitely like it wasn’t arranged marriage, but it’s like worked out incredibly well. Um, you know, we’ve been through a lot in the last few months together.   


Maggie: (00:16:13)  Wow. That is incredible that you two had met through Slack. Um, and Christine and I just wanted to point out your hair still looks amazing. So, yeah. Okay. I wanted to commend you guys because it is already hard to, you know, find, you know, ways to work really well with your co-founder even a person and for you to, you know, work together mostly through virtually, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s. Extremely hard. And I want to commend you guys for that. It takes a lot of hard work. Um, and Quinn, I read in an article that you had previously had no tech experience, and I think it was in 2019 where you said, yeah, At that time. Um, and I think that’s, that’s amazing that you were able to, you know, build this company with no tech experience, but, you know, Christine, you come from a computer science and software engineering background, you know, I’m very curious. What were some of those struggles that you had Quinn with, you know, very minimal tech experience than how are you two able to compliment each other in every way possible?  


Quinn: (00:17:22)  Um, so as an example of how little I knew about tech, um, I had patients when I was a resident who worked at Salesforce and I was like, what the hell? Salesforce? And they would tell me it’s SAS. It’s a CRM. And I was like, can you please explain to me what SAS means? And they’re like, Oh yeah, software as a service. And I would say isn’t all software, some sort of service. I don’t understand why there needs to be like another, like a, a phrase for it. And also what is a CRM? I don’t understand. I’ve like I asked several patients about this and they’re like, It’s a CRM. You use it every day. Um, but anyway, I didn’t know what Slack was. I didn’t know what Stripe was. I didn’t know about a square. I, I didn’t even like door dash stuff. That’s that’s how, um, insulated I was, I don’t, I don’t know why door dash stuff, but, um, I, what happened was, uh, I went from that to discovering through real friend. A piece of SAS called type form it’s survey software. And I use that to torture out a whole online eye exam. And, uh, so it’s a matter of, I think having an idea and figuring out the scrappiest. Janky as way to make it happen. And you know, at the end of the day I just needed some data and I figured out how to get it. And that speaks to my thoughts that you don’t have to have like, uh, Very traditional software background to start doing interesting things in the space. Hardware is a little bit different. Uh, but, uh, yeah, despite not being tactical in the software sense, I consider myself to be quite technical in the ophthalmology sentence. And so I’m a I’m in some ways a technical co-founder as well. And I just like. From a different realm. And so I’m able to articulate themes using my expertise. And Christine helps me translate that into more software stuff. And I’ve definitely learned a lot from her. You know, the phrase machine learning gets thrown around a lot and she, she sent me a video that was like elementary school level and it really helped. But don’t ask me to explain it. I’m a little bit nervous too.  


Bryan: (00:20:12)     That’s a perfect marriage, right? Just compliment each other, each other’s expertise. That’s the best type of co-founder relationship that we found, especially having this podcast and talking to people. Uh, Christine, can you tell us more about college and I, and what you guys actually do for your product?


Kristine: (00:20:27)   Yeah. Yeah. So, um, we actually have like a set of different products. I don’t know how much I. Great. I’m not, I’m supposed to say today, but I was the first product that we started with is prescription renewals. Um, and it was something actually, we originally were building a telemedicine clinic for some lightweight eye problems, you know, like sties, dry eyes. And then we found that people were searching for online eye exam, but when they found us and they would find us this way, But they actually really just wanted their glasses, contacts, prescriptions are narrowed, and we’re like, Oh, you know, that’s actually, um, from the technical standpoint, that’s not too difficult. So we, we spend that up and yeah, it was, it was an interesting experience to do all these landing pages and find that this problem was like very sticky. Just like people are always looking for it, especially in a pandemic. You don’t really want to go into your appointment and potentially risk getting COVID just because you need to find your contacts. Um, And I guess, uh, Quinn, I don’t know if you want to talk more about the health portion, which is what we’re diving into next.  


Quinn: (00:21:26)   Um, so it’s interesting this problem of finding product market fit, which is a concept that I didn’t quite understand because, um, given my clinical surgical background, I am used to like, Having problems to solve and solving them in a way that is like, obviously you should. You should treat this disease this way. If you have a cataract, I take it out surgery, but product market fit is something that’s different. It’s determined by the market, the customer, and like a huge, huge, huge lesson for me. And that was very humbling was that I actually don’t know shit about what people actually want and like medical training. Doesn’t prepare you for really seeing patients as like humans who might have preferences that are very justified. For example, waiting three hours in clinic is not chill. Uh, but as a resident, if a patient complained about waiting, you know, an hour, we’d be like, Uh, excuse me, we slept for three hours and we’re very overworked. And typically the wait time is three hours. So one hour is not that bad. So coming from that background and dealing with this question of product market fit and realizing that people wanted something different from what I was envisioning was very like, Traumatic in a way, because I was like, I’m learning so much. And, uh, the skills that I gained through, like being like operating on people and being on call for long periods of time, only partially translated. And so, um, from. But I do want to take my experiences and my learnings to push us in a direction that will really, really benefit people, uh, in all aspects of eye health, what people don’t realize when it comes to eyeballs is that there’s two broad buckets. The first one is a vision. Um, Maggie see wear glasses. And I know Brian wears glasses as well, and I have a refractive error and Christine also wears glasses contacts. Um, so, um, there’s vision, which is what can you see? Are you 2020? Are you 2040? And if you’re 20, 40, what’s kind of glasses or. Contact lens prescription, do you need to get to 2020? So that’s vision and that’s what most people think about. And, uh, that is not all of it though. There’s another bucket, which is where a lot of which is where ophthalmologists really, uh, they operate, which is eye health. Are you, uh, someone who’s at risk for glaucoma. Do you have a family history of retinal degeneration and therefore we have to screen you every year? Like what, um, if you have diabetic eye disease, what is your rate of progress and how often do we have to see you? Um, and this latter part BI health portion, isn’t really that embedded in like societal awareness. And most people are just like, Oh, that’s like stuff for old people. Um, but in fact, the, I mean, we all have eyes. Christine mentioned, you know, like vision is incredibly important and vision is tied to iHealth. So like the glasses and contact lens are, and like the eye history, risk factors, they are treated as two distinct things just because of the way the industry has been broken down. But they are. In extra inextricably intertwined. So that is my long way of saying that our ultimate goal is to move. In addition to being able to renew prescriptions, be able to provide eye health services to folks. Anywhere, including an eye health deserts and the way we get to that. And it’s very complicated and requires a lot of technological finesse, uh, that are seen as seeing the charge on, we just hired employee number one. And he is also, Asian-American incredibly scrappy has a non-traditional background college dropout that like. Incredibly incredibly smart and very curious and exactly the type of person we need to move through these stages of getting more and more sophisticated and being able to change the way people perceive and receive eyecare. So it’s. Super super, super exciting. And along the way, we’ve gotten to meet awesome people like yourselves who, um, are interested in crafting a life and a career that, um, me look quite different from what our parents had imagined for us.


Bryan: (00:26:34)   Yeah. I really liked that. You touched upon the subject to you because you know, our parents imagine us to be like, yeah, Traditional jobs, lawyers, doctors, whatever engineers, and having this untraditional thing. It’s like, there’s more to it because at first they’re not very supportive. Then as you show them that it is possible to become more and more supportive. I’m like, Oh, at the end of the day, it’s like, I just want to make my, make sure my kid is happy in doing things that are benefiting the world in a very good place. And I really liked the fact that you touched upon on your first employee. It’s a sense of curiosity. I feel like. Nowadays. It’s a lot different for me right before I was like, pedigree is like, where’d you go to school? Like, what’d you study nowadays? It’s like, I feel like, yeah, that is important. But a person’s curiosity will take you much further. And a person’s curiosity will open more doors per the company because it, creativity is it’s actually really, really hard to find in a person. Uh, so I do commend you for saying that, especially as a, as a founder as well. So thank you for that.  


Quinn: (00:27:37)    Yeah, I sorry to see, I’ll say one thing about that. I think, um, the educational structure that we’re used to is becoming a little more irrelevant, um, and it really should be more centered on, um, teaching people how to be curious. And exploring their interests, which is a very soft and complicated skill, but much more valuable than say rote memorization, which is gets you against you with bar. But, um, only so far you hit a ceiling.   


Kristine: (00:28:16)   Definitely. Definitely. I think that’s something that we’re thinking a lot about as we build the early team, because I think something Quinn and I have in common, as you know, we started on this, like. Creative firing safe, pump difficult, but safe. And then we realized like, this isn’t what is making me happy? Like I want something more, like, it seems like. Oh, we’ve achieved everything that society like, you know, size is good, but there’s something missing. Um, and I think it was, we built a team looking for people like that. Um, people that want to color outside of the lines, people that wanna, you know, go on this like crazy journey to find product market fit that are really comfortable with, um, you know, chaos and uncertainty, but like are, are actually like excited by this rather than, you know, staying in this like predefined structure that society has created.


Maggie: (00:29:03)  Absolutely agree with all of you three and you know, I think my parents just, you know, recently they said know, they were just talking about, you know, like my relatives and cousins saying like, Oh, he should become a doctor or a lawyer, but they really have to think about, you know, is this something that they even wanted? Do you know? But I think that if you put someone in a career where they’re actually passionate about something, They actually fall in love with that career. They can go so much further than, you know, being stuck in a career where they don’t actually enjoy being in. So I do want to switch gears a little bit and talk about Y Combinator. And I know that quadrant I got into YC. Um, we’ll love to hear about the process of, you know, being in YC and how did that make you to feel and what were you, what were the challenges? What were the, the, um, the breakthroughs during the whole process?


Quinn: (00:29:58)   A complicated question in a lot of ways. Uh, but, okay. So why C is another thing that I didn’t know existed? And, um, as Christina and I, in our early stages of working together and, um, dealing with the uncertainty of being in startup world, um, I in particular felt extremely uncomfortable with the uncertainty. I was like, In a total mind fuck about it, actually. And, uh, I, I really credit Christine for being patient with me and, uh, sticking with me through like a craze that I was saying and dealing with. Like, uh, again, it was, you know, I went from being like, A resident at an top surgical program and then like an attending doing very interesting surgical things to being in my room, dealing with Google ads and him form online. So I was looking for a little more structure. And then like, by that point I had heard about YC and, um, I didn’t tell Christine about. Thinking about it until like the night before the deadline, that was like Christina, by the way, let’s do YC. And we, we did our very first sprint together, which was to fill out our YC application and then like, we, we got it in right before the deadline. Um, and corrals are friends at this point. I like. Somehow built out a network of fellow founders who were able to put in really great recommendations for us. And, uh, we got an interview on the very first day of interviews and, uh, were pretty nervous. Um, and didn’t think we could do it. And you know, Christine, I think might’ve prompt up her phone on a pineapple. There’s a coconut coconut. Okay. It was a coconut. She propped her phone up on a coconut for the interview and these tropical Airbnb. And I put my laptop on a series of cardboard boxes. On like a stool to get it up to. Cause I wanted to stand for the interview. I got I’m like, uh, saving the photo for one we IPO, like this is just like, it was crazy. Cause a bunch of cardboard boxes and I, you know, stood there and we. Killed it. I like drew up on all my reserves to answer their questions. Very confident. Totally. Even though I didn’t feel confident inside. It’s like, I need to. Like project my power and confidence as an Asian woman and a surgeon doing this hard thing. And, um, you know, uh, Christine having her in my corner and just like knowing that we were both like, have these coconuts and cardboard boxes on board, it’s just like, you know, Oh, is it really that hard if we’re like doing this cool interview in kind of suboptimal conditions, but, you know, we, we did great. Christine was awesome. And a few hours later, we got a call from Jared Friedman saying that we got in. Um, and I think both Chrissy and I were like, shit. What do we do now? Yeah. I’ll let Christine talk a little more,


Bryan: (00:33:56)    a great problem to have, by the way, a lot of people spend months and months preparing for the application process and you guys spend the night before. So congratulations on that.


Maggie: (00:34:05)  I wanted to talk about that too Quinn, like the night before you should like, see how, like, I act when Brian and I are getting ready to like submit applications to an accelerator, I’m just like panicking. Like I have to get those right. And perfect. Like every word, every sentence, every period. So the night before it’s just amazing


Kristine: (00:34:26)   are amazing friends, like jump in on like a Saturday. And there was a mock interview right before. Yeah, it was actually the day before my birthday. So like, All my birthday plans got canceled, but it was so, um, I think it’s just as well that we did it last minute, because I think it, it, it’s almost like the more time you have, the more time you have to show the pressure. Um, and you know, just, I think we went in and were pretty genuine and I think, you know, quite already has all of this like dense medical knowledge. And like, it’s just been almost like thinking about this problem for years, I think in the back of her head. And so like, um, Yeah, I guess for me, I didn’t know a lot about YC before, um, or actually had a lot of imposter syndrome, I think around it because I’ve seen like, you know, so many friends and so many people that are just, you know, acquaintances, acquaintances, but like really great entrepreneurs go through YC. And I always was like, I don’t think I’m that caliber, but I would love, you know, I’d love to get into YC, but I don’t really know if this is in the cards. And like, um, I think yeah, to get in was like incredible. And also to like find that, um, you know, the people in the bachelor, like. You know, really talented. A lot of people, there’s a good chunk of people that already have had, um, successful startups before. And then, you know, the partners are like on this insane level, but they’re all incredibly nice down to earth humans. And so like, um, especially because entrepreneurship like has so many like crazy ups and downs, especially, you know, for us, we were a very young startup when we got in, um, Yeah, it was just like amazing to have these partners who, if you wanted to Slack them about like an emergency on a Saturday evening, they would actually be there and respond and, you know, be willing to jump on a zoom call. We had, um, you know, we had so much in the tutoring, the raise, I think, where they were, um, you know, it’s like incredible. They have 80 startup children in every group. Um, but somehow they managed to like spend a lot of time with all of their, their child’s companies and get a lot of, um, help and advice. And so we’re really thankful for that. Um, yeah, I think, uh, Quinn Quinn’s done an amazing job because, uh, I saw this girl like, you know, right after demo day raising is pretty intense and like, we had a very early product. I actually built the MVP during my season in a few weeks. I was like pretty janky, um, very fast, but like when I think Quentin took this product and took, uh, you know, over 80 meetings to raise our seed round. Um, so thank you for that.


Bryan: (00:36:43)     That is not easy feat and it’s very draining, very morally draining, but once you’re done, that’s nothing like it. So congratulations on that.  


Kristine: (00:36:54)   Thank you so much. Uh, yeah, I would say so I took 85 meetings over the course of two and a half weeks because I knew that, um, time was of the essence. And I was very aware that just because we were in YC and we had demo day was no guarantee that we would be able to raise. In fact, there are some companies in our batch that are still raising and some that have deferred. So like, If I could do anything, I would like to dispel the myth that if you get into YC, um, and you get to the demo day, it’s a sure thing that you’ll race. And, uh, it is. Ultimately, you know, why see, you can consider it as jet fuel, but you have to have a rocket and you have to have a good pilot. Um, and like in this case, yes, I went in with a very, very, very strict attitude where, you know, I took a bunch of meetings every day. Um, and. Got better and better at telling the story and really built up my confidence level. The more meetings that I took and just fucking knocked it out of the park. I mean, we oversubscribed around and like our lead is a tier one lead. That I had never heard of because again, my background, uh, and like, I, I just didn’t think that it would happen. And the momentum’s in our favor, Christina and I created, um, a lot of circumstances, some by accident to maximize our luck and our chances of success, proceeding bills. The product from scratch during YC. And we had like over a hundred customers, despite what all these bugs that we were facing and all the fear that I had about, you know, being perceived as a physician is like a snake oil salesman. You know, there’s like a whole other thing going into in medicine, where if you go into entrepreneurship in a way that is not. Like a very, very, um, Kind of set path, like in medicine, entrepreneurship is about developing cool hardware and like very slowly going through the FDA and clinical trials, which we all need to do. But like, if you deviate from that path, they’re like, Oh yeah, you’re just making an app. Or like, you just care about money. Like, look at us, we’re doing our hardware thing. So anyway, I was facing a lot of that, um, as well, grappling with. Feeling uncomfortable about having a product that isn’t, that isn’t complete out there getting shade from physicians, as well as optometrists, who aren’t really understanding what I was doing and really, um, put the worst of intentions on me. And, um, on top of that, being a woman, an Asian woman was just like a lot of. A bag of weird stuff, um, to, to sort out, um, and still sorting that out. I think it will, it will continue to follow, follow me. Um, but yes, uh, at the, at the end of the day, we, he did an awesome, we did an awesome job. It didn’t really feel like it in the moment, but, uh, yeah, looking back.  


Kristine: (00:40:43)   Really, I kind of felt like playing down a mountain, like, you know, you’ve fallen sort of like rolling down the cliff and, but then at the end, you like 10 of like happiness, um, and having your destination, that’s like, wow, that was, that was a rash, but we survived really well.


Bryan: (00:41:00)    This is entrepreneurship in a nutshell, what is the next step for quadrant? I like, what are you guys hoping to accomplish for the rest of the year? And for 2022, looking ahead. 


Quinn: (00:41:13)   Uh, Oh, before I forget, this is related. Um, part of our success leading up to demo day actually is Asian Hustle Network. Uh, Christine had the brilliant idea of promoting our. Product on like on Facebook group, in the Facebook group. And we told our story about, you know, being Asian American and, um, being brave enough to step outside of the expectations, um, that. On my end, my parents predominantly Christine’s and it was like, sounds like a lot of internal and as well as like the invisible societal forces at play. Uh, but yeah, it was our post was so well received and it just like touched me in a way that, um, I hadn’t felt in a while because I. Predominantly in an effort to. In a self-preservation effort, um, predominantly was not identifying with being Asian American. For me, it was more like being a woman and being a surgeon and then like more tertiary Asian American, because I felt very much like I had to fight against this image of, of me as like a young looking doll person who was very, um, Who is expected to be quite differential and obedient. And I really, really, really, really, really resented that and fought against it. But like, you know, just seeing all the comments on our post and watching it go viral made me realize that, you know, this is an. Incredibly important part of my identity. And in fact, on this journey, the strongest sources of support have come from my Asian family. So that is like a detour that I wanted to make it like gets it. Cause it’s just like. Such an important part of the journey and becoming more and more because, you know, uh, one of our backers is building is a new fund that is geared toward Asian-Americans they’re installed right now. And they don’t have a track record because they’re new, but I just felt like. It was worth it to Fern, both cause you and I, and this fund to support each other and start building reputation of Asian American founders being very powerful and formidable and just like. Don’t fuck with us. You know, we might look a certain way, um, but we are not, and it’s important to put a strong face forward, especially during this current political climate. Um, and that being said, we have a lot of massive, we have massive ambition for where and I is going to go. Like, um, there’s this. We’re thinking of, um, a new category of healthcare that we’re calling at home. I care it’s like intuitive, but also people hear about that. And they’re like, what about all the big pieces of equipment in the office? Like what can you possibly do, um, in the home to simulate an eye exam to approximate it. And there’s actually a lot. There’s so much, and we can get to a point where we can do routine eye care. At home. And that is, that is the goal. Uh, ultimately, you know, there’s of course always going to be a place for ophthalmologists and optometrists to provide very important complex care in person. Surgery is another aspect, but there are a lot of eye problems in situations that can and should be managed remotely. And a lot of routine visits can be done in the home. And, uh, yeah, in, in five years we hope that at-home, I care is a very intuitive, obvious thing. Just like, you know, um, Charging your phone is a reflex. We hope that someone who is having an eye problem can just like activate our service, like, like just without thinking about it. Um, and yeah, a there’s a lot of, not more thoughts I have about this, but the broad strokes are to create a new kind of eyecare.


Kristine: (00:46:20) I just wanted to add to here. I think there’s something that, um, you know, I think we knew about this before we were working on the project, but like, we’ve discovered this like in, um, I think increasing amounts as we interact with users, um, a lot of the users that found just like our online prescription clinic are, uh, you know, we founded emergent chat. They’re coming from small towns. And, um, so there’s a lot of, uh, there’s some of these other healthcare, um, companies where they work with healthcare deserts, like areas. Where, you know, people will have limited access to care. Like, you know, maybe you’re in a remote region or, you know, like you’re in a smaller town and there there’s, there’s like a wait for the people, the specialists that are there. Um, and so in some places, you, you, we talked to people who have to drive like over two hours just to go see an optometrist. Um, and, and like, you know, I think when we, all, all of us are from cities. And so this seems like very unusual. It seems like you were to talk very few people, that there are a lot of people in the us that, um, are impacted by this. And I think this is something that. We really want to build out for in the next year. Like finding these people that, you know, should have care, but maybe you aren’t, aren’t getting it. And especially guys that are at high risk or age-related eye issues.    


Maggie: (00:47:31)  Thanks so much for sharing that you guys it’s, it’s really awesome. Just hearing about, you know, the future and you guys thinking about the future of quadrant. I, and, you know, hopefully we will get to a place one day where we can just think about eyecare, like, like it is a reflex and I know we will get there, um, then and Quinn, thank you so much for sharing about age 10 and the support that it has been for your company and the both of you. Um, I think a lot of people had resonated with it just because you guys just so show so much resiliency and there. Is probably a lot of people inside the community that are in ophthalmology, you know, who are trying to sway away from this like one path of this linear path in this career. Right. And there are, you know, a lot of Asian American woman probably in this industry as well, who really look up to you and your, what you guys are building, um, just really inspirational for your entire story. We have one last question for the both of you. And that is if you could give one advice to an aspiring entrepreneur, what would that one advice be?


Kristine: (00:48:40) I think for me, it would be, um, So corny, but like, you know, I think don’t give up. But, um, so for me, I like a year ago. Right. I like I had my first started. I had just, um, I just ran out and Sunday and I always liked to, you know, try to go on this journey again or do you to go and like get a normal job. Um, probably like I should have, especially in the middle of like a pandemic. Right. Is that the, um, I had really just like. COVID had just hit and there were no jobs. And, um, you know, like, especially in San Francisco, it’s hard to survive without like steady income. Um, and like, I think at the time, like common sense, would’ve told me to just like, you know, sit down and get a job. Like we’re going to start it on the side. That’s actually like what a lot of people told me to do and I admired it. Um, But, yeah, I’m so thankful for what I did, because I think I’ve changed so much as a person. And I’m like also really thankful to be on this journey with, with Quinn. I was in a, I think I was in bad shape when she found me, but, um, things have gone really well.


Quinn: (00:49:42)  Since you found each other, you kind of fell into my lap. Like, who are you? I well also echo what Christine said about like the personal growth aspect. So doing a startup, uh, has challenged me in ways that medicine. Did not. And does not mainly in that, there’s always so many fires to put out and so much like accountability to yourself and to the team that you have to have the internal resources to be able to make good decisions and also stay healthy for the sake of the company. And along those lines. Um, the piece of advice that I. Would give and I think needs to be emphasized more. Is that, um, So there’s, um, so much self limiting belief when it comes to doing something hard. What I mean by that is, um, a lot of people think that because an undertaking seems impossible or too hard, they don’t do it. And that, or the thing you can’t do it, they might try, but they’re like, I’m going to fail anyway. And going in with the mindset of this is too hard, like, why am I doing this? What is even the point, um, really sets you up for, or not being able to do it. And, um, one great book that I read is called big leap, which talks a lot about like how. People inflict unnecessary suffering on themselves and also shoot themselves in the foot by just like having this mindset of not being good enough in this thing being too hard. So ultimately it comes down to realizing how powerful your mind is. Which is both scary and very encouraging because once you believe in yourself, you’re on fucking stoppable. Like seriously, this thing that could see, and I are doing it’s insane. It’s insane. Like, just even thinking about the hate mail that I’ve gotten and you can see some of it in the comments on our agent post it’s. Like if you’re not in, if you don’t believe in yourself, no one else is going to believe in you. If you don’t believe in yourself enough to invest in your mental health and your ability to lead, um, it’s not going to happen. And so all this, you know, uh, is to say that you have the power. To make shit happen. You just have to believe in yourself and tap into that. Well, um, that is the power of the human mind, uh, and that will get you to a place I could see us talking about where you just won’t give up, just don’t give up, you know, and startups at the end of the day also are like it’s, um, an attrition game. People people give up. And so the startup dies. If you keep at it long enough, good things will happen. And like the opportunities, uh, you just create them by virtue of staying alive. Yeah. So that’s


Bryan: (00:53:36)   no, absolutely absolutely agree with that. I saw a quote somewhere saying that Cyrus don’t die after a funding runs out. They die after the passion runs out. You know, and I think that’s so true. I see like a lot of friends who just tell her just they’re just no longer passionate and they don’t want to just push through and grind through and ride the waves. Because if you want to look for solutions, solutions are everywhere. Um, but you have to be willing to like put yourself through that much pain again, to keep it going. So that’s the whole different story that we can talk about later.


Maggie: (00:54:11)  Absolutely love that advice. And both of you Quinn and Christine. Um, so for our listeners, where can they find out more about the both of you and quadrant?


Quinn: (00:54:26)  Oh, We have our H and posts that’s like in the queue somewhere. Uh, but like our company website quadrant i.com has our bio’s on there. And obviously talks about our services. Also talks a little bit about the mission. Um, the, the goal is to bring high quality eye care to everyone. And as part of that, for every purchase that’s made through us every time. So it uses our service. A dollar goes to lighthouse for the blind, which is a nonprofit that I’ve referred a lot of low vision patients to. And I think what they’re doing is incredibly important. So our website, uh, and then I, uh, I recently started a medium accounts. For our company it’s, um, quadrant i.medium.com. And that is where we talk a lot about our company culture and philosophy and how we want to really empower our team to take it to the next level, whether or not they stick with us in the longterm. But like we want to know, we really want to give people the skills and at the very least the confidence to, um, Need to leap to new Heights with us or start their own startup or join like their dream company, if it’s not waterline down the line. Um, and then I’m on Twitter, it’s Quinn IQ and, uh, it’s not really, I don’t really tweet anything directly related to ice stuff, but it’s fun. So you should follow me.


Maggie: (00:56:13)   Awesome. Interesting. Do you have any handles you’d like to share?


Quinn: (00:56:16)   Uh, no, I think it’s okay. Just find me on LinkedIn.


Maggie: (00:56:21)   Okay. Perfect. Well, thank you so much for I’m sharing Christina. When we will leave all those in the show notes of this podcast, it was amazing hearing your story today. We really appreciate you both for being on our planet.



Bryan: (00:56:34)   Yeah. They get you so much for your incredible story and your incredible success so far. I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds.


Quinn: (00:56:45)   Yeah, it’s, it’s been a great time and really an honor. And like, again, I will end by saying that, um, you can do great shit. Regardless of your background and, um, just having this community that we all share, like it makes a huge difference, you know? So, uh, thanks again. And we’ll see you around.


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