Yao Huang’s TED Talk begins with a simple decree: If you don’t like the way the table is set, upset the table. That’s just what Huang did when she founded the Hatchery, a New York venture collaboration forum focusing on cooperation over competition. The company works mostly with data-driven startups geared for business-to-business sales.
With many business ventures in the New York area, organizations often work against each other, Huang says. The Hatchery is breaking this mold by fostering an environment in which innovation can thrive. As a result, it forges bonds with entrepreneurs and investors who trust them as an impartial forum.
Huang says she changes up the process of getting investor funding for startups by finding a customer first. When she and her team find a customer who agrees to buy the product, they build a team around that who then builds the product. The completed product triggers new customers, revenues, and investors, which lead to sales, a marketing team, and a full operations staff.
“We rearrange the puzzle pieces to make it a little easier and bring on a lot more people to help,” Huang says. “We start the process with a clear path to revenue.”
Huang will share the Hatchery’s approach to successful entrepreneurship at the Princeton Startup Grind meeting Thursday, September 17, at Tigerlabs, 252 Nassau Street, at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $16.59, free for Tigerlabs members. The general admission price is $15, plus a $1.59 fee. For more information, visit www.meetup.com/Startup-Grind-Princeton/ or call 609-285-3420.
The Hatchery, which collaborates with universities, is open to new ideas and research to help data scientists and young engineers build companies, Huang says.
Founded in 2007, the Hatchery has helped more than 350 early stage companies through various phases of maturity with a focus on product, business, revenue, and funding. The Hatchery was built on the principle that all technology companies have the right to access business experts and leading-edge information. It works with startups from ideation, development, sales, and funding to exit. The Hatchery works closely with foreign consulates and trade and investment offices of countries from all over the world. “You can think of us as a cofounder,” Huang says.
Their services include several components, including pitch presentations, funding, and technology. Pitch presentation includes working with presenters to understand what they have to say and how best to say it. Funding is working with the company in answering initial important questions. Are you fundable? Is your company scalable, poised for growth, or a lifestyle company? The technology aspect is all about providing technology solutions based on the startup company’s needs.
The Hatchery Incubator is where the work gets done. It develops new companies or projects by bringing together the startups, partnering companies, and investors. Scientificidly and Media Stealth focus on data analytics, Fintech Stealth and Humabi focus on finance; and Predictabe.ly focuses on media and publishing.
As mentioned, the initial goal is to find the first customer, then other early customers, and then build a pipeline for future customers. The startup founders are united with serial entrepreneurs, senior engineers, and data scientists. The Incubator works with the startup team to build the product using domain experts at the beginning to ensure good product-market fit and managing the technology development. Working with a network of investors, the Hatchery supplies funding for the project.
The Hatchery’s goal for its startup companies is to line it up with wants and needs of companies interested in acquisition. With its influencer network of more than 20 advisors from portfolio companies, professionals offer guidance based on their expertise and the needs of the Startup founder.
The Hatchery offers about 50 events each year aimed to connect startups with investors and experts in their field.
Are You Serious?: A tough, fast-paced pitching event including presentation, Q&A, and delivery. Pitchers can expect honest responses about their start-up on marketing, finance, technology, business, and presentation. This event is not just a product demonstration. Think of this process as an experience of tough love where you will learn your strengths and weaknesses.
“You might get your face slapped, but if you are headed down the wrong path, wouldn’t you want to know this early on so you can take steps to prevent failure? “ asks Huang. “After this event, pitchers come back and thank us, especially if they were going down the wrong road.”
The Gauntlet: focuses on particular “hot” vertical markets such as digital media, gaming, financial services, and others. The process involves presentation, grilling from the panel, and audience Q&A.
Hatch Match: Investor and entrepreneurs gatherings. Entrepreneurs can sign up for five-minute, one-on-one meetings with investors and partake in general networking.
Live @Hatchery: A speaker series in a fireside chat environment. Features the “hard to reach guys” who will cover topics you aren’t likely to find from a Google search.
Wonder Women: A curated gathering of successful women supporting the success of each other.
Huang, who was born in Taiwan and grew up in Edison, upset the table of her own career path not long after graduating from Rutgers University with a doctorate in pharmacy. It had been expected by her father, a printer, and her mother, a beautician, that she would earn a graduate degree and be successful in the professional world. After graduation, she landed a job in the pharmaceutical industry, where she was a good fit with her degree and work ethic. But she found herself restless about the long stretch of time it took to get things done. Meanwhile, she felt a calling to strike out on her own.
“I wanted to run my own business,” she said, “and I knew technology was the way of the future.”
Huang left her job and in 2003 co-founded Gigapixel Creative, a digital agency building technology solutions and strategies for corporations, startups, and advertising agencies, which is led today by co-founder Joey Kilrain. Huang eventually left the company and in 2007 founded the Hatchery.
In addition to her role at the Hatchery, Huang is a partner in Pereg Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm. She is advisor and deal maker to the governments of 10 countries throughout North America, Europe, and Asia assisting foreign technology companies in their expansion to the U.S. market.
Huang was named by Forbes as one of 11 women at the center of New York’s digital scene, by Beta Beat as one of 25 Women Driving New York’s Tech Scene, and as one of Techweek’s 100 most influential tech leaders. She also traveled with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Indonesia in 2011 as a member of the U.S. State Department Global Entrepreneurship Program Delegation. Huang’s work has been featured in Fortune, Inc Magazine, Reuters, and at TED-X, Broadway, and other media.
As someone who is passionate about giving a hand up to women, children, and the disadvantaged, she heads a project called Win4Causes, a for-profit venture creating positive social impacts worldwide. Some examples include building preschools, providing HIV medicines, providing scholarship funds and reducing homelessness.
“Everyone thinks you can plan your life, but I don’t think you can do that. Things change,” says Huang.
“Whatever you want to do, do it. Don’t do something just for money. If you’re young, take risks. Do something more than be part of our consumerism society. If you are living in Princeton or studying at the university, you are privileged to be comfortable and educated. You have a responsibility to do something more, something that can give meaning to the lives of others.”