Taking Ahold of Future Binoculars — Lunch with David Chang (MindWorks Ventures) & Aaron Lee (Dash Living)
Sometimes the most meaningful and inspiring conversations happen over casual meals. The Time Auction Blog is a snippet of our meetings with people who have found passion in their life and career.
We’ve got a pair this time — a venture capitalist and an entrepreneur. Among our hundreds of meetings, we’ve heard what investors look for in founders and vice versa. But having both in the same room at the same time, bouncing ideas off each other, was a first for us!
On one side, we had David Chang, the venture capitalist in this story. By day, he’s the Managing Partner of MindWorks Ventures. And by night? Well, he insists on keeping his schedule to two things: (1) working out and (2) spending time with his newborn son.
On the other side, we had Aaron Lee, founder of Dash Living and BLACKDOORS. While his focus is currently in hospitality and housing, Aaron is also an investor himself — being one of the first people to invest in uBuyiBuy.com (acquired by Groupon in 2010), Mydress.com, Snapask and Time Auction (thanks for the support Aaron!).
The State of Venture Capital in Hong Kong
In the past few years, Hong Kong has seen a lot of growth within the startup scene. According to the local startup community WHub, the city went from 998 startups in 2014 to 2,800+ in 2018.
But despite this exponential growth, venture capital has not gained as much traction even though it was VC that fueled innovation in the United States. As a second generation venture capitalist, David saw first-hand the impact of VC in the 70s-80s in Silicon Valley — seeing California turn into what he calls a “ranch” into what we now know as “Silicon Valley” — and finds it strange that Hong Kong hasn’t fully explored the potential of VC yet.
“What all [Hong Kongers] know about is real estate or buying stocks, but venture capital as an asset class has defined the world for the last 30–40 years, but that’s not the case in Hong Kong.“
With this in mind, if you’re smart enough to approach a VC to fund your own startup and get ahead of the competition, Aaron has this piece of advice:
“Whether it’s pitching to a VC, or a landlord — the first thing is to really believe in your product in a way that it’s so good that you just give before you take.“
Discipline, discipline, discipline.
One thing the two completely agreed on was the need for discipline and purpose.
“You have to find greater purpose in what you’re doing because if you don’t, you’re just as good how much money your next employer pays you to leave your current one.“
In response, David told us about his daily routine. He takes all his meetings in the morning if possible and after work, around 6:30 to 7:30 pm, you’ll see him at the gym. After that, he rushes home to make it for playtime with his baby before going to sleep.
“Discipline. Everything in your life — career, family, health — comes from discipline. For your career, you need the discipline to persevere. Keep going and achieve what you want. Rome wasn’t built in a day.“
Even when colleagues ask him to go to Happy Hours after work, he usually says no because his schedule is fixed. Small things add up, and when one isn’t disciplined, your schedule will keep deteriorating. A few days of not following your routine will turn into weeks or even months, so it’s important to take control of your time.
Maintaining the 3 Pillars of Life
David considers the three pillars of life to be social, physical and mental. Without a healthy balance of these, it can get difficult to get through the day. Knowing this, both David and Aaron take high priority in exercising. David says:
“If you take care of your body, you take care of your mind.”
And Aaron agrees. Last year, he had to go in for shoulder surgery and he only had to stay in the hospital for a day, then took off his sling in 2 days. Going for a checkup 2 weeks later, his doctor said that he’s never seen anyone recover from that kind of surgery so quickly.
“That’s because I’ve invested in my health. I’ve built a very good foundation for the last ten years. Surgery like that didn’t affect my work at all. “
After Aaron said this, David laughed and said that Aaron’s made him want to go workout at that moment.
When asked what they wish people would do more:
David: Go home, sit down and think about what the world will be like in 10–20 years later. Imagine how the society is, and imagine how you see yourself in that world. From that point, you should work backward, and start planning that endgame today.
Aaron: I encourage everyone to think about what it is that you’re doing now, or the company that you’re working for. You have to be a part of something bigger, it’s not just about yourself. You have to be able to draw that connection every day. You have to be able to say that you love your life. If you don’t love it, you’re not doing very well.
Thank you so much to David and Aaron for helping us raise 83 volunteer hours and all the volunteers who dedicated their ours for the greater good! We would also like to personally thank photographer Charles from KaChick and our venue sponsor the Hive Wan Chai! To see our next experiences, head to our Time Auction website!