Category Archives: About

Napoleon Dynamite dance

This was from my time at school – a dance show where I made a surprise appearance as Napoleon Dynamite.

Funniest part of it to me was that the school was ~45% international students. The U.S. students thought it was hilarious, the internationals had no idea what was happening and complemented me after for my “interesting dance.”

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Me.

Quirky and animated, I’m proud to be odd.

My current tag line:  

Venture capitalist by day, start-up junkie by night  (who is suppose to be focusing on finishing an MBA)

Officially, I’m:

Raised in San Diego by an awesomely eccentric family, I’ve always been an overcommitted nerd that enjoyed experimenting with new things.  In high school I (proudly) did the dorkiest activities (~glee club, speech & debate, cross-country & track, quiz bowl, i^3…), was lucky to travel (up to ~45 countries today), sail a tall ship, and briefly become a food critic.

I first came east to attend MIT (which I survived with Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and Management Science majors), remained busy with activities (from dance and a cappella to leading the business club), and pursued a start-up with a group of friends: PressAudio.

I spent the next 5 years at Mars & Co. doing strategy consulting.  I loved the challenge, interesting clients, and my coworkers – really can’t complain.  Yet, eventually decided I couldn’t ignore my itch to actively own my destiny and headed to b-school at Wharton (a bit of a stalling pattern while I iterate on new concepts mixed with an excellent launch pad with unparalleled connections).

Today, I am trying to balance all of the above roles (unsuccessfully) and a fiancé who has tremendous patience.

In my free time (hah!), I dabble in:

– Soccer, Ski, Tennis
– Cooking (esp. desserts)
– Philosophy, Neurology, Astronomy

Why Venture Capital?

I’ve always loved to tinker.  I was a fairly imaginative kid and use to build Rube Goldberg-esc machines as a kid for fun.  As an undergrad at MIT, I would get together with a group of friends to discuss business ideas.  We called ourselves the ‘breadwinners club’ (who knows if there was some subconscious chauvinism in that, but I assure you, none was intended) and considered many concepts: mobile payments platform, couponing website, location services, etc.

We settled on an idea I had to deliver audio versions of print and digital articles based on a user’s preferences (think customized podcasts + content search + TTS engine).  We made some decent traction, were trying to raise a round but ended up folding the business after about a year.  Biggest regret, letting go of that team (Neal, Chris, Jason, Greg) – they were awesome.

I then sold my soul and went into strategy consulting.  Actually, very much enjoyed it – worked on exciting projects for big corporations.  5 years in, everything was going perfectly: good exposure to clients, rapid promotions, great teams…  But had the entrepreneurial itch and had to scratch or I would forever wonder.

(Silicon Valley will laugh at this next comment, saying it proves I’ve abandoned my west coast roots and become a true east-coaster) …so I went to business school at Wharton.  Honestly, having been through a year, I disagree with all the web chatter about the ‘uselessness’ of an MBA for an entrepreneur (future post?).  I had my heavy doubts, esp. about cost, but it’s been an awesome experience.  The speed of which I have been able to make solid connections to heavy hitters has been amplified by my involvement with the school and my classmates.

I wasn’t perfect, but most of my efforts were motivated by my potential goals (join a hot startup, start another company, or join a VC firm): became an officer in the venture capital club, entrepreneurship club, founders’ club; competed in the VCIC, SVCIC (went to international finals in both); worked sourcing deals for a West-Coast VC fund (Foundation Capital).  I’ve spent my first months as Co-Pres of the eClub trying to link the various resources and communities in and around the UPenn campus and accelerate the start-up activity.

The summer posed a difficult choice, but ultimately decided to take a VC job at Genacast Ventures and hack away at night on my current business ideas.  Still unsure which side of the table I’ll be on upon graduation…stay tuned!

Why Film?

 

Another general topic that I have even less qualifications to speak authoritatively on…

Ok, who doesn’t like the movies?

That being said, I try to stay away from the mainstream blockbusters, which, although I find to be exciting and visceral, seem generally void of any real emotional connection.  I tend to be drawn to foreign, independent and documentary films that don’t just tell you a story about characters & events, but slowly put you in uncomfortable & unfamiliar shoes.

Especially after graduating (correction: surviving) undergrad, I sunk my teeth into as many foreign films as I could get my hands on.  Being a consultant – the only time I had to spare was on countless flights where I was looking to unwind.

An avid Netflix user & evangelist (shout out to my buddies at Foundation Capital who were early investors) with about 2,000 movies watched & rated, I’ve doled out one too many recommendations to family and friends to add to their queue.

As you’ll see in following posts, I consider film a passion of mine and love to help others discover and experience new favorites.   I start by posting some of my favorite movies, but please don’t hesitate to recommend me some in return!

Why Food?

Like many self-proclaimed foodies – I enjoy a good meal…

Only slightly more compelling, while working in San Diego during college, I finagled my way into a role as a professional food critic.  A tricky proposition when I was not legally able to drink…

Originally, my love for food spawned from my parents, both well respected in the kitchen.  They had started a small catering business to help them through their graduate studies, and never stopped refining their craft.  Dad still spends a couple hours a day in the kitchen and is a long-standing member and past-president of the San Diego Wine and Food Society.  He never fails to entertain guests with a multi-course meal, menu and all.  Mom has always been the unsung hero with quite a few specialties of her own, yet not as mindful of the fanfare.

To make it more tangible (and tasty), dishes prepared during my recent visit home:

  • Panko-crusted abalone with a mango buerre blanc
  • Hand-made butternut squash, sage and amaretto pasta
  • Petit Filet Mignon stuffed with fresh basil & garlic
  • Apple-butternut squash tom kah gai soup
  • Blackberry and anise sorbet

All that being said, admittedly, I am no expert – please feel free to point out any inaccuracies found on my site.  Regardless, I hope this section gives you some ideas and inspires you to try something new or give me suggestions!

Caption note: (Lame pic was both from a time when I had more (and cooler) hair and when I was building my own restaurant review website in San Diego, the others are my parents)