Female tech startup founder Yinglian Xie has raised millions of dollars for her global security startup to make it safer to do business online.
Yinglian recently joined me for a special episode of the DealMakers Podcast. Our audience learned a lot about making the leap into entrepreneurship, and the full cycle of bringing your business to the US, and then expanding to raise money overseas and grow on a global scale.
Xie was born and raised in the beautiful Chinese city of Suzhou. Rich culture, with a history dating back 2,500 years.
While mostly an uneventful and peaceful place to grow up, it was also heavily focused on academics. Her parents always encouraged her studies and to excel in school. It was all of her classmates’ dream to grow up to get a Ph.D. and become scientists.
She learned to always seek the best of the best when it came to making decisions about what was next in life. Naturally, this meant choosing to go to the best university in China, Peking University.
While she had little interaction with computers in middle school, her principal and a relative prompted her to try a computer science class, and pursue that as a major. She fell in love with it.
When it came time to choose a school for her Ph.D. Yinglian said Carnegie Mellon University in the U.S. stood out as the best place to extend her graduate studies. It was an institution very proud of its pioneers in computer science. She got in and made the move.
On graduating Yinglian was faced with another fork in the road. Should she continue in academia and become a faculty member? Should she simply stay in research? Should she consider hands-on engagement in industry and do something completely new?
Yinglian says she felt she had been locked in the proverbial ivory tower of academics for long enough. So, looking for the best place to take her next step, she found Microsoft.
Microsoft had one of the best research labs. Xerox PARC was moving to Microsoft. Along with their pioneers in the computer science industry.
Real award winners, who would make inspiring colleagues and who would constantly challenge what was state of the art in an industry setting. Among these coworkers, Yinglian met co-founder, Fang Yu.
Among her top takeaways from working at giant Microsoft included the following.
1. Having the luxury of a great lab and freedom to explore ideas
They had an amazing lab. Yet, allowed Yinglian to pursue new ideas to challenge the best that was out there.
2. The challenges of having an impact in a big organization
While the freedom to explore ideas was great, Yinglian Xie also wanted to have an impact on her work. That’s always very hard to do in an organization of this size. You have to get buy-in from so many people. You have to collaborate with multiple teams and compete for the investment in the resources you need.
At best things can move very, very slowly.
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