24 years old. Pretty. Smart. Ambitious. Empowering.
As much as I’d like to say that I’m describing myself, I’m describing Pocket (Yiqing) Sun, founder of SoGal.
I’ve met a few CEO’s in Los Angeles (there seem to be plenty who are younger than age 30) but what stands out about Pocket is that she was born and raised in China. Let me reword that for you: she was a straight up FOB and international student but that did not let her stop her from building SoGal, the fastest growing community and platform for young female entrepreneurs/founders (and investors) in Southern California, while pursuing her master’s degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at USC.
I had the chance to ask her some questions before it got too crazy before the upcoming conference. Did I mention she’s also the founder of a venture capital firm, SoGal ventures? It’s the first female led millennial venture capital firm for emerging diverse entrepreneurs in US and Asia.
Here’s what she had to say:
1) What ignited the spark in you to start SoGal?/How did the business come about?
I was tired of being one of the only women at all the startup and entrepreneurship events that I go to. All-male speakers, all-male judges, all-male pitch teams… I wanted to bring the women out and let them shine. To this day I’m still not sure if SoGal is a business yet. It’s 100% volunteer-based; we charge less than 1/10 of what a normal conference would charge; 85% of our events are free; we don’t take commission or equity in startups that we have helped… But it’s been very rewarding.
2) How do you motivate yourself? Are there certain habits (like working out, meditating) that you do to stay creative/passionate?
I’m a workaholic. I work at least 14 hours a day all the time. Sometimes (or a lot of the times) it gets difficult and stressful, but I know this is what I’ve chosen to do. Hot yoga helps to give me moments of peace.
3) What have you learned the hard way?
Asking for money is freaking hard. Everyone will tell you “oh my god you’re doing such an incredible job and I love your mission”, but they just wouldn’t put money behind it. I’m having a hard time getting sponsorships for our second conference even though it has a kick-ass program and speaker lineup. Hopefully everything will work out. Fingers crossed!
People will hate you no matter how pure your intentions are. I’ve come across several women who see me as competitors and tried to bring me down. They have their own women’s communities which are supposed to support women, but they want to be the largest or the only group out there. What’s the point? Aren’t we supposed to help each other towards a big mission? It’s just really sad 🙁
4) What is something someone would be surprised to know about your first year of SoGal?
SoGal is only 9 months old and we ready have 2,200+ members in our community from 20+ countries.
5) The coolest thing about being an entrepreneur is:
You can dream as big as you want.
6) The hardest part about being an entrepreneur is:
You can’t quit because the world is counting on you.
7) Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most? or, what person do you really admire? I like companies that have been able to create a huge following, such as Apple and SoulCycle.
8) A book that you’d recommend: Business of Venture Capital
9) Something you’re currently inspired by, wanting to try, or intrigued to learn more about: SoulCycle
10) When hiring/looking for someone to work with/or invest in, what do you look for?
Passion, personality, drive, initiative, commitment.
11) Fill in the blanks: In business i am fierce in life I am docile.
I’m inspired by her tenacity and can’t wait to attend the conference the weekend of the 25th, to experience it for myself.
If you’re in the Los Angeles or SoCal, attend SoGal’s Startup Bootcamp (or lean start up challenge) if you’re interested in anything entrepreneurial.
Use the promo code SG for 20% off a 3 day celebration of entrepreneurship, tech, startup and diversity. Join the party to make amazing friends, learn new skills, create fabulous solutions, discover hot startups and gain powerful inspirations!
You’re welcome. 🙂
Sep 25-27, 2015
12575 Beatrice St, Los Angeles CA 90066
In the meantime if you want a dose of inspiration, read a LinkedIn article Pocket wrote.
Connect with her on Twitter, @pocketysun, @iamsogal, @sogalventures, or visit iamsogal.com and sogalventures.com! You’ll want to, as I can just see that this it the beginning of an amazing life of entrepreneurship for Pocket.
And of course find me on instagram for more of my LA adventures!
“It’s imperative to realize that it is not necessary to try to get rid of fear in order to succeed. Successful people have fear, Successful people have doubts, Successful people have worries. They just don’t let these feelings stop them. Unsuccessful people have fears, doubts, and worries, then let those feelings stop them. – T.Harv Eker