Hosting Women in Tech Night Out

I had an incredible time hosting LA’s Women in Tech Night out! From the CEO of LA Film School to the Senior Partner of Ogilvy & Mathers, we had amazing women in attendance. The event was completely sold out and an absolute success. Here’s more on the event: http://www.begreat.co/events/37/la-women-in-tech-night-out-by-nanxi-liu

women in tech night out nanxi liu

 

LA Business Journal: 20 in their 20s

I’m very thankful to be included in LA Business Journal’s 20 in their 20s for 2014. My answers were summarized in the article, so I’ve included the uncensored version in this blog post :)

LABJ 20 in their 20s 2014

 

What led you to start your own company? A combination of rebellion, curiosity, and boredom led me to do startups. I started building things throughout my time in college. My friend introduced me to my now co-founder, David. I met David for about an hour to just chat and share ideas. I make decisions really quickly so afterwards, I did what I thought was the most logical next step: pack a U-Haul with all my stuff and move to Los Angeles to start Enplug with David.

Where did you get the startup money? My co-founders and I first funded everything from guilt-free and interest-free funds called our bank account and personal savings. After we built a prototype display running Enplug software and got customers to sign up, we went to entrepreneurs that we admired and asked them to give us money. They gave us $2.5 million.

What was the biggest challenge? Determining whether to build our internal applications for our teammates on iOS or android. We have very passionate developers on both sides so it ended with a compromise. We made everything web-based.

What was the most important lesson you learned? Work with people smarter than myself. In past companies that I’ve started, I worried when things broke because I knew I would have to fix it. With Enplug, I don’t worry when things break because there’s 34 other people there to fix it.

How many hours a day do you put in? 24 hours. I dream in Enplug. On days when I don’t dream about Enplug, I work about 17 hours. I’m single and don’t have kids so I think this is acceptable for now. My co-founders are in the same position so it’s easy to get really into work.

Does your youth lead to awkward situations, such as when you supervise older workers? The Enplug teammates that I work with who are older than me are always smarter and more experienced than me so I don’t need to supervise them.

Will you start another company? Absolutely. My co-founding team at Enplug work so well that we’ve already made a pact to work on our next companies together. We’re thinking wireless energy transferring, unless pCell does it first, or an alternative high school focused on entrepreneurship.

Could you ever work for someone else? I work for my teammates, clients, and investors every day. I love getting them results.

What do you do to relax? Work….out, but mostly just work. I play the piano and enjoy composing music. Netflix is also really good-I’m a big fan of Archer and Family Guy. A lot of us ride motorcycles so we’ll go racing down PCH.

Has it really already been 2 years?!

It’s been almost two years since I took a U-HAUL and moved my life from San Francisco to Los Angeles. I was going to start my next company with 4 people I had never met. One was a professional poker player; another built two top 10 apps as a college sophomore; another was a self-taught programmer who built a commodities trading management platform; and another was a tech guru who ran hacker sites. Today, David, Zach, Alex, and Navdeep are my co-founders, housemates, and best friends. We’ve grown to 35 teammates just in our LA headquarters. We now have teams in San Francisco, London, and Slovakia. Maybe we’ll get Enplug software up into space in the next two years.

Our design team made a lovely 60-second video (we’re the short attention span generation) about Enplug and our team. Enjoy!

 

Winning TechCrunch’s Startup Showdown

Nanxi liu techcrunchTechCrunch, AOL, and 4A teamed up to host Startup Showdown in the Beverly Hilton Hotel’s auditorium. There were 15 ad-tech startups selected from around the country. I was impressed by the caliber of the startups and had a great time meeting their CEOs. I think Enplug was one of the youngest companies there so I didn’t expect to win.

The format was a pitch and then Q&A from the four judges. Then, the top three startups were selected to do one more pitch against each other. The three finalists along with us were Brander and Paedae. Both have compelling products. The audience then voted for their favorite and Enplug came in the lead :)

Here were some of the fellow companies that I enjoyed learning about:

  • Stipple: Founded in 2010. Raised $14.4 million. Stipple’s image-based marketing technology stack detects, recognizes, and identifies the content inside images at scale and enables Advertisers and Publishers to apply interactive curated content, accurate native advertising solutions, and connects organically to commerce.
  • TripleLift: Founded in 2012. Raised $4 million. TripleLift’s templating technology uses high-throughput, low-latency to serve ads and relies on computer vision technologies to ensure each brand’s advertising content looks great on each different publisher’s look and feel.
  • Paedae. Founded in 2012. Raised $12 million. Paedae allows publishers to give game players physical and virtual rewards for reaching certain milestones, and for brands to present their ads as part of the rewards.
  • Blippar. Founded in 2010. Raised from Qualcomm Ventures. Blippar’s technology is bringing “lightning-fast image recognition and augmented reality to mobile advertising.”

I’m looking forward to seeing the successes of these fellow startups!

Dinner with the Prime Minister of Monaco

I was selected as 1 of 5 entrepreneurs from around the world for an all-expense paid trip to present at The Edge Monaco, Monaco’s new tech conference. The conference was incredibly well put on with speakers including Prince Albert.This was my first time to Europe-I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction!

I also felt incredibly lucky to have been able to hang out and explore the city with the founders of Innocent Drinks (the leading smoothie seller in Europe), who recently sold their company to Coca Cola. At the conference, I got to meet with the founder and CEO of EasyJet (the largest UK airline) who is a very funny and inspiring man.

Many thanks to the Monaco Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (MVCA) and the International University of Monaco for this incredible conference.

Dinner with the Prime Minister of Monaco at his house/mansion/palace

Dinner with the Prime Minister of Monaco at his house/mansion/palace

The incredible view from the balcony in my hotel room

The incredible view from the balcony in my hotel room

Fireworks playing at night right outside our hotel on the water!

Fireworks playing at night right outside our hotel on the water!

Standing on the balcony of the Prime Minister's home with a great view of Monaco behind me.

Standing on the balcony of the Prime Minister’s home with a great view of Monaco behind me.

Listening to Prince Albert speak at the conference.

Listening to Prince Albert speak at the conference.

The main conference room where the speakers presented

The main conference room where the speakers presented

Speaking on stage

Speaking on stage

Kairos 50 Award and Dance Party on the NYSE

It’s an honor to have Nanoly Bioscience be named in Kairo’s Top 50 companies started in college.

As part of the Kairos 50, we all got to present our companies on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange! Attendees included the Prince of Jordan, the CEO of AutoDesk, founder of Vonage, CEO of Forbes, and CEO of Johnson & Johnson. I feel so lucky to be able to connect with these people!

My friend Julia from Spain and I have dinner at our hotel

My friend Julia from Spain and I have dinner at our hotel

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My friends from UC Berkeley and I take a photo together on Day 1

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Officially part of the first rave on the NYSE. Live performance by European DJ, Madeon

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Ringing the NYSE opening bell

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With a fellow attendee, who dressed glamorously in orange, having a drink on the NYSE.

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Presenting my company on the NYSE floor

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The personalized trophy they gave to the Kairos 50 companies

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Volunteering at Lady Gaga’s Born Brave Bus Tour

As one of the youth advisory board members of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, we get to help out with her genius Born Brave Bus tour program. Before each Lady Gaga concert, there is an area set up outside for young people in the community to learn about clubs, activities, and mentoring groups nearby. I admire how much Lady Gaga cares about getting her fans involved with their community. This Born Brave Bus program features tents that showcase community organizations, a fun tour bus that people get to go inside and sign their names on the wall, and free food! Afterwards, the other advisory board members and I went to the concert!

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Named in “130 Young Entrepreneurs to Watch”

Woke up this morning with an email saying “Congratulations” from a friend. I had no idea what he was talking about so it was a nice surprise to learn about this list Under30CEO.com put out! This was really exciting! I don’t know if I really deserve this yet, but I’ll take it :)

Under30CEO

Hollywood Christmas Parade

My friend and her husband graciously invited me as a VIP guest to the Hollywood Christmas Parade. It was such a fun experience! The entire parade was very well put together. As a VIP, we got to hang out in the “Green Room,” where all the celebrities/performers relax and eat together. I met Kimberley Locke (who sings one of my favorite songs, Eighth World Wonder), the dog from The Artist, and Big Time Rush. The CEO of Associated Television International also took us on a personal tour and drove us up and down the red carpet in his golf cart. It was such an interesting experience to see how the “made for TV” parade was put together!

holiday parade

 

The cameras shooting the parade were right in front of us!

The cameras shooting the parade were right in front of us!

The dog from The Artist

The dog from The Artist

Taking a tour down the red carpet

Taking a tour down the red carpet

 

 

1st Place at Intel Global Challenge

Nanoly Bioscience, the biotech company I founded in college, won 1st place in Social Innovation at the Intel Global Challenge on November 5-8! Nanoly develops polymers that enable vaccines to survive without refrigeration. The week-long competition was held at UC Berkeley and the Intel Headquarters in Santa Clara. Nanoly was selected to represent the USA in this challenge. There were 28 teams competing representing countries from Russia to Mexico to Bulgaria to China.

As a student at UC Berkeley, I would see banners for the Intel Challenge around campus each year. I always dreamed of being a part of the competition and being selected to represent the US. It was such a joy and honor when I found out we were chosen earlier this year!

Thank you Intel for this incredible opportunity to meet fellow entrepreneurs from around the globe!

My badge + the competition booklet with descriptions of all the teams and bios of the judges.

Banner for the Intel Global Challenge at the Haas School of Business.

On stage presenting in the finals at Anderson Auditorium at UC Berkeley

We won 1st Place in Social Innovation and The Audience Choice award

Radio Interview On Women Entrepreneurs

I had a fantastic time with two fellow women CEOs recording a radio segment for CBS Radio News LA on women entrepreneurs. Our host is the incredibly smart and witty Ken Rutkowski. These two women have very cool businesses. One is a PR agency called The Make Agency. The other women’s company is fascinating-they provide a service to help you apologize. You can pay for certain packages depending on the level of “bad” the mistake you made was that you need to apologize for. This company is called The Apology Concierge.

Speaking at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

I had such a fun time speaking on this panel. My recommendations (not that I am qualified to give any advice) to anyone that wants to start their own company:

1. Team is everything. You can make a great company with a bad idea and a great team, but you can’t make a great company with a good idea and a bad team.

2. Make sacrifices. You need to be willing to make less money, sleep less, and have less free time.

3. You must love and be proud of what you’re building.

It was very nice to visit Berkeley again and see old friends!

Presented at the World Digital Expo in Las Vegas

Enplug got selected as one of the startups presenting at the World Digital Expo hosted at the Palms Resort in Las Vegas. It was a great time. We stayed in Palms Place on day 1, the Rio on day 2, and the Wynn on day 3.

The third day was where we had some fun. Enplug’s co-founder, David, was a professional poker player so it was incredibly entertaining watching him totally own it on the casino floor. Watching him play Blackjack was insane-I’ve never seen anyone play that fast!

We watched the show, Bite, which is at the Stratosphere. It’s a sexy show about vampires. It’s a fun show to attend with friends. They feature singing, dancing, and aerial acrobatics (my favorite).

 

Duke University’s Start-Up Challenge Grand Prize Winner!

Our teammate Ting-Ting receiving our huge check! Photo Credit: Sophia Palenberg / The Chronicle

The Duke University Start-Up Challenge has truly been a rewarding experience for our team. Our team was shouting and hollering with excitement when we won the competition out of 118 teams! We gained not only a nice cash reward, but significant mentorship. Many of our advisers on our company were introduced to us through the Duke Challenge. We give infinite thanks to Duke University for hosting such a phenomenal event and helping our company reach our milestones!