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Yan Fan, CTO/Co-Founder of Code Chrysalis, is changing the way software engineers are being trained in Asia and advocating for innovation through diversity & inclusion.
Code Chrysalis is a software engineering bootcamp in Tokyo helping individuals gain coding skills and make career changes, and helping Japanese companies upskill their teams. Prior to Code Chrysalis, Yan worked as a software engineer in Silicon Valley.
Code Chrysalis is Yan's second coding bootcamp; she co-founded and served as CTO of a coding school in Jordan helping refugees in 2016.
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\Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, My name is Bryan.
And my name is Maggie
And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals.
We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
Maggie: (00:00:23) Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Asian hustle network podcast. Today, we have a very special guest with us. Her name is Yan fan and is the CTO and co-founder of code Chrysalis. And it's changing the, the way software engineers are being trained in Asia and advocating for innovation through diversity and inclusion. Code Chrysalis is a software engineering bootcamp in Tokyo, helping individuals gain coding skills and make career changes and helping Japanese companies upskill their teams. Prior to code Chrysalis, Yan worked as a software engineer in Silicon Valley code. Chrysalis is Yan. Second coding bootcamp. She co-founded and served as CTO of a coding school in Jordan helping refugees in 2016. And welcome to the show.
Yan: (00:01:08) Thanks for having me. Hi.
Bryan: (00:01:11) Yeah, we're super excited to have you on. So I want to dive deeper into who you are. He tells about your upbringing and where you grew up.
Yan: (00:01:18) Oh, yeah. So I was, uh, born in China, grew up in Seattle. So I actually moved to Seattle when I was three years old. Um, or I got moved. Um, I got moved to Seattle when I was three years old. Um, my upbringing was really strange. So, uh, my, I mean, you know, typical. Asian immigrant parent upbringing. But also my mom was a, um, in, in China, she, she was a professional dancer for a little while. And so when we moved to the us, um, you know, my mom was working all kinds of odd jobs, but what really stuck was being a Chinese language and Chinese dance teacher.And so growing up, I was always performing. So she had like a dance group, um, and she taught. Uh, other girls how to dance. Um, and so, uh, every many, many times a year we would have performances all over. So I sort of grew up like on stage performing, um, And I also got a lot of, um, experience with like, uh, just stage stuff, right? Like stage management, um, what to do with an audience, uh, and seeing like what to do with, uh, what to do if like, if something goes wrong, you know, things like that. So, um, it was. It was an interesting kind of stagey upbringing, I think. Um, also because of my mom's sort of strange background as a dancer, and then she, after she was a dancer, she went to university. Um, she, I think was a bit different from the other Chinese moms, um, in that, uh, I never felt like I had to do. One, you know, I had to go down one career path. I had to be a doctor or whatever. Um, I think she gave me a lot of freedom growing up to try different things. And she still held me to a high standard, but, um, I think she was less of like a tiger mom than what I saw my other friends had. So I'm very grateful for that, for that freedom.
Maggie: (00:03:23) Awesome. Amazing. Yeah. Really glad to hear that. I think a lot of, um, Asian kids, they grow up with parents who are like tiger moms who really, you know, make them, enforce them to become a doctor, a lawyer, but, or engineer or engineer, but really glad to hear that you had that experience where you were able to, you know, have freedom. And what was it like, you know, making that transition from China to Seattle?
Yan: (00:03:46) You know, I don't remember too much of it. I think I was still quite young. Um, so, uh, I do remember going through a period where I really did not like being Chinese. Right. So, um, my name is, you know, I don't have like, uh, an English name. And so, you know, I went through a period where I would ask people to call me. Different like random English names of like girls at school that who I liked. So I'd like take their names and, uh, and you know, going through periods where I refuse to speak Chinese, where I, um, you know, Wanted Lunchables, uh, you know, things like that and wanted Lunchables to take to school. Um, but I think because of the Chinese dancing that I did and, um, you know, I, my mom, uh, taught Chinese, so I was still going to Chinese school and all of that, I think maybe around the age of like, I dunno, like nine or 10. 10 or maybe a little bit older, something changed. And so I went from, um, Really sort of like disliking my heritage, really embracing it. And I think my mom had a lot to do with that as well. So, um, I remember in elementary school we had like a Chinese culture day where my mom came in and taught, you know, my classmates about Chinese culture. So she was pretty hands-on and in that sense, making sure that I didn't forget. Um, and it's been incredibly useful. I mean, I remember, um, Being really annoyed that I had to go to Chinese school and take Chinese classes. And then, um, you know, as I reached high school and university, I realized that like, this was such a gift, like being able to speak Chinese, um, being able to grow up bilingual and speak it well and read it. Um, Yeah, it was, it was a major gift. Um, and I remember telling, I remember like being the precocious kid, telling all of my friends, like you should learn Chinese from your parents, you know, like all of my immigrant friends and it'd be like, no, like that's, you know why I don'tsee any need. And then, you know, we hit university and they're taking Chinese classes. Yeah. Um, right. Uh, and so I always felt like, Oh my goodness. I was, I was, I may have been wrong about many things, but I was right about this one.
Bryan: (00:06:14) And that story is so relatable to you because I feel like that's a common theme with us growing up in America or any Western Western country. It's like. We always have a feeling of wanting to D associate yourself with our culture based upon how our peers live, how we want to be viewed. Um, but the one that I really love about your story and very similar with a lot of people out there. So there's a movement right now. And we're only onto your heritage or proud of who we are. Want to learn heritage.
Yan: (00:06:45) Yeah. You all are at the forefront of that.
Maggie: (00:06:49) Yeah. I definitely relate to that story as well. I think when I was growing up, like if I were to ever argue with my mom in front of my friends, like I would be so afraid to talk Chinese. In front of my friends, you know, but I grew to really embrace the culture and yeah, just really loved that story.
Bryan: (00:07:04) Funny story about that. I grew up with a high school, like 99% of Asian people, all the wealthy people in my high school were Japanese and Koreans and the hierarchies at my high school. If you were like first-generation Vietnamese or first-generation immigrants, you're often discriminated against. So the ironic part about me is I never owned my own miscarriage, but I always been proud to be Asian. This is very interesting.
Yan: (00:07:50) Um, yeah. And so, you know, when you were going into college, you went to Dartmouth college. Um, and how was your experience there and making that move from Seattle to New Hampshire
Maggie: (00:08:02) Um, yeah. And so, you know, when you were going into college, you went to Dartmouth college. Um, and how was your experience there and making that move from Seattle to New Hampshire
Yan: (00:08:02) man? I got, I got suspended from university was how it went. Um, so, uh, yeah, Dartmouth was, uh, Dartmouth was eyeopening, I think. Um, it was such a culture shock, uh, you know, Um, getting well acquainted with all the fancy East coast prep schools. Right. And realizing like exactly how casual the wealth was. Right. Um, and yeah, you know, I would see people like. Like, you know, throw their like North face jackets on the ground. And I feel like, Oh my God, that's like a $200 jacket. I'm like thinking to myself like, Oh my God, these, these kids are like, they just like are they're so ungrateful. Um, it was a massive culture shock. And I think Dartmouth actually. I mean, I don't, I don't remember any of my economics classes I took on because I, you know, they, they told me that I needed to find a job and that was like a good major to have to break into finance. Um, You know, Dartmouth really taught me about white people. If I can be totally right. Flint, like Dartmouth really taught me about white people. It taught me how to, cause I, you know, the schools that I went to, um, Seattle is a pretty diverse place. So, and, and I think like, Also in terms of like economics, like, it was pretty like middle, like lower middle class, middle class. Right. And like, um, so, uh, this is the first time that I was surrounded by that much wealth. Um, and like a particular type of white person, I think, like, you know, um, And so that was, it was really just like learning how to navigate and learning what they were interested in and how to make conversation with them. Like that was what Dartmouth taught me. Yeah. I know. Like,
Bryan: (00:10:02) I'm still missing that ability. I went to a college study, double university of Chinese immigrants.
Maggie: (00:10:10) That's good that you have that experience. So, because like, you know, Brian and I grew up in California and so he's from LA I'm from ESSA. So we grew up with mostly Asian people and I feel like I still have a little bit of trouble communicating with white people or like, you know, doing business together, you know? It's yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
Yan: (00:10:28) You know, I had, I had a friend in university, uh, an Asian friend confide to me that like, she was just like scared of white people. Like she just like didn't know and just like, you know, like 50% white. Um, so yeah, it was, it was an eye opening experience I would think, I would say. And, and, and also kind of taught me a lot about. Um, sort of like perceptions of like elitist hierarchies, you know, because it was really clear what the hierarchy was at Dartmouth in terms of like the jobs that you would get. And this is never anything that I really thought deeply about, but, you know, at Dartmouth it was like investment banking, consulting trading, and then the hierarchy, the hierarchy was like, you had to be front office. Right. So like, You know, beaten finding like an HR position or even like, thinking that something like HR or accounting or something else was like, uh, something that you wanted to do with like a huge no-no. It was like, you can only be an investment banker, a trader, a consultant, and like anything else below that, um, the message that I got was like, it was. Beneath you like, it was just like looked down upon. And so I, that like really sort of pigeon-holed us into like this level of like stuff, this like group of jobs. And so I felt like at Dartmouth, I was. I really liked drank the Kool-Aid in some ways where I was like, yes, I must go get one of those fancy jobs and not really like exploring at all, any of the other career options. Right. And so what ended up happening with that mindset is like, you end up. You know, getting one of those jobs and realizing it really sucks, but yeah, maybe you're like on top of like the proverbial, like food chain that you've been, you know, like you've been indoctrinated by, but then you realize like, it really sucks. And like, maybe like there's these other. Positions and jobs that you would be happier doing and are also important. Like that was the other thing, like realizing like the people at the top or at the front office, aren't like, you know, they're, they're important, but they're not like the be all end all in the company. Right. And so I think that there were a lot of things that I learned and had to unlearn at Dartmouth. Um, Yeah. And then I also like struggled, I think, um, academically I really struggled there. Uh, I did not like my majors. Um, I was incredibly bored by economics. I was always falling asleep in classes. Always asleep. It was economics. It was like, I like reading about certain things, but like being a full-blown economics major was just like such a snoozer. Um, and I also, yeah, he got suspended. Um, I got into all your fights. Yeah, I am. I got into a fight. It was not for academic reasons, even though I was a crappy student, I never liked broke any rules. Um, but, uh, yeah, I got into a fight. My. Sophomore year. Um, and, uh, it was, I punched the president of one of the largest sororities on campus and yeah. And, uh, and it happened. In a fraternity. It was like they, the fraternity and the sorority had like a joint, like cocktail thing, party thing that I crashed because I had a few friends in the sorority. And so I punched their president and it also turns out that like her, the presidents. Boyfriend was the president of the fraternity that I was at. And so like, all the eyewitnesses were like completely against me. Right. Cause they were like sisters and brothers. Um, but yeah, I got, uh, I got kicked out of Dartmouth for a year. Wow. Oh, so I, I, I actually am a fifth year senior.
Maggie: (00:14:50) That is a story to tell
Bryan: (00:14:51) it doesn't matter what you graduate when you graduate in Madison, what you did in your life.
Yan: (00:14:58) Yeah, no, no regrets. I mean, looking back and maybe we should've punched her harder and I dunno, just make it worth it. You know, if I knew, if I knew I was going to get. I was going to get suspended for a year. I should've maybe punched her harder
Bryan: (00:15:10) fall. Never the answer guy.
Maggie: (00:15:12) I'm just kidding, but she's looking at it from a good perspective. And so, you know, when you were well, after you graduated, you went into finance, right. Um, what was your experience at that first job? And how did you know? It sounds like it wasn't a good fit for you. How did you know it wasn't a good fit for you? And like, how did you kind of.
Bryan: (00:15:35) How'd you choose Singapore too. And how'd your parents take you moving back to Asia essentially? Yeah.
Yan: (00:15:40) How did I know it was the wrong fit. Like the first day I fell asleep, I fell asleep so often on the job. Like it was just like the dollar shit ever. Um, uh, so the, the cool thing about the, how was it? I was in. Commodities. So I was like part of their management trainee program where they had you rotate all over like different offices around the world, which was like probably the coolest part, getting to go and see a bunch of places. Right. And they would, you know, fly you everywhere. Um, and so I was in the U S for, uh, probably like, I don't know, a few months I was in. You're I was in Switzerland for like, if you weeks. And then I was also in, um, they, they placed me in Singapore, like more permanently, um, Yeah, it was, uh, that was the, the travel was like really the only perk. And that was like, what sort of kept me, um, cause you know, I got to, you know, I, I didn't get to travel at all. Um, you know, growing up, obviously we didn't have any money. Right. Um, and. Uh, you know, occasionally we'd go back to China, but that was just like a very rare occasion as well. And then suddenly I'm in a job where I'm in, like, you know, Thailand one weekend and then in like Brazil, the next. Right. So it was pretty cool in that sense. Um, My mom has always been pretty chill. So she was never the Asian mom who was like, you need to stay, you know, here with me or, or else, you know, I'm gonna, I'm going to go crazy. Um, so my mom was always like really open to me traveling. Um, so she never had any issues with that. Um, But yeah, the, the job, uh, yeah. Can I say I was a pretty terrible employee too? Cause I just like, I, I think I tried a bit to like, Try to understand what I had to do, but it was so boring that like, my brain just refused to work, you know, it's just like, I'll be like reading the same things over and over, over again. But I'm just like, what's the point? Like my brain's like, what's the point of this? Like, you know, like this stuff is. Dull as hell. And you don't like this. So like, I refuse to learn this. And so it was a constant struggle with my brain to like, try to force it to, you know, work. And I just felt really stupid on the job too. Like. You know that these calculations aren't that difficult. And like, you know, there's, there's people who I don't think are much smarter than me doing this stuff, so what's holding me back. Um, and I, yeah, and I think that's what really, you know, from pretty early on. I was thinking like, how do I get out of this job? Right? Yeah. Um, so yeah, I mean, if you're, yeah, if you're for those listening, if you're falling asleep at your job, if you, if things just like don't make sense, it's probably that you're just not a good fit for the job. Right? Like you want to be in a role where. You know, you're, you're really passionate or at least you're, you're really excited to learn and I wasn't excited to learn at all.
Maggie: (00:19:01) Yeah. I think what's really interesting about your story is like, I think a lot of people have that problem. They are not interested in the work that they do. If they're at a nine to five, right. You could either have two different perspectives. You could be like, maybe I'm just not a good employee. And I'm just, I don't like to do work or maybe. Field, isn't something that I'm passionately interested in. And it seems like the latter is what you were thinking of because you did transition into tech after that. So can you talk about that transition and what really brought you into tech?
Bryan: (00:19:34) It's also talking about your first entrepreneur and venture as well.
Yan: (00:19:38) Oh yeah, yeah. Um, so my first entrepreneur adventure, I mean, it happened when I was still working in commodities. Um, and, uh, It was really just like the, the type of stuff that you see everyone doing like, Oh, I have an app idea, or I want to do this. And then you kind of do like the basics of like thinking of what the website's going to look like, finding a name, like creating a logo. So I did that a few times, um, when I was working, uh, in, in this was in Singapore, um, and, uh, probably the furthest. That I got, which was looking, you know, looking back not very far, um, was working on like this FNB, this food and beverage startup, um, with a friend of mine who was actually doing his MBA in Singapore. Um, and, uh, we had, you know, I think, yeah, it was his idea. Um, and we were working on it together, but you know, it wasn't really going very far. Um, and I think, you know, I think I sort of like just fell out of interested with it. Right. So even though it might be like a, uh, it might've been a good idea. Like if, if you're also not interested in it, like it's, it's not worth pursuing it. Right. So I just never felt like I had enough, um, enough going on to like really quit my job and pursue something. Um, in, in terms of like, How I made the transition out of tech, um, you know, I had all of these startup ideas and they always required some form of tech and that was something that I had no idea about. Right. Um, and I was also seeing a lot of friends on, you know, with like these fancy finance jobs, um, you know, Leaving to go to Silicon Valley. And so I thought like, Oh my God, Oh my goodness. I, I don't know if I can compete with the people coming, you know, leaving like Goldman Sachs and McKinsey. Right? Cause those are like much fancier names than what I have on my resume. And you know, we'd be competing for the same jobs. So maybe I'll think of some other sort of way to make my way into tech. Um, And so that's when I stumbled upon, maybe I'll try to learn how to code. And this was not too long ago. This is 2014, but you know, the world was very different looking at the time. Uh, so, you know, coding, boot camps, weren't really a thing then. Um, they weren't very well known. Um, tech was only just, I think, starting to get really hot. So this was like, when. Uber and Airbnb, like first started like really gaining traction. Like I remember Uber starting up and, and being like, I don't think that's gonna work out in Asia or something like that. Right. And being terribly wrong about that. Actually. No, I was kind of right. I mean, they didn't work out very well here. Um, so, uh, yeah, so, um, I started learning how to code. Um, and initially it, it took a while because coding is very boring in the beginning. Uh, so I started learning how to code and eventually. Um, found out about these coding boot camps from, from several different people, actually. Um, so, uh, were like two or three, two or three people who were like, I heard about these things and it might be something that you can look into as well. Um, and so I. Ended up like, you know, using that as, uh, using that as like a target, right? Like I'm gonna know enough code to get into one of these coding schools and I'm going to try to get into the best one or what I believe to be the best one. And I'll be a software engineer and you know what, like that'll be better, you know? Um, I'll, I'll actually know how to make some things and I'll know a bit more. And, um, I never let myself think about what if I don't. Make it, I think I always just assumed that I would be able to make the transition, which I think is really, really rare. Cause I think most people have doubts about whether or not they'd be able to succeed. Um, leaving my job was a bit terrifying, but I think, you know, a friend of mine had asked me, do you like what your boss does?
And when I was working in commodities, I was like, no, my boss is a terrible life. I don't think his life is great at all. It seems not so wonderful. He seems like a broken human being. So I do not want to be my boss at all. And so my friend was like, well, then you know exactly what your future is going to look like. If you stay at your job. Okay. Well, I was like, yeah, I guess I do. So the only way that I can get out of that is to just do something a little bit more risky, um, and change, you know, where I am and it works out great. Um, Yeah. I mean, the day that I quit, I had the biggest smile on my face. Um, I walked out of that building and I literally just like messaged everyone I knew and was just like, like I quit. Um, Yeah, it was, it was an amazing feeling. I don't think I've like, yeah, it's been awhile since I've like, felt that much like weight, you know, off my shoulders. It was pretty incredible. Like, I think mentally, I just knew that like, okay, like, you know, like this is, this is a new period now. Um, So, yeah, I, you know, I still have some, um, some former colleagues who, you know, I would commiserate with, cause they were like, I don't really care about this. I don't really like this or whatnot. And they were always really afraid to do what I did to quit and, you know, Their lives have not changed very much. Right. Um, versus like, I feel like in the last five, six years, you know, I quit in 2014. Um, you know, the past five, six years for me have been just like so unexpectedly. Great. Um, And, you know, there have been definitely ups and downs, but they've been ups and downs and things that I've cared about. Right. Like I liked being a software engineer. I really like, you know, code Chrysalis and running this company. Um, and so it, it feels like I'm on just like a different world compared to them.
Maggie: (00:26:18) Yeah. Yeah. Amazing. I love how you put that story together. Cause I feel like a lot of people who are thinking of whether or not they should make the jump and are questioning their sanity at the job that they're in, feel like they know the answer already, but they're just looking for it from someone else. And for you to have someone to ask. Do you like where your manager is at making you think? Like, I don't want to be that person, you know, kind of hits a light bulb.
Bryan: (00:26:41) I wish someone told me that I left my job. I'm just like, Oh, I can't do anything about this podcast is I am the software. I was a software engineer. And I agree with, you know, instead of having like finance hierarchy, we have engineering hierarchies, right. Classes like. Bro. You're going to be a software tester. Y you know, you can only be a software engineer or architect or AI related other one that you're below the tier. But obviously I got older and worked the industry for myself at least 10 years. I'm like, Every, every quadrant with software is hard. Like he's no needs Hadley, you know?
Yan: (00:27:26) Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. I mean, people look like, I remember, you know, people saying mean things about dev ops and I was like, yeah, but I don't know if I'd be able to do dev ops it's it's like so difficult. Um, yeah, exactly. And, and you know what, like. I think like the Dartmouth indoctrination just like really stuck with me because when I was also making the switch, um, into like getting out of finance, I was looking at like, okay, what's at the top of the food chain in Silicon Valley, this is software engineers. Right. So I was like, okay, I think I'll, I'll, I'll like aim to that. It ended up well, but I think it took just a lot of years for that Dartmouth indoctrination that like, sort of like elitist thinking to get out of my system.
Maggie: (00:28:10) Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So as a first time founder, when you had just quit your job at that time, what were some of the biggest lessons from that experience?
Yan: (00:28:20) especially when your partnership after,
Maggie: (00:28:25) yeah. After quitting your job and then being an entrepreneur. Yeah,
Yan: (00:28:29) well, I mean, I quit my job to become a software engineer, so I was working, um, you know, I, I did the, I quit my job. Did the bootcamp got and got an, I got a software job. Um, I think like the first early iterations of like trying to make the company happen, they weren't particularly, I didn't really learn too much from those. I think what I really. The thing, the venture that I really learned a lot from was actually the, the, um, Coney boot camp in the middle East. Uh, and that was, I mean, it was like, In an immense shit show in many ways. Um, I sort of got roped into that, um, because, uh, there were kind of like three other co-founders. Um, but the main one I had gotten to know, and so I was basically like, wow, I feel like I'm really well suited for this. Right. So I wasn't, I was also an Arabic major in university. Besides like the economics, um, and you know, I'd done the bootcamp. Um, I had done a bootcamp. I had also like been helped like part-time or working at it as well, like teaching, et cetera. Um, and I had like a businessy sort of background. So I was like, Oh man, I'm really, really well suited to do this bootcamp thing. Um, and so I was helping them out basically like on my spare time. So I was still working as a software engineer and, um, helping get the school set up and. You know, I, I think like what I learned from that was that I could do it. Um, I, in the, in a pre, in the previous like Asian hustle network event, I think I got a question about like imposter syndrome. Right. And, you know, I, I get that question quite often, which is like, how do you deal with imposter syndrome, et cetera. Um, Then, you know it, to be honest, I think I've lied every time I answered things because I don't know if I've ever felt imposter syndrome, like true imposter syndrome where you're like, you know, sabotaging yourself or you don't think that you're able to do it. You know, I've always thought that I was able to do it, like in terms of. What is your super power right? There it is. Yeah. I've always thought like, I could do this. It's just like a matter of like whether or not I'm interested. Right. So when I was in commodities, it was like, I can do it. The people, the other people around me who are killing it are not like so much smarter than me. Right. It's not like I'm like super dumb. It's just like, I'm not interested in this. Um, and. I think starting the coding school really solidified that because you know, the, the person who, um, was essentially the CEO of it was, I just thought was like just such a flawed and competent character. Right. And like what really got him forward was the fact that he was like an older white man, right. Who could talk like a good game. And so, you know, looking at that and looking at those figures around me who were similar, like maybe they didn't have a lot to give, but they were really good at talking for instance, where they were really good at like one particular thing. I think always seeing that really gave me confidence that like I could, if that person can do it, like. I can do this on my own. Like I can do this, like, and, and do a much better job. Um, so that's always been sort of like my. My thinking behind things. And, you know, if I don't know something, if I make a mistake, my thought process has always been like, well, now I know better. And that makes me more valuable. Right. So, um, yeah, it's really strange. Uh, I, I think people assume that I have imposter syndrome or I've experienced it because I'm like an Asian woman. But, you know, in fact, I haven't really experienced it. It's it's just been like, I rationalize it away. Like, Oh, I've been, I was lazy. Of course, like, you know, cause it's boring. Um, or, you know, I was procrastinating, so I needed to be better about, you know, not being on YouTube all the time. Um, you know, it's, it's never been like, Oh, I, I feel like I'm. I'm too dumb to do this. Like it's, it's never been like, like that.
Bryan: (00:32:48) Yeah. Yeah. I can relate to that story a lot because I, I have the same secret power. I, yeah. Every time things go bad, like I'm not trying or things go bad. I don't care. You know, and especially with this. But that would tell you, it gets you kind of far with entrepreneurship because you overcome rejection so easily. I mean, I remember like just going into my first engineering class and totally getting an F on it.If you're the CS, I'm like, I'm in, it's too late. Now I'm going to be a CS major. Yeah. I think it does go a long way. And I think that the human potential, this is a whole different subject right here. Human potential is like over time you come good at something you actually care about. No, I don't what it is. You just have to care enough about it and only productions a society set to degrade you or make you feel like you're not worthy or just self-limiting limitations that we set for ourselves essentially.
Maggie: (00:33:47) Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I remember that. Oh, go ahead.
Yan: (00:33:49) Oh, so yeah, I, I would just like to correct the record, whatever things I'd said in the past about imposter syndrome. Like I was either lying or I was just like reiterating what someone else had said. Like, honestly, I've never experienced it and. It's been, it's been great.
Maggie: (00:34:10) I was just going to talk about that because I remember the Asian hustle network event. When, um, Sophie had asked you about, you know, how do you deal with imposter syndrome? And you were strictly just said, I just don't. I think that's very true, like, based on what you just told us. And I think that's important for all of us to understand is like, Just because you're not good at something or, you know, you feel like you're doing a worse job than other people are doing. Maybe it's just not something you're passionate about. You know, maybe you just need to find something else that you're passionate about. And, you know, if you find your passion, you'll most likely do a really good job because you have so much love for that specific field or industry. Yeah.
Bryan: (00:34:47) Yeah. Out of curiosity to you, how'd you end up choosing your headquarters in Japan?
Maggie: (00:34:50) Yeah. What compelled you to start in Japan?
Yan: (00:34:54) Oh, yeah, a boy. Um, I call it a boy Yeah. Um, yeah, I, I, uh, out of university ed, well, I'd met someone in university and we started dating about a year after we graduated. Um, and, and, and he was living in Tokyo. Um, and, uh, you know, I was not in Tokyo. I was in Singapore and then I was in San Francisco, et cetera. So we'd been, we'd been long distance for like four or five years, um, yeah, for a long time. And, uh, So, you know, I made the career switch into tech, not only because I wanted to get out of finance, but also because I wanted greater flexibility. Right? So him working in Tokyo, he, he likes his job. He likes what he's. He likes what he does. He's in finance. He's one of the weirdos that, you know, studied economics and went into finance and actually really likes it. Um, and you know, it's a rocket at it. So I was like, you know, Hey, if you, if you like your job and I don't like my job, like, it makes sense that I would be the one trying to figure out how I can. Oh, I can like fit into to making this, you know, making this location thing work better. And so I was like, okay, I'll be a software engineer because then I can work from anywhere. Um, and so that's, that's what happened. I stayed in San Francisco for, you know, the kind of. Two years to get experience. When I realized, wow, this is where all their jobs are, and this is like place to gain experience. Um, and, uh, but you know, while working as a software engineer, I was actively looking to see what I could do in Tokyo. Um, and you know, I, I was always pretty fond of Tokyo. I'd been visiting it and when we were dating quite, quite often, it, um, I never, when I moved to Japan, there was never a culture shock moment just because I had visited so often it, it really felt like a second, you know, like a second home. Um, so I was, you know, actively looking to see what companies I could start in Japan. Um, and so there were like a lot of random things that I was looking at. I was also looking at like job openings and things like that. Um, and so, you know, while this was going on, my co-founder. Got introduced to me by a mutual friend. Um, and he was looking to start a coding boot camp in Tokyo. And, you know, my friend was like putting the, putting us together, thinking like this sounds like a pretty good match. Like Yan is a software engineer she's done. She's she's like really experienced a lot of facets of running a coding boot camp. And Connie wants to start one and he needs someone, you know, at that technical co-founder. Um, so we got put together and a few months later we shook on it and started working on code Chrysalis.
Maggie: (00:37:50) Wow. That's amazing. Yeah. Yeah.
Yan: (00:37:52) It was just great timing and it lucked out that we got along, um, that our skillsets were like a good match, I think. And, um, I think, you know, I've also benefited from, uh, his experience and he's. Uh, quite a bit older than me, he's in his forties, almost fifties. Um, and, uh, you know, he's got a lot of corporate experience, uh, management experience. Um, and so, you know, I've benefited a lot from, from learning from him. Um, also we have like the fun generational dynamic. Um, you know, I'm in my early thirties, he's in his forties, you know, woman, man, like we're able to really play a lot of different groups. Because of that dynamic. Um, so I think it's been pretty useful. Um, and yeah, it's been a, it's been a good, it's been a good match. It's a way different from my first bootcamp, I think. And I learned so much from, from the running of it and, and also my exit from it. I mean, it's still running, but you know, I consider it a bit of a failure because it's never achieved what, you know, Um, you know, what things I had in mind for it.
Bryan: (00:39:07) Yeah. Listen to your stories. It's very inspirational, but I do want to dive deeper into some of the problems you face as a startup founder and running your own company. Because as founders ourselves too, and talk to other founders is always a constant fear of like, Are we moving in the right direction? Are we having the right people? Are we, can we stay alive for next six months before we run out of money, tough situation. You know, you don't want to dive deeper into that too, and hear more about your experience being a startup founder and what kind of issues and stress that it causes you. And how'd you overcome them?
Yan: (00:39:39) Yeah. Um, I would say like finding talent is such a huge stress and managing, right. Um, yeah, I that's that's, that was, that's probably been like sort of the biggest, um, things that I think about. Um, I don't quite think about, you know, will we be able to, um, pay the bills as much, thankfully, um, But it, it has been like, are we going to be able to grow this with the right team? Um, so the, yeah, there were a lot of lessons that I learned. I learned to trust my gut and to not act out of, I think, make decisions out of emotions and being able to identify that, um, Whether the emotion is like fear or the emotion is like, you know, being, um, worried about what other people might think, um, and making instead decisions that are a lot more rational and logical and, and whatnot. Um, I think we've. Locked out in the sense that we've been able to create a community around us that, um, is a good community. Like they have the same mission, they have the same belief systems and values. Um, and I, I really believe that for anyone starting a company what's really important is to create. A community around you that is very supportive. So I think, you know, I, I fully believe that companies can provide more than just like whatever services or products they are making or. Providing right. I think companies can also be, um, a source of information, a source of community, a source of motivation or inspiration. Um, I think companies should also make sure that, that the community around them. So not just their employees, but the other company is that they maybe collaborate with or, um, are their clients, or they. You know, our, our vendors or whatnot, the company is around them, the people around that company. So for us, it would be the tech community at large here. Um, I really believe that, uh, if you focus on the overall health of that community around you, like you are helping yourself as well. Um, I, I really believe that. And I think like, um, I think. Because we were, so mission-driven from the get-go, that's a company. We were able to attract a lot of people to our mission of, you know, Hey, there's a lot of things wrong with the engineering industry here and the way that maybe software engineers are treated and also like what skill sets they need to have. Right. Um, we believe very strongly that we need to get more women interested in tech. Um, and we believe really strongly in like community building. So. Providing a space where people can teach and, and learn. Um, and I think a lot of people, a lot of organizations, a lot of companies really resonated with that and we've been able to thrive in a sense because of their support. Um, So that that's probably been a really big, um, thing that I've learned that I wasn't expecting was how important the community around your businesses and how much you have to nurture it.
Maggie: (00:43:10) Love that, love that. And on that note, I love to know more about what type of initiatives are you involved in to empower women in STEM? Because we know that you were, you know, you're super involved in that. Can you talk a little bit.
Yan: (00:43:25) Oh, cool. Um, weird experience there. Yeah. So, you know, I, I wasn't terribly involved in women's issues and finance. Um, I think because I just wasn't really interested in it, like, you know, uh, and then in San Francisco, what really struck me about the women's communities was that there were communities for women like that just didn't really that wasn't. Two. Yeah, it wasn't really around when I was in commodities. Um, and so I started going to like, uh, women who code events, and there was also like girl development and things like that. And just being really amazed at, um, how supportive. Like the community was, and, you know, I was, I was doing some things in San Francisco, but I wasn't, I wasn't like terribly active until I came to Japan. And I realized that like the, there wasn't that type of, that level of support that we would see in, in, in the Valley here. Um, and I wanted to recreate that there are, you know, a lot of, I think like, um, Women coding groups, but a lot of them were in Japanese and then also having visited a lot of them. They were a bit different from the ones in, um, in San Francisco and that they weren't as foe. They're not as the ones here that I saw in the beginning were not as focused on career development. It was really just like a club for women who just happened to work in tech to like hang out in. Right. Um, and there just weren't as many, so, uh, I think pretty, pretty immediately. Um, as part of code Chrysalis, I was doing events, um, with, you know, the women who code here when they were still really small. Um, and also just doing things like having like a women, um, women and non binary coding session. Right. Um, and when I moved to Japan, there was a, a large English speaking tech group here. It's still around. It's called dev Japan. And, um, what I, what I saw, you know, I connected with the organizer of it. And what I saw was in there, you know, they would have like a monthly meetup where, um, Engineers would just hang out together and code. So they would just like open up an office space somewhere and people would just go in and work. Um, and I noticed that it was like almost all men that went to it. Uh, and I, and I looked up their membership lists and there were also women in the members lists, but they weren't coming to the event. And so what we ended up doing was before the main event. So it was like, it started at like 2:00 PM on a. On a Saturday before that we would have like a women and non-binary only session from like noon to two. Right. And so by doing that, by having like this women only session in the beginning, all the women would come, um, And feel comfortable coming because they're like, okay, I'm not like walking by myself into a room full of men. Right. And they would situate themselves already and like, you know, make their space, put their stuff down, um, in this like office space that we were using. And I basically made no mention of the start of the next event, because it was basically the same event, just like men were. Men were allowed. Right.And so the men would start coming in and eventually it got to a point where like, the women felt much more comfortable just coming straight to the main event. Right. Um, and I think that's like a big point of the, you know, the, the women's. Um, you know, like the women's only stuff is like, we want to get to a point where we don't need to have those, right. Like, what does success look like? Success looks like not needing to have to do that because women just feel comfortable coming to the main thing. Um, so yeah, I think like we, you know, we boosted the number of women going to the main event by like, you know, we got it up to like, 40 50%. Oh, wow. That's amazing. Yeah. And, and, and, you know, some in some places, but we definitely got it up. And in the beginning, what was really funny was, you know, we have like a group of women in like the main table in the middle of the room and the start the at 2:00 PM, the start of the, the coding event, the men would come in and they'd be like, Whoa, am I in the right place? There's all these women, you know, and then that, that happened for like, you know, the first two or three months where the men be like, what's going on. And then he got used to it, you know, other women there, software engineers. Um, and yeah, uh, it was a really. You know, doing small things like that, I think have really helped. Um, you know, we do a lot of events. We do a lot of outreach. Um, and then also we recently launched the butterfly fund. Um, And it's like a scholarship fund for single moms in Japan to help them attend our programs. Um, anything's things like what happened during coronavirus was, you know, a lot of people are having a pretty tough time. And so, um, I reached out to a few people just saying like, Hey, and. Noticed, you know, this happening, would you want to take coding classes? You know, maybe we can figure something out. And I think word spread, um, that, you know, word spread about that. And we had more single moms, more mothers, more people in need asking like, Hey, can you, you know, Give me a massive discount or something like that. And we, you know, we're a small company, we need cashflow. And so we're not able to do that for more than like, you know, a couple of people at a time. So we thought like this might be good to find some people to donate money so that they have, you know, some tuition money. Um, so yeah, that's, that's how that started. Um, you know, and with. A few friends. I also started a thing called speak her. So it's, um, spelled speak, uh, SP EA K, and then her H E R S speaker, cute little pun on the word. Um, and it's, it's a really, it's really basic. It's just like a list of women willing to speak and like the topics that they can speak on and their bios, um, and that's it. And, you know, It's it's really simple, but it's gotten, I think a, a bit of attention. Um, and, uh, you know, people just have, I it's mostly men have, have the excuse when they're doing events like, Oh, I couldn't find a woman. And as we know, like that's just not true at all. It's just, you know, they're maybe not in their network. So this has been. We put this together to kind of show people that like, Oh yeah, there's lots of women out there. Um, and I've been really happy to report that people have been using it. So, you know, recently a company held an event and, um, you know, we got, we had to see all the communications when they want to contact someone. So we saw that they were like pinging all of these different, um, women's speakers on there. Um, Journalists, when they're looking to interview someone, we've also realized, have been using this website to like find women experts that they can quote. Um, so it's been pretty cool getting to see some people get use out of that.
Bryan: (00:50:48) Yeah. That's so powerful too, because nowadays it's even more important because of what is your company represent? You know, what are your values? What are you guys all about? How do you stand out from your competition? How do you make the world essentially a better place? And with what you're doing, we see that with your values and your passion, and we see yen in your company, which is awesome because sometimes we look up people's companies like, okay, it's not a company, it has no soul. And yours has a soul.
Yan: (00:51:15) Oh, thank you.
Maggie: (00:43:10) Thank you for all that. You do yen. And so we have one final question for you and that would be what advice do you have to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Yan: (00:51:29) Oh man, what advice do I have, man? That's a really tough question. I don't know. Um, get out of finance. Yeah. Um, I would say, like, you know, I know a lot of people say like, just do it, but I, I really don't believe that that's like a good, that's like a good advice because people just come from so many different backgrounds and so many different advantages or disadvantages. It's really disingenuous to say, like, just do it. You know? Um, I think like my advice is, uh, To, uh, stay focused on doing one thing very well. Um, yeah, I, I think like, you know, riches are in the niches. Like, um, if you can, if you can like find something that you really like and that you feel like is making a difference, not to like tons and tons of people, but maybe it's just a small group of people focus on that. Um, I think that's the most important, um, you know, I'm, uh, I think that's, that's probably my biggest, my biggest piece of advice. Like people want to do something where like everyone can join in, but, but I think the focus is just to, just to focus on one type of user first and then grow from there. Right. And really, really understand your users, really understand how you can best serve them, how you can make a difference in their lives and then grow from there.
Maggie: (00:52:59) Love that. Love that advice. Thank you again. And how can our listeners learn more about you online?
Yan: (00:53:02) Well, yeah, they can find me on Twitter. Um, my, my, um, My username is Yanaki so anarchy with a Y in front of it. Um, I'm also on Instagram, but I don't really post a lot. It's, it's mostly just pictures of my dog. Um, and, uh, and they can also find my company code Chrysalis, uh, all over, uh, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter on our website. Yeah.
Maggie: (00:53:31) Amazing. Thank you so much for sharing your story, Andrew. It's awesome. Having you on the show.
Yan: (00:53:35) Thanks for having me.
Bryan: (00:53:39) All right. Thank you. Bye.
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