Welcoming David Chang, 2017 Summer Venture Program Director!
The Blank Center is thrilled to announce that the director of the 2017 Summer Venture Program is David Chang! David has extensive experience both as an entrepreneur and an angel investor and is excited to work directly with Babson startups for ten weeks this summer. I reached out to David to learn more about his startup experience and how he hopes to impact this year’s SVP teams.
What is your background?
Although I am originally from New York, I came to Boston for business school. I got hooked into the early-stage startup world, and within the past 15 years I been part of five startups, five acquisitions, and two consumer companies (including TripAdvisor and a pre-Instagram mobile photo sharing site). I am also an active angel investor in forty companies, the majority of which are Boston-based.
Recently, I was on part of a mobile advertisement team which was acquired by PayPal. I led PayPal’s Boston office and created an accelerator as part of that role. The accelerator has helped hundreds of ventures. I am deeply involved in all things startup!
What makes a startup stand out to you?
The team is one of the most important elements. Given all the pivots that a company will likely face, having a strong leadership team is essential.
Another key element is when startups are able to put together a business that makes sense for the market they are approaching. A startup can have brilliant founders but the timing could be off or the business isn’t something they are deeply passionate about. Extensive experience with and passion about the industry they are working on is important. Or, if a founder is best in class in a functional area, experience with the industry itself matters less. These are some aspects of strong early-stage teams.
What do you think makes Babson unique?
Over the last five to ten years, I have come across Babson graduates and have been impressed by their level of talent, focus, and the caliber of the people themselves. Babson is a unique place because everything is driven with an entrepreneurial spirit. I have worked with Cornell and Harvard Business School, but Babson is different because there is such a strong focus on entrepreneurship.
What do you hope Summer Venture Program teams get out of the program?
This year, we will encourage more connections to the “outside world.” This can mean making tighter connections with partners, customers, and investors- any of which can potentially change the trajectory of the business itself. My outside perspective will be helpful for this. Overall, however, many aspects of the program will not change. These include Hot Seat, the peer-to-peer camaraderie, and the overall philosophy. I just want participants to get involved with people outside of Babson’s ecosystem.
What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
Entrepreneurship is a when small team of people try to tackle an opportunity or change an inefficiency that they are very passionate about. I have also seen “intrapreneurship” take place within larger organizations. The spirit of entrepreneurship can exist in both of these environments.
What does the world need from entrepreneurs today?
The world will benefit if founders can make a difference in industries that have historically been difficult to innovate in. Every year, technology improves and barriers decrease. Entrepreneurs should create new opportunities to make everyday life better for people. This is why the Summer Venture Program teams have the potential to make a wide impact!
Do you have any tips for entrepreneurs?
My recommendations falls into two categories. First are the “people tips.” I highly recommend working with a co-founder with complementary skills in the beginning. As team grows, be very careful about who you bring on board in terms of caliber and culture. The network around you is extremely powerful; almost anyone you want to talk to is probably only a few degrees of separation away! Get in touch with people who can connect you.
The second category is based on how people present their businesses. When you are describing your vision, try to describe the ultimate place you want to be as well as a concrete next step. Don’t only talk about one or another. Ground people in what is achievable, then lead them to big milestone in the future. Connect the two.
What excites you about the Summer Venture Program?
For the last two years I have been an entrepreneur in residence at the Harvard Business School. In this position, I spent time with current students in an office-hours setting. The Summer Venture Program is a condensed period during which I can deeply influence teams in a short period of time. Being with them from beginning to end its very appealing. One of my passions is to work with founders in their early stages.
What do you do for fun?
I like to ski, watch good movies, and spend time around my neighborhood in the South End.
Describe yourself in four words.
Objective, procrastinator, juggler, night-owl.
Anything else people should know?
I don’t consider myself a classic entrepreneur. My first job out of school was at an investment bank, and it wasn’t until later in life that I stumbled upon this exciting path. Today, I spend 50% of my time working with early stage companies, 25% of my time investing, and the other 25% speaking. I am still surprised by where my career is today compared to what I imagined myself doing. You can truly discover your passion at any age.
Interested in applying to the Summer Venture Program? See you at our info session on Tuesday, March 28 at 1pm in the Blank Center Televideo Room!