從台灣出發扎根- Founder/CEO of Anchor Taiwan-Elisa Chiu

【CAREhER ✕ Women Who Code Taipei】系列專訪 Ep.7

Welcome to 20-20 Women Lead Podcast, this podcast was produced by Women Who Code Taipei, I'm this month’s host Julia Liu.

The 20-20 Women Lead Podcast, was inspired by 50-50 by 2020, that ends to equalize numbers of male and female leaders in the technology industries by 2020. we are here to encourage tech women dare to take initiate initiatives, take the lead in adopting new technologies, designing innovative products services or creating new alternative models.

Each month on the 20 till 2020 we publish a woman entrepreneur, innovator or technologist story for you. We invite on you listening to the stories beyond the boundary pushy women and their values, ideas, beliefs and how do women are thriving on their bossy pants or bossy skirts in the male-dominated workplace.

歡迎收聽 20-20 Women Lead Podcast,為了迎接 2020 年,每月 20 號 20 分鐘,讓我們一起認識一位科技女性的故事,學習他們如何創新、挑戰現況、勇於開創屬於自己的路。

Julia: Today we have one of my favorite people in the house, Elisa Chui. I admire her so much, the founder and CEO of Anchor Taiwan, the company has been helping over 7 batches start-ups who came to Taiwan under the entrepreneur residency program. Across 10 countries over 30 plus founders, 50 plus partners, 60 plus productions and 30,500 plus people engaged.

Since June 2017 Elisa was awarded 40 Under 40 by girls in tech in 2018. Welcome Elisa Chui, I'm so thrilled to have you today.

Thanks for having me.

So I really want it to dive in here. So for those of people who haven't heard Anchor Taiwan, can you describe what Anchor Taiwan is your own narratives.

Sure. So I think it's always tricky and challenging when you are trying to describe something that's totally new. In a way, when you were setting up a new category. So imagine you like now very often you hear people saying, “Oh I am building the Uber for this or Airbnb for that”. But imagine the founders of those companies. When they first started all that before Air B&B was a thing.

How did they actually introduce what they were doing to others? You know in a very simple way , because there was no such thing before that. And very often frankly, I kind of feel that way about Anchor because of, course we are most known for the one month entrepreneur residency program that we run as you said. We have done seven cohorts and brought some awesome people to Taiwan to engage with the communities here.

But it's very often challenging for me to actually tell people what Anchor is all about because it actually covers a lot of different aspects. I would say of course on the surface it looks like we run entrepreneurial residency programs and these days with the innovation sprints for corporate executives. And for this year, we also started with our investment platform Anchor Venture Partners. But I would say it's actually a platform that I envision.

So I think about for me, for example when I go to another country when I want to really explore different markets and culture. Is it possible to actually include industry access cultural immersion community engagement and so on so forth.

Actually in a very holistic package in the way that we present Anchor Taiwan. So I think it's actually a holistic incubator for Asia soft landing while trying to showcase Taiwan in a very unique and authentic way.

Wow, that's a lot there but I think all entrepreneurs will be more than appreciate you give them these opportunities and assets from such a perfect package. It's like, a perfect platform for them to grow and succeed in Asia. So this takes me to the second question.

Anchor is a platform you bring the World to Taiwan. So I found that very interesting, because you are somebody who spend a large chunk of time abroad. You studied in Canada, and you worked in Hong Kong for a very long time.

So today, you not only moved back to Taiwan, you founded the company and you named the company “Taiwan” in your company's name. I wanted to know what's your relationship with Taiwan. What makes you decided to really do the opposite. You bring the world to Taiwan that you want the world to see the rest of Taiwan. Are you always this enthusiastic about Taiwan.
Do you always see the potential and opportunities in Taiwan? Or this is something you came to realization that Taiwan is an island full of opportunities and talents ?

Well, it's kind of all of the above. Probably I would say for me of course very fortunate to be able to travel to and also to work and live in many many countries around the world. I would say, well Taiwan is always home for me, and in some sense the further way that I go the more clear that I actually see what my hometown is all about. Yeah. And so while after high school I went to Canada for my undergrad and grad school and afterward pretty much having to work and living abroad since then.

But, for one thing, I still feel very connected with the place where I was born and the place where I basically got to shape who I am today. I always feel like you know like now after many many years with my previous career now when I am building something especially seeing the opportunities and challenges as well in Taiwan.

I started to thinking whether there are things that I love doing and things that I am good at doing that's related to Taiwan. So I think ultimately I'm doing something that I enjoy doing and basically, as a founder, you naturally start with places where you have the most resources places where you care about the most, and for me, the answer is Taiwan, so for me, that's a pretty easy choice.

Your mother land your own country, there’s no more choice other choices than that for sure. So I want to get to the beginning of your aha moment.So I know you working finance before, you have a full-time job, and you found this company, so what’s your aha moment to decide to “Ok, I am going to quit my day job, was Anchor your side project. Can you tell us more about the beginning of the Anchor?

Sure, I would say instead of a aha moment it was more of an evolution. So as you said I spent quite a few years in finance in Hong Kong as an investor basically doing convertible investment all across Asia.

And after several years I have to say even though professionally I think I somehow had what most people would traditionally define so-called success. However, I never felt like I basically found my sense of purpose. So after several years, I started questioning is this really something that I want for the rest of my life.

And one thing after another I basically in 2013 walked away from everything. And when traveling around the world. And eventually landed in Silicon Valley. So I moved from Hong Kong to Silicon Valley initially because of the huge inspiration after seeing how certain founders because of their beliefs in the world or their drive to change something. I really see the lights around them and I wanted to be around that. So for me, I think Anchor is actually not a random result of my life.

I spent quite a lot of time to explore both externally when I was traveling around the world and when I landed first in San Francisco.

Luckily there were a lot of people who are very capable and who cares a lot about exploring internally as well. So I started trying to sort of define the pillars of my life and in a way anchor is a product of my life after I defined the pillars of my life.I only learn about this Design Your Life concept afterward but essentially I think back then that's what I was doing. So before I started anchor I was already doing mine. I was already basically creating my own company in the states focusing on cross boarder as well as focusing on entrepreneurship but focusing more on from Asia to Silicon Valley or from Asia to the rest of the world. I guess the peak of the moment was after a couple of years in Silicon Valley especially after I started building my communities and network around entrepreneurship and also particularly at impact investing.

At the end of 2016, I came back to Taiwan for Christmas and I came across a group of young entrepreneurs that really moved me. So despite the economic brain drain all these challenging conditions I came across a group young people many of them actually local many of them never actually went abroad to study or to work. But they still managed to find different ways to shine through in their field and that was very I was hugely touched and I also started asking myself you know in Silicon Valley every day I talked about quote and quote impact.

With a lot of leading investors and amazing founders around me. But then what's the impact that I care about for. I know that I would care for the rest of my life. How about the impact of Taiwan? What have I done anything? And yeah as I'm feeling a bit frankly almost guilty because of course I will always say I love Taiwan, but what have I actually done to contribute to this island that basically you know has a huge impact. Yeah exactly. So I started thinking OK when the pillars that I mentioned are the things that I can still do relate it to Taiwan and that's how I came up with this idea that hey I wanted to do cross-border.

I wanted to do entrenerships but cross-border by definition should be a two-way streets. So I don't need to limit myself with only from Asia to the rest of the world. And in a way, because in Silicon Valley, I actually came across a lot of delegations from Taiwan many programs are actually more superficial. I kind of feel like if the other way around if I can actually bring amazing founders and tech professionals initially from Silicon Valley and eventually from the rest of the world. And if I can convince them to stay in Taiwan for a more extended period of time I think for one they get to truly experience and get to know Taiwan which I think will be an amazing thing and two I think a lot of amazing things, conversations, ideas, inspiration, so on so forth.

With that engagement with the local communities will probably have a bigger chance of staying in Taiwan. So after I started having this idea I thought I should not just think about this. I should just try to do something. So initially I was coming back for Christmas I was going to go back to San Francisco for New Year after New Year I extended my stay and essentially I started building my prototype. So I started talking to potential partners putting that website together and that's just started out of Anchor Taiwan.

And there's no way going back from here.

There’s no way going back.

So you sort of dig this beautiful hole but a beautiful one to let the world to know Taiwan which is amazing.

Why don’t we talk about fear!! I know facing fear and taking risks Is every founder have to go through somehow when they start their own company. Can you share with us the moment that you encounter your own fear, and the moment that you decide to take the risk? Did you have that moment facing fear with yourself?

Yeah I have many many moments facing with fear (both laugh~~)
I think, first of all being brave is not moving forward without fear, I think being brave is moving forward even with fears. But find a way to move forward to face your fear and to do about it. So I think for me, one very important moment was when I first moved to San Francisco. I remember back then I didn't know anybody in the state, I was being at the brand new environment without a job, without nothing. And at the beginning even though everybody around me, starting their own company, you know this is like a startup makeup in the world. But I remember I was kind of feeling, maybe I'm not ready yet, In a way, it’s easier way for me because I have all the credentials, education, and so on and so forth. In a way, it's easier for me to find a job. There were actually great job opportunities, at startup also impact investing which is the area that I'm passionate about. So at a beginning, I thought now with all these opportunities. Let's find a job, so I remember back then my routine would be I would go to a gym near my place downstairs was this coffee shop. So every time after the workout I went downstairs apply basically starting to crafting my CV and cover letters. And after a while, I was crafting that this perfect cover letter, email, later they tended to be somehow boring. Yeah, you don't even know if whether anyone is going to read that. Yeah, and you still need to make sure that it's pretty perfect, no typo and grammatically correct. Oh yeah so basically I remember I was going through that cover later over and over again reading through the sentences. It's almost like I almost boring myself to death. I was like I walk away from Finance, and I went traveling around the world. I do all these things. Always people around are like: “you were so brave you're doing something different, It's about your dream, your life is so awesome. “ But at that moment I actually witnessed my own fear, and I realize that the reason why I didn't pursue something I truly truly want to do was that I picked something was relatively easy for me quote and quote .Yeah and that moment I realized that I have to deal with this I have to find a way to let go and pursue something. To pursue something that I truly care about. I'm quite thankful for that fear and it was an opportunity to realize that fear. Realizing who I want to be.

That is so beautiful I just got goosebumps just by listening to that. Because fear, it can really become this transformational point. And look at the result !! It’s just so beautiful you not only take the risk, and you successfully conquer your own fear. And I believe this is every entrepreneurship stories this is the best career advice that everyone can take away from.

Can you give us some advice to our female entrepreneurs. What are the tips you can give to them?

I think there are two parts, one of which is internal and the other is external. This is not only for my fellow female entrepreneur, but probably advice for myself as well. You don't need to wait until you are one hundred 20 percent ready to do something. When the opportunity presented themselves just go for it!! Women have this tendency to over-prepare to, they want to make sure they're 100% right before the dive in. And that means you are probably missing a lot of opportunities. Every so often I still see that limitation on myself . This also a reminder for myself. Another thing is external, it’s very important to support each other. So when you see success on another woman, try to give support and elevate.Because I think it's very important to have that for every female, founders, or not. To move forward and to be successful together. I think because of human nature. Because of the insecurity, people don't really do so naturally. It's very important for us to be more conscious about this, for example when we see so and so have this opportunity to do this talk at this amazing conference. To congratulate them, when they need help, try to help each other. I think that's actually very important and I think sometimes it's very important, It takes a little bit of efforts. Because initial we are feeling is more like Like “how about me “. Yeah the ego or the insecurity, I think it's very important to a notice that. We need to embrace the concept of abundance. To know that we can be better. It's not zero-sum game. It's not like the other woman is more successful and we cannot be That's very important for female founders entrepreneurs and so on and so forth. How to be better !!

I'm smiling because I know Elisa, You're not some just some successful entrepreneurs, you're somebody in embodied with the ethical part and you are self-aware of your own weakness.
You're a very introspective person. So this is really the woman that everybody loves and the woman that I want to be. I'm really glad that today we have this opportunity to have Elisa with us tonight I had such a great time thank you so much at Elisa.

Thank you for having me it's my pleasure.

Thank you

Producers:Jane Shih, Yiying Chen, Tai Tsao
Host: Julia Liu
Co-host:Jean wang, Olivia Lin
Audio Editor: Anna Liu
Transcript:Rafeni Lee , Julia Liu
Marketing: Julia Liu
Chinese Translation: Yenting Chang
Marketing Designer: Anna Liu

/ About
20-20 Women Lead Podcast 希望能鼓舞科技女性勇於突破,逐漸消彌「科技業」兩性主管的比率差異。 透過訪談,帶聽眾了解,正在/已經踏出與眾不同一步的科技女性所作的事與心路歷程。

在 2020 年前我們將訪問 10 位女性、製作成 10 集、20 分鐘的節目、在每月的 20 號發佈。希望能啟發科技女性,率先採用新的技術、設計嶄新的產品/服務、或創造新的模式。鼓勵女性勇敢踏出「與眾不同」的一步、接受挑戰。

2019 / 9 / 18