Chao Wang scaled teams and companies for over ten years, leading operations, customer experience, business development and strategy at venture-backed companies. She’s now the Co-Founder and CEO of Dopple, a next generation e-commerce platform and subscription service for brands to reach modern parents.
After taking a style quiz on their website, parents receive a curated selection of clothing every month for their kids. Dopple also has a B2B arm for brands which includes a fulfillment data marketing platform.
In this episode, Chao shared her untraditional career journey and so many gems of advice for new founders that are carving out their entrepreneurial path. Listen to Episode 33 of The Career Memos Podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Stitcher.
It’s worth taking risks to grow your career.
Chao had an untraditional career path before launching Dopple. In college, she studied finance and economics, so it seemed fitting when she joined a rotational program in corporate finance at GE straight out of school. For six months, Chao dove deeply into coursework and opportunities at different businesses but quickly realized she didn’t have the passion to continue down that career trajectory.
It wasn’t until Chao launched a “3 month life experiment” that everything began to change. A group of her friends had just gotten into Y Combinator for their startup, Zesty, later acquired by Square. While it was a risk to leave her current role for something new that was literally being run out of an apartment, she told herself that taking this leap and moving to California would be an amazing life experience.
That 3 month experiment turned into 3 years. By the time she left the company, Zesty was generating a $50 million dollar run rate.
She credits these experiences with giving her a leg up in starting Dopple with her Co-Founder Janel Molton Hertz. Janel and Chao were filled with passion for their vision and complementary skill sets to boot. The market opportunity was huge and they could see their idea blossoming into a multi-billion dollar business.
Learn from other founders who are in a similar stage of business as you.
If you’re a new founder considering venture capital, Chao’s #1 piece of advice is to surround yourself with other founders who are in a similar stage of business as you, and even some who are further along.
Even if you feel like you don’t know any founders, it’s likely that you know someone who knows someone, which can be a great starting point.
People are genuinely curious and happy to help others, especially if you attend a local meetup and introduce yourself to people.
Chao recalled days where she was so stressed from the immense amounts of pressure she’d put on herself. She felt guilty all the time and having the ability to open up to others going through similar experiences was a relief.
But what kept her going is her excitement. There’s the common saying, “if you like what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life” and that simple, yet profound advice has been Chao’s mantra day by day.
“Whatever it is that you want to do, you can take baby palatable steps. It doesn’t need to be quitting your job and moving to another city for 3 months or 1 month. But you owe it to yourself to at least try.”