Entrepreneurship

"Chief Bing Officer" - Jian Bing Johnny's

In 2012, after watching the exploding popularity of 'new wave' food trucks across the US, I dreamed of starting my own street food business selling a savory breakfast crepe from China called "jian bing". Though I knew that authentic street food was sold by bikes and carts in the streets of Asia, not from fossil fuel-spewing gargantuan food trucks. With some "reverse technology transfer", I brought a food bike to the streets of Oakland and Berkeley known as Jian Bing Johnny's.

The best way to learn all facets of a business is to try each function yourself. As the "Chief Bing Officer" of Jian Bing Johnny's, I sourced all of the parts for my food bike, I prepped in commercial kitchens, I cooked dozens of bings per gig, I biked all of my supplies, and I cleaned up afterwards. I was a hawker of street food and a visionary for food bikes. Using grants from the UC Berkeley Big Ideas competition and Berkeley Food Institute, I designed a prototype food bike for the East Bay. Later, under the Launch competition at Haas School of Business, I stress tested the feasibility of a larger business plan known as The Food Bikery, where people could own and operate their own food bikes as a means for food workers to start a mobile food business and earn higher wages in the food industry. 

Coverage in the NY Times: click here 

Visit Jian Bing Johnny's website here.


SolarList - Community manager and user engagement

I was the community manager for a residential solar startup called SolarList in 2013. Founded by two former employees of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the company sought to decrease the costs of residential solar customer acquisition through the creation of an innovative educational app that anyone could use to give free solar assessments.

Users of the app were called "Solarists". They could use the app to give their friends, family, and neighbors a solar assessment so that when they did decide to go solar, they had something to which to compare the quotes they received.

Similar to purchasing a car, the app showed the user how financing would compare under cash purchase, loan, or leasing arrangements. I lead product testing and user engagement across campus communities on the west coast. We established a SolarBowl competition in 2013, which helped increase user engagement with the software and led us to interview with the accelerator YCombinator. 

Ultimately, we did not receive a 2nd round of investment for the company, though I learned many lessons in minimum viable product methodology, user engagement, and the growth of the 'cleanweb' sector. 


DC Microgrid - Technology and market readiness analysis

As part of the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Cleantech to Market program, I worked with a team of business school students to evaluate technology and market readiness for an innovative microgrid technology to be used in rural electrification. Using an entirely direct current or DC microgrid architecture, the product had both energy and cost savings in comparison existing AC microgrid solutions, as well as the ability to physically scale the size of the system, adding generation without having to resize inverters and other components.

Using dozens of stakeholder interviews and a wide literature review as our basis, we performed a business model assessment identifying different potential customer segments and applications for the DC microgrid architecture. Different business pathways were evaluated using criteria such as product-market fit, willingness to pay, and adoption profile fit. Ultimately, the system's innovative architecture had many potential improvements over other microgrid systems, however it faced competition with individual solar home systems, which provided a similar level of energy use at a price point much more in line with willingness and ability to pay in rural areas.