Featured on May 05, 2011
"The excuse department is closed – Mark Suster"
Born in Beijing, raised in Oregon (yes, i played Oregon Trail). I played piano quite seriously in high school before going to Harvard, discovering international development, and working on 4 continents during summers. I recently quit my job in management consulting and now work at Insight Venture Partners , a late stage tech VC firm in NYC.
- Title: Analyst, Insight Venture Partners
- Age: 24
- Location: Midtown
- Contact: @amytongwu, facebook, LinkedIn
You recently made the move from working at a financial management consulting firm to working at Insight Venture Partners because of your love of the startup community. How did you know it was the right time to make the switch?
For a while, I was living a double life doing consulting work 90 hours a week and going to startup events at night and on the weekends, and enjoying the latter a lot more. People in the startup community have an undeniable draw, being not only super smart, but also having the balls to do whatever they’re passionate about. And they helped me out and gave me so much advice, just to help a newbie member of the startup community. After a lot of self-reflection, I just said f*@$ it, quit my job, fielded deep unemployment anxiety from my Asian parents, and starting helping out Jesse and Mike at GetMinders and Glenn Nano at Centurion Venture Partners. It was fantastic, I loved it. I ended up taking the job at Insight VP’s Onsite team because the team is awesome and I wanted to understand due diligence and operational needs of portfolio companies. When reading techcrunch articles becomes part of your job rather than guilty “break” reading, I knew I was going to be happy.
What tech or startup events in the City do you recommend people outside the startup community attend?
First of all, I'm by no means an authority on this. There are tons of events to go to, but newbs should start with NY Tech Meetup, Entrepreneurs’ Roundtable, startup weekends, General Assembly events, and WeWork After Dark! Beyond events though, newbs should definitely read everything written by folks like Fred Wilson, Mark Suster, Chris Dixon, Ben Horowitz, keep up to date on startup/tech news, and get a JOB in the startup community. (try insidestartups.org or indeed.com).
You co-founded a summer school in Sierra Leone for junior high and high school students back in 2007. What was the drive to do this and how did you end up choosing Sierra Leone?
In college, I had begun exploring health issues in developing countries, doing HIV immunology research in both China and Botswana, and working with the Clinton Foundation on a rural healthcare project in Africa. I felt it was harder to add value and work in the field in healthcare without being a physician, so my interests expanded to education, then technology adoption. In very underdeveloped communities, I saw that the chances of getting a job at an NGO, bank branch, or other company in a tough labor market was greatly enhanced by having an understanding of how to use a computer (we’re talking word and excel, nothing fancy). So a couple friends of mine (Ellie Nowak, Maryam Janani, David Sengeh) ended up fundraising, planning, and starting a summer school in Gobaru, Sierra Leone, to teach junior and high school student math and English courses, as well as computer typing and basic Microsoft Office usage. We selected the village because of David’s personal connections there (very key since we only had summer to implement) and because they had a real need for educational outreach. I learned so much from the experience, but most importantly, I learned that no matter how much about development I read in class, nothing substitutes actually being on the ground.