Han Jin, CEO of Lucid VR, is a Berkeley engineer turned into serial entrepreneur after working in consumer electronics. Han loves founding startups, hacking hardware and listening to users. His strength in manufacturing and go-to-market strategy have helped him successfully ramp up several products to mass production. Follow him @jinhan8.
Who is your hero? (In business, life, or both.)
My mother, who moved to Germany all by herself without knowing the country or language. I joined her at the age of 6 and she raised me as a single mother while working three jobs. She never gave up on what she wanted to achieve in her life. And with this mindset, she managed to take care of a child while founding her own practice and becoming successful in a foreign country.
What’s the single best piece of business advice that helped shape who you are as an entrepreneur today, and why?
What’s possible is determined in the mind of the observer. All my life, people have told me what is not possible. My friends told me that I was too weak to play sports. My colleagues told me that I had to wait 10 years for my green card. Investors told me that I couldn’t be successful without a co-founder or domain expertise. But I made it work and that is what counts in the end. Don’t let others tell you what is not possible. Find out for yourself what is.
What’s the biggest mistake you ever made in your business, and what did you learn from it that others can learn from too?
Hiring for skill set, not mindset. Early on when I founded the company, I hired many people who filled the skill gap at Lucid VR. That led to many challenges because those people could not find a fit in an uncertain and demanding environment that kept pushing them out of their comfort zones. In an early-stage startup, having the right mindset is critical to success. An entrepreneur will find smart ways to learn about new strategies or topics and get things done while others will escape into what they are good at and fail. Since then, I started using the 80/20 rule for hiring: 80 percent skill set, 20 percent mindset.
What do you do during the first hour of your business day and why?
Unlike in a large company, in a startup, nobody tells you what to do. I spend my first hour writing down my goals and tasks for the day. Then I spend time getting up to speed on the news in my industry and the areas of learning I plan for myself. I believe that building a startup makes you grow every day. Often I also manage to reserve time for a workout or run to pump me up (my replacement for coffee).
What’s your best financial/cash-flow related tip for entrepreneurs just getting started?
Bootstrap as far as you can and hopefully get customer traction and revenue before taking investor money. You won’t believe how many different routes you can take if you actually force yourself to be creative.
Lucid VR could have been one of the most cash intensive startups out there because of its complex hardware, consumer VR (which can take forever), and manufacturing dependent nature. However, we managed to design deals and partnerships and early revenue strategies to keep us above water while continuing to execute like any other startup. If I tell investors how much cash it actually took me to get where we are, they are surprised that it was even possible. You define what is possible.
Quick: What’s ONE thing you recommend ALL aspiring or current entrepreneurs do right now to take their biz to the next level?
Take the plunge. Before I became an entrepreneur, I always talked about how I wanted to become one. But none of that actually yielded results until I decided to quit and actually get to work. Even after starting up, I realized that without taking action I would not be able to find out if a certain decision was right or wrong for our company. I recommend all aspiring and current entrepreneurs to take action, because only then you will be able to figure out how to make it work.
What’s your definition of success? How will you know when you’ve finally “succeeded” in your business?
It is very difficult to define success, as most entrepreneurs who set a goal for themselves end up wanting more when that goal has been reached. I define success in broader terms. I have always wanted to build something that will positively impact people’s lives beyond my existence. This might happen in this startup or in the next, but as long as I take action to move towards my goal, I feel successful because I know I have a purpose and am headed down the right path. Enjoying the journey, with all its ups and downs, feels more like success than setting single goals.