Andrew Gao is from sunny San Diego. His teammates come from all over: Singapore, South Korea, and East Tennessee. They founded Quatido at LaunchX.
Quatido's goal is to help musicians by allowing them to instantly record and transcribe their musical ideas whenever and wherever. I am in charge of hardware development and sales and marketing, including our website and social media channels. I specialize in graphic design and working with my hands, i.e. Arduino and Raspberry Pi circuits. One thing that sets me apart is that I am very pragmatic and like to keep things simple. As a result, I usually look for faster or simpler ways to do things. My personality balances well with my other teammates by helping us have our heads in the clouds but also have our feet on the ground at the same time.
Advice and Lessons
Start with a Problem First
On the entrepreneurship side of things, I learned that it's best to think of a problem first instead of thinking of a solution first because you allow yourself more flexibility in coming up with a solution later and there might be an even better way to solve things. Also, getting an in-depth knowledge of the problem will help you later when you need to narrow down your MVP; that is, deciding what features you MUST have. Another lesson I learned was that although it is definitely possible to sell a convenience product, it's easier in the beginning to sell something that solves a "burning need" because people with a need are more likely to purchase something than someone who just has a want. Furthermore, one of the most important things to be able to do is to emotionally detach yourself from your ideas. Humans are naturally inclined to be biased towards their own ideas and it’s easy to get defensive over your ideas and suggestions. Remember that your teammates aren’t out to get you, instead, you all have the same goal of success (hopefully) so their feedback is well-intentioned, although maybe not what you want to hear. On that tangent, I also learned how to give better feedback. Instead of just giving critiques, you should also include compliments. It’s perfectly fine to say critical things but also keep in mind that the person whose work you are critiquing put a lot of their time and effort into it so giving compliments shows your respect and appreciation for them. Finally, although LaunchX is an intense, busy month, you should still go out and have fun with your team. If you just work and work and work every day you will burn out. Also, if you never have fun with your team, you won’t bond and the team dynamic is much more fragile.
Learn How to Handle Failure - It's Inevitable
It has not been a smooth road, nor should any entrepreneur expect it to be. I learned that being able to handle failure is one of the most important skills to have. Throughout the LaunchX program, I faced so many setbacks, such as not having a key component for the product and team dynamics issues, and it was important to be able to take those setbacks and figure out how to avoid them in the future. I also learned to balance pragmatism with idealism; never be too unrealistic with your goals but also don't be afraid to dream big (sorry for the overused cliche :D).
Although it may seem hopeless at times, you will get through it. The LaunchX staff have years and years of experience dealing with starting businesses and the interns have gone through exactly what you have: they can help you. Just make sure to reach out when you need help.
Celebrate Milestones and Know Your Success
I'm really proud that even though we had a few team conflicts, we were able to overcome them and have a successful Demo Day pitch that was well received by the panelists and we were satisfied with our results. My most valuable memory is definitely Demo Day. It was the culmination of my team's hard work and it was really fun presenting in front of my peers and the panelists, as well as answering their tough questions. I found it very interesting how much all the teams had changed since Day 1 when we pitched for the first time (no one had the same idea).
Success to me is doing meaningful things with my skills and making a difference in other people's lives. The most important qualities or characteristics to success are resilience and dedication.
Building Community and Connecting
If you're a teen, check out SparkTeen! I'm a regional director for SparkTeen, which is an organization founded by teens for teens. We host night markets and other events where teen entrepreneurs can run booths, showcase their products, pitch their businesses, and meet like-minded people. Check us out at https://www.sparkteenmarket.com!
If you have any questions about LaunchX, my experience, or advice in general about entrepreneurship, feel free to contact me with firstname.lastname@example.org. Add me on LinkedIn or view my website. I'd love to help out however I can.
Also, check out our company on Instagram @quatido and at our website https://andrewgao22.wixsite.com/quatido. In the future, we'll switch to quatido.com. If you're interested, feel free to sign up for our email list. Thank you!