Ten years ago, Taiwanese American Yao Huang founded The Hatchery, a New-York based startup incubator, with the mission of fostering an environment in which innovation can thrive. Today, her firm partners with brands like Microsoft and Amazon to incubate innovative, early-stage companies.  We sat down for a cup of coffee with her for this month’s TAP-NY Spotlight!

Huang was named by Forbes as 1 of 11 women at the center of New York’s digital scene, and by Beta Beat as one of 25 Women Driving New York’s Tech Scene. She also traveled with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Indonesia as part of the Global Entrepreneurship Program Delegation.

However, the path she’s taken in life has been filled with twists and turns. In stark contrast to her involvements today, earlier in life Huang studied pharmacy and as a recent graduate worked a corporate job in healthcare.

Can you share the story of your transition away from pharmacy?

I spent a lot of time getting a PharmD and enjoyed the career I had. I did well, but I knew the internet was going to be huge and wanted to be a part of it. So, I started a company with some friends. It was a great experience. I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without it. Luckily it was at time when the internet was still young — before social media, mobile, AI. It was much easier to pick up. I also had a knack for business development so handled that for the company. The experience in corporate helped to better understand how to do enterprise deals.

What’s your favorite memory or experience in Taiwan?

The food! There is no place better. I did a one week foodie road trip down the east coast stopping every 30 minutes to sample the best eats of the area.

Who/what inspires you every morning?

I meditate, have a ‘happy playlist’ that I skip to until I’m ready to dive into the day with everything I’ve got. Just trying to make each day a little better than the last.

Given your involvement in the NY tech scene, any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?

I know you’re going to want to dive head first. It’s must smarter to plan a little. Do some research. Speak to some people who may know a little more. Do competitive analysis, market analysis, budget. It’s also okay to join a growing startup for experience. It doesn’t always have to be your idea. The journey with a solid team is worth the experience.

Do you have any advice for women who are just starting their careers?

Ask questions. Find a good set of mentors who can guide you. Be able to make friends at work. People who will champion for you. Do what you need to gain your core confidence. You’re going to need it. So if you haven’t figured it out yet, jump off the ledge until you do, but don’t sit there — meaning do something you’re amazing at to get it; meditate; or break through your fear with a leap until you do. Without it, you’ll not get very far.

It’s also okay to take stepping stone jobs. Not everything you do is all about purpose. Sometimes it’s just to acquire skills, meet people, and get to the next place. Just get to work.

Any book recommendations?

Never Split the Difference – a FBI hostage negotiator’s take on negotiations. Great read with examples.

The Hard Things About Hard Things – man was that a tough road, no one should be complaining after reading Ben Horowitz’s journey.

Favorite restaurant in New York?

15 East – best sushi in NY 🙂