In November's Young Professional Highlight, we sat down and chatted with Bryant Yang, an inspirational entrepreneur who chose to stay in Santa Cruz after graduating from UCSC and created his startup called Epiquest. Find out more about his work on his website here.
1. What is your job and what do you do?
"I'm involved in many things but my main focus is founding and running a social engagement startup called Epiquest."
2. What is unique about it?
"There are many things, but the most unique thing about entrepreneurship and being part of a startup is the amount of social impact a startup can have on a community or the world within very short periods of time. Since there is very little politics and hierarchy in comparison to larger corporations you can achieve things fairly quickly."
3. Why did you decide to become an Entrepreneur?
"Thinking about it, I guess this decision was really finalized way back in my first year of high school. You know, when teachers asked you to write a paper on what you want to be when you get older. I knew I had a passion for technology, but I wasn't too sure what I wanted to be. I took a look around the classroom for inspiration and it struck me that there were a lot of these black boxes throughout the room called computers and they were all running an operating system called Windows."
"So I searched Yahoo to see who was responsible for Windows and at the time I had no idea who Bill Gates was. I read more about Gates on Wikipedia and according to some Forbes headlines he was the richest man in the world. Being wealthy and creating something that had such a big impact in everyone's lives sounded pretty great to me at the time. I now pursue entrepreneurship for the latter because startups are the quickest way to make large and positive impacts in people's lives."
4. What is an awesome aspect of your job?
"In the meantime, it's working with a great team on something I really look forward to myself, the team, and others using and having lots of fun while we're at it."
5. Where did you grow up and why did you choose Santa Cruz?
"I grew up in the southern part of Sacramento and came to Santa Cruz to attend UC Santa Cruz. After graduation I ended up staying because of the community, access to the outdoors, the closeness to the rest of Silicon Valley, good food and great beer."
6. What is some advice you can give to other young professionals?
"Everyone has dreams and goals beyond the scope of their daily commitments, but very few ever pursue them. The first step to starting anything is to dive right in and get to work. Once you get through that first step, just keep the momentum going and focus on getting to your next milestone. Then when you get to that next milestone, focus on the next, get there and so on and so forth. There will be a lot of things you don't know along the way, but don't let that prevent you from starting or continuing."
"As you work you'll pick up things and learn on the job. As long as you're learning and making progress you're on the right track. Most of all surround yourself with others who can teach and/or help you—nothing is ever really achieved alone even by Genius standards, others who'll celebrate with you when things look up, and keep you going when times get tough. Once you've accomplished milestones and look back you'll be surprised by how much you've accomplished and how far you've come."
7. What were your previous jobs leading up to the one you have now?
"My first job in Santa Cruz was interning at NextSpace where I was surrounded by all sorts of Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners. It felt like a goldmine being in a space where everyone was doing exactly what I wanted to do, but in their respective fields and interests. It was at NextSpace that I realized that an Entrepreneur didn't need to be a Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or a Mark Zuckerberg to make a living and also make a difference in their community and/or the world."
"After college, I worked at Google on several teams and learned a lot about the way teams were ran for different departments, projects, and meetings. Including how everyone really embodied the playful and hard working culture that is Google. While working there the environment and people really inspired me to just get what I wanted to achieve longterm started."
"Now at Plantronics, a few of many of the outstanding takeaways for me thus far is the evolution of the company and how much care, collaboration, and work it takes to build, market, and deliver outstanding products. The people and culture also really inspire me to want to build a successful company in Santa Cruz."
8. Quick! Fun Fact:
"I used to breakdance when I was younger, naturally through muscle memory I can still dance but my stamina and upper body strength can no longer keep up."
9. What are some more fun activities you enjoy doing in Santa Cruz County?
"When I can make the time I like to hike and explore the redwoods, read books in coffee shops with a nice warm soy mocha, and/or take my camera out on photography expeditions and shoot swimwear/fashion models or capture the beauty of landscapes."
10. What are your favorite hangout places?
"I'm usually at Verve for a cup of coffee or at The Red with friends taking shots and having a few beers."