3 Day Startup has plenty of successful entrepreneurs that come through the program, but 2015 took the cake. Four past 3DS participants were recognized by FORBES magazine in their annual 30 Under 30 awards. We’re going to spotlight each one of them leading up to our Global Roundup conference in July, learning a little bit about how they navigated their own entrepreneurial journey, and the lessons they learned from their 3DS experience.
Today, we’re featuring Derek Chu, a Senior Associate at Menlo Ventures, a venture capital firm behind companies like Tumblr, Edgecast and F5. It’s been a wild ride for Derek, who has personally been responsible for his firm’s investments in Munchery, The Black Tux and Riffsy.
Learning how to deal with people has come naturally for Derek Chu. He straddled multiple cultures growing up as a first generation American – his father was from Hong Kong and his mother, Taiwan. Growing up in Houston, a city where its citizens speak over 200 different languages, he was taught how people react to different situations.
His cultural immersion continued at the University of Texas, where he participated in the school’s business honors program. Wanting a top finance program, and looking for a bit more adventure, he transferred into the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. The only problem with transferring into finance was that it coincided with the worst financial crisis the US had faced in years.
He started his career out interning in a search fund that only had room for one person. Desperate to gain admission, he replied with an enthusiastic yes when his future boss asked him if he could come in the next day. Inspired by his mentor Antonio Buehler, he met banks, entrepreneurs, and venture capital fellows during the internship.
“I got a great analytical foundation at that internship,” he said. “I learned how to cold call, learned a variety of research instruments and it inspired me to apply for the Deutsche Bank intern program, which led me on my path towards entrepreneurship.”
That application put 3 Day Startup on his radar. During the program, he found out one of the funds he was working with was in the program, and Sean Wen, his best friend, was the Operations Manager for the organization at the time.
“I found the program really beneficial,” he said. “I loved how we worked on the idea formation process and it really helped clean up my overall thinking.”
After 3DS, he decided he wanted to work closely with entrepreneurs, and started work with one of the best venture backers.
For Chu, 3 Day Startup functioned as a training application for everything in his life. He said not only did he learn about how ideas come together, but also how to build up knowledge the right way, as well as how to understand problems best and develop the right execution.
It all ties into his day job, as he finds companies for Menlo to invest in, and works to expand them.
“I focus on consumer interaction and companies that touch the consumer mindset. I was able to talk to one of the founder of Warby Parker at Penn, and chatted about digital media and digital commerce- how can my companies win in those verticals?”
Chu’s work has been a success so far – one of his apps is the top performing app on Facebook Messenger!
We congratulate Derek on a job well done, and thank him for being a great ambassador of the 3DS program!
This is a guest blog post written by Adam Rosenfield. Adam is a writer based in Austin, Texas. He’s written about everything from startups to sports, and from software to science, and some education in between. You can catch him being a stereotypical Austinite, eating BBQ or fervently watching his favorite Dallas and North Texas Mean Green sports teams. Give him a shout on Twitter @adamrosenfield