Taarini Dang is unusual for an entrepreneur in that, while she’s 14 years old, hasn’t yet gotten a driver’s license and is juggling a middle school class schedule in San Jose, CA, she’s also attending demo days, has already raised $100k for her future venture fund, and has published a book on her insights as an entrepreneur. In her book, ‘The Young Aspiring Entrepreneur’, geared toward the ambitious types in middle and high school, she outlines the qualities for success in entrepreneurship. Chuck Eesely, a Management Science professor at Stanford University says, “This book should be required reading for every middle and high school student. An entrepreneurial mindset is the key to our future.” The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center caught up with Miss Dang to find out what her journey has been like so far.
What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
TD: Entrepreneurship is effort made to change the world, to work insanely hard, and to encourage others to do the same. Entrepreneurship to me is acting on the opportunity to deliver social impact and achieve success all in an ethical manner.
How did you become interested in entrepreneurship as a path?
TD: I have been tinkering with several Science projects since first grade, eg turning a plastic water bottle into a light bulb, extracting DNA from fruits, making automated robots, etc. And then I learned that the only way to make an impact in the world is via Entrepreneurship. I’ve also been inspired by Warren Buffet who said, “I made my first investment at age 11. I was wasting my life up until then.”
In your opinion, what are the 3 top qualities of a successful entrepreneur?
- Persistence 2) Hard work to the extreme and 3) Identifying Market Timing
Which industries or pain points do you see yourself devoting your life as an entrepreneur?
TD: I am passionate about: Women advance STEM research and Technology, Social Impact Ventures, and companies started by other youth, like myself.
What are some constructive insights that you’d like to share to help other entrepreneurs?
TD: Operate on your uniqueness. Be bold, don’t conform to society’s norms, and be unique. Take the time to do self-discovery of what inspires you and what you are passionate about. Then follow that passion without ANY fear of failure or fear of social rejection!
How are you juggling entrepreneurship and school?
TD: Time Management is key, plus I manage my teachers just like you should manage your Boss at work. Set the right expectations. Break down big goals into small milestones. Be clear about daily priorities.
What’s it like in teams? What advice do you have for fellow entrepreneurs about building and leading teams?
TD: If you want to achieve excellence, walk alone. But if you want to achieve greatness, work together with like-minded people. And hire people smarter than you. But make sure that you and your team are aligned on the vision!
Where do you find inspiration when faced with challenges?
TD: I look at people who have truly helped me. Wendell Brooks (Intel Capital President), Katherine Resteiner (Chief of Staff to Intel Capital President), Shiri Sivan (Google Launchpad Programs Head) and Linda Swindling (Top Author) are inspirational to me since they were very genuine in providing help to me. I look up to successful women who have reached top heights since women have to go through more hoops than men. Elizabeth Galbut and Pocket Sun are awesome examples, since they built a VC firm called SoGal Ventures from scratch and truly believe in helping female entrepreneurs!
What does “success” look like for you? What do you think will help you achieve it?
TD: Success is being able to make other entrepreneurs happy and bring a smile to their faces. Success is bending the gender gap curve by bringing more girls into technology at elementary school age (like what Sharmi Albretchsen is doing via Smart Gurlz – teaching coding in a fun manner to girls 5-10 years old). Success is raising my $1M Venture Capital fund (raised $100k so far). I am already evaluating a lot of startups and have some in mind — I attend YC Demo Day, et, for example. I am a Venture Fellow at a diversity-oriented VC firm called SoGal Ventures. I am speaking at many conferences, eg Google Female Founders Summit, Collision, TiE Inflect, ATEA, etc to source startups and help them change the world.
What does a typical day look like for you?
TD: I wake up at 5am to study for school exams and finish my homework. I take the school bus at 6.45am. During the day, I read books on Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital during breaks or during the bus ride. In the evening, I spend 1-2 hours working on my Entrepreneurship and VC activities, in addition to school work.
When you’re not being an entrepreneur, what do you like to do for fun?
TD: I am an avid swimmer and a big music fan (Bollywood, Arianna Grande, Taylor Swift).
Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day? I pray in peace for 10 minutes every morning: this keeps me grounded while bringing clarity to my thoughts. It also keeps me focused on my long-term goal.
What are you working on currently?
TD: I am building my Venture Capital fund called Dang Capital. My investment thesis is to invest in startups led by Youth (below age 22) or Women (Any Age).
Can you think of any prevalent bad advice that entrepreneurs out there should not follow?
TD: Most entrepreneurs are told to show the Product/Market fit. But Tim Draper coached me that most of the world’s best inventions were developed by serendipity, eg electricity, pot stickers, chocolate chip cookie, etc.