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Advice for Women in Tech from Leading Digital Entrepreneur Yao Huang
April 19, 2017

Headshot of woman smiling
Headshot of woman smiling


Meet Yao Huang, founder of The Hatchery, an organization instrumental in developing the New York technology ecosystem, and one of the top entrepreneurs in her field.

She leads the enterprise incubator in innovating products with corporate partners — from ideation, development, sales and funding to exit. She’s an adviser and deal-maker for the governments of 10 countries throughout North America, Europe and Asia, helping foreign technology companies expand to the U.S. market.

She doesn’t stop there.

Huang was named by Forbes as one of 11 women at the center of New York’s digital scene and was one of Techweek’s 100 most influential people in tech. She is part of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Entrepreneurship Program delegations that bring entrepreneurship and initiatives to strategic countries.

On February 14 she participated in the interactive discussion “Incubator or Accelerator: Does Your Startup Need One?

Q: Have you experienced any challenges as a woman in the field of technology? If so, what are some strategies you used to navigate these challenges?

A: Sure. There are challenges just being in the area of creating disruptive technologies. Challenges in balancing resources, finding the best talent, getting industries to adopt something new.

Strategies here: I’ve found that good, solid industry relationships have been key in getting out of all sorts of binds, from talent to clients.

If you are asking about gender-specific being a woman, I have been treated rather well in general. But there have been situations of harassment and silencing where a man would not have been.

Strategies here: In physical situations I’ve made it clear it’s not appropriate. In instances where I’m being called out, I ask calibrating questions to help them realize the problem. And sometimes you just have to let things slide — pick your battles.

Q: What are some words of advice you have for young women interested in becoming leaders in the field of technology? What unique qualities do women have to offer in this field?

A: Ladies, there will be a lot of men, and it won’t be fair. Your unique superpower will be patience; listening; a calm, collected way of thinking through and solving problems (don’t be emotionally reactionary); the ability to multitask; and EQ. Your emotional maturity to consider a team’s needs and guide them to the goal will be something that will stand out. You don’t need to be like a man; you should be more like a leader, which consists of certain skills and attributes. Women inherently have great qualities of good leaders. You just need to harness your confidence and see that toughness is expressed in different ways.

One of my first managers was an amazing woman who led with compassion, understanding, openness, approachability, and always had our backs. The team worked its a** off for her and fought to deliver even when there were cuts. She had one of the top teams in the company. I continue to look up to her way of management and how she carried herself. She was smart, tough, caring and funny. Her unique self shined through in the way she led.

Q: What advice would you give to someone interested in partnering with an incubator?

A: Depends on why you want to do it. And it depends on the program. Each offers something different. First, understand what you are looking for and then find the program that best fits. In the end you will be giving up something — time, equity, etc. For us, it’s about whether or not you really want us to be your partner to grow and get to the finish line. We are not educators — so no workshops — but more executors, so building, selling, hiring, getting out of binds, etc.

Q: Who inspires or mentors you and why? What should a mentee expect or bring to the table?

A: I’m inspired by the people who have to overcome more than they should to make it. It shows that it’s possible to change one’s path and create a new one.

A mentee should bring a willingness to learn and a work ethic to get things done. Asking questions and curiosity to figure things out.

Q: How do you think men can be advocates for women interested in leadership roles in the workplace?

A: It’s in giving opportunities and being inclusive. Realizing they may have some underlying prejudices and cultural stereotypes and minimizing that.

Interested in taking the next step with your business? Check out our #YALIEntrepreneurs page. The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government. YALI Voices is a series of podcasts, videos and blog posts contributed by members of the YALI Network.