David Chen is an executive of many talents. Not only is he a successful entrepreneur, but he is also one of the few investors who saw the true potential of eSports. He is also a motivational speaker, and he hosts the “Pandanomics” podcast, which has been named by the NY Weekly as the #1 Podcast in 2020.
For more than 10 years, David Chen has worked with a Big 4 firm. For Deloitte Mexico, he “created and developed the Chinese Services Group,” which earned him and his team recognitions from the global Deloitte firm. This recognition led to their winning the 2010 “Standards of Excellence Award” for a merger valued at 1 billion USD.
At 34, David Chen became one of the youngest partners at Deloitte, and he has worked with them company on more than 500 transactions with Fortune 500 companies. In 2015, he moved on to found the venture capital firm BLCP capital together with his partners.
In 2018, David Chen saw the potential of esports and commerce, and he invested in Faze Clan, which he also showcased in a Super Bowl commercial. Soon he also became the president of the North American Collegiate League, “a non-profit collegiate league in 220 universities in 20 countries,” which include “the only collegiate streaming in China and Esports TV shows” in 7 Asian countries.
David Chen also started GTIF Capital, which is a consulting and private equity company. At GTIF, he consults in “E Sports, Technology, health care, brand growth, global strategies and real-estate investments.”
Jerome Knyszewski: Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
David Chen: Absolutely, I often joke about being an “anchor baby” but it’s the truth. My parents are immigrants from Taiwan and moved over here in the late 1970’s. We were very destitute when I was young, we definitely struggled to make ends meet. I remember going to work with my mom some days and having to sit quietly until her shift ended because there was nowhere else for me to go. I didn’t even know that mattresses we supposed to have box springs under then until I was about fifteen. When I was a bit older, my parents had opened a restaurant, I was about ten to twelve here, and I remember having to translate the menus from Mandarin to English and Spanish because spoke and wrote better than my parents and my younger sister. I do remember feeling out of place growing up in El Paso in a family of Chinese immigrants as well. I was actually very shy as a young adult and struggled to find where I fit in as someone who grew up in a hard situation, but even as a college dropout, I worked hard and when I got the opportunity to work at Deloitte as a young adult I really figured out what my personal strengths are and capitalized on those to get to where I am now.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
David Chen: As a college dropout, I did feel like I was competing on an uneven field with my peers at Deloitte. There was a sting learning curve and I didn’t have the luxury of making many mistakes, that definitely made me question myself when I was starting out. I think my perseverance to succeed really came from that to too, the challenge of having to prove myself, to show myself that even though I was a college dropout I was smart and I was able to work hard and reach goals I hadn’t dreamed of.
Jerome Knyszewski: Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that? What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
David Chen: The NACL, or North American Collegiate League is truly a unique company that I’m proud to be a part of. I began the company during the period of summer 2019 when I hosted my internship. I had a group of students from various schools I had spoken at as interns and they are all gamers involved in the various esports communities at their schools. As the NACL grew, it was really a point of pride for me that these students that I had mentored were involved. I think that the authenticity that the NACL has a company is really solidified by the work of these collegiate gamers who helped work on it as they really have firsthand experience being the audience we cater to.
Jerome Knyszewski: Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.
David Chen: As an entrepreneur, partner, and president of a company, I shoulder a lot of responsibility for my various roles. These lessons I’m about to explain will keep you on track to succeed and make your company great.
– As I said above, having a work life balance is imperative to success. A company may be great, but it is built by many people working cohesively in the name of success. All these people need to be working at full capacity to put their all in the company, you cannot be burnt out and do that.
– Thinking ahead is another critical tool many people forget to use. Getting caught up on your current task or problem is easy for many, especially those starting out who have less experience multitasking, but thinking ahead allows you to plan your next step and become more efficient which will benefit your business and yourself.
– Remembering everything can’t be perfect is important. We can all work as hard as we can and sometimes things still won’t go our way. It’s important to remember that so we can remember to frame things as a learning process that we can grow from when things don’t work how we want.
– This little catch phrase has really helped me though out my career: ego is not your amigo. When I say that, I mean that having a big ego will block you from seeing and owning mistakes you will make and stop you from growing and correcting faults.
– Lastly, people buy YOU. When you are trying to get a job, make a sale, or close a deal, the very first thing people will judge is you. Presenting yourself as clean, manicured and humble is necessary to success.
Jerome Knyszewski: Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?
David Chen: I fully agree with this, my personal example is the North American Collegiate League. The NACL is a non-profit Esports league that connects collegiate athletes to the greater esports industry. We want to encourage youth to follow their dream in a productive way that benefits their future and allows them to use their enthusiasm for gaming in a productive way. In the past year, the NACL has grown extensively and I believe that a large part of that is because we are a purpose driven business, and the people who benefit from working with us want this opportunity to succeed and grow. So with purpose based businesses, they are successful because if they are catering to the needs of a consumer base, they are filling a gap that will sustain the business long term.
Jerome Knyzsewski: As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?
David Chen: For routine conversion, from experience the most effective was to find consistent success is to know your product or service 100%. You need to be able to answer every question better than it was asked. If you know your product / service thoroughly, you will be able to explain to the potential customer ways it can benefit them that may have not occurred to them, and really cinch the sale by explaining all the possible ways it can benefit them and their business.
Jerome Knyszewski: Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
David Chen: Being honest is really the bottom line. When you tell a customer you can do something, you need to be able to back it up unequivocally. All it takes is one bad experience with an important client to leave a bad taste in the mouths of their associates, so honestly and hard work will earn you a desirable reputation.
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
David Chen: Readers can connect with me by finding me on Instagram and Twitter at @DavidChenPanda, on twitch at FaZePanda, or by visiting my website. To learn more about my Mentorship course and Pandanomics Podcast you can find us @Pandanomicspodcast on Instagram.
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!