Top 10 East Asian Entrepreneurs
Andy Kim, CEOLee Chen, CEOChristine Do, CEOHenry Schuck, CEOJoey Lin, CEOMindi M. May, CEOWasim Khaled, CEOReddy Annappareddy, Co-founderAndy Liu, Co-founderMin Cho, CEO
2010 Revenue: $8.7 million
Three-Year Growth: 6,666%
As a Korean American, Andy Kim says his childhood was full of surprises. To help his family, that was struggling financially, he began fixing school district computers. But, using the work ethic taught to him by his parents, Kim now heads I.T. Source. "Like life, business has its ups and downs," he says. "I believe being persistent and trying to overcome any obstacle with a positive attitude will ultimately help you succeed."
San Jose, Calif.
2010 Revenue: $55.1 million
Three-Year Growth: 3,786%
Lee Chen was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and lived there until he moved to San Jose, Calif. in 1980. "My parents flew to Taiwan after China’s Nationalist government lost the civil war to the Communists. I grew up in a family of six children and several times a month, we did not have enough food to eat for dinner," he says. "My father values education and he put all of us through college by sheer force of will." That same drive has seen Chen through two successful start-ups and now his current computer hardware company A10 Networks.
Soft Tech Consulting
2010 Revenue: $7.4 million
Three-Year Growth: 2,138%
Christine Do came to the U.S. as a Vietnamese refugee in 1975. She credits her first experiences in America, which included a welcoming community in Phelps, N.Y., as a crucial part of her being able to succeed in business. After getting an education and 16 years of building a career in IT services, Do decided to start her own company, Soft Tech Consulting. She considers herself someone with a true entrepreneurial spirit, thriving on the excitement and exhaustion of starting-up and pushing to grow.
2010 Revenue: $2.8 million
Three-Year Growth: 1,516%
Henry Schuck credits his Iranian mother, who worked multiple jobs to support the family, with his first feelings of business success. To keep him out of trouble, she arranged for him to work at a near-by video store. "Behind my back and without me knowing she worked out a deal with the owner of the video store where he would “hire” me to help around the shop," he says. "But my mom would pay him to pay me. So I worked there for probably about a year—proud that I had a job and was making money and my mom was happy cause she knew I wasn’t out running with a bad crew." DiscoverOrg, an IT intelligence firm, is a product of his deeply rooted work ethic.
Chevy Chase, Md.
2010 Revenue: $7.1 million
Three-Year Growth: 1,442%
Joey Lin is Chinese American, growing up in Los Angeles. "Both of my parents were immigrants and I grew up in a single parent household, so I guess you can say that a sort of bootstrap mentality has been ingrained in me since I was a kid," says Lin, CEO of online marketing company Spark Revenue. "Watching my mom, a restaurant owner, work long hours every day to support her kids instilled a work ethic that has influenced me in my business life." He says the bottom line of his mother's teachings: "You're not going to win every day, but show up, work hard and good things will happen."
2010 Revenue: $2.3 million
Three-Year Growth: 1,400%
Mindi M. May says that coming to the U.S. as a Vietnamese refugee as a six-year-old kid was a character building experience. She was raised in Racine, Wis., where a local family and church sponsored her acclimation into her new life. "Most of my friends' parents were working for either SC Johnson, Case, Twin Disc or Modine Manufacturing," she says. "Having school field trips to these companies held my fascination throughout my childhood." Today, Aztec Awards, which makes corporate awards and IP recognition products, is the manifested reality of her childhood dreams.
2010 Revenue: $4.1 million
Three-Year Growth: 1,358%
A Bengali-American born in Chicago, Wasim Khaled actually grew up in upstate New York. His parents came to the U.S. for higher education. "The bar was set high for me, but it turned out I didn't really like structured education," says Khaled, founder of mobile accessories maker LuxMobile. Instead he explored his creative side, and he credits his parents with instilling a sense of freedom in his studies. "Instead of being forced along the doctor and engineer options like other Indian and Bengali kids, I had run of the house to film elaborate Kung Fu and detective movies and our attic was filled with the sounds of my band playing for hours on end," he recalls.
Bel Air, Md.
2010 Revenue: $18 million
Three-Year Growth: 937%
Reddy Annappareddy came to the U.S. from India to attend Long Island University when he was 21 years old. He credits his hardworking father with instilling the value of education in him from a young age. "He taught me to treat both failures and successes as equally important," says Annappareddy, who is the head of Pharmacare. He also says his mother taught him to be philanthropic, and he now donates 10 percent of his income to charity.
2010 Revenue: $2.6 million
Three-Year Growth: 932%
As an American born son to Chinese immigrants, Andy Liu says watching his entrepreneurial father influenced his business sense tremendously. "I probably have more perseverance than most when it comes to the roller coaster ride and I'm a total addict when it comes to building companies now," says Liu, who heads recap and television "companion" company BuddyTV.
2010 Revenue: $47.1 million
Three-Year Growth: 893%
Born in Korea and raised in Argentina, Min Cho says her varied childhood inspired her entrepreneurial spirit. "My parents have been a living example of how hard work and determination leads to success," says Cho, who now runs Nova Datacom. "I hope to pass these traits to my daughters." She also says that her parents teachings, which championed education and continued learning, prepared her to succeed in a male-dominated industry.