Yida Gao, the founder and Managing General Partner of Shima Capital, recently sat down with us to discuss his journey as a venture capitalist, offer advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, and share his major keys to success. As an accomplished investor and entrepreneur, Yida has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the startup world, having founded several successful businesses himself. In this interview, Yida shares his insights on what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur and offers valuable advice for those looking to start their own businesses. He also discusses the role of venture capital in today’s rapidly evolving tech industry and how Shima Capital is helping to shape the future of innovation.
About Shima Capital
Shima Capital is a leading early-stage VC firm founded by Yida Gao in 2021, investing in disruptive blockchain companies. The fund is deeply focused on taking a hands-on approach and working closely with its portfolio companies to provide the most sweat equity per dollar invested. As teams in Web3 push the frontier of innovation, Shima helps hire talent, build community, amplify narratives, and foster the acceleration of technical research and development. Shima is composed of seasoned investors, accomplished operators, and former founders who align on a mission to support all-star teams with building and scaling generational companies.
Gao told us how his clients become raving fans of his business. For his team at Shima Capital, their focus is on investing in relentless founders building next-generation technologies. Shima’s portfolio consists of both household names and up-and-coming brands and projects.
Shima Capital distinguishes itself from other venture capitalist firms by focusing on innovative startups that combine technology and sustainability and by providing exceptional support and resources to help these companies succeed. Shima Capital’s motto is “we run through walls for our founders,” and that’s something they’ve proven over and over again. Yida Gao and his team at Shima Capital don’t stop until every company has everything it needs to succeed in this very competitive industry. Their portco testimonials say it all.
After discussing what sets his company apart from others, Gao shared what brought his venture capital firm success. “Shima Capital is a team of 15 exceptional leaders who are experts in their fields. From gaming, to research, to blockchain technology, to marketing, every team member at Shima is highly specialized in his or her vertical, and that knowledge is transferred to their portfolio companies.”
Gao’s Advice for Entrepreneurs
Yida’s advice for entrepreneurs emphasizes the importance of commitment and perseverance in building a successful business, as he understands the challenges of starting a company from scratch. “Be sure you are ready to give it your all, fully. It will be a lot of work, especially in the early days, but that hard work and persistence will ensure a solid foundation is laid for your business to succeed now and well into the future. Starting a company is like eating glass and staring into the abyss for many years,” said Gao.
Yida also advised entrepreneurs to always push through those harder times and don’t be afraid to ask for help. He says, “it is also critical to build a strong team around you so you’ll always have others close by who can provide unique outlooks and solutions to new challenges.”
Evolving in Today’s Fast-changing Business Environment
The fast-changing business environment requires organizations to continuously adapt and innovate to remain competitive and successful. When asked about how Gao stays abreast of things in the fast-changing environment, he said, “I find it best to subscribe to as many quality news sources as possible. That might include select Google Alerts and news feeds, but also Twitter. I can’t stress enough how much alpha there is on Twitter that can be digested in an efficient manner.”
Tips for Entrepreneurship Success From Gao
Gao continued to answer our interview questions during our rapid-fire segment of the interview. Here’s what he said:
What is your “why”, why do you get up in the morning: As a technology buff, I get to sit in the front row of reviewing the most cutting-edge technologies of our time and have the honor to support founders as they push the barrier of innovation – much better than coffee.
What is the most important thing one has to do to be a great leader: There are so many answers to this, but being a great leader means listening to your team and knowing that their opinions and ideas are just as important and just as valid as yours.
Describe how important your customers/clients are to your business: In venture capital, aside from our limited partners, my customers are the companies we invest in. So, quite literally, their success is Shima Capital’s success. We invest in the best, and we also work tirelessly to ensure they have everything they need to succeed.
Describe a positive way that technology can make the world a better place: Advances in technology are providing new and exciting ways for individuals around the world to, for example, find better alternatives to existing finance and banking structures, including in countries or regions where such opportunities did not exist before.
Tell us something positive to motivate our readers: Having been in the venture capital and finance world for so long, I can tell you that every “down” will also have an “up,” and the same is true in life and business.
How do you start your day to get ready: Days in my industry can be long given the global nature of venture capital, so I like to start the day with a workout to keep my mind and body sharp, so I can always be at 100% for our portfolio companies.
How do you handle rejection and setbacks: There can be rejection on both sides of the table in our industry, and the best way to handle it is to accept the results, learn from the situation, and use the learnings for the next problems ahead.
What is your hiring philosophy: I try to always have a trial period for the potential hire to make sure the person will fit with the culture of the firm.
Lastly, how do you keep your sanity in a competitive business environment: Make sure to have balance in life that includes strong, healthy relationships with your body, mind, friends and family – this is easy to forget when the business environment is cutthroat but also easy to regret later in life.
More About Yida Gao
Yida Gao (Forbes 30 Under 30) is the Managing General Partner of early-stage crypto investment firm Shima Capital. Yida formerly co-ran Struck Capital, an early stage industry agnostic venture fund, and also DDC (Divergence Digital Currency), a multi-strategy crypto fund. Prior, Yida served as a technology investor at New Enterprise Associates, a $25Bn+ venture capital fund, and as an M&A investment banker at Morgan Stanley. He graduated from MIT with degrees in mathematics and computer science and dropped out of Stanford’s Graduate School of Business to pursue crypto investing full-time in 2017. He teaches the 15.492: Crypto Finance course at MIT.