Misa Chien: How a Successful Commercial Model Became a Tech Startup Founder
With the startup world still heavily dominated by men, it’s rare to see many female tech startup founders. It’s even more rare when you come across a woman like Misa Chien, who is not only extremely intelligent, but also had a successful career as a commercial model while founding the popular Nom Nom food truck business in the Bay Area.
Here’s Misa in a Gloucester Commercial:
Since moving on from her first venture, Misa is now on to bigger and better things, having recently started her first tech startup. In the last couple months, her new company has gained a lot of traction and has attracted some notable brands as clients.
We recently had the chance to catch up with Misa over tea at Novel Cafe in Downtown Los Angeles. Here, we discuss her transition from model to entrepreneur and her new startup Fosubo.
Tell us a little bit about your modeling career and how that transitioned to your interest in entrepreneurship.
“I started modeling when I was in UCLA towards the end of my junior year and I just always thought that I should try out this industry and see what it’s like, so I decided to do that and it’s been really great! I mean, there have been some awesome clients I’ve worked with, I’ve really enjoyed building up my portfolio, and there have been some really fun challenges to overcome while doing that. It has also really increased my confidence, so it’s been a really great journey in that arena.”
What are some things from modeling that you miss or you don’t get out of entrepreneurship and vice versa?
“With modeling I have to say that it’s a lot easier and in some ways I love that because it’s a little bit of a break from running a company, but in other ways I really like the challenge of entrepreneurship in building a team and working really hard. It’s kind of a great balance to have those two worlds and to be a part of them.”
Have you learned anything from the modeling world and applied it your entrepreneurial ventures?
“I would definitely say that you can make your own luck in some ways but at the end of the day, hard work can really pay off and you just have to try a bunch of different things. There are a lot of challenges in the modeling industry that I’ve overcome such as being a petite model and being a lot shorter, but I am able to compensate in other ways and overcome that challenge. I feel like having those roadblocks or those challenges have made me stronger.”
What would you say you enjoy more, modeling or entrepreneurship?
“For me, entrepreneurship is my main focus and I definitely love it more. Even though I love modeling, it’s now become more of a hobby for me and I’m spending ninety percent to ninety-five percent of my focus and time on entrepreneurship, especially with my new company.”
Who were your inspirations growing up?
“Both of my parents own their own businesses and my dad and my mom both told me to always follow your passion because the majority of your life is spent working, so find something that you really love and then it won’t be like work. My Dad is actually in a completely different industry, but he’s into cardiovascular stem cell research over at Harvard. Then my mom has her own speech therapy business, so really both of them have shown to be great role models for me in terms of following your passion and figuring out what you’re calling is in life.”
Have they been supportive in the direction you’ve decided to go in your life?
“I’ve just been really happy with how supportive they’ve been. In whatever I do they say, “Just follow whatever path you want to create for yourself.” Having that support has really made me go by the motto of “no fear.” My dad always says “Life is like being on a surfboard and catching that wave and not being afraid to catch that wave,” so he’s really always said ‘have no fear” and don’t be afraid of failure. I think having that back-up, having my family and friends really support me through the difficulties of being an entrepreneur, I think that’s been such an amazing gift that they have given me.”
Your first business was the Nom Nom Truck. How was it transitioning from the food industry to tech?
“Transitioning from the food industry to the tech industry with my previous company Nom Nom and then my newer company Fosubo has been a really interesting position but also very exciting. In food, I feel like I learned so much, I learned how hard work can really pay off, but it’s really nice not have to worry about things like the truck getting a flat tire on a Saturday. In terms of stress levels, I’ve been stressed out about different things about each business.”