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AMINO insights

LaunchPad by HYSTA and AMINO aims to support Asian American entrepreneurs during COVID-19

Top Tech Trends by Dr. Huican Zhu, General Partner at AMINO Capital

What Is HYSTA LaunchPad?

HYSTA LaunchPad is an online pitch and mentorship program, co-organized by HYSTA and Amino Capital.

We focus on developing a vibrant platform where early-stage startups founded by first and second generation immigrants from Asia and venture investors could expand their network and foster mentorship and collaboration. With its decades of experience in multi-culture entrepreneurial network service, HYSTA will continue to bring to the community more exciting and valuable opportunities of innovation, collaboration and development.

What are the top tech trends? Insights from Dr. Huican Zhu, General Partner at AMINO Capital

Very happy to attend the launchpad event organized by HYSTA and Amino Capital. I am glad to meet all the founders and investors online, and wanted to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on a few companies that presented tonight.

At this point, everyone is used to meeting online. Ideally, we all want to get together in person to chat, since that’s usually how startups and investors interact, but things are quite different now. After four months of shelter-in-place, I found that it is quite efficient to have meetings at home since we don’t have to spend time driving around. At Amino, weekly and weekend startup pitch sessions are still going on very regularly during this period, and we’ve invested in over 10 startups since March.

Dr. Huican Zhu’s children at home playing Nintendo Switch during COVID-19

So COVID-19 has definitely brought huge changes, at least temporarily, to our lifestyles. All the kids and college students are at home, and the parents are at home too. I used to be against playing games, since I thought it was a waste of time, but this time I actually encouraged my son to find and buy Nintendo Switch — it’s a very popular game console that’s now sold out everywhere, but somehow my son managed to buy it. Now, my kids and I play Overcooked and Animal Crossing all the time. It’s a very different time, and it is obviously a good time for Battlefy, the esports company that presented today, since most outdoor sports are cancelled, and college has also cancelled their sports activities. The Ivy League has just announced that they cancelled all the fall athletic programs, including all the football games, due to COVID-19. This is definitely a huge opportunity for Battlefy. If Battlefy can take advantage of this opportunity, and I am very confident that they can, then they will have huge potential.

On the other hand, I think this might be a difficult time for Duet, since people do stay home more and travel less, but COVID-19 will pass. The long-term value of Duet will definitely show up. I think that now is a good time for Duet to stay put, since it’s still in its pilot stage. It can definitely take its time to experiment and to improve its dispatching and its scheduling algorithms. I hope that after the pandemic is over, Duet will find its time.

The next company that presented is PolyExplore. It works on high-end navigation and mapping solutions for self-driving cars and other robotic and related industry uses. I guess with self-driving cars, we all know about Lidar. Lidar is very useful, and everyone talks about Lidar for self driving cars. Besides Lidar, the high-precision GPS is actually very important, and this is what PolyExplore is working on. For a car to be able to self-drive smoothly and efficiently, it has to know its exact location. How does it know its exact location? It needs a high definition map and a precise GPS. This usually needs to be within a few centimeters of accuracy. If it doesn’t know its exact location, it will not be able to stop very smoothly at a stop sign, or it would get too close to some cliffs on a mountain road. These scenarios all require a high-precision GPS. But the problem I see with self-driving cars, is that it’s always three to five years away. So, it’s always almost there, but it’s always not there. The good thing is, and I am happy to see that, PolyExplore is actually working on something else, besides self-driving cars. They also work on agricultural and industrial applications. Those are also areas with huge potential, so I hope to see PolyExplore succeed in those areas.

The last company, Wynd, also has great timing during this period. We all stay home 24 hours a day now, and we all definitely want to make sure our homes have clean air and have very good air quality. This is definitely a very good opportunity for Wynd. Initially, when I first saw that Wynd works on air quality, I started to wonder, what if Wynd could somehow monitor the coronavirus densities, or some trace of the coronavirus indoors? Ray also mentioned a bit on this, but this is definitely a huge opportunity. If we can somehow monitor and detect the coronavirus indoors, then maybe the restaurants can open their indoor dining, and we wouldn’t have to eat outside or order takeout anymore. I’m looking forward to the product from Wynd on this.

These are just some quick thoughts and comments on the companies. All in all, I think all the companies presenting tonight are very high quality, with very impressive technologies and with huge markets. I hope everyone can succeed.

Edited by Anke Hao, U of Chicago, 23'

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