The Era of Young Entrepreneurs: A Conversation with the Co-Founder of Remmie Health
Zaris Shen, a 22-year-old recent graduate from the University of Washington, has lit up her business path with different roles. She is a designer, a venture analyst, a business development manager. Born and raised in Beijing, China, Shen came to the United States in 2014 to pursue her bachelor’s degrees in information systems and communication. After graduation, stepping into the technology and healthcare industry has made Shen realize what she truly loves and where she can glow. In her 22-years-old, Shen became the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of a telemedicine start-up, Remmie Health. The era for young entrepreneurs has begun as she said, “If I don't do Remmie now, there won't be a better time.”
This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.
Q1: As the co-founder and COO of Remmie, why did you start this business? How did Remmie was founded?
I joined Rammie in 2019. At the time, I quit my well-paid stable job at a venture capital firm. I went back to campus to start my master’s program in entrepreneurship and hoped to start a business that actually helps people. Instead of just making a profit but finding something that is driven by the mission. And that was how I connected with our CEO Jane because she was an assistant professor at the University of Washington at the time. She got this amazing idea. For me, when I was in venture capital, I conducted due diligence on a lot of healthcare companies. So I'm familiar with the field. Also, I had a lot of ear infections myself, I need a device to monitor my ears frequently because it still hurts sometimes. And I completely see how this could make my parents-life easier if I ever have kids. So it's something that I know from my personal background, and I see how this connects a mission to it, how families can be benefited from this kind of device.
Q2. Why did you quit a well-paid job and choose the path to be an entrepreneur?
There are so many jobs out there that you can make a living out of, you can work for any employers. But I didn’t see myself when I was a junior venture analyst. Being young, I see how I would head in two years. I would be a junior venture manager, and then a senior venture manager after four years. I can see my path was already laid down well. Also, there were a lot of emotional and physical tensions going on. However, at the time, I was working with a lot of startup CEOs and I was really inspired by their mission, so I want to join their path. I think it was time to have a break. I saw barriers for me as a female to work in the finance industry, and I looked for something that it's controllable and I can fight for my own future.
Q3. How running a startup is different from working for a full-time job?
It's very different. There are several perspectives involved. I would say there's more pressure. Now, I have a team and we have investors. I have my own team members who are counting on me. They're amazing people that we have, and they'll carry forward in the future, so which means I have to work harder. And in my last job, my daily routine was repeated every day. I know what I was heading to is working for someone else. But now there is something pushing me forward instead of holding me back.
On the other hand, I really like helping to set up the culture versus my previous positions. The companies that I worked for already defined a lot of cultural beings, there was not much I could do instead of just being obedient. But at Remmie, I open up the door for team members to speak up and then become friends with each other. We want to make this environment welcoming and a place for growth and learning.
Q4. Have you experienced any microaggression in your profession as a young woman of a color entrepreneur?
When I worked in a prominent venture capital group, I was discriminated against a lot of times because of my age. I was always the youngest full-time employee, which I'm proud of, which also I intentionally hid my age, as well as my education and my graduation years on my resume. Because it's something that I understand when some investors look at my face and ask my manager, “why do you have a young team member here?,” “What is her experience?” But after I joined Remmie, I luckily have Jane (Rmmie’s CEO) and Zhan (Remmie’s CTO) backing me in their late thirties, early 40s. There's a sense of trustworthiness from them and there must be a reason that they trust me as well. So, I'm really thankful for Jane at the time when I joined Remmie.
Zaris and other team members of Remmie Health
Q5. As a young entrepreneur, what advice will you give to college students who want to start their own business after they graduate?
It’s hard but it's a good time for starting a business right after college if that's your plan for as many internships or jobs. Make as many connections as possible so that you're into the startup community and the VC community if your business is venture backable. And be really careful about what you choose. Know what you're good at and what you can do. There's no better time than being a young entrepreneur because there's not much out there you can lose. It's a good time where you can really focus on a startup. Also, It's a good opportunity to learn a lot of things which there is no way of working for a company that can teach you.
Edited by Tianyuan Xie