When he was a kid, it was Yuxing Wang’s brother who enjoyed taking risks, not Yuxing himself.
“I’m a risk-rewards person, but my brother is different. He was doing all sorts of crazy stuff,” he said, recalling a day when his brother encouraged him to jump off a 10-foot tall wall. Yuxing stood there for many minutes before finally jumping and letting his brother catch him.
But today, it is Yuxing taking the risks as an entrepreneur. The researcher is cofounder and CTO of MilesAhead Energy, where he’s developing new battery technology that will power the electric cars and airplanes of tomorrow.
“It lead me to think, where did I get that gene, or the why to do something crazy like entrepreneurship?” he said.
He credits much of that shift to his experience as a foreign exchange student. Born in China, Yuxing came to the U.S. when he was 20 to study at the University of Washington.
“It was probably through that experience that I grew a pretty thick skin,” he said. “You do need thick skin to be an entrepreneur, right, people say no to you all the time, and you’re doing things that you’re not even sure about, so you just have to push forward.”
America is a very different place from China — more open & business-friendly, Yuxing shares.
“There’s not a lot of rules, socially,” he said. “If I was still in China, I probably wouldn’t start a business, but in the U.S., if you look at the culture, the tax codes, the opportunities — whoever has the means to start a business without being too adversely affected by the risk, I really feel you should try here in the U.S.”
And Dayton in particular is a good spot to give it a go, offering great schools and low cost of living, he said.
“Dayton is a really great place to raise a family,” he said. “And low cost of living — that’s important for me. As an entrepreneur, you have to think about those first couple years, when you don’t have revenue coming in. My wife is a full-time employee, so she’s actually the breadearner of the family, and because of the low cost, we still have a fairly good standard of living here, so it gives me peace of mind to pursue something that’s very risky.”
The city also offers great resources through institutions like Wright Patterson Air Force Base and entrepreneur support organizations like Launch Dayton partners Entrepreneurs’ Center and Parallax, Yuxing added.
“This is the birthplace of aviation,” he said. “Yes, there’s been decline, and companies have moved out, but I was still marveled at how many great resources there are, whether it’s people, infrastructure, and even entrepreneur support. Dayton is such a great place for raising a family and starting a business.”
Thinking of giving it a go yourself? Yuxing offers a few nuggets of wisdom.
“My first advice is, be brave,” he said. “If you’re not willing to try things, to do things that are tough, to explore things or push boundaries, then there’s a very low chance you can be successful. Being a foreign exchange student, someone not familiar with the environment, is tough. So be brave.”
His second piece of advice? Open your heart.
“You really have to have curiosity of learning things,” he said. “America is such a big country with such a diverse culture. And also, in the technology space, you’ve gotta learn from a lot of people — mechanical people, chemistry people, physics people, or maybe even some field that you feel is a little irrelevant. Try to open up from your small field of expertise and just embrace what’s out there.”
And finally — persevere.
“Once you are really insistent on doing something and start making progress, people will come onboard and see, this is someone they can rely on, someone they can gather on, and eventually parts just pick up,” he said. “Maybe you don’t have expertise in this, but you have someone who belieevs and sees your perseverance and really want to help. Here in America, and especially in Dayton, there’s so much help you can get.”
“I am Yuxing Wang, and I am an entrepreneur.”
There’s no one way to be an entrepreneur.
You don’t have to look a certain way, operate in a particular industry, pursue specific education, grow up in a particular household, or spend your free time nurturing any particular hobbies — entrepreneurs grow from all walks of life.
In a new video series we are excited to launch today, entrepreneurs, founders, and small business owners from across the Dayton Region share their individual stories in order to break down those pervading stereotypes about who can or can’t be an entrepreneur.
They proudly declare, “I Am an Entrepreneur” — and you can be, too.