The Rsrve.me team at Start-up Monthly's Demo Pitch & Presentation Day where the team came in first place within the Accelerator program and second overall. Co-founders from left to right: Poi Yu, Jennifer Kim Van Nguyen, Tony Yeung, and Christopher Ling.
Sponsoring Hyphen's "Survival" Issue Release party are up-and-comers Rsrve.Me, a web platform that provides the invaluable service for making hassle-free, customized date nights for San Francisco couples. Rsrve.me was conceived last year when co-founder Christopher Ling scoured Yelp and sought advice from friends on how to make plans with his girlfriend for their 6-year anniversary, but his sources just weren't that helpful. Rsrve.me was born out of that frustration and the site, which launched in January 2012, offers exclusive date experiences for those couples who want to save their energy for actually enjoying themselves.
We talk with two of Rsrve.me's co-founders, Jennifer Kim Van Nguyen (Design & Marketing) and Christopher Ling (Business Development) about surviving as a new start-up.
[Full Disclosure: Jennifer Kim Van Nguyen is a former Editorial and Graphic Designer and current business staff at Hyphen]
What does "survival" mean to you?
CL: To me, survival means always striving to better oneself and never being complacent. I believe in pushing boundaries and following whatever your passion is. Whether professionally, socially, or mentally, survival should not only be about “moving onwards," but also about “moving upwards."
JN: Survival, to me, means to consistently be moving, growing and striving to better oneself, but, more importantly, to also remain true to yourself in the process. I think, more than often, it's really easy to lose sight of that aspect in the pursuit of success in whatever industry you're in.
What has been your most rewarding moment doing what you're doing?
CL: Hands down, the most rewarding moment is when I see happy customers. A lot of time and sweat goes into every event that we create, so it’s a great feeling when the owners are happy with the event and excited about creating something special for their customers. It’s equally rewarding to receive feedback from couples who are ecstatic about breaking out of their usual routine to not only discover something new, but also receive a one-of-a-kind VIP experience.
What is the toughest part about your trade?
CL: Solving the chicken and the egg dilemma. Because we’re in the early days of Rsrve.me, it’s a constant endeavor to increase merchant partnerships, as well as expand our Rsrve.me community. Our mission is to offer awesome date experiences, but more importantly, we need the community to want to be a part of the experience. However, tackling this very problem is part of the fun in growing the overall business -- nobody said it would be easy.
Do you see yourself as a leader/activist? How?
CL: I view myself as a leader with the Rsrve.me team, helping to push the bar in the overall development of the company to ensure we’re making progress towards the overall vision of providing awesome date experiences to everyone. Motivation and trust go a long way in empowering everyone on the team to be a leader in managing their work product, while emphasizing professional growth at the same time.
JN: Definitely. I believe in order to be a great and successful leader, you have to inspire others to reach beyond what convention says is possible, plan how you're going to accomplish your goals, inspire those around you to believe that anything is possible and execute even when success is not guaranteed.
What is one thing you know now about your career that you wish you had known in college?
CL: In college, you are essentially handed a schedule of classes to take in order to graduate with a certain major or emphasis. There is a path outlined for you with the necessary steps required to achieve success. However, when entering the workforce, there is neither a distinct path nor a single metric to define success. I believe the key here is to realize that you are not going to have everything figured out and might not know what you’ll even be doing a year from now, but that’s part of the fun.
JN: Money is only paper. Experience is value.
Aside from being an entrepreneur, what other impacts have you made in the community (Asian American or not)?
CL: One volunteering
experience I thought stood out from the rest was participating in Grid
Alternative’s Solar Affordable Housing Program, where a group of volunteers and
I installed a solar system on a low-income house that was provided by Habitat
for Humanity. It was a great feeling to help in something that would save a
family money on lower cost power while also learning about something I was
JN: Aside from working with Rsrve.me, I volunteer and serve as Chief Marketing Officer for Philanthro's San Francisco chapter, a national NPO that engages young professionals in philanthropy. We connect young professionals with charitable causes through volunteer, social and leadership activities working with organizations such as Make-a-Wish Foundation, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, etc.
7. How would you describe your team in one sentence?
CL: An eclectic, insanely
intelligent group of individuals doing whatever it takes to get things done, no
JN: A group of talented and insanely progressive thinkers living a few years of our lives like most people won't so that we can spend the rest of our lives living our dream.
Hyphen's "Survival" Issue Release Party is on Saturday, February 4 from 9:00 pm to 2:00 am at 111 Minna Gallery, 111 Minna Street, San Francisco, CA. Get tickets here.
The previous issue of Hyphen is available in its entirety for your perusing pleasure. Almost as good as having it right in your hands!