CEO Andy Choi on Building a Bridge between Startup & VC

Find out how and why Quota Lab started (Part 1)

CEO Andy Choi on Building a New Ecosystem for Startup Equity Management

Find out how and why Quota Lab started (Part 1)

Quota Lab has been around since August 2019 with the aim to simplify equity management between startups and venture capitals (VCs). We are quickly growing with top startups and VCs in Korea on our platform, strengthening the vision of building a new financial infrastructure for private securities. Now that we are approaching our two-year anniversary, we wanted to share (and also remind ourselves) about what our founders had in mind when starting Quota Lab, starting with Andy, our CEO/Co-founder.

Andy Choi, CEO of Quotabook, explaining the importance of accurate cap table management, ESOP management and shareholder management
Andy Choi, CEO of Quota Lab/ Reference: Jmagazine Korea

Questions (Q): Hey Andy - let’s start by briefly introducing yourself.

Andy (A): Sure! I’m Andy, CEO/Co-founder of Quota Lab. I come from an engineering background, getting both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the US. I worked there as a software engineer for about five to six years. Then I went back and forth between Chicago, Silicon Valley and Korea, working in various industries including e-commerce, digital media, mobile payment, financial transaction, and finally venture capital. The problems I faced from my last experience as a VC were the motivations behind starting Quota Lab.

Andy being a VC
Andy being a VC, realizing how important it is to simplify cap table and shareholder list for startups
Images of Andy working as a VC

Q: What are these “problems” that you wanted to solve?

A: They are deeply embedded with the day-to-day tasks performed by VCs and startups, one of which is how private equity data and documents are being managed. For instance, most would handle cap tables manually on spreadsheets or word files, which are insecure and prone to a lot of mistakes and errors. Also, it’s needless to mention the inefficiency and security issues to constantly edit different version and share these confidential files.

It was somewhat interesting to realize that the startups and VCs, supposedly the most innovative field of all, were keeping track of their own data in a way outdated by at least two decades. Naturally, I began to look beyond and started asking around startup founders, investors, and VCs I know. Turns out everyone was having the same troubles. It was just that no one knew the way out.

That’s how it all started. I thought I could use my experience as a software engineer and a VC to save everyone from the inefficiencies and jumped right in.

Q: That was a bold move. It’s not easy to just go ahead and start a company like that! What was the reaction when you told people about quitting your job and starting Quota Lab?

A: People in the startup/venture field were mostly supportive because they understood the need. Those who were not? They were more concerned. I heard all the typical comments that anyone who ever tried to start a company would hear like “it’s too risky”.

Discussing cap table solution, shareholder management, stock option solution work on Quotabook, an equity management platform in Asia

Q: What were the three key points you considered in starting your own business?

A: First, I wanted starting Quota Lab to be a challenge that I can earn something out of. I enjoy taking risks, but at the same time I like to hedge them. It’s like playing and betting in lotteries knowing that you can always hit the jackpot in return to losing what you bet, right? There should be a definite win at the end of a risk I’m about to take.

Second, I considered if there would be a strong impact. Quota Lab is all about building a new financial infrastructure, which isn’t something that’s been done before. It’s about creating something out of nothing - exactly what I was looking for.

Final point was to work with great people. With great people comes greater people. This is a cycle we are trying to create so that at the end of the day we can work with colleagues who are much better than any one of us.

Q: Soon it’ll be Quota Lab’s two-year anniversary 🎉! Would you say you’ve achieved these key points?

A: Luckily, I think yes, for now. We are a small team so it’s easier to make things happen, but I am worried about when we scale, so I question myself “Can we manage to hold on to what we have now when the company grows in size?” To do so, we are trying hard to recruit people who can share our vision together.

Quotabook team members working hard to simplify private equity management platform

Q: Going back to the question about starting Quota Lab, weren’t you afraid of failing?

A: Honestly, I’m afraid all the time, and by all the time I mean every day (laughter). People may be surprised or even be jealous when they hear we are funded by numerous investors but personally, I feel responsible for everyone who’s backing us up. They gave us the opportunity to build our business but if we were to fail, we would let them down. It’s one thing to let one person down, but it’s a whole new different thing to let many down. I feel the pressure, but I try to utilize this to my advantage as it motivates me to work harder and bring the best performance.

Q: Can’t even imagine the pressure you’re going through. How do you handle the stress?

A: I try to remind myself that I’ll still get something even if I fail. I think I would have more to gain than to lose even if I were to fail right at this moment. I became a VC for the network because I thought I can do anything with it. Back then, being able to meet a lot of people mattered more than getting paid six figures. With my job at Quota Lab? I network so much more, especially being in the middle of startups and VCs, bridging them locally and even globally. For example, global VCs may not be so open to a random startup pitching but when we explain that we are building a software to make their lives easier, they listen. These are some of the advantages I try to recall whenever I’m afraid or lost.

It’s a constant struggle between stress and triumph. Something like the chicken-or-egg dilemma (laughter).

Continue to Part 2

Make equity simple with QuotaBook - QuotaBook is a SaaS-based equity management solution for both Startups and Venture Capital funds. Startups and VCs can sync crucial equity-related data such as cap tables, employee stock options as well as investor updates on our platform so that every stakeholder can communicate through a single source of truth. QuotaBook is the No. 1 equity management software for startups in Korea, trusted by 2000+ startups & VCs and backed by more than 20 VC funds.

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