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Entrepreneur Unplugged Recap: David Niu

David Niu is a passionate serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and Founder of TINYhr. David graduated from UC Berkeley with Distinction and received his MBA (or as he calls it, “Managers by Accident”) from The Wharton School. David was the youngest recipient of the prestigious Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and has received the Puget Sound Business Journal “40 Under 40” award. Prior to TINYhr, David co-founded BuddyTV in 2005 and NetConversions in 1999 which was then sold to aQuantive “AQNT” in 2004.

After burning out as a serial entrepreneur, David decided to take a “careecation” and sell everything, buy a one-way tickets to New Zealand for his wife, infant daughter and himself. For six months, they traveled around countries such as New Zealand and Seoul and at the same, David interviewed entrepreneurs throughout the trip. During this time, he interviewed and learned from other entrepreneurs from around the world on best practices and pain points when it came to people management, culture and leadership.

After he returned, David focused on what he learned from these business owners to develop TINYhr’s first solution- TINYpulse.

Here are some of the questions that followed David’s talk at the Brenthaven Entrepreneur Unplugged event.

How long did your “careercation” last?

It lasted about six months. We wanted to go for about 6 – 12 months but unfortunately I got sick and it prevented us from extending our trip. However, in that time I got so excited after doing so many interviews that I found that I knew what I wanted to do next for my next startup which is what ultimately inspired me down the journey to start TINYpulse.

Did you go on this vacation with a list of people you wanted to interview?

We would just go to places and I would look up folks to interview. I didn’t plan it beforehand. I liked interviewing local people so I could also get the lay of the land.

How do you see the role of human resources and how is it changing?

I believe that human resources in the past was about letting employees know what they can’t do and preventing the company from getting lawsuits. It was all about keeping the company safe rather than focusing on the employees. Now it should be about inspirations… About what you CAN do as an individual and what you can do to better the company.

Can you describe the different cultures and their approach to entrepreneurship and how it varied across the counties you went to?

What I found out was that there were more similarities than differences. Managing people is hard, and it doesn’t matter where you are. One area that really stood out was realizing that the US and its employment practices are much more lax and fluid than our overseas brethren.

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