Balancing the left and right brain
When Maureen Fan went hunting for venture capital for her virtual reality animation studio, she put in the pitch deck that she wanted to “bring out the 5-year-old” in adult audiences.
She also told potential backers that VR is the future of animation, but it may take a little longer to get there than others expect. Some VCs were surprised, but she countered that she wanted them to know that “I am being realistic about it…and I am prepared.”
Striking a balance between creative and business happens daily for Fan, who is co-founder and CEO of Baobab Studios. “I do feel like there are two sides that are always warring with each other: It’s the left side of the brain versus the right side of the brain.”
Being able to talk to your co-founders is critical because the only people who understand your world are other entrepreneurs.
Collaboration drives quality
Fan first went with her creative side, working at Pixar. The then-CFO would describe how he felt “saying yes to a film about rats wanting to cook or half-silent film about robots falling in love?’ And the artists would say ‘they just want to kill our creativity.’”
Determined to make the best of “the healthy tension,” Fan went to business school. Today, she firmly believes that in film “quality drives business metrics, and that quality is created through collaboration.”
Her practical side is what has helped her raise VC money for Baobab Studios, and as one of the very few female CEOs of a virtual reality studio, and the only of an animated VR studio, she has hit her stride.
Gaining strength from the team
At Baobab Studios, she says having a strong team at her side provides balance and strength. “Being able to talk to your co-founders is critical because the only people who understand your world are other entrepreneurs,” she says. Together, they draw on each other’s strengths to develop ideas and technology.
In making choices to help the studio grow, Fan looks for similar attributes in her team of business partners.
After choosing Silicon Valley Bank, she recalls how helpful the bank relationship manager was, every time she called. She helped Fan set up banking accounts and work with payroll companies. “When we needed a special international bank transfer, our rep was there for me within an hour. I could call anytime and she was there,” she recalls.
The relationship goes beyond pure banking. “SVB helps get our name, our brand out there; that is super important,” she says.
SVB helps get our name, our brand out there; that is super important.
At Silicon Valley Bank, we have conversations every day with technology visionaries who are shaping the future. We invited several clients on the frontlines to share their experiences and points of view on how to build a successful innovation company.
In this collection of stories, titled Next2 POV, you will hear about the vision, passion and sheer grit necessary to get going, and how building a trusted team of partners and advisors is a prerequisite for success. Our goal is for these stories to give you insight and inspiration to move your big idea forward.