As part of our interview series called “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became A Founder,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Yubo Ruan.
Yubo Ruan is the Founder of Parallel Finance, a leading multi-chain decentralized finance platform. A driven entrepreneur, developer, and investor, Yubo founded Parallel Finance in 2021. Prior to that, Yubo was also the founder of 8 Decimal Capital, one of the pioneer blockchain funds with over $60 million AUM, and has a track record of 40 startups across 5 countries.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
In 2014, I started a savings company for kids called Alisimba. While working on Alisimba, I added WeChat Pay to the product and during that process began to learn about crypto. Later, I attended Stanford University and was working at DHVC, a venture capital firm, in early 2017. I helped DHVC connect with Binance, Kyber, and 0xproject. DHVC ultimately invested in some of them and this inspired me to start my own crypto-focused VC Fund called 8 Decimal Capital where I made investments across many projects including Solana, a blockchain platform, among others. After dropping out of Stanford and then building and selling 8 Decimal capital, I decided to go back to Stanford to learn more about blockchain and took a few more classes. While back at school, I participated in a hackathon where Parallel Finance was born. After a few more months of exploring Parallel’s potential, I dropped out again. I think this time I’m in blockchain full-time to stay!
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
My first company had many challenges. For starters, I had to drop out of high school to focus on launching Alisimba. Due to the demand of school and the demand of my company I had to choose between both. Also, in China, there was some negativity around the idea of me splitting my time between the two. Additionally, due to my young age, investors in China were very untrusting of my experience, and getting started was much more difficult. I also managed 12 employees who were 10 years older than me on average. Age was even difficult for negotiations and quickly became something I had to overcome on a regular basis.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
The harder a problem is, the more motivated I become. My personality is heavily influenced by problem-solving- I thrive on it. I also knew that regarding my age, this would be overcome by time and experience. As people experienced my skillsets and decision-making, they became more trusting and open to working with me.
So, how are things going today? How did grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Grit and resilience are the keys to success! Things are going incredibly well. I’m now building my largest company ever, Parallel Finance. Parallel is a multichain DeFi (decentralized finance) organization focused on reaching 1 billion users. We’ve grown to more than 65 employees in less than a year and will likely add 100 more before the end of 2022. We attracted the attention of incredible investors like Sequoia Capital and Founders Fund and currently have a constantly growing number of users.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I’m not sure about the funniest mistake, but even today I feel that I learn something new with every new hiring challenge. Hiring quality talent will always be one of the top areas a founder can learn a lot about — the needs of their company and simultaneously about their company culture.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
In less than a year, Parallel has hired more than 65 fully remote employees, raised capital from top-tier investors including Sequoia Capital and Founders Fund with a current valuation of around 250 million. We have also accumulated over half a billion in TVL (total value locked) and released 7 products on the Polkadot blockchain in around 3 months’ time.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Keeping a good life and work balance is important. Don’t overwork and try to focus on the priority first.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I briefly worked at Polychain for 7 days as a trial, this exposure to an institutional crypto organization gave me immense experience in a very short time. I left because the opportunity to start Parallel became imminent, but I am extremely grateful for the knowledge I earned during that period.”
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I believe that building better products and fostering more innovation for our society is the best way to give back.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Hiring the right quality people vs. quantity.
- Culture is crucial and must be protected while scaling.
- Strive for top-quality documentation and information for your community to utilize.
- Your network effect can be a major factor.
- Never stop learning.
Can you share a few ideas or stories from your experience about how to successfully ride the emotional highs & lows of being a founder”?
Being a founder has many highs and lows. My recommendation for any aspiring founder would be to approach all challenges good and bad with a positive attitude and the realization that you can’t control everything. Being a good founder means making good decisions and knowing when to trust others in their decision-making and when to not. Simultaneously, I think being a founder is a lot like being a parent which means being there for your company when it needs it most and also knowing that someday your baby will grow up and be out in the world on its own as well.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would start a movement to transform the way the world views education. To help drive a shift from going to school, and then never growing past what people learned, to a view of always learning. Given this is the age of IT, the ability to learn forever is at our fingertips. The opportunity for someone to learn anything is right there for anyone to seize.
I would help create more fun and engaging learning experiences and help foster a feeling of obsession with learning new things and sharing them with others. Encouraging the spread of information and education within this movement to help the world become filled with lifelong learners.
How can our readers further follow your work online
Your readers can follow along with me on Twitter, my name is @Yubo_Ruan. Additionally, you can follow along with Parallel via Twitter @ParallelFi, or join our Discord and Telegram channels to stay up to date.