Turning Failures into Opportunities with Christina Qi

May 10, 2022

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Christina Qi is the CEO of Databento, an on-demand market data platform. She formerly founded Domeyard LP, a hedge fund focused on high frequency trading (HFT) that traded up to $7.1 billion USD per day. Failing to earn a job offer after a Wall Street internship, Christina started Domeyard from her dorm room with $1000 in savings, about 9 years ago. Her fund was a tiny minnow amongst the tigers of the hedge fund world, but after Michael Lewis’s Flash Boys came out in 2014 and HFT firms hid from the spotlight, Domeyard accidentally found itself in the center of the ring. Over the next decade, her company’s story was featured on the front page of Forbes and Nikkei, and quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CNN, NBC, and the Financial Times as a result of the controversy and fascination with HFT. By a series of accidents, Christina became a voice in her industry, contributing to the World Economic Forum’s research on AI in finance, guest lecturing at dozens of universities, and teaching Domeyard’s case study at Harvard Business School. She is grateful to be able to open up about her mistakes, and to help people turn failures into opportunities.

John Shegerian: This edition of the Impact podcast is brought to you by ERI. ERI has a mission to protect people, the planet, and your privacy. And is the largest fully integrated IT in electronics asset disposition provider and cybersecurity-focused hardware destruction company in the United States and maybe even the world. For more information on how ERI can help your business properly dispose of outdated electronic hardware devices, please visit eridirect.com.

John: Welcome to another edition of the Impact podcast. This, I promise you is a super special edition of the Impact podcast. We’ve got with us from Utah today, Christina Qi. Welcome to Impact, Christina.

Christina Qi: Thank you for having me, John. Super excited to be here.

John: Oh, Christina, I’ve already told you I’m a huge fan, but we’re gonna turn my whole audience into huge fans of Christina Qi today, and we’re gonna be talking about your life and your journey. First, I love to hear where you were born and how you came to American things [inaudible].

Christina: Yeah, so I was actually born in China. I don’t have an accent anymore actually because my parents immigrated to Utah when I was three. So it kind of went full circle because I lived in Boston for quite a while actually and then came back to Utah for the pandemic, and now I’m really close to my parents. I have absolutely loved it here. Do I speak Chinese anymore? Kind of is always my answer because I never really learned it in school, unfortunately, but I do speak it a little bit. I’m a little bit conversational. So that’s my current level. Yeah.

John: Which part of China were you born in?

Christina: I was born in Beijing. Yeah. I still have a lot of family there. All my cousins and my grandparents and– Yeah, I hope to see them again. It’s been a while.

John: When you were a little girl, did mom and dad speak to you primarily in Chinese or was English your first language?

Christina: Chinese, yeah, was my first language. I cannot believe that I spoke Chinese. Babies learns so fast, you know? You never know, and then five years later, I was just speaking only English apparently.

John: That’s also nice. So then, you grew up in Utah, how was your growing-up experience? Were you always interested in entrepreneurship and finance? Or was that something that evolved after high school?

Christina: Absolutely not. I was not interested in entrepreneurship. I didn’t even know what it was. We never really learned it in school either. I mean, I just went to the public school system in Utah. I hate to say that word. It’s like everyone calls it a ghetto school, but I mean, it’s just unranked, kind of not really on the map anywhere, that kind of school and really enjoyed it. I love the experience there. I love the creativity and freedom and stuff but didn’t know what entrepreneurship was. I didn’t even know what it was in college either. So it just was not in my lifestyle. I did not have any influence, whatsoever. I didn’t have any friends who were entrepreneurs. I didn’t have any connections or parents friends or anything like that. So yeah, I just was a typical immigrant, I guess. I don’t know.

John: I mean, also as a young lady growing up in Utah, you fell in love with the art of anime?

Christina: Yeah, of course. I hope that’s not too weird these days. I think back in the day was kind of odd because it was like anime was kind of a weird thing. For those who aren’t familiar, just Japanese animations like those cartoons you see on TV. I love cartoons too, by the way. So still to this day, it’s never changed. It’s always just kind of been a part of me. And I’ve really enjoyed that escape from sometimes reality is kind of boring, and then you go watch these cartoons. It’s really fun. And you learn a lot of life lessons.

John: True.

Christina: Yeah, I love it. Still to this day, I still go to anime conventions. A lot of my friends I meet through these events and have similarities in common. So yeah, absolutely love it.

John: Now, let’s understand this. So now, you’re graduating high school in Utah and when you were graduating high school, what was your top three choices of colleges to go to? What was on your radar then?

Christina: Yeah. To be honest, I wanted to go to the school my parents went to which was Utah State University, which is up north in Logan, Utah, like Northern, Northern Utah. It’s a great school. I absolutely love it. But then, one of my friends told me because I was such a nerd in high school — to give you a sense, I like anime so much. I made Naruto costume which is a famous anime, and basically, I wore it the day when I went to go take the SAT. My thesis on this or what do you call like the mentality on wearing weird costumes to take tests like even if the day goes bad and I bombed the test and it goes horribly, at least I did one thing right today, which is I dressed up and did something kind of funny. I look nice that day, right? That’s my mentality. — My friend was like, “Why don’t you go apply to MIT? That’s where all the nerds are and stuff, right?”

And I had a funny experience as well because for homecoming, I would do the same thing. I like to dress up weirdly. So for homecoming for our high school like in Utah, it’s big on prom and homecoming and dances. So we had the nominations for homecoming queen and I was nominated by science club only because I was the only girl in the club. So there’s no one else to nominate. We have a parade that happens during homecoming and during the parade they’re supposed to wear a dress and everything. So I wore like a lab coat and I had a beaker and lab goggles on, and of course, people were like, “Oh, my gosh. This is really weird.” Right? And so, I just feel a little bit out of place sometimes during moments like that when there were a lot of moms in the audience. You know, the typical stage moms and they were definitely not happy with how I looked.

I remember getting an email on my phone actually that same day. I check my phone I remember. And this is like the old phones where the emails– I don’t know. It’s really old but I remember seeing it, and it said like, “Why don’t you apply to MIT?” And then there was a photo at the bottom with a girl with a beaker in a lab coat. I was like, “Oh, my gosh, that’s me.” That was actually what made me decide to apply was seeing that inspiration. There are people at the school who look like me. And so I applied, I got in. I don’t know if I deserve it. I will never know. Half the time, I think no. Half the time, I think yes. I’m just grateful that happened. I got very lucky. And then the rest was history after that. I mean, I struggle at MIT though too so I’m happy to tell you about my struggles there if you’d like, but–

John: Wait a second. Let’s just say this, that’s a culture shock. First of all, let me just talk about a culture shock. I grew up in New York City so it’s one thing to move from China to New York City or L.A. But to move from China to Utah, that’s a culture shock. And I don’t know of a bigger culture shock from Utah to then Boston, the Cambridge area. I mean, that’s another culturally pretty different, let’s just say that, right?

Christina: Yeah. I had the biggest culture shock when I first came to Boston, not just academically speaking as everyone was smart, but also culturally in terms of like boba or bubble tea. I don’t even know what that was. My white friend introduced it to me and he’s like, you’re not Asian if you don’t know this. Even stuff like Korean food I have for the first time in Boston. Indian food, Ethiopian food, just different cuisines that in Utah I’m sure now they exist. Now, they’re very popular. But back in the day, we grew up on like sandwiches in subway, that kind of stuff. And then, the Chinese food, of course, that my mom would cook for me. So that was about it.

John: Christina, do you have siblings?

Christina: I have a younger brother who’s 12 years younger than me. He’s a freshman at the University of Utah. So I see him on the weekends.

John: Got it. I understand. Okay. You are really in many ways raised almost like an only child.

Christina: Yeah. I was the only child for pretty much like– My first year of college was Alex’s first year of elementary school. So yeah, I was an only child in that sense.

John: So now you’re at MIT, did understand yet what you really wanted to do when you got there, or that was just a journey itself at MIT?

Christina: In college, I’m sure you guys all have experienced like you have friends who are they just know from day one when they’re born what they want to do. I have friends who are like that. When they’re five years old they’re like, “I want to be an astronaut.” And now, they’re an astronaut or I want to be a doctor, you know? For me, I was one of those students who had no idea. I absolutely was clueless about what I wanted to do. Everything sounded scary, to be honest. Every job I’m like, “Oh,” I don’t wanna be dissecting bodies. I don’t wanna be doing this. I didn’t wanna do any of this kind of work. Nothing was that exciting to me personally. And so, I definitely struggled a lot in terms of finding what major was right for me at the time.

John: As a young girl growing up, what did Mom and Dad do that informed you just so the audience understands, what was your background in terms of Mom and Dad?

Christina: Yeah, so my parents are surprisingly very supportive of me. I’m really lucky to have– Asian parents were super nice and just supportive of me, and leaping and understand what I do. They don’t understand even my career path at all. They had no idea because they don’t know anything about finance. My dad is a civil engineer and my mom works for Utah State like the state government. They both have stable careers, but I guess one cultural difference will just be like their definition of stability. Their definition of an ideal job is they wanna work somewhere for 40 years, right? And then retire. They like that stability aspect. Whereas, for a lot of millennials, we switch jobs year after year. The average millennial has 17 jobs before retirement. I was growing up in a different era altogether, where we were switching jobs and of course, that worries every older parent who’s not used to that kind of culture, you know?

John: It’s really true. So now your case, you’re at MIT. Everything sounds a little scary. You didn’t go in with any predisposed notions of what you wanted to become, how did that evolve into going into Finance and actually understanding both finance is one thing, but becoming an entrepreneur at the same time is another. How did you start going down those concurrent paths, and what informed you who were your mentors on those paths?

Christina: Yeah, for sure. I fell into Finance out of a string of failures in my personal and professional life. Not even gonna lie about that. I struggled and I wanted to major in Biology when I first came in and struggled in Biology Classic Odyssey. The professor came to me and was like, “You probably shouldn’t declare Major,” and I was like, “Oh, you’re right.” And so then, I started taking because MIT, everyone at the time was taking computer science classes to become a– Software engineer the most lucrative job right now. So I took computer science courses and I struggled as well to be honest. I remember after the first exam I was like this is just also not for me. I’m just not smart enough or just couldn’t do it. I ended up falling into declaring because it was the end of the year by then I was like, “Oh, crap. I don’t have anything I want to do.” Everyone’s like, “Well, just declare the easiest major at MIT,” which is called Management Science, which is the business major. That’s the only kind of business major at the school that’s financing and everything combined. And so, I declared in Management. Then fast forward, I got very lucky but I didn’t know what it was. As a kid, what’s management, and what does that–

John: Exactly. You didn’t know [inaudible] at that age.

Christina: What does that gonna mean, right? How am I supposed to know? I’m like literally 18 years old declaring a major in management. It’s just kind of funny but then I got lucky in terms of internships, right? Every company needs a finance person. Every company needs a marketing person and operations person. I got super lucky in that sense that surprisingly, a lot of jobs that require people with a finance-related degree and management was pretty close to that. So, I interned on Wall Street for a bunch of summers, and in Utah too.

John: Really?

Christina: My little internships in every summer. And so that’s how I got really my foot in the door in the financial industry. It’s just finding internships. By the way for people, there’s some people who are like, “How do I get a job in finance? How do I apply to Goldman Sachs New York?” Right? I was the same way. I was rejected by a lot of New York firms. I applied in investment banking or sales and trading. They’re just gonna reject me, then I realized the key is you apply to Utah, which is lucky for me I was raised here. So it’s like my home, anyway, but apply to some other location that’s not New York and apply to operations or middle office or back office. You get your foot in the door, it’s a lot easier to get into sales and trading the next year or after graduation. So that’s how I did it.

John: Well, not only did you just give a great little pearl of wisdom and secret of how to get a job but most people don’t even realize that Goldman Sachs’ Salt Lake City office is one of their biggest offices in the whole country if not their biggest office.

Christina: It is. Yeah. It is huge now. They have multiple buildings. They’re like twice as big as when I did my internship already. The other thing I should mention is that the internship was the best internship experience I’ve ever had compared to some of the larger city internships. A lot of it was because the interns were a lot more friendly. We’re all in Utah. I don’t know. Everyone mostly is in the new city except for me. I’m like in my hometown. We went skiing that summer because some of the mountains are still [inaudible]. We went horseback riding. We did a lot of things that you don’t really get in a New York City internship. And the hours were better, people would tell us, “Oh, take a day off. It’s okay. We’ll still pay you,” and everything. Whereas, that kind of stuff doesn’t happen in New York. You got to work. You got to work your butt off.

John: Right, and it’s great it was in your hometown. What a better situation than that? That’s awesome. So now, you start these evolutions happening and when is that light bulb go off that I’m pretty good at this and this could be me. When was that? How old were you and where were you in the MIT journey when that light bulb went off?

Christina: It was in my final internship. And it wasn’t a light bulb, it was another failure. I’m sorry to mention so many failures in my life, but this is just true and it’s just what happened. I actually really wanted to get the return offer for the internship. We had to do a final project for this internship and basically, we do come up with a stock trading strategy, and I was like, “Well, since I have a technical background, I’ll come up with a more quantitative strategy.” And for those of you who are familiar. Basically, in trading, there’s discretionary which is non-quantitative and then there’s quantitative stuff. Discretionary is you look at fundamentals like different ratios, P ratios, or shape ratios, a book to market ratios, and then you determine how successful the companies to be and then you trade based off of kind of fundamental information. For quantitative strategy, actually what we do is we look at historical data, right? So we look at data on patterns and we look at patterns in that data. When Google stock goes up, Microsoft stock also go up eventually, right? And chances are they might. So just looking at a little correlation between different stocks over time and looking at that data. I came up with a strategy very basic, very fundamental like that about correlations or cointegrations between different stocks in the market and presented it as my final project. Everyone work really hard on their projects. And I was devastated because one was when I was presenting it, my boss’s boss slapped my face. People were kind of mocking me because they really didn’t like it. I worked on a discretionary trading team. So I worked on a team that did fundamental stuff. They didn’t understand or maybe they just didn’t appreciate quantitative strategies at the time. So, they really hated what I did. I feel horrible. I remember apparently, I cried. According to my friends, I left there and was crying. I was traumatized the rest of the day but then because I didn’t get a return offer, and I really, really wanted it.

So I was devastated. I returned back on campus and it was my senior year now. I felt very depressed a little bit. I didn’t wake up. I just had trouble figuring out like, “Okay, do I really wanna apply to jobs again on Wall Street and do this again?” And then, one of my friends was like, “Why don’t you just use that strategy you did? Why don’t you trade it on your own? And if it doesn’t work, then you’ll know they were right. And if it does work then, either way, you’ll have closure on the situation.” And I was like, “Yeah, you’re right.” Because I felt maybe Iike I sent a lack of closure for that internship. And so, I started trading. I just got an account on back then is interactive brokers I guess was the [inaudible]. Nowadays, now that you guys get Robin Hood, there’s a lot of other tools out there you can use, but we had interactive brokers. And so, I just got an account on there and slowly started to figure out how to trade it. At first, it’s just a thousand dollars to start because that was the amount I had saved up from the internship. And then, first, it didn’t work, and then after some tweaking and stuff, it actually started working. I was just shocked and by the end of the school year, I had made around $40,000 or so, literally a thousand to $40,000.

John: In two semesters, you did–

Christina: Two semesters, yeah. And that was enough for me to pay off my student loans. Because I was in $40,000 in debt, by the way at that time. Coincidentally, I ended up graduating. Pretty much right after graduation, I was able to pay off my loans relatively quickly because of that. That was when I realized and it’s not just that, “Oh, I can make a lot of money.” It was more like I can do this on my own. I don’t need to necessarily work in that kind of environment, but maybe just try this out and see what happens. And so, that’s how I got into entrepreneurship. It wasn’t like I had a cool idea to solve the planet to save the planet or cure disease or something. It’s literally like I had nothing to do with my skill set.

John: Wow, okay. For our listeners and our viewers who’ve just joined us, we’re so excited to have with us today, Christina Qi. You could find her at christinaqi.com, or she’s also the CEO of Databento, which we’re gonna get into a couple of minutes. You can find her at databento.com. D-A-T-A-B-E-N-T-O.com. Christina, wait a second now. You went from a thousand to $40,000, but you really didn’t even have any mentors or any coach. You figured this whole algorithm out on your own and created it but there was no footsteps in the sand prior to you doing this that you can look to or that informed you, is that correct?

Christina: Yeah, there were some books that I did read. There were some guides but I didn’t have any human mentors or teachers or advisors. There were some professors that were helpful. In my senior spring that was when I started getting into it and I was like, “Why don’t I just take some MBA level courses?” At MIT, it’s a lottery system. I literally lottery all 1,000 of my points into one of the particular classes was actually a retirement finance/asset management class. And it was taught by a Nobel Prize winner, Robert Merton, who if you’ve ever in finance for those of you who ever took a class and you learn about black scholes or black-scholes Merton, that’s the Merton behind. He was one of the professor’s, for example, who I learned a lot from just about life lessons. He started long-term capital management, and historically, if you have just want to Google that, it’s such a fascinating history because they were one of the biggest hedge fund failures of all the time. I think it was at Warren Buffett or someone that had to buy them out at the end. His stories and his real-life lessons were super helpful. There are definitely a few professors here and there that were super, super supportive of my journey from the very beginning even though, yes, I was a nobody student. Yeah, I got a C in his class. No, I gonna lie. No, I was not like the all-star student whatsoever. You just kept in touch with them– Oh, that’s one thing I would always say, keep in touch with your professors.

I know, for me, I felt like I was a kid. So I was like, keep in touch with the adults in your life. Now, I’m like the old adult 12 years later. I’m like the old person. But yeah, don’t be afraid to keep in touch with them, and tell them what you’re up to. I know for them it’s draining. For me, even when I get emails every day with students asking me for career advice and stuff like that. But then, I realized I needed that too back in the day, right? I was that person that needed it.I just learned so many lessons from those experiences. By the way, if you ever ask people for advice, always figure out a way you can help them first. That’s how I get a response back. Let’s say, my old professors, I need their help on something. I’ll be like, by the way, I can forward– I know you have an internship posting. I’ll forward it to all of my networks here. So just figure out ways that you can help them and I think that’s one way that helped me throughout my entire career area.

John: Now, you went from a thousand to forty. You paid off your student loans which must’ve been a very happy day. What was then the plan from there, now that you knew you could do it and you had figured out this algorithm? What was the next step in terms of life after college?

Christina: Yeah. We were just starting, I guess it’s called the hedge fund because that’s what a hedge fund does is that we manage other people’s money. People always ask why did you not manage your own money? And I’m like, “We didn’t have any money to manage.” My parents don’t have the money. Nobody has the money. Then, I luckily found some co-founders as well as people who wanted to work with me. And by the way, that’s the first validation for any startup, the best validation you can get at the early stage is when another human being drops everything and wants to work with you on this idea and not make any money for a while and take that huge risk in life. I was really grateful, especially one of my co-founders who joined, he had offers from Apple and VMware, all these really cool companies and he ended up turning down all the offers and just joining us, and literally, we all made nothing for a very long time until we ended up having to launch the fund and then going through there. It was definitely a big roller coaster of a journey. I can talk about fundraising. Now, I can talk about hiring. We made so many mistakes. A funny story was when we wrote a bunch of– I don’t know if anyone’s heard of Principles by Ray Dalio.

John: Absolutely. A lot of people say that’s the ultimate investment tool because allegedly, Ray Dalio is one of the legends of Wall Street in the investment world. So go ahead.

Christina: He runs Bridgewaters, is or was the biggest hedge fund I believe right now in the world, so it’s impressive. But anyway, so we wrote down our own list. We’re like, “Oh, his principle sound– Let’s write our own list of principles based on–” And we’re millennials, right? So we were almost of things that we wanted and so just give you some funny examples. One was we wanted a flat managerial structure. We wanted the office culture to be almost more like Google when you walk in as well like having lots of perks and free food. Just making the office environment more, I guess, lots of benefits and perks and stuff like that. And then, in flat managerial structure, we did that just because I was hiring people back then who were three times my age, and so it was really important for us to in order to hire them, we wanted to make sure everyone had the same title. So just kind of things like that. Or another example is hiring service providers with the biggest names because we didn’t have a reputation. So let’s hire people like lawyers or accountants that are household names, right? So they can help with our reputation. And it turns out almost all of those principles that we wrote down turned out wrong in the end. That’s what my book is about. I don’t know if you want to check out my website. I don’t know if I’m gonna publish it, to be honest. I wrote about it just because it was therapeutic for me to be like, “Wow, all these things turn out wrong.” I need to write about this so that other people don’t have to go through that and experience it.

John: I think it’s extraordinarily valuable and I hope you do publish it. I want to get to the book of the second though, but how informative was Ray Dalio’s book? Where his principles informative and helpful? Or where they counterintuitive to what you needed as a millennial?

Christina: Yeah, I think they were definitely counterintuitive, and that’s the other thing. His book is really good for his company and for his kind of culture, right? And for his time when he started the company. I think it definitely worked out really well, but for a lot of us like millennials, one thing I noticed is a lot of people tend to– There’s a little bit of brain drain from New York to Silicon Valley these days, right? Especially from just Wall Street, in general, people don’t wanna work on Wall Street anymore. It’s a revolving door. I remember when I intern at Goldman Sachs, the average tenure there was 18 months before they left and usually went to a tech firm next. The reason why that happens is a lot of it’s because tech is not because it’s just where it’s at, but also culture-wise, I think tech does a lot of things that are a little bit different from kind of Ray Dalio’s culture over here right in finance. Like his concept of baseball cards. I understand why it works for Bridgewater, but there’s a reason why a lot of other companies like startups would not really wanna adopt that kind of culture. There’s a reason why people leave kind of cultures like that and want to go to a place where they’re not being judged by factors like that. So that’s one thing. I just want to mention and then the other thing is there’s a lot of racial and other, I guess factors behind the scenes that stereotype you into certain– They want to characterize you or whatever, and I just don’t think that would have worked well for a company at the time. So that was why we’re really like, “These kinds of work weird. Let’s come up with our own that are better,” and it turns out ours were not better in the end, guys. So the lesson learned there is we did not know any better and yeah, we went through a lot.

John: The lesson learned there though when you point out that was really brilliant in that, everything is contextual. What works from Ray Dalio in his generation and his firm, doesn’t work for the next co-founder down the road always. It’s not the road map that everyone should just follow and you could be successful if you follow that road map.

Christina: And we did have a little bit of the radical transparency that he mentioned. For example, we used to share everyone’s salaries, bonuses, and stuff like that. And guess what happened, people left because of that, it caused trauma and politics in the team. We had someone– But this is also a factor of an effect of being flat, by the way. One of the flat structures, everyone’s called partner. We hired an office manager. Their job was literally, to be honest, cleaning the office, scheduling meetings, and putting everything together in the office pretty nice all the time. I remember, they brought me into the room and they’re like, “I want a partner’s salary,” Also, they basically saw the list of everyone’s salaries and was like, “I want this person’s salary,” which is like a senior software engineer with 40 years of experience or something. I was like, “Oh, no.” And then that was when I realized this is not the right kind of–There are certain information that deserves to be private. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s mainly because I feel like people feel entitled to the highest person salary, and it’s discouraging to see like someone earning that much more, but the problem is the market is different, right? Like a senior software engineer is highly in demand today. Whereas an office manager, I can literally hire my brother today as an office manager to work for me free. You know what I mean? There’s certain jobs that are a lot more highly in demand than others and it’s just how the market is. Yeah.

John: Are these lessons in your book?

Christina: Oh, yeah. I talked about that– Yeah.

John: Your book has to be published because these are the lessons– You see, most people want to only talk about their success and make you all these great decisions, but as you know, Christina and I will know at 59 years old that life is a series of mistakes and how you learn from those mistakes and how you evolve and iterate from those mistakes is how you really get forward.

Christina: Absolutely.

John: So the group that you’re creating and the name of this company, your first company was– What was that first name of your company?

Christina: It’s called Domeyard. We named it after the MIT Dome and Harvard Yard. That was all we really had. All of our founders were Asian, and my last name, literally, no one can pronounce or spell. And so, we didn’t want to name it after ourselves. Also, we wanted it to hopefully be a little bit more inclusive until like, “Oh, MIT Dome and Harvard Yard,” But then now everyone thinks we all come from MIT which is not true, by the way. The team was very diverse from all over the place.

John: Is this a group of your friends that decided to opt into this?

Christina: We weren’t friends initially. We became friends over time.

John: How did you meet them then? How did you meet your co-founders if they weren’t all MIT students?

Christina: Yeah. One was trading competitions in other community, stuff like that. The other thing is at one of these trading competitions, one thing I realized is that we had nothing in common, different Majors, different schools, and stuff, and we had totally different friend groups and different personalities. But one thing we had in common was we both want, all three of us actually, we wanted to go out on our own in the financial industry. We want to be in finance but not necessarily work for a large financial firm at the time. That’s why I think we just set out to do this together. And then, thankfully, it turn out well because we had diverse enough backgrounds in that diversity in terms of having different majors and different friend groups, and everything. Did end up helping us a lot in terms of just having different viewpoints and also just growing the company with very different types of networks. Yeah.

John: [inaudible] bring that up because that’s one of the things now with the whole leaning in on ESG, which also is a diversity issue. People think diversity has to do with just race and ethnicity or even gender, but truth be known, diversity has much deeper than that as you point out in terms of interest groups, friendship groups, and networks. Also, let me just throw another one out to you. Generations. You point that out with Ray. I’ve purposefully, I have partners and business partners in my various businesses that are in their 80s all the way down to 21 years old. I’ll tell you what, every generation there’s so much information that can come from all different groups. So just surround yourself with people who look just like yourself I think it was for anybody as I think is a gross error as a founder in any business.

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Christina: Absolutely. For my current company, Databento, we hire I think five different generations by now. I keep forgetting, you know what is called Gen Z is now entering the workforce which is kind of scary to me. Yeah, so it’s happening. There’s another–

John: [crosstalk] now, Gen Z? Is Gen Z what it’s called?

Christina: Yeah. I think it’s 1997 and beyond or something. It just blows my mind that they’re coming into the workforce now. Yeah.

John: Let’s go back to Domeyard before we get to Databento because I really wanna go into your new venture. Domeyard, what was the mission when you guys set out? What was the absolute mission and purpose?

Christina: Yeah. So for us, to be honest, we just wanna find our place in the financial industry and find some strategies that worked and can hopefully beat the markets enough that we can take home enough salary and survive for a while. And there was no kind of bigger goal of saving the world or anything like that. I think actually that’s one of the reasons why I ended up leaving in the end was because that was one of the main reasons. But anyway, that was our initial goal. It was definitely really fun. One was, yeah, we weren’t making. We did high-frequency trading by the way. This is a super controversial industry. I still remember the pre-flash boys days before Michael Lewis’ flash boys came out, and then the post flash boys days. Everything completely changed by the way. In terms of just the people’s perception of what we were, who we were as moral human beings. Before flash boys came out, I was going to conferences. People are curious and asking questions about quantitative trading. I remember the week, then flash boys came out, and then the next week, I went to another conference and I was on stage with a panel of people and I remember someone raised their hand I think they worked at Bank of America or something. And they were like, I hate you. I hate everything, you’re doing. You’re ruining the financial industry. I’m like, dude, you work for Bank of America. We have the exact same boss, right? Because my investors are your investors. Literally, my job is I make these investors richer over time and a lot of them are billionaires and you do the exact same thing. We are a wealth management division.

It was really funny out that their perception– Even for Wall Street, they absolutely hated us. Even within Wall Street, not to mention outside of Wall Street, everyone absolutely didn’t like what we were doing. And I had to live with that but also had to learn how to, I guess, debunk. There’s a reason why HFTs, high-frequency trading has a bad reputation. So there’s some bad things about it, but there’s also some good things about it too. Just kind of making sure that we debunk a lot of the stereotypes about the industry. That’s what I spent a lot of, to be honest. Sometimes, just doing that kind of stuff. That’s why I started doing a lot more, I guess what I do like to speaking at conferences and things like that. I was trying to learn how to answer those questions better and learn about what people are concerned about and kind of going from there. If people want to go into finance, absolutely good for you. There’s nothing wrong with going into finance or consulting or anything like that. For me, my reasoning was I was in debt. I needed some way of paying it off and it worked. It’s a competitive job market. I didn’t get a return offer from other company. I struggled to get a full-time job.

In this kind of environment, yeah, if you can get whatever job you can get, good for you and go for it, right? And then, of course, once you’re in a position, like for me, it was once a decade later. I realized wait for a second, what am I doing here? I’ve achieved everything I wanted to do. And not to mention, there are a couple of other reasons. So yes, returns went down. That was one big factor. There’s no scalability in this industry, which also really sucked because we weren’t able to really grow as fast as I was hoping. There’s some reasons like that but also I was like, what am I doing? Do I want to spend the rest of my life in high-frequency trading and always like fielding all those questions and dealing with that? And I was like, to be honest, I don’t like it. I wanna make a difference in the world. So, yeah.

John: I wanna talk about that. Domeyard, when did you know in that journey with your other partners that you were onto something and this was gonna work? You had a business. It was gonna be successful enough to meet the goals that you guys set out and the mission you set out to do.

Christina: Yeah. To be honest, really slow. I wish we would be one of those startups were on day one, you launch and everyone just hops runs over to you and you realize, “Wow, this is it. I’ve struck gold,” right? And that’s it in my career. I know I have something good. To be honest, that’s not what happened. We struggled immensely. It took us three years to get to launch. We were first-time founders. I was very naive. I didn’t know what I was really doing at that time. I had to learn a lot of lessons the hard way like I mentioned in terms of all those principles going wrong in the end. Some of those principles led to lawsuits in the end or led to just really nasty situations like audits and just situations out. We just took up a lot of my time and it was very mentally draining.

We went through all those things, but I will say there were some tables turned moments. One that was kind of funny was during my internship I mention I didn’t get a return offer and the team and the boss’s boss, whatever, they all hated me. And it was about five, six years later maybe, we were just trading like normal, we had already launched and we get a phone call, and it was from the company I interned at, and they said, “Hey, we want to invest.” And I literally looked like I seem like that’s the name of the guy who laughed at my presentation. He was hoping him and [inaudible] a part of– What is it called? For the name of the team, but it’s like a team that allocates to hedge funds, basically. They’re hoping to invest in our fund and I was like, “Hmm, I guess the tables really did–” He didn’t know it was me, by the way, of course.

John: He didn’t know it was you.

Christina: He didn’t know I was his intern, no. But that was one of my tables turned moments where I realized we had made it.

John: Without giving names, did you take the money?

Christina: Oh, we didn’t.

John: Okay.

Christina: Yeah. I don’t know. Probably not good.

John: You’re over by then. So now, after those three years of the struggle and you lookin’ to make it. Now, with [inaudible] that it took off, and then it went to the move.

Christina: Yeah. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s always been kind of slow here and there but that was definitely one of the moments when I realized we belong here and it’s my turn now to reject the person who rejected me many years ago. Not that it’s a karma or anything like that, it’s just more of like, “Hey, this is weird. I never would have thought I would be the one saying no to my old boss’ boss.” It was just like such a weird situation that was happening.

John: How big did Domeyard get? And when did you realize I’ve made it, all the success, full founder, and I’m financially doing as well if not better than I ever thought I’d be doing? When did that sort of sink in?

Christina: I mean, we hired I think the most we had about 20 something people, and we were like we’re a critical mass, and then we were trading over 7 billion in a day dollars. Not Zimbabwe dollars, but US dollars. I think for me those moments of wow, we were trading literally so much and really moving and really making an impact I think out there. That, for me, was really great. But also, I think personally, what really made me happy was helping my parents retire. I’m not a billionaire. I wasn’t making that much money, but it was still enough to make a living, right? And to be well off enough that I don’t have to– I can pay off my debts, pay off my loans, help my parents pay off their loans, help my brother go to college. It’s just small things here and there, especially for me coming from a kind environment. I also grew up on food stamps and welfare. So coming from that environment and making it here today, I don’t need to become a billionaire to feel like a success, right? I made it and I was able to help my family in times of need, and I think that’s what really mattered for me. Just being able to help the people I love and go from there. So, yeah.

John: What year did you decide to tell your partners it’s time for you to move on and make a bigger impact than that this wasn’t the end all be all, it was a great run, how did that work?

Christina: Yeah, it actually started from a problem at my work. We were wasting a lot of money on data, millions of dollars on data-related stuff. We had dozens of different types of data vendors and exchanges. We go to different data sources, basically because data is like our lifeblood in finance, right? If you get bad data and you’re trading on bad data, then you’re gonna lose a lot of money. We were spending so much time and money just like cleaning up data, getting all this bad quality, paying all this money, and then we were using less than 5% of the data we actually purchased. I was really mad about this and complaining data sold by headcounts. It’s a very old-school industry. Every time we hired someone new, chances are they’d be like, “Christina, I need x, y, z data.” Sorry, can you talk hold these vendors and you’re not to figure out who had that data? And so finally, what was that happen? I would talk to some of our investors in the fund and some friends in the industry. And one of those friends was from Goldman Sachs, actually, where I previously interned but I would talk to them and be like, “How did you do your data? And how do you get your data?” The Goldman Sachs person is a manager there and they were like, “Oh, well, all of our analysts share one Bloomberg terminal. They have a little password on a sticky note and that’s our high-tech solution to the problem.” And I was like, “Oh, that’s illegal.” But they were like, “Yeah, well, the turnover at that level is you’ve seen this as 18 months. It’s 12 months, right? It’s super fast. What’s the point of buying all this data for them when they’re just gonna leave anyway?” And so then, I talked to the analysts, many of whom were my classmates in college. And I’m like, “How do you feel about this?” And they were like, “Oh, well, I’m leaving because I don’t have any data.” And that was just funny chicken and egg problem.

After a few months, they came to us and they were like, “Can you create a data solution for us, for the people at the bottom of these companies who don’t have a big budget, who need to get to work and just want to get work done, right?” And I was like, “That’s a good point.” I would have benefited as a small company. I really would have benefited from this as well. That was when I realized we should probably work on this and find a solution once and for all to this huge data problem out there. There’s been some startups that have tried here and there that have been unsuccessful for various reasons. We were like, “You know what? Let’s just go for it. We have the background. We’ve been working with data for many years now, so we know what to, we know how and what good quality data is, and we know how to slice and price it into smaller pieces so you only pay for what you actually use. And so, let’s just do that and give them an easy data platform self-service.” You don’t have to talk to a sales person, streamline everything so you just get the data in like five minutes on your own. And so, that’s what we did. We made a data platform for everyone else in the industry for startups, for financial analysts, and all kinds of other people. So it’s been a really fun journey.

John: And that’s how Databento was created. And who’s your co-founders with that company? Is it just you or you have other co-founders?

Christina: One of my co-founders from Domeyard join me as well. So yeah, we’ve been working on this together for some time now. [inaudible] 2019 sometimes, I don’t know if that’s a long time, but right before the pandemic was kind of when we decided to–

John: How’s this journey going. Now do a little compare and contrast this journey as a co-founder compared to the Domeyard co-founding journey.

Christina: Mm-hmm. Absolutely. I think the second time around, it is a lot easier, to be honest. And the number one reason is because you already have a startup playbook, right? Hopefully, by now. A playbook meaning you know which lawyer to go, you know which accountant to go to, you know how to hire, how to fire, you know how to compensate people properly, what titles to give people properly, right? And we learned that the hard way from the previous startup of not giving everyone the same title. There’s a difference between fairness and equality. Back then, we were all about equality, but that’s not the right way to go. You got to be fair, guys. And so, this time around, we’re a lot more fair to people. So, hiring-wise, we’ve learned a lot of big lessons on making sure we hire the right people and we’re not the right fit for everyone.

We make sure to tell people that during the interview process, and be very clear on that. I think it’s just lessons like that, how to fundraise as well. How to not waste your time with endless pitch meetings and stuff like that, and how to really drive a close and really close both in terms of deals, sales and stuff, but also on the fundraising side too. Lots of cool lessons learned, I guess. It is still hard, I will say. I still feel stress and pressure in a different way, but now that I’m in my 30s now, so it’s been on my 20s working on one startup and now in my 30s, working on this next startup. And so, I will say this time around as well, I have a lot more work-life balance in my life. I no longer will sacrifice, let’s say my weekends or my evenings, unless, of course, that still happens. I still sacrifice things, but not as bad as was in terms of in my 20s, I would sacrifice my health a lot of times for the sake of my company. But now, I’m aging and I can see my gray hairs, and I’m like, “It’s just not worth it anymore.” I’m just gonna live my life and spend my weekends with my family and people I love as much as I can. And then of course, as I’m needed, I still will be there but if I don’t need to be there, then I’m checked out. I’m done. So that was one thing I realize is heading boundaries is so important.

John: Boundaries is important. Boundaries is a key word that most people don’t even understand. For our listeners and viewers, we’ve got Christina Qi with us today. She’s just amazing. You could go to Christina Qi. How it spelled is christinaqi.com, and her company now that she’s the CEO of and the co-founders, Databento, databento.com. So you’re three years into it, of course, you were co-founding it during a pandemic, where are you now in the journey? Are you where you wanted it to be? Is it going better than you want it to go? What are the struggles that you’re finding? And where are you in the journey of Databento?

Christina: Yeah, so the pandemic was both a curse and a blessing in so many different ways. It’s been a blessing in that we realized, I think a lot of companies realize remote work is a possibility. Why do we need to have necessarily have a big office and pay all those rent when we can work from home and be just as productive and have a work-life balance? And also, we can hire people now from around the world because they can be based anywhere. I think that was one of the biggest things we learned from the pandemic that was really great for us. We’re right about to do a public launch actually so we’re still kind of in private data mode right now. Technically, if you do want data for some reason, you can sign up on our website, and then what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna be [inaudible] and people from the waitlist over time. And so, we’re still kind of in that process right now. But overall, I’ve been very, very happy this time around in terms of one is just talking to users and seeing people really need this product that this is such a– You know data’s expensive, and people are wasting a lot of money on it, and both big and small companies come to us, and they’re like, hey, we need this product. Not just because of pricing, by the way, but also because the quality is better or because we help them scale faster. Scale up and down without having to sign a new license or anything. So we make it a lot easier for teams to scale and grow with us.

John: And who’s your target clients for Databento?

Christina: To be honest, it’s anyone that starting a new data project. It can be large companies. I’d say right now about half of our signups are larger established companies like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Google, Amazon, and then the other half are startups whose names you’ve never heard of before that are just starting up and that’s how it should be. We want more of those startups because we really help them in terms of we decrease the [inaudible] this year for them. So that way, in a month if they don’t use any data, they don’t have to pay us anything. It makes it so much easier for startups to get the data they need, to test the data if it doesn’t work, okay, they can cancel and they don’t pay anything. That makes it just so that buried entry, we just lowered it down to zero for a lot of those startups as well. So, yeah.

John: You really democratize data, is that where you–

Christina: Absolutely, yeah. It’s like a vending machine. Yeah, we call it a vending machine for data or data as a service. Just trying our best to make it affordable, but also the best quality that you’ve ever seen. It’s a shocker to a lot of startups like, wait, this is good quality and say, yeah, because we get it directly from the source which is the exchange that it’s being traded on. We clean it up ourselves. We do a lot of work and then make sure that it’s delivered to them in the best quality.

John: Given your massive success at Domeyard, how hard was it to raise capital to launch Databento?

Christina: It’s still was a struggle for sure. There’s a difference between the New York investors we had. Domeyard, we get a lot of Wall Street kind of investors and family offices and stuff. And then, over here at Databento, suddenly I’m talking to Silicon Valley investors for the first time. Many of whom I have never heard of or just whose names they would never heard of me. And so, that definitely was a little bit harder but the good news is we have such good investors. We got very lucky on day one with some really great seed investors who have just kind of helped us grow, have been supportive of us since then, and very patient with us as well as we go through the usual hurdles that startups go through. The delays and that kind of stuff as well, hiring issues, all those types of problems. And they’ve just been super supportive and just really on our side with all those different problems we’ve gone through. So, yeah.

John: We’ll go back to MIT. I’m not part of the circles but let’s talk about the alumni fraternity at Harvard, is it similar at MIT?

Christina: Oh, man. There’s a little bit of that sense of camaraderie a little bit in terms of wow, you went through this hell and I’m going through too. We all went through this. There’s a little bit of that. So sometimes when I see an alum, I remember like it was a Thanksgiving dinner in Spain one year, and I saw someone wearing the ring, we all have these rings that when you go to MIT, and I was like, “Hey,” and then we immediately just got along and this person used a lot older than me, probably like 40 years older than me. But we both just got along, and we’re like, “Oh, we went to the same–” If we had the same experience. There’s a little bit of that I definitely feel like. There’s that but at the same time, a lot of times you’re just kind of on your own, to be honest. MIT has a really good entrepreneurial ecosystem, of course, but it’s kind of you put into it as much as you get out just like with any school. And a lot of schools have really good programs too. I would just say as a founder, definitely take advantage of the programs that your university offers for alumni, which they do. And then, just kind of go from there. For now, I still use some of the resources that MIT has.

One of the examples is called venture mentoring service. They have just mentors and stuff like that that help me even to this day. But yeah, definitely love just staying in touch as much as I can.

John: Domeyard was headquarter’s at Boston, where’s Databento headquartered at?

Christina: Yeah. We’re like ten floors down from Domeyard in Boston. It’s actually ten floors down as WeWork. Domeyard had his own dedicated office, and then for Databento, my new company, we moved into a WeWork. It’s completely empty. I don’t think anyone really goes there on a daily basis. Some people might like to launch there, but everyone’s pretty much remote at this point.

John: So just in Boston as well?

Christina: Yeah. We have few folks in Boston, but everyone’s around the world. So we have in Australia, in Switzerland, and in China. So just kind of all over the place.

John: Yeah. You really had pick of whoever you wanted to hire, wherever they were, it didn’t matter anymore.

Christina: Yeah, absolutely.

John: So now, what’s next for you? I mean, what lessons– First of all, talk about the book. Why did you write a book? You have so many great lessons. You have such a clear voice and such clarity on the lessons you’ve learned. Talk about writing the book and why you’re on the fence of publishing it?

Christina: Yeah. During the pandemic, I definitely went through everyone kind of goes through their own period of self-reflection. It could be depression. It could be other things that you just kind of go through and it definitely was not feeling very motivated or happy, and I didn’t know where I wanted to live, what I wanted to do, all those different questions about life. And my friend was like, “Hey, I’m taking this book writing class, why don’t you check it out?” And I was like, “Okay, I will.” By the way, for anyone curious, it’s called the Creator Institute. And that’s literally if you Google it, you’ll find their website. So I signed up and it was a really great program and it forced me to sit down and write, by the way. And I think that was the most valuable thing is just the motivation to write a chapter a week. So I just wrote about these things. At first, starts out just with chapter by chapter, and in every chapter I wrote about a lesson that I thought was good and then turned out bad in the end. Slowly, it turned into a book and a manuscript. That was it.

And at this point, I think my biggest hesitation of publishing by the way is not just because I’m afraid of getting sued by the people I mentioned in the book. Even if I change names and locations, it’s pretty obvious sometimes the people I’m mentioning because we dealt with some pretty famous investors, lots of them were billionaires in the space, and they have the power and the money to destroy myself and my career. And I don’t really want that. I wanna live quietly by myself, working with friends in Utah, you know? That’s what I want to do. My editor was like, “You should probably make it fiction,” and I was like, “Oh, gosh,” that’s like rewriting an entire book. Now, that’s kind of where I’m stuck right now, getting the motivation to rewrite a nonfiction book into more of a fictional book, but we’ll see.

John: Wonderful. Let’s be honest, 31 today is much different than when I was 31, Christina. It’s really almost like 21, frankly speaking, and that’s only a compliment. So, you have a long life ahead of you and a long journey. What’s next for you? Databento, I have no doubt, you’re gonna make into a massive success. Well, what’s on your mind in terms of giving back and making an impact? Where do you see your strong expertise and qualities? Where do you want to spend your time making an impact and making the world a better place?

Christina: Yeah. In my previous company, I would actually spend quite a lot of time like one day a week, actually volunteering and giving back in various charities and organizations. One big one that I helped a lot with is called Invest In Girls, and they teach financial literacy concepts to high school girls around the country, basically. And the big reason why is because I was one of those girls where I didn’t know what finance was and girls are discouraged, you know? Usually, girls would rather talk about death than money. That’s what Sally Krawczyk says that women rather talk about death and other kind of scary concepts than money. So I just realize this is something that means a lot to me. I have been trying to encourage more women to not be afraid of not that they don’t have to enter finance but just more have control over your finances, right? Use it to empower you and not to discourage you, and just stuff like that, not being afraid to negotiate or ask for a raise, or just basic concepts, or know how to pay your taxes and what it means, stuff like that. We just feel like those concepts are so important in life that everyone should have in place. That’s one of the charities.

There’s a bunch of other ones too. There’s some helping immigrants or some helping– These are causes that I can see this was me back in the day. I really needed this. Why not just give back because I know what it’s like to be in that position. So it’s been really fun. I’ve really enjoyed contributing, not just donating money, pouring money into a solution, that’s just half the equation. The other half is really putting your time into it, investing your knowledge and your time. When I go into the high school classroom, and I will teach the students about basic finance because that will really mean a lot. And I think that’s what makes a difference is them seeing a real person who looks like them or who talks like them and be like, “Whoa, this is interesting.” And hopefully, they’ll wanna learn more. So, yeah.

John: You then now leveraging technology with these young girls given the Zoom and Teams and everything, is that able to be done that or is that all done in person with Invest in Girls?

Christina: Yeah. So, pre-pandemic, it would be almost all in person, I believe, and then now because the pandemic, there’s a lot more virtual events which has been nice because there’s a lot of students from schools in different regions, and some of the underserved communities are able to join without having to spend their time in a classroom necessarily. That’s been really nice to just have been able to reach more students around and around the globe, to be honest. That’s been really, really fun. I’m grateful for the pandemic for allowing that to happen because without it, we would still be kind of a lot more regional, a lot of in-person stuff. I like having a greater reach, yeah.

John: What would mom and dad say about all your success? Because obviously, you’ve done such a great job with you. How does someone stayed this humble who’s on the cover of Forbes Magazine and many other magazines? You’re a very unique human being. So what has mom and dad say when they talk about you?

Christina: I think the biggest thing they’ll always say is they care more that I’m a good person than how much money I make or anything like that. I’m grateful, by the way. I’m grateful that I’ve made enough money to learn that money doesn’t bring happiness, which is a kind of ironic, right? That’s everyone’s goals like make enough money so that you can learn that money doesn’t bring you happiness. At the same time, my parents, for them, as long as their kids turn out decent human beings who respect other people, or good to the world, and make a positive impact, I think that’s the number one thing that they care about. That’s just a number one lesson they’ve instilled in me, so I’ll continue to hopefully improve upon that, and be a good person in life and that’s what matters the most.

John: Besides your parents, which is so wonderful, who are your heroes now? Who do you look up to in terms of when you think about where you wanna be when you’re 40, when you’re 60, when you’re 75? Who are you looking to and who inspires you every day to get up and get to it?

Christina: Oh, man. To be honest, a lot of my friends. I have so many different friends who are in different walks of life, and I just am so grateful to get to have friends who have different career paths as well. One of my close friends works at Costco. He’s literally a truck driver at Costco. I have another friend who is an Uber driver and another friend who’s a full-time parent, and I think it’s just having friends who are so inspiring in their different ways. I think that’s what inspires me the most. I’m not a social climber. I don’t want to be one of those people that just gets to know billionaires and only friends with billionaires. I really don’t wanna be like that kind of person. I do have some friends who are, but again, I think my closest friends are the ones where we go to anime conventions together, dress up in crazy costumes, and continue to enjoy our lives like that, right? I think that means a lot to me. That’s how I’d rather spend my time. And so, yeah, these friends inspired me the most. They’re the ones who are making an honest living and are happy in their current situation. I think that’s very awesome because I wish that one day, maybe one day I’ll do that. Maybe one day, I’ll just quit and just chill at home. I don’t know. I really like chocolate. Maybe, I’ll start a chocolate company. Or just like volunteer. I don’t know. We’ll see. Maybe just attend these anime events and just continue enjoying life. For me, that’s what means a lot.

John: We have a lot of viewers and listeners around the world and a lot of them are really young and they want to go watch you and they wanna learn and they wanna also become an entrepreneur because especially now, so much of the world information as you pointed out as democratized and being an entrepreneur is sort of cool. A lot of people have made it very cool including you. What’s your advice to Alex’s generation and the next generation coming up that wanna follow and to be a founder, and to make not only being entrepreneurs but make the world a better place in the process?

Christina: Yeah. Well, the first thing I would actually say is you do not need to be a founder or CEO, or an entrepreneur, or any c-suite big fancy title in order to make a difference in the world, you can be literally– I have friends who are, again, like unemployed or they’re full-time parents or they’re Uber drivers and they’re already doing a lot for society, for the world. We have a lot of fun together and enjoy our lives. Even though we have different paths and career-wise, we still get along extremely well. I think that’s incredible. I love that. Just one thing I did want to mention, but if you do choose to become an entrepreneur, if you do one day say, “Hey, maybe I wanna start a company one of these days,” right? Because that is they say the American dream, right? It is the American dream and it is true that America is a wonderful place and anywhere, by the way, around the world, but especially in America. I’m biased for saying this, but I feel like because as a woman of color, right? I would not in another country, it would have been a lot harder for me to be able to start a company in certain places. So I’m grateful in America that I didn’t face as many of those hurdles as women do in a lot of other countries. And so, anyways, just mentioning that. But if you do want to start a company, my biggest advice would be to normalize rejection because rejection is a daily part of my life and in everyone’s entrepreneur’s life. I continue to be rejected every single day to this day. If you’re not being rejected, you’re not doing enough. You’re not putting yourself out there as an entrepreneur.

John: Great advice.

Christina: Rejected by everyone. Job candidates don’t wanna work for you. Why would I want to work for a random data company, right? Or investors, why would I want to invest in this random data company? You get rejected by a lot of opportunity you apply for. Maybe you’re pitching to a media or marketing people or whoever. Yeah, they’re all gonna reject you, like this is not marketable. Lawyers reject us. They’re like, “Oh, we don’t wanna work with data company.” It happens all the time and it’s a normal thing, and you have to be able to put it in a pile of mountain of rejections for me by now, it’s a huge mountain and just move on and just continue going from there. That’s how you move on. Just go on with life and continue getting those rejections and after a hundred no’s, you get one yes. And that one yes makes a difference in your life and changes the trajectory of your career, and that’s what happened to me. That was just one thing I just mentioned. I remember in college, when I received my first– In internship, I applied to my freshman year and they rejected me. That hurt so bad. I remember I tried so hard to apply an internship and they didn’t want me. I got rejected and I just felt so bad. But now I’m like, “Oh,” I’m like literally million rejections later. Now, it gets a little better every time. It still stings sometimes. It still hurts because you put a lot of effort into a pitch competition., and then you lost, of course, it’s still gonna hurt because you’re human, right? But you learn to move on a lot faster. You have coping mechanisms and ways to realize, “Oh, this isn’t too bad. It’s not really gonna affect my life. Let’s just move on.” So that is my biggest lesson I’ve learned. I used to be very sensitive, I guess. Now, I’m like, “Oh,” no is like an everyday thing, and yes is like the anomaly and that’s okay.

John: Normalizing no is a great way to be. You’re so right and you’re not trying hard enough like you said, unless you get no’s all the time. I love it. You are brilliant and I’m a huge fan. I’m sure now so many of my viewers and listeners’ a huge fan. She’s Christina Qi. You can find her at christinaqi.com. Or at a new company, databento.com. Christina Qi, thank you so much for being with us today. You are just truly amazing. I know you’re gonna change the world and make it a better place more than you already have. You’ve got a long life in front of you and so many other things to do. Thank you for joining us today on the Impact podcast, and you’re always welcome back here.

Christina: Thank you, John. It’s such an honor to be here.

John: This edition of the Impact podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage is a digital booking platform revolutionizing the talent booking industry with thousands of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent, for speeches, custom experiences, livestreams, and much more. For more information on Engage or to book Talent today, visit letsengage.com.