WHAT DO I DO WHEN I'M STRESSED: I go for a drive, a long walk or I decompress at the gym. A QUALITY ABOUT A PERSON THAT CATCHES MY ATTENTION: sincerity and honesty. SOMETHING THAT TICKS ME OFF: people who never re-rack their weights (this type of lazy disregard for other people astounds me).
Carving his own path by hand
MOVING FAST PAST EXPECTATIONS. Tuan had always been really passionate about television and comedy. In college, he started a sketch comedy show with his best friend Nicholas Krasney.
Unfortunately, Harvard didn't have a TV system for students to watch. Before Netflix and mobile streaming services, Tuan and his friend Nick took matters into their own hands–literally–and plastered the walls of their dormitory with aluminum foil in order to pick up TV signals and stream it to their laptops.
“Before long people were talking about what we’d done… Harvard’s undergraduate Council had been trying to get TV on campus for a long time, but it was both complicated and expensive.” Tuan and his now co-founder Nick Krasney, quickly realized there was something here, a business model waiting to be created and implemented. Which then led to them founding Philo, a television platform allowing people to watch live TV anywhere.
Unfortunately, while students were sold on Philo, Tuan’s parents were a harder sell. Tuan was heading to medical school at the University of Michigan. His parents weren’t convinced turning down a medical career to start a TV company was the best idea. “My dad had always been supportive of the idea of me one day becoming an entrepreneur and starting a business. In fact, he encouraged it, but after becoming a physician, after school, and after cementing myself as a practitioner. So, as terrible as this sounds, my parents disowned me at the time.”
Despite that, Tuan’s parents eventually came to accept his decision and have embraced and expressed pride, especially as Philo has grown in its success. In fact, the experience inspired Tuan to finally come out to his parents.
CHOICES GET MADE, BUT YOUR LIFE IS OFTEN HANDED TO YOU. Philo was just the beginning of Tuan’s entrepreneurial journey and several years after creating the successful streaming product, he was hungry for more. “Once everything was in place and really moving forward successfully, I kind of felt like I'd done everything I could do and it was time to move on to the next thing.”
That next thing became Raydiant, a digital experience platform with marketing and interactive customer experiences. “Walk into a McDonald’s and you’ll notice that they’re digitizing everything such as the menus screens and kiosks. Raydiant is a platform for deploying and running applications on all of those screens.” Tuan explains proudly. “People want to see things in stores the way they see things on their personal computers and phones - through interaction, engagement, touch. Raydiant powerfully allows for that.”
“I work hard to be honest with myself and others, and try to be uncompromising about that. There is already so much risk in being an entrepreneur, an Asian entrepreneur, an LGBTQ entrepreneur. So I have to be myself, otherwise I’m automatically working against myself.”
Tuan knows the entrepreneurial landscape is often filled with pressure to conform and as he keeps navigating his career and passions, he’s becoming increasingly unconvinced that it is necessary for success. “There’s a lot of struggle and pain involved in doing any job, so be passionate about what you do, so that when you do have to make sacrifices, it’s for the good of the goal, not in the face of your truest self.”