[Tuning In] Carman Chan on quitting her PhD program in pursuit of entrepreneurship

Written by Emily Fang Published on 

Now the founder of a successful venture capital firm, Carman Chan revisits her days as a tech columnist and entrepreneur for insights.

Carman Chan, founder and managing partner of Click Ventures, gave up the chance to pursue a PhD at Imperial College London to become an entrepreneur. In the past 20 years, she has created three successful ventures. She sold two of them and merged one with a Taiwanese company, then started making angel investments in late 2013. Carmen has been involved in 40 angel investments from seed to late stage. 

The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Kr: You gave up a path to a PhD to pursue your personal dream. Did you ever regret deviating from conventional routes?

CC: To be honest, an entrepreneur faces many ups and downs in the early stages, sometimes even crises. These create a lot of pressure because things that happen are not your fault and not within your control. But I’ve never felt regretful. In fact, I totally forgot that I had given up PhD enrollment. I only realized it many years later, when I found the offer letter while tidying my belongings. I suddenly remembered that I was a dropout.

I’ve been through the hard times and survived, and I’ve come out a stronger person. It’s like how a muscle needs training, right? In facing all the difficulties of the past, that muscle has been trained well to deal with problems that come along. 

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