Eva Lau on Embracing Your Culture While Breaking Down Its Barriers

The FLIK community has grown to be full of great cultural, social and ethnic diversity. We are immigrants, the children of immigrants, have lived in different continents, speak multiple languages and know how it feels to be asked, “but where are you really from?”. Eyeroll.

Our unique backgrounds shape our experiences, relationships and the expectations that are placed upon us - both by ourselves and by others. Not to mention the expectations that go along with being womxn, but that’s a whole different article.

Eva Lau describes herself as a product of traditional values. An immigrant from Hong Kong, Eva shares her challenges and successes as a young Chinese woman making her mark on multiple male-dominated industries. As the founder of Two Small Fish Ventures, Eva is a venture capitalist who focuses on investing in transformative tech startups.

As the first girl born in her extended family, Eva recalls feeling less cherished by her family members simply because she was a girl. From a young age, her mother told her that she had to do more, work harder and go the extra mile to prove to the world that her abilities weren’t bound by her gender.

When she arrived in Toronto, Eva remembers that her family didn’t give her many options when it came to choosing what to do with her future. The choices were: engineering, doctor, or lawyer. From her limited options, she decided to pursue industrial engineering at the University of Toronto where she was one of the very few people in her classes who identified as a woman.

She remembers feeling like she wasn’t as pretty as the other girls from other faculties. You know the ones who wake up early to put serious thought into their hair, makeup and outfits for 8:30 a.m. lectures when everyone else looks like they stayed in bed until 15 minutes before class because that’s exactly what they did?

I mean, no judgement to them. Eva calls them “prepared”, I call them show offs.

An advantage of being one of the few girls in the class? “The professor always notices you,” says Eva. The disadvantage? It’s very easy to be overshadowed.

All of these familial and academic expectations, however, prepared her for working in an industry dominated by men.

After graduation, Eva began working with a software startup where she discovered her passion for working with early stage companies. She calls the experience “transformative” because for the first time, she was able to feel and see the organization that she was a part of. She was able to have conversations with the founders, work directly with them, and make meaningful contributions to moving the business forward.

She remembers realizing,

“I’m not just one tiny nut or tiny bolt in a big machine - I could be a gear”.

After being on maternity leave, Eva began pursuing her MBA part-time. She wanted to share her diverse experience across multiple fields with up and coming entrepreneurs. “What’s a better way to make an impact on the world? Start your own company,” she explains. Starting out as an angel investor, Eva wanted to become someone who could recycle her capital and her knowledge in order to build the next generation of tech giants.

Today, Eva is one of very few women in Canada working as a general partner in venture capitalism. She hopes that as more women rise to these leadership positions along with her, more people will come to realize the challenges faced by so many trying to please everyone - parents, children, colleagues and clients - and will see just how much women have (quietly) contributed to the world around us.

Written By: Hannah Geiser

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