Adora Cheung’s Startup Journey

This article is written by Jeremiah Uke, a Contributor Author at Startup Istanbul.

Adora Cheung was co-founder and CEO of Homejoy, which was funded by Y Combinator in 2010. Before that, she was the lead product manager at Slide where she had the opportunity to learn about startups. She has a bachelor’s in computer science from Clemson University and is an economics Ph.D. dropout at the University of Rochester.

Adora founded Homejoy in July 2012 and has successfully grown the Homejoy team from just her and her brother to a team of over 120 employees and platform that serve hundreds of thousands of households in over 30 cities across the US, Canada, UK, and Germany. Currently, Adora is a partner at Y Combinator, she attended Startup Istanbul 2017 and was part of a fireside chat where she talked about her journey into entrepreneurship.

Adora had a major in Computer science but was mostly building desktop software after which she joined the University of Rochester to get a Ph.D. in Economics before she discovered the world of startups, she heard about startups from a friend and she got obsessed, stopped working on her research, she dropped out from her academic program and started working with a startup called Slide, where she was their product manager, she learnt how to build products, carry out analytics , talking to users and getting feedback from them, she worked with Slide for 2 years after which she left and started her own thing.

Adora advises young people who intend to get into the startup world especially when they are just leaving school, that it is wiser to work at a startup and learn while gaining experience, rather than forcing yourself to begin a startup when you do not really have a good idea to start with, you will learn all the things you should not do at your own startup.

Adora started her startup with her brother, they got into Y Combinator in 2010, after which her brother came up with the idea of starting Homejoy, a home service platform where users can order for services such as cleaning of their homes.

Homejoy grew for 3 years and raised good amounts of money, Homejoy was later acquired by Google who also were starting home services. Adora then spent a year in China, working with new startups and new technologies in a new ecosystem. Adora returned to Silicon Valley and became a partner with Y Combinator and has been there for the past 2 years.

Adora has experience working in China, United States, Turkey and India, she talks about the ecosystem in Turkey being different from the one in Silicon Valley in the sense that the ecosystem is very young and the engineers are building products such as on-demand services, she likens the ecosystem to that of India and says a lot of work needs to be done for more investors to be attracted to the place, and also the startups need to be planned and executed properly.

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