In our second episode, we have Popo Huang, one of the co-founders of B4Dawn NYC, a successful Asian-American focused event planning company that is famous for hosting various nightlife events. Aside from being a successful marketer and hostess for events, Popo also used to teach grades 6-10 and is going to pursue her doctoral degree in education. As a frequent global traveler for her business, she will share her opinion on the difference between the Chinese market and the American market. If you want to know her story to achieve financial success while working in one of the glamorous industries, don’t forget to check out this episode.
Angela: In today’s episode i want to introduce,Popo! Hi Popo, how are you?
Angela: So Popo is the one of the co-founders of B4DawnNYC (pronounced as “Before Dawn New York City”) It’s an Asian American event planning company based here in York City. So how did you pick out the name?
Popo: Our company is an Asian based in New York City, it’s an event company and we do event planning and help the clients to book the venue will help them on the operation, like any services. And for the name, actually it’s because at first we have four founders, so that’s the reason with the “4” and at first we started with nightlife. As you know, New York City is a really special city because it is the only city in the United States that closes at 4:00 a.m and the other cities close at 2:00 a.m. Whoever likes a party, they must have known that.
Popo: Yeah, and that’s why for number four and how we come up with the name. It was quite funny.
Angela: Can you share your background? Have you been involved with Event Planning before? Is this something that you did before?
Popo. Oh so my background, so the first time I came to U.S for studying. So I actually came as an international student and I got my Bachelor of Art degree from Ohio University. Later, I got my Master of Education degree in NYU. I’m not sure if anybody know that, actually Ohio University, we won the number one party school before.(Applause – Angela) I think we have won like around 7 times. (Laughing out loud ) So I went to the college like this (Ohio University), I
spent four years there and I was chosen to be the president of the Chinese Student Association at that school, within the organization we have like 3,000 Chinese students, scholars, and teachers there. Since I’m the president, I help them to do a lot of cultural events, such as New Year Gala, which we have 1,000 attendees. Also, I learn from the states that “You work hard, but play harder”. We would party from Thursday night until Sunday morning, and everyone would just stay in the library for the whole Sunday, and I was still able to get a good GPA. I believe that’s the first touch that I experienced the feeling of partying and I really like it. I feel like the party in the states is different from the one in China, especially for Chinese people. For the majority of Chinese community, they assumed partying is not serious but something that’s just what crazy people do.
Angela: Is it because of their culture difference?
Popo: Yeah, they’re doing parties like something that is for fun but I feel like party is like when you are really stressed and you want to have a good time with your friends.(“You can forget about things” – added by Angela) Yes there’s not really like more value than people think on the concept of a party and you go back.
Angela: I know you travel back and forth between China and New York, right?
Angela: Would you mind telling us about the differences, like cultural differences, between both Asian and American markets? I know you were just talking about them, but can you talk further?
Popo: Yeah, I would just use Ohio as an example, because my major was art so actually I was the only two Chinese students in our program. Most of Chinese international students went to study business, which is pretty normal to see at other schools. I don’t know why (Laughing). Due to my “unique” appearance in our program, everyone treats me so well, from classmates to teachers. I think they just want to make sure I’m good and that’s why I got more exposed with the American style. I actually find out that they have a relaxed style: they love playing the ping-pong game (Beer pong) drinking, and talking.
Angela: So you like the American market more?
Popo: I wouldn’t say I like it more, it is very different. And I could see those differences. For Chinese students, they like to do different things, like doing hot pot together and they don’t really like to talk to strangers, which they are always on a “Hi, how are you?” basis and tend to be a little bit awkward. Something like that is really different and I feel like I am in between. So when I accidentally know my partner right now – he’s an America-born-Chinese, we talked and I just feel like it’s a really good opportunity because he really understands the American-born-Chinese market here. (“And you know the Chinese will go to you guys because of you” – Angela) Yes, and because he has been doing party business for like over 20 years so he’s really familiar with
the American Asian way of partying but he has no idea about how Chinese people (“And that’s why you are here!” – Angela) Yeah, and especially for New York, we realized that it’s so different like he said the client he used to work with usually just buy tickets for entrance and probably buy some beers, like barely people will do the bottle service. However, For my clients, most of them are doing bottle service, they’d rather have their own table. This example will bring back to what I found out from Ohio, American sounds like they can talk with whoever they’ve just met but Chinese people just rather stay to their own crowd. So they would rather stay at their own table and drink with the people they know. I think that’s kind of related.
Angela: Okay, and Event Planning has always been considered a glamorous business, is there
a dark side or unknown side of it that you could share with us?
Popo: Ummm, I would mainly take about New York City, because B4Dawn is based in New York
City. So one thing that I think is really important is about the venue, so I feel like most of the spending of the project is on the venue. What it means is that if you can’t really have a good relationship with a good venue, that determines whether your companies will succeed or the project will succeed. But this market is really shady like for some of the venues, even if you signed a contract with them, you need to be careful about the contract because they sometimes ask you to pay the rental fee or the deposit upfront, so they will guarantee the spot. They will give back to you after you hit their bar guarantee, but some of the venue will try to run away from that, like they probably would take forever to return the deposit now. So that’s the one thing
that you really don’t want to happen, we actually have a special case (Laughing). We actually have an event venue and it takes forever to get our deposit back. (After a long time), in the end, I was pushing my partner by asking “what’s going on?” He just sent us a screenshot that actually the owner of the venue, he died (“Wow”- by Angela, with Popo’s laughter) okay, I think he overdosed or something, so I’m like you know what, we’re okay. But that’s how crazy it is and it usually takes us like one year or two years to get them back.
Angela: And you know, I think the audience wants to know about you! Can you share one interesting fact about you?
Popo: So actually besides my party business, I am actually an educator, so I used to be a public school teacher. (“Wow” surprised by Angela) Oh! I taught a lot of grades, I taught from second grade to tenth grade. And I used to teach in both private school and public school. All my friends were like “oh my god! What are you trying to do? You are teaching kids, but also partying” I just
like maybe one day, I can see my student at my party, or my clients met at my party would have kids and I could be their teacher.
Angela: And you don’t teach anymore?
Popo: Right now, I don’t teach. I don’t act as a teacher anymore but I’m actually still working
on a lot of projects related to education. I’m currently working on an oversea project deal with exchange students between America and China. I actually just applied for a doctoral degree in education. (Surprised reaction from Angela) You will see pink hair when they know me and people never think about I have that side. (Proud and laughing from Popo) But I am really serious about education, I’m a pro(professional).
Angela: That’s why we should not judge a book by its cover. And what is the best advice you’ve ever received that ties in with what you’re doing?
Popo: A really good advice I got from is one of my professors before. She actually suggested to me that I need to learn how to say no, because she actually found out that I’m the type of person that I’m always saying yes, which kind of makes me really frustrated. Because I’m kind of saying yes to everything. Also I find out that in the marketing world that I’m working right now, sometimes I’m too easy to say yes, which I can’t. That’s why I need a team, a partner. We need to play the “Good cop, Bad cop”. I feel like this is really good advice anyway I’m still learning.
Angela: Of course! Do you use social media for your business?
Popo: Yeah, I’m not sure about American people but we use an app called Wechat. I actually have 4,000 people on my personal account and I know that the maximum we can have is 5,000 people so I need to make sure there’s no stranger there. But I actually use Instagram and Facebook too but for my personal use, because I already have no personal life on WeChat. For our company we have Facebook and Instagram and we use those to post some articles.
Angela: Thank you Popo!
Popo: Thank you!