Lo and Behold… The highlights of the life of Jennifer Cheng Lo never do less than impress
Jennifer Cheng Lo is the founder and chair of the NewChic Capital Family Office and JennClub.com DAO and a pivotal player in the emerging technology, beauty tech, fashion tech, Web 3 and social enterprise spaces.
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What was it like growing up in the US?
Born and raised in the US, I grew up on the East Coast and spent most of my childhood in Brookline, Massachusetts. My parents realised that, while I was young, they could inculcate in me a lot of the early core educational elements.
My subsequent love of learning and a yearning to play the piano while I was just two years old – a desire fostered by hearing It’s a Small World during a trip to Disney World – led to me becoming something of a child prodigy. I was then accepted into one of the country’s top music schools, the New England Conservatory, at the age of nine, before being accepted into the PhD Piano Performance Studio and Seminar program at Boston University when I was just 12.
Although I didn’t make a career out of playing the piano, it is something that has given me many years of pleasure and that has also helped with my charity fund-raising activities.
Why did you move away from a career path dedicated to playing the piano?
I hurt my finger in a piano competition and, consequently, did not do as well as I expected. At around the same time, I failed to secure the role in the US movie adaptation of Memoirs of a Geisha that I had set my heart on. I realised then that I might have to rethink my career plans.
Whilst continuing to model and audition for acting roles in New York and Los Angeles, I also took on a business development role for a hedge fund company with a particular focus on finance and new media. It proved quite the revelation and I soon realised that I was quite good at it. I went on to work in partnerships with different Google competitors and new media companies, enterprises which eventually became multi-million businesses.
I did, however, feel like I was beginning to hit the glass ceiling in the US. This prompted me to enrol in an MBA scholarship program at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), which inevitably led me to move to Hong Kong. My “ticket to Asia” I would like to call it. After honing my skills, my career really started to take off and I was soon working with start-ups, investing in companies, and immersing myself in cutting-edge technology.
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Throughout your career and personal life, where would you say you have found inspiration?
While many people have influenced me along the way, my parents and wider family inspired me the most while growing up. My mum and dad were both from Hong Kong and had a robust entrepreneurial work ethic, something I was keen to emulate from an early age.
Later, when I arrived in Hong Kong, I was forever in the company of strong, influential and ambitious people from a wide variety of tech, investment, and entrepreneurial backgrounds. I inevitably took inspiration from them and their many achievements. I derive a form of constant inspiration from them because they are always moving forward and able to make an impact in whatever they are doing.
Was it their successes that inspired you to launch NewChic Capital Family Office?
That launched just over 10 years ago, shortly after I had exited an e-commerce business that had evolved into a listed Web 3 company. My share of the profits from that venture left me with sufficient funds to set up my own Family Office, one with a particular focus on investing in and inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.
As I like to put it “we are building the world we wish our children to inherit.” Feeling newly empowered, I wanted to put capital, resources and advisory into businesses I believed could make a positive impact.
To this end, we set out to identify the next generation of change-makers and influencers – the kind of people who were committed to making good on their ambitions in both the personal and corporate spheres.
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With that in mind, what are you looking for when you are considering which businesses to back?
I have a team of core partners – lawyers, research, and finance people – who routinely carry out due diligence on every proposal we consider as a way of evaluating its viability. For my part, I ask myself: “Do we resonate with this entrepreneur and their mission? Is this company set out to solve a universal challenge with an innovative impactful solution?”
While it would be easy just to look at their track record and evaluate their supposed successes along the way, I see it as just as important to determine whether our prospective partners are every bit as tenacious and hardworking as we are ourselves. In the case of one particular investment, while its most senior executive did not have much of a track record, he had run an ultra-marathon across three continents. For us, that showed the strength of character. Another criterion we consider is whether the company in question actually ‘moves the needle’…
(Interview by: Peter Chan, Photographer: Jack Law, Art Direction and Styling: Jhoshwa Ledesma, Videographer: Jack Fontanilla, Hair & Makeup: Owen Ko)
Read the full interview in the March 2023 issue (pg: 88). Available on the Gafencu app on Android and Apple.