In Conversation

Chase your dreams now: 4 questions with Matilda Ho

Cartier and TED believe in the power of bold ideas to empower local initiatives to have global impact. To celebrate Cartier’s dedication to launching the ideas of female entrepreneurs into concrete change, TED has curated a special session of talks around the theme “Bold Alchemy” for the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, featuring a selection of favorite TED speakers.

Leading up to the session, TED talked with entrepreneur, investor and TED Fellow Matilda Ho about what inspires her work to bring local, organically grown food to families that need it.

TED: Tell us who you are.
Matilda Ho: I am a serial food entrepreneur and investor in China, driving to create more sustainable food systems by combining profit and purpose. I founded Bits x Bites, China’s first food-tech startup acceleration platform and venture capital fund, which invests in entrepreneurs tackling global food system challenges. Before then, I founded Yimishiji, one of China’s first online farmers markets, which has engineered food education and transparency into the entire supply chain and customer experience.

TED: What’s a bold move you’ve made in your career?
MH: In the early stages of Yimishiji, the online farmers market I founded, we had a hard time finding qualified Chinese produce that would pass our pesticide-free and chemical-free standards. We were at risk of not having enough products to list on our platform. When some team members lobbied to reduce the required standards, I decided we should keep looking until we have met every farmer in China. Articulating your mission is one thing. How do you translate a vision into day-to-day operations? How do you hold fast to your values and energize your team when the going gets tough? These are all challenges I frequently discuss with other founders we work with.

TED: Tell us about a woman who inspires you.
MH: I have been fortunate to be surrounded by courageous and inspiring female role models throughout my career as a business consultant and later as an entrepreneur in the sustainable food movement. As these women rise through the ranks and quietly break ceilings in their own ways, they are not only setting great examples for others to follow but also promoting an inclusive work culture that rewards passionate hard work without gender as a barrier. Having seen their success, I feel empowered to take the same responsibility in my roles.

TED: If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 18-year-old self?
MH: Become an entrepreneur earlier! Nothing you can do will fully prepare you to become a great founder and CEO. Fail early. Learn from mistakes. Most success stories take years of commitment to materialize. Develop your mental toughness to be emotionally resilient.

The private TED session at Cartier takes place April 26 in Singapore. It will feature talks from a diverse range of global leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers, exploring topics ranging from the changing global workforce to maternal health to data literacy, and it will include a performance from the only female double violinist in the world.