Houston Entrepreneurs Share Their American Success Stories

Houston Self-Made Asian Entrepreneurs

HOUSTON, November 6, 2019 — Nearly 150 Houstonians enjoyed a program featuring local self-made Asian entrepreneurs. In conversation with moderator Gordon Quan of Quan Law Group, panelists Donna Cole of Cole Chemicals, Farid Virani of Prime Communications, and Frank Liu of Lovett Commercial, Lovett Homes, and InTown Homes discussed founding their own businesses, the challenges they faced along the way, and advice for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

During the program, the panelists reflected on their personal journeys and how they entered the realm of business, which often involved serendipity and timing. Liu admitted he was young and naïve — but reflected that in some ways that was to his benefit, because he viewed risk differently than others. He and Virani both stressed the importance of good people and strong relationships who can mitigate risks and the hardships of running one’s own business.

Cole briefly discussed what it was like being a woman business owner. She explained that in her view, it can be a “double-edged sword” sometimes accompanied by detrimental assumptions; however, in other cases there is strong support for minority- and women-owned businesses. The speakers praised Houston for fostering a particularly welcoming business environment, especially for immigrant Americans such as Liu and Virani and for Cole, a third-generation Japanese American woman.

In discussing the challenges of balancing work and family life, all the panelists agreed it was a matter of managing priorities. Similarly, it was important to all the speakers to give back to the community, whether through philanthropy, supporting education, or advocating for causes near to their hearts. For Virani, doing so is a reflection of values and faith: “Those who have the ability have the responsibility.”

At the conclusion of the program, when asked for advice they would give their younger selves or future entrepreneurs, Cole advised doing your homework, whether on your industry or in pursuit of a mentor to earn their trust. Virani said that life is complicated, and suggested keeping things straightforward. “Don’t be afraid to fail. You will fail a few times,” said Liu, who said he views failures as opportunities for learning.


About Asia Society Texas Center

With 14 locations throughout the world, Asia Society is the leading educational organization promoting mutual understanding and strengthening partnerships among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and West. Asia Society Texas Center executes the global mission with a local focus, enriching and engaging the vast diversity of Houston through innovative, relevant programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach.


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