H@H: Ep 59 – Claudia Natasia joins host, Sean Li on this week’s episode of Here@Haas. Growing up on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, her penchant for the unknown unknowns led her to Berkeley where she further explored her interest in behavioral economics, data science, and business.
Now the Director of Research and Analytics at Fivestars and Co-president of Berkeley Female Founders + Funders (BFFF) while concurrently pursuing her MBA, Claudia shares her journey of finding a community of like-minded people as well as the challenges faced by female leaders and investors.
On her passion for User Experience (UX) research:
“That’s the whole foundation of user experience research. You want to make sure that the people deciding on the products that humans will use aren’t just the people in the conference room. It’s actually bringing these voices from the community into the conference room to make sure that we’re designing products that actually matter, that actually help build communities.”
On joining Berkeley Female Founders + Funders (BFFF):
“The main purpose of Berkeley Female Founders + Funders is to be a platform that connects founders and funders in a way that is beneficial towards their growth. Being a female leader in tech, I realized that it can be an extremely lonely experience, let alone if you’re a female founder or a female investor trying to look for an exciting startup with maybe not the same amount of resources at your disposal as someone else. I realized this need from my own experience in tech and I realized that I wanted to make a difference.”
(Transcripts may contain a few typographical errors due to audio quality during the podcast recording.)
Sean Li: Welcome to the here@haas podcast. Today, we’re joined by Claudia Natasia, Director of Research and Analytics at Fivestars, Founder of Jumpstart UXR, a published author, evening weekend student class of 23, Co-President of Berkeley Female Founders plus Funders, and last but not least, as if that wasn’t enough, a double bear. Go Bears, and welcome to the podcast.
[00:00:25] Claudia Natasia: Go Bears! Thanks so much for having me, Sean.
[00:00:28] Sean Li: So, Claudia, tell us about your origin story, where you’re from, and what you did before Haas.
[00:00:34] Claudia Natasia: Wow. So, I’m originally from Jakarta, Indonesia. I grew up basically on the outskirts of Jakarta. I decided to go to college somewhere in the United States, and I didn’t realize I’d go to Berkeley. My dad actually walked into my room when I was applying to a bunch of colleges and said, please apply to Berkeley because it’s his dream school.
[00:00:57] And so I did. My heart was set on going to a separate school, actually was Princeton in the East coast, but then the Berkeley admissions letter came in, and I just decided to go here out of the blue. I had to Google airport closes to Berkeley. I did not know it was in San Francisco and packed my bags and moved here.
[00:01:16] Thought I would leave right after. But then really got a great job in consulting for a bit. And since then, I’ve just been here and really loving the Bay area and all of the potential that the Bay area has for us.
[00:01:32] Sean Li: What did you study for your undergrad?
[00:01:34] Claudia Natasia: I studied psychology and also a make your own major behavioral economics which was across interdisciplinary study between Haas and the economics department. So, I was a double major with both of those emphasis.
[00:01:49] Sean Li: What made you pick those things?
[00:01:51] Claudia Natasia: Yeah. So originally, I was an economics and a psychology major, but I realized that back then, I wanted to do something that was not offered at Berkeley. And that has always been me as a person. I always tend to question what’s existing and try to carve paths that are different to make sure that me and anyone else around me aren’t just limited to what’s already given.
[00:02:20] So, I knew that I was interested in the intersection between behavior, data science, and business. Now we know that that is user experience research or data science. Now there’s actually a proper industry for that. But back then, that did not exist. So, I made my own curriculum combined different courses to really just build that so I can get a better understanding of that and hopefully find a job that’s kind of related to that after which now exists in the industry.
[00:02:50] But back then, I was just hoping to find something. I knew that there was a need for that. And I was hoping to carve a opportunity for myself.
[00:02:57] Sean Li: I love it. So, one of my favorite books from Michael Lewis, The Undoing Project, is about Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. And it’s about their friendship. And I just loved hearing origins of how they, in some ways, he came up with behavioral economics.
[00:03:14] Right? And it just blows my mind. I’m like, how do these people think about these things? Like, how did they come up with a hypothesis around, let’s say, hindsight bias or whatever bias it was, and then test these things? It’s so obvious to us now. But before that concept, what made people, you know, think about these behavioral things? And it actually made me a lot more interested in economics as a whole.
[00:03:40] Claudia Natasia: Yeah, agree. I think that’s the interesting thing about this field in general and the field of research and analytics and how it could really be important for the founder’s journey. We never really know what we want to measure. We don’t know what we want to understand. If we know what we want to understand, we’re only validating the known knowns in the world.
[00:04:01] I’m more interested in the unknown unknowns. And that’s why I’ve always been drawn to research to figure it what we don’t know and how we can get there too. Actually. Uncover these new opportunities and create new companies from these new opportunities that would make the world a better place, not just iterate from existing ideas.
[00:04:21] That’s why I’ve always just been drawn to the world of research and the world of entrepreneurship. Especially with tactful entrepreneurship. I’d also like to call out if professor Leif Nelson is listening to this podcast. Professor Leif Nelson is a market research professor at Haas in the Marketing department.
[00:04:41] So him and Minah Jung, who is now an associate professor at New York University, were my mentors as an undergrad. And really made me fall in love with the world of behavioral economics and research, and really my career ever since then is because of these two amazing mentors that I’ve had.
[00:05:00] Sean Li: That’s great. So, what brought you to Haas? What brought you to the MBA?
[00:05:04] Claudia Natasia: MBA is always something that I wanted to pursue. And I can’t think of any other place to do it aside from Haas. I thought about why exactly I wanted to do an MBA. And I realized that it’s not so much the classes, but it’s the people that I hope to meet. And I have actually met throughout this journey.
[00:05:25] I wanted to be able to meet a community of women that can empower each other empower the next generation of founders and investors. And I realized I can’t do it alone. I tried so many times to start an organization like the Berkeley Female Founders Funders. But until I met all of the women that I work with at Berkeley Female and Founders, I realized that the community of Haas is just so powerful for propelling these type of entrepreneurship ideas, and just really supporting us throughout the way and connecting us to a community of like-minded people that can really help us throughout this process, which is not something that you can do outside.
[00:06:06] Sean Li: Yeah. What made you interested in entrepreneurship?
[00:06:08] Claudia Natasia: My parents are entrepreneurs. They built and scaled a few businesses throughout Asia. And I actually grew up following my mom around Hong Kong, Thailand. She would pull me out of school, make sure that I still do my homework in the hotel room, but take me to her meetings with her clients. I grew up basically eating lunch at the Citibank cafe in the lobby while my mom closes deals on the 27th floor. And I’ve always just been inspired by my mom and her journey. And I realized that she had a lot of people helping her along the way, and she had all of those resources for her. And I want to be able to share that experience.
[00:06:51] I feel very grateful to be able to expose to that world. And I want to be able to help other women get access to all of the resources that my mom had and all of the skills that my mom had also as a successful entrepreneur.
[00:07:06] Sean Li: I’m curious to hear because you’re so multicultural, multinational. If you’ve observed any differences between or any gaps between female founders here in the United States versus in Asia? I can’t imagine it was that easy for your mom.
[00:07:26] Claudia Natasia: That’s a really great question. I don’t want to speak on behalf of all female founders since all of our experience is probably a little bit different, but I do think that female founders in Asia or just founders in Asia, in general, are more willing to use their connections, to build initial relationships, to be able to get their startup going and to gain that initial traction phase.
[00:07:50] I do think that in the United States, at least with the startups that I’ve talked to or advise. We tend to be very closed and almost in stealth mode for a long period of time. When really for those initial few months, few years, you should also start building relationships, and that relationship can be done still in stealth mode.
[00:08:12] It’s just if you really conceal yourself at the beginning, you’re not exposing yourself to enough opportunities to continue to gain feedback. About what you’re working on. And that early-stage feedback is extremely crucial.
[00:08:24] Sean Li: That’s very interesting that you bring that up. If I were to think about some of the cultural differences, the Western culture is very well-known for individualism, and Eastern culture is known more for collectivism. And I just wonder you started making me think about how that plays into some of our habits and some of the ways we go about doing entrepreneurship even, and you would be much more protective if you did have this individualistic mindset versus this collective mindset. So, that’s actually a very interesting point. I remember reading this book from. I notice you did some studies at university of Michigan as well from this university of Michigan professor called The Geography of Thought.
[00:09:06] And it was talking about the differences between Eastern and Western thought. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the book before.
[00:09:11] Claudia Natasia: Yeah.
[00:09:12] Sean Li: It’s very interesting, so yeah. Tell us a little bit about your experiences at Haas so far and what it’s been like working full time and going to school.
[00:09:22] Claudia Natasia: I never noticed that school and work are separate entities. Actually, the curriculum at Haas is designed in a way for any part-time student that it directly applies with what you’re working at work. There are many, many times in the past year where I would be working on a problem to, let’s say, particular product would lead to future revenue growth at Fivestars. And I’m collaborating with a different team at five stars to do that. And I realized that there’s so many things that I learned from class that made me a better cross-functional collaborator because it supplied me with the language and just enough knowledge.
[00:10:01] To be able to have these productive discussions across functional partners. So that’s the benefit of really being a part-time student at the Haas school of business. The program is truly designed in a way that it’s beneficial as you grow in tangent in your career.
[00:10:16] Sean Li: Tell us a little bit more about BFFF and how you got involved with Berkeley Female Founders plus Funders.
[00:10:22] Claudia Natasia: Berkeley Female Founders and Funders is an organization that was started by Anjani. So, Hi, Anjani! If you’re listening to this.
[00:10:30] The main purpose of Berkeley Female Founders plus Funders is to be a platform that connects founders and funders in a way that is beneficial towards their growth.
[00:10:43] Being a female leader in tech, I realized that it can be an extremely lonely experience. Let alone, if you’re a female founder or a female investor, trying to look for a exciting startup with maybe not the same amount of resources at your disposal as someone else. I realized this need from my own experience in tech.
[00:11:03] And I realized that I wanted to make a difference. And like I mentioned earlier, this was something that I’ve wanted to do. Even outside of Haas. I was on Slack randomly, and I saw Anjani, Full time, MBA student class of 2021, reach out about this amazing opportunity. She created this organization, BFFF.
[00:11:22] Really, the main goal is to plan a summit to connect Berkeley, female founders, and founders together and learn from founders and funders in the industry. And I realized that I want to be part of this initiative. And I was particularly excited with being able to help female founders and funders at Berkeley navigate through this exciting yet challenging world of entrepreneurship.
[00:11:41] Sean Li: Nice. That’s wonderful. You know, I’m really curious to hear, and I don’t know if we’ve talked to Anjani about this, you know, why Anjani started this. I mean, maybe we should ask her about it, but I’d love to hear what are some of the challenges that female founders and funders face in today’s world still?
[00:11:59] Claudia Natasia: There are a few different challenges, but really the key challenges that female founders and funders face falls under two pillars, one as a founder, it’s really hard to be able to identify resources to help your startups succeed and that resources can come in many different ways, right? It’s not just connecting to the right investors.
[00:12:22] It’s developing the right skills to make sure that you’re able to pitch your startup the right way. It’s finding subject matter experts to help consult you throughout the journey, finding someone to help you with analytics, finding someone to help you better understand financial models, and these resources aren’t as readily available to minorities, not just women, but minority founders. And the goal of BFFF is to bridge women, to be able to find these resources easily. And the second pillar is as a funder. It’s also really hard to break into the funder or investor space. Often the venture capital space in the Bay area especially is very closed off.
[00:13:05] And it shouldn’t be that way. The goal of BFFF is also to connect those who are interested in a career in VC, private equity to all of these opportunities in the Bay area. And hopefully down the line, once we have enough women founders and women funders, strength in numbers, right? You build this huge community, and things will eventually change. Wherewith the relationship that develops from these community that you build, we can strengthen presence of women in the entrepreneurial space and build a more gender-equal entrepreneurial ecosystem.
[00:13:42] Sean Li: I really love that you guys have both the founders plus the funders because I think when people look at entrepreneurship, when institutions like an entrepreneurship, like Berkeley, too often, I feel like they isolate entrepreneurship by itself. When funders and founders, there are two sides of the same coin, right?
[00:14:02] You need both sides. Part of the reason that I feel like entrepreneurship is successful in some other schools. I’m not going to name what. It’s because the funding side is just so strong. Whereas, this is something I’m so glad you guys are tackling. This we need to make sure that we are connecting the alumni base.
[00:14:23] We are connecting our network, our men’s valuable network, to really come back to the school, to support entrepreneurship and support innovation and support more than anything, you know, female and minority founders.
[00:14:37] Claudia Natasia: Exactly. And this relates to the whole ethos that I really based my life on. And my life’s purpose. If I see a problem, I want to fix it, and I want to fix it in a way that’s not just how everyone else is fixing it. So that’s why BFFF really did resonate with me. We have to connect founders and funders directly, and we have to do it in these unique ways.
[00:14:59] And we have to figure out a better way to do it. And it’s not just tapping into the Haas alumni network, which is amazing, but it’s also encouraging alumni and fellow students to expand beyond the Haas network. Our network isn’t just the people we meet at Haas. Our network is the people we made at Haas and the other people that these people meet throughout their careers. And I’d love to be able to tap even further and propel the Berkeley community to gain more visibility outside of just our own network.
[00:15:31] Sean Li: So, one of the challenges of being MBA students and starting these organizations is that inevitably we will leave, right? We will graduate just like when I started the original OneHaas podcast. I knew I was going to graduate one day. What are you guys doing, and how are you guys planning to continue the BFFF legacy once you guys have graduated?
[00:15:55] Claudia Natasia: I hope that the work we’re doing the summit, the talks, the happy hours mixers that we are hosting will. Help encourage new students, current students, to be part of this community. And in these events, we are very, very clear with the intention behind BFFF and how this is a truly unique opportunity as a woman and also as allies to be part of this amazing community of founders and funders.
[00:16:24] And I hope that this will inspire new students to be part of this initiative and to continue to develop the legacy of BFFF further. I’d also encourage current BFFF members to be part of this community and to give back because Haas has given so much to us and continues to give a lot to me personally, as a student, even that I don’t see myself completely leaving BFFF, even if I move on from Haas.
[00:16:50] Sean Li: That’s great. That is the spirit. Some of my team members joke, it’s like, we can’t get rid of Sean. He’s always going to be podcasting. I think that’s a good segue into the events that you guys are putting on. Can you talk a little bit more about the summit coming up?
[00:17:10] Claudia Natasia: Sure. On May 3 to May 7, we have a four-day summit. The title of the summit is really women who launched building the toolkit for gender-equal entrepreneurial system. We were very intentional with how we curated the summit because we realized that although inspirational speakers are amazing and leave us thinking about how we want to approach things or think about things differently.
[00:17:36] We want to make sure that at the end of this academic year, women, founders, and funders, and allies come out of the year with actionable tips from founders and funders into industry on how to make their startups successful. Day one of the summit will be a conversation with product leads from my company, Fivestars, on what it means to build a product and VP that’s successful day two of the summit will be a conversation between a founder and her funder on the data that matters for an investor pitch date three will be a workshop on how to create the perfect pitch that’s guided by a VC. And finally, day four will be a conversation on how to create your first sales and revenue engine to make sure that your startup is able to scale and gain traction even beyond early stages. And this is extremely crucial for founders to know because we tend to be so bogged down to just making sure early-stage works that we often forget to think about how we want to scale, and conversations and knowledge of how to scale is really key and could set your pitch apart from other pitches when you’re fundraising at that early stage.
[00:18:53] Sean Li: Got it. Wow. That sounds like a packed summit.
[00:18:56] Claudia Natasia: Yeah. And I really hope that everyone could join. We will reach out on the BFFF Instagram page and on several newsletters. I really do hope that women, founders, funders, and allies in the community can join us in the summit. It will be a very. Exciting and informative, packed week. So, in order to join, look down at the description and make sure that you click on the links and sign up for all of the sessions. We encourage that you join every single session because it really does add on top of each other to help you build that toolkit. So, I hope I get to see you there.
[00:19:33] Sean Li: Awesome. I think this is a really important initiative because one of the things that always come up, especially in our DEI conversations, is that we need the representation. Without the representation, we’re building incomplete products, and we’re building incomplete solutions because we’re not building solutions that are inclusive of all of the customers.
[00:19:55] It’s like a bunch of guys building feminine products. Like what do we know in running these companies? And, so this is absolutely critical to improve awareness. To me, it’s like, I think of all raise, I think I love this name better actually, BFFF. But I’m really, really glad that you guys are doing what you guys are doing here at Berkeley and spending all his time and putting on this summit. I know it’s a lot of work, so kudos to you guys for doing all this on top of everything else that’s going on.
[00:20:25] Claudia Natasia: Thank you. And I’d also like to emphasize that making sure that products are accessible is not just in the hands of the founders and funders. That’s why I’m particularly passionate about my job also as director of research and analytics. Because ultimately, the purpose behind a research and analytics team, the core purpose is to make sure that users have a seat at the table, especially underrepresented voices.
[00:20:52] That’s the whole foundation of user experience research, right? You want to make sure that the people deciding on the products that humans will use are just the people in the conference room. It’s actually bringing these voices from the community into the conference room to make sure that we’re designing products that actually matter that actually help build communities.
[00:21:13]Sean Li: Absolutely. That’s very important. Let’s talk a little bit about Fivestars, your work there, you know, I’d say Berkeley founded company go bears again. And, being a female leader in the tech space, can you talk a little bit about your experience and Fivestars?
[00:21:31] Claudia Natasia: I currently lead research and analytics at Fivestars, and we are a YC 100 company. It’s been an amazing journey with Fivestars, and one thing that I love most about Fivestars and a lesson that I’ll take. If I eventually either start my own company or advise other companies in the future is that community is extremely important. The Fivestars community is truly what keeps Fivestars employees at Fivestars. We’re an extremely encouraging community. All voices are heard and represented.
[00:22:03] And as a female leader in the organization, I always feel like my voices and my opinions are heard. And when organizations accept voices from all kinds of backgrounds, that’s when you truly get things done. And I feel like that’s what makes companies like Fivestars successful. We’re able to get things done because we have the empathy and the intention to make sure that all voices are represented and heard.
[00:22:29] Sean Li: Tell us a little bit more about this community angle with Fivestars. Why that’s so important to a success?
[00:22:35] Claudia Natasia: We talk a lot about psychological safety and creating a safe space for everyone to be able to speak their own opinions. But it’s not just about psychological safety, right? It’s not just about saying that this is a safe space for everyone to talk about your opinions. It’s also about the processes that organizations have in place to ensure that people have the ability to share their opinions.
[00:23:01] It’s to prevent retaliation, to have policies that stop those types of retaliation from happening. It’s. It’s teaching managers to have the soft skills, to be able to notice when someone who might be more introverted hasn’t contributed to a meeting, but has something that they could contribute. And that’s the type of environment that I try to build at Fivestars as a leader.
[00:23:23] And I think that’s crucial to be able to develop those skills. To empower your team even further and notice that people come from different backgrounds, people have different ways of communicating, and all of those opinions are valuable and can contribute to the overall company objective. There isn’t one way to go IPO.
[00:23:42] There isn’t one way to build a company that sells. There’s multiple ways, and we just need to be open to listening and incorporating all of those ways into one map for the entire journey.
[00:23:55] Sean Li: Yeah. That’s exciting. That is cool. I can’t wait to see what you’ll build next or what, and you’ll be a part of next. What are some interesting content, books, or Netflix shows that you’re consuming lately?
[00:24:06] Claudia Natasia: Wow. And that’s like. Netflix shows. My husband judges me all the time for just watching repetitive shows. I used to watch Friends in the background as I run a SQL query.
[00:24:17] Sean Li: That’s my wife. Literally. Friends non-stop.
[00:24:18] Claudia Natasia: Yeah. Now I’m obsessed with Terrace House and Schitt’s Creek. And I think reason behind that is it’s not just pure entertainment. I love being able to listen to people talk. So, I love shows that are more conversational or movies that are filled with conversations. Maybe it’s the author in me or the researcher in me that just wants to really understand what’s behind a conversation and intentions behind conversations and how people talk. That’s why I’m drawn to those types of shows.
[00:24:50] Sean Li: Before we leave, we have to hear a little bit about your authorship, being a published author. Can you share a little about that?
[00:24:54] Claudia Natasia: I published my first book during my senior year of high school, and it’s a young adult fiction novel about a young girl who was adopted from China with a scar across her face from child abuse and how she had to live with that as she grew up in the United States and learn to accept love from her new community. What’s more important about the book, though. I’ve always loved writing, but ultimately, what’s more, important about it is it fulfilled my dream of also helping build schools in remote areas of Indonesia. So, I decided to donate 100% of the proceeds from my book to build a library and a school in Ambon in the Maluku Island of Indonesia.
[00:25:39] And as a result of that, I started an organization called the Just Like Butterflies organization, currently all proceeds from my book, which is on sale. And Amazon is still going to help build that school. And when my book was also selected to represent Indonesia, the world book fair in Germany, we did a second reprint of the book, and it is still continuing to help build that school.
[00:26:01] I’m now actively working on a second book. It’s not a sequel to my first book. My second book will be about grief since I feel like A lot of feelings that we’ve been experiencing lately is related to grief. And I just hope to bring our community closer through the words that I write. And I will continue to also support Just Like Butterflies organization with this new book.
[00:26:22] Sean Li: That’s amazing. I don’t know how you have, and there are only 24 hours in a day. Yeah. Well, what are you doing differently than me? I have to ask just a little bit more on that, where do you draw inspiration for your books?
[00:26:33] Claudia Natasia: I’m a listener. I listened to conversations that go on and cafes. When I’m drinking coffee, I listened to conversations, even like as head of research, conversations that I have with my users, how people talk. I listen to conversations that characters and shows have. Or even conversations that I read about in the books that I read, and I analyze these conversations.
[00:26:54] And because of that, am able to truly understand what matters to people lately when I’m going out to get groceries or picking up dinner somewhere. There’s a lot of conversations it’s going on about the fears that we have as a community, especially among the AAPI community with rising violence. And this fear relates to so many powerful emotions, primarily grief. Because of that, I feel like I want to be able to provide a channel for others to understand just how powerful these emotions are. And that’s why I’m drawn to words.
[00:27:30] Sean Li: that’s very true. I’ve always wanted to write. It’s in my life goals list that I have right in front of me is, you know, to publish a book someday. And I definitely resonate with. I think I can relate with you in the sunset. I’m very interested in the human condition and just really deeply understanding people and their motivations. And especially during these difficult times, trying to beyond just the violence, but also what’s causing it. What is the underlying motivation? Because I, I truly believe that people are good at our core.
[00:28:07] Claudia Natasia: Yeah, I truly believe that as well. And we need more of that, especially in the entrepreneurship space. I always say this whenever I do presentations or panels in data science and research. The organizations that are successful are the ones that really understand the human experience. Understanding user experience and truly developing empathy with your users isn’t just a matter of design research. It’s truly a strategic advantage that you can have. If you can connect with your users on a very human basis and be alongside them, be their partner in their life journey, that will make whatever you find, whatever product you create extremely powerful.
[00:28:47] Sean Li: Absolutely. Well, it’s been a real pleasure having you on the podcast today, Claudia. Thank you so much for taking the time to join us. We’ll definitely make sure to have all the links to BFFF in the description. So, definitely go down and click on it, everyone and make sure you attend the summit next week. Thanks, Claudia!
[00:29:06] Claudia Natasia: Thanks, Sean. Thanks for having me.
[00:29:08] Sean Li: Thank you for tuning into this episode of the here@haas podcast. If you enjoyed our show today, please remember to hit that subscribe or follow button on your favorite podcast player and we’d really appreciate you giving us a five-star rating and review. You can also check out more of our content on our website at haaspodcasts.org. There you can subscribe to our monthly newsletter and check out some of our other Berkeley Haas podcasts and until next time. Go Bears.