Meet Suelin Chen, Co-Founder & CEO, Cake

#PEIntensive16, entrepreneur, inspiration, startup

Get insights and advice from some of the most innovative entrepreneurs out there. Leading up to Project Entrepreneur’s Intensive in NYC from April 9-10, 2016, we’ll be profiling the PE Class of 2016 finalists. Follow along for the latest on the Intensive with #PEIntensive16.

Meet Suelin Chen, co-founder and CEO of Cake – the easiest way to think about the end of life. We sat down with Suelin Chen to get insights, advice, and inspiration.

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What inspired you to start your company?  

For years I worked in the healthcare sector and would daydream all the time about what could be done to make healthcare better. I kept coming back to end-of-life care as being an area that had SO much room for improvement.  After all, we will all die one day, and we all experience loss–it seemed so crazy to me that this universal thing we all experience is something we communicate so poorly about. The more I learned, the more certain I became that I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to making end-of-life better for people.  

What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

There is so much unmet need and so much opportunity in the end-of-life space that the biggest challenge has been figuring out what NOT to work on.  Building a company requires focus, and it’s been tough to ignore all the shiny objects that come into view.

What’s been the greatest reward?

The people we’ve already helped think through what they want at end-of-life, and the people we’ve helped talk to their loved ones about their end-of-life preferences, are by far the best reward. The relief and gratitude our customers have expressed to us are so incredible and inspiring.  

Who or what motivates you to keep going, even when things get tough.

In my line of work, I’m constantly reminded of my own mortality. This is actually not depressing–quite the opposite!  Every day I remind myself that my time on this earth is precious and I’m so grateful for what I have. This positive urgency–a feeling of life being short–helps me stay super motivated to spend my time doing things I’m truly passionate about.     

What’s one piece of advice you’d give to another entrepreneur just starting out?

Keep talking to people about your business, especially your potential customers, but also your friends, family, investors, other entrepreneurs, anyone who is willing to talk to you–and take it all in. Listening to what they have to say doesn’t mean you have to follow all their feedback (or any of it!), but each person’s point of view is a data point that helps get you out of your own head.