three people under a display doing an interview in front of people

On Tuesday, June 19th, Nanxi Liu, CEO of Enplug, interviewed two of the leading minds in tech entrepreneurship and startups in the past decade, Bill Gross (Founder of Idealab) and Bill Elkus (General Partner of Clearstone Ventures). The event was organized by BCLA, also known as Biotech Connection LA, a non-profit organization made up of local Los Angeles academics and professionals in hopes of diversifying biotech around Los Angeles by connecting, educating, and inspiring entrepreneurs and scientists. The events BCLA formulates are open to anyone with an interest in STEM or have an entrepreneur mindset with the purpose of connecting the minds of individuals and advancing innovation.

The BCLA event that occurred on Tuesday brought together founders and people who shared the same interest about starting a company. Not only did this event strengthen the course for future CEOs and entrepreneurs, it also brought together a community of people who were willing to share their ideas and learn from the interview. It was a “full house at the BCLA startup factory and a night of tacos and networking.”

Nanxi interviewed Bill Gross and Bill Elkus on stage in front of a packed house. Both Mr. Gross and Mr. Elkus happen to also be Enplug investors. Together, they discussed the latest trends in technology, the ups and downs of entrepreneurship and startup life, and how to recognize great products and talent.

Bill Gross, the founder and chairman of Idealab, has an impressive track record. He’s had a whopping 35 IPOs/exits and has raised $3.5 billion over the course of his career. His incubator, Idealab, focuses on big world problems that can be solved using technology. During the evening’s discussion, Mr. Gross shared what he thought were some of the most important predictors of a successful company, including timing: ensuring your idea is not too early or too late for a market. 

Bill Elkus, the founder and managing director of Clearstone Venture Partners, has been recognized as one of the top 100 Venture Capitalists in the United States by Forbes Magazine. His firm focuses on investments within the early stages of IT and technological businesses. Mr. Elkus discussed his serendipitous meeting with Bill Gross, which led to them soon after on starting Idealab together. He pointed out that the companies that succeed oftentimes aren’t the ones that start out as “the golden child” or ones that people like a lot. 

Nanxi shared her experiences building two companies, Enplug and Nanoly Bioscience, from the ground-up. She believes the most important aspect that enabled both companies to still operate successfully years later is great co-founders and teammates. In different stages of the company, Nanxi acknowledged that different types of talent and personalities are needed. 

nanxi liu bill gross bill elkus

For the entire evening, the audience was highly engaged and asked many questions including how Nanxi met both Bills. She noted, interestingly, that Bill Gross introduced her to Bill Elkus. At its conclusion, the speakers and attendees shared tacos together because what better way to fuel further conversation than food?



Written by Samantha Du

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