Geek of the Week: Heidi Yu, startup entrepreneur and ‘chic geek’ accessory designer

Heidi Yu grew up in Chengdu, China, and has been in the Seattle region for seven years. A graduate of the Seattle University MBA program, she honed her startup skills in business plan competitions, including a winning plan for incorporating clean energy and road construction projects.

Heidi Yu with some of her Pocomaru accessories.

After working as a business development manager for an IT consulting company, she made the switch to the entrepreneurial life, founding tech accessory startup Pocomaru, and co-founding another startup, eventmap.us. She is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to fund her PocoWool case for the iPhone (video above).

Meet our latest Geek of the Week, and continue reading for her answers to our questionnaire.

What do you do, and how did you get started?

I am just a girl who makes physical apps for smartphones. Yes, I am a serial entrepreneur and I consider myself a “chic geek.” I founded Pocomaru after many of my travels abroad. Upon my return, I noticed that a lot of phone cases that I saw internationally were not available in the USA, so I saw an opportunity to become their distributor. After viewing so many other designs, I had ideas of my own cases, so I approached some product designers to create something of my own, and that’s how I started with my first case, the Pocoleather iPhone case. The most commonly used cases for phones and tablets are comprised of mostly cold rubber or nylon. I wanted to create something from organic and natural materials. And the design must be engaging and functional. Pocomaru is a blend of business with highlights of style and flair.

There are a ton of gadget cases and accessories out there — what makes yours different?

My accessories are especially designed for people who cannot live without their mobile devices. Our Pocomaru products keep their gadgets looking stylish, unique and, most importantly, safe. They stand out in the crowd, without drawing too much attention to themselves.

The PocoWool phone clutch is designed specifically for girls with an active social life. She loves fashion and technology, dedicated to life and work, but still loves to have fun and keep up with their hobbies. The wool padding also provides a type of baby-proofing into our designs for the young mothers out there. With all those features in mind, Pocowool becomes a case, clutch, purse, and key chain always ready for a quick trip to the local coffee shop, or for a night on the town. It also allows for endless applications for business or casual use.

For men, we’ve created a feather light iPad case with premium leather materials for a sleek modern look. We also have products that use carbon fiber and aluminum in their cases which have been a big hit for our male fanbase.

We regularly engage our fans on social media. On our Facebook Page, we regularly feature weekly pocostars and a monthly brand ambassador. They are real people in life with their own stories. They usually share the same spirit as Pocomaru: tech and fashion, passionate and energetic, have goals and dreams in life, and the drive to get it.

In the future we will incorporate crowd-sourced ideas on custom phone cases or mobile accessories that build on our great relationship with our manufacturer.

Pocomaru is not just a company, it is very Heidi and it is a family.

Where do you find your inspiration?

3 best ways:

Heavy workouts in the gym, I let my mind fly anywhere with the heavy music!

I also practice hot yoga — the heat helps keep my mind clear. Finally, grab my favorite bottle of wine.

Anything that gets my heart beating fast gives me a lot of energy and inspires. Unique colors, smells, tastes, sounds, the smell of the sun and food.

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why?

My Phone. Like my target customer I am always connected. and I cannot live without the internet. Even as I basked on the sands of Waikiki, I was usually on my phone surfing the web, taking photos.

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? 

I have 3 computers in front of me. 2 iPads…2 iPhones, and other smart phones …3 cameras…and a new surface and a cat! Everything is in reach in my nook, and my pink chair.

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.)

Find the best life partner! I just got married recently, back in October. My life has totally changed and I feel so settled. I love my husband so much and he feels the same way. We share all the housework, we go to gym together, buy groceries together, we just share everything, but we are so different. He is a true geek …

Mac, Windows or Linux? Mac and Windows both.

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility?

Can I just have them all? A transporter from Shanghai from Seattle. A Time Machine could bring me back to the old times, I would sell so many things to the Kings, and I would become super rich! If the Time Machine could take me 100 years into the future, I could sell all my old gadgets as antiques and make lots of money.

Definitely not the invisibility cloak. I’m not shy.

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … Turn Pocomaru into a full-scale operation! Although we’ve been in business for a full year, we started with $20,000 self-funding capital and we’re constantly expanding. I am a good person to execute things with very low budget. However, I wish I had enough capital to pay for my freelance workers and all the people who have helped me along the way, and turn them into full-time employees.

I’ll use the funds for a faster server, a photo studio and a kickass photographer. A team to handle the programming, the user Interface and a social media manager/copywriter, leaving me to deal with the big picture, and lead the Pocomaru squad into the fashion realm.

I once waited in line for … For anybody who has been to Asia, you’ll always see long lines of people waiting outside restaurants. No Zagat or Yelp — the longer the line, the better the food. I’m always in line for my favorite Szechuan Hotpot.

Your role models: Donald Trump once said: never give up, dream big and kick ass. And his daughter has such a sense of style.

And my parents. Because they are happy together all their lives and still love each other deeply.

Greatest Game In History: 俄罗斯方块 or translated to English: Tetris

Best Gadget Ever: There are so many… I guess for me right now it is my iPhone.

First computer: My first computer was in 1999 a machine that I built myself with a Pentium III and a Logitech mouse. I guess you could call it the first Heidi brand product.

Current phone: iPhone 5, Nokia 920, Samsung Galaxy S3. Because I make accessories for all these I have to use all of them myself.

Favorite app: Facebook

Geek of the Week is a regular feature profiling the characters of the Pacific Northwest technology community. See the Geek of the Week archive for more.

Be a future Geek of the Week! Fill out and submit our online questionnaire.

Favorite hangout: My house. I host great parties for friends.

Favorite cause: Lending an ear to people. Everybody wants to be heard, from a young professional who wants to achieve their goals, mentoring other entrepreneurs, and elderly people. Listening to their stories and spending some time together. Especially for the elderly we need to take care of them more and not have them end up lonely.

Most important technology of 2012: Voice command functions on mobile devices.

Most important technology of 2015: I really hope we can just scan our phones to do everything. Like check out, buy gas, driver’s  license, medical records.

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: Always ask, because if you don’t ask, the answer is always NO. if you ask, the answer could be 50% yes.

Site: www.pocomaru.com

Twitter: heidihanyu

Kickstarter: PocoWool

  • True geek

    Why is this considered ‘geek’?

    • http://geekwire.com Todd Bishop

      Thanks for the comment. We like to define geek broadly as someone who is doing interesting and unique things in technology or science, and is deeply passionate and engaged with what they do. We profile a wide range of people in this feature — you can check out the archives here: http://www.geekwire.com/geekweek/

      • Seattle Geek

        wow, it is kind of sad a person want to do time travel to sell stuff to kings and future human race to make tons of money is geek of the week…

        • http://twitter.com/heidihanyu Heidi

          Yes, it is really sad to try to put other people’s dream down. However, I respect you have your own opinion. God bless you.

      • True geek

        This is definitely not science and the only relationship to technology is that it’s sort of a knockoff iPhone case of which there are 100s… You can’t find some real and interesting ‘geeks’ in Seattle?

  • http://twitter.com/Amppt Rob-NX7N

    Very Cool! Merry Christmas & best of luck with your endeavours in the New Year!

    • http://twitter.com/heidihanyu Heidi

      Thank you so much Rob!

  • Jose Salasblanca

    Heidi, just read about you over here in Nicaragua, you are a great example of successful young person! Congratulations and best wishes for the upcoming year.

    Happy holidays,

    Jose Salasblanca

    • http://twitter.com/heidihanyu Heidi

      WOW, Nicaragua! I really want to go there to explore some fashion elements to bring into my future designs for more physical mobile apps! Thx Jose and happy holidays to you too!

  • Oren Etzioni

    Go Heidi!

  • Sad American

    Anyone whose role model is Donald Trump should not be featured anywhere.