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George Chao: From His Own Startup to Helping Other Startups in Silicon Valley

George Chaos

This blog is part of series recognizing the contributions of Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders to the manufacturing industry.

George Chao first learned about the MEP National NetworkTM when he had his own clean technology startup company that focused on renewable energy and energy storage. He loved the Network’s mission so much that he decided to join it and help other manufacturing companies take advantage of this valuable resource.

As Director of Strategic Partnerships at Manex, part of the California MEP, for more than 10 years, he helps companies find capital resources, develop business strategies and work with different government agencies. He assists manufacturing companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley, helping them grow their businesses and train their workforce. He further assists local workforce development through partnering with workforce boards and community colleges.

Nurturing strong partnerships

Because Silicon Valley is home to many startups, he interacts with various unique manufacturing companies. He understands their needs because he’s been one of them, and he knows how to help them develop the right partnerships. Before joining Manex, George held a key position with a utility-scale solar development company where he was instrumental in bringing in strategic partners and investments as well as working with local government.

He works closely with the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on entrepreneurship and advanced manufacturing initiatives. He has nurtured deep, longstanding connections with both institutions. His undergraduate degree in engineering physics is from UC Berkeley. George also spent six years as an Integrated Circuit Design Engineer at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab working with a team of scientists and physicists on several important energy and physics projects. He knows the right people, and this helps him make the right connections for companies.

Networking throughout the community

George is one of the founders of the Silicon Valley Innovation Entrepreneur Forum that assists Bay Area companies doing business in Asia. He serves on the board of Work2Future Foundation, which is the workforce and economic development organization for Santa Clara County, in collaboration with small and large businesses, educational institutions and community-based organizations. He also serves on the advisory board for Camp BizSmart, the world’s premiere business and entrepreneur academy for “tweenpreneurs,” ages 11 to 15.

His advice – go out and meet people in manufacturing

What George likes most about manufacturing is that “you get to see how an idea turns into products many people can use.” His advice to someone interested in pursuing a manufacturing career is to attend events like AMBayArea where Bay Area manufacturing executives get together to discuss challenges, compare best practices and exchange ideas.

He also encourages people to attend Manufacturing Day events where they’ll meet and learn from manufacturing company CEOs. George suggests that it’s helpful to go out and “meet people in manufacturing, visit their facilities and ask them questions. Manufacturing industries are always looking for talent.”

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