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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

CEIBS Launches Entrepreneurial Lab

April 7, 2015. Shanghai – “Apple began in a garage. Maybe 30 years from now people will be talking about a company that began in the CEIBS canteen,” said the school’s Vice President and Co-Dean Professor Zhang Weijiong jokingly during today’s launch of the CEIBS MBA E-Lab. It’s a modest space carved out of the large VIP canteen that sits atop the student centre. But great things are expected from the entrepreneurship incubator. 

CEIBS Launches Entrepreneurial Lab
From left: CEIBS Vice President & Co-Dean Prof. Zhang Weijiong and CEIBS Vice President & Dean Prof. Hellmut Schutte unveil the plaque to launch the MBA E-Lab.

In fact, two projects have already been admitted after a vigorous screening process by CEIBS entrepreneurship faculty and venture capital investors who will guide them through the next 12 months. One is a dating app for couples only, the other provides an in-home solution to food safety and pollution concerns. At the end of one year, these projects will either be connected with those who can provide additional incubation support or get the green light to tap into the funding needed to get their start-up to the next phase. The other option is to be booted from the lab if the project team is underperforming. The standards are high, as they are in the real world where most start-ups fail. 

CEIBS Launches Entrepreneurial Lab

But if the line-up of speakers during today’s launch is anything to go by, students who submit projects will be able to access lots of valuable advice on everything from deciding if an idea is a good one or not, to how to attract angel investors. Bill Yao, Founder & President of online video streaming service PPTV, spoke about how he launched his company “for fun” from his dorm room, and the $20 million lesson he learned along the way including the 2008 financial crisis that caused once-promising investors to slam their wallets shut.  Last year, to get the support he needs to compete with the big guys in his field – Youku and Tudou – he enrolled in CEIBS' camp for entrepreneurs. Now so has Jason Xie, a CEIBS MBA 2000 graduate who launched Maitian Family Travel in 2014, a year after resigning as COO for online travel website eLong. Today both men spoke bluntly of the challenges that come with running your own business; just what MBAs looking to launch start-ups need to hear. Michael Mao from Yun Qi Partners was also on hand to provide advice, from an investor’s point of view, on what makes a project a good deal. 

CEIBS, which is itself an entrepreneurial venture launched with the support of the Chinese Government and the EU 20 years ago, has a particular fondness for start-ups.  There are two funds that provide support for projects launched by students and/or alumni, there is the CEIBS Centre for Entrepreneurship and Investment which runs CEIBS' very popular China Entrepreneurial Leadership Camp. And as of today, there’s the E-lab, run by and for the current batch of MBA students. 

Writer: Charmaine N. Clarke