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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Entrepreneurship in China: CEIBS’ Role CEIBS

September 7, 2017. Shanghai – CEIBS this evening lived up to its reputation of nurturing entrepreneurs by bringing together faculty and alumni who had solid advice to offer on everything from choosing the right team to finding the right opportunity at the right time.

After a welcome address by CEIBS Vice President & Dean Professor Ding Yuan, the evening got underway with Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy Shameen Prashantham’s look at the rise of entrepreneurship in China. Beginning with Mobike’s astronomical success since being launched in 2015, he then took a broader look at entrepreneurship in China since economic reform began almost 40 years ago. “Entrepreneurship – in particularly tech entrepreneurship – in China today is turbo-charged. In the past few years, the possibilities in China seem endless,” he told the audience. In a show of hands later in the programme, a fair amount of those had who turned out for the two-hour evening event showed an interest in launching their own business.  As Professor Prashantham explained, China is not short on any of the three key factors needed for entrepreneurial success – money, technology and people. “A Silicon Valley bank report published just two weeks ago indicates that VC spends in China are now at US levels,” he said. But he cautioned that even start-ups with deep pockets can fail. Hence the need to think carefully before starting a business. 

Associate Professor of International Business and Strategy Shameen Prashantham.

“Opportunity, which is the starting point of entrepreneurship, is not defined by external possibility alone. Rather, as we often tell our students in the opening lecture of a course on entrepreneurial management, opportunity lies at the nexus – the intersection – between external possibilities AND internal capabilities,” he said. “Individuals have to have self-awareness to reflect on their strengths and match these with possibilities. Not every possibility is worth pursuing.”

His words of caution dovetailed with the advice presented, during the panel discussion that followed, by CEIBS alumni who have either launched their own business or work for/with a start-up. Moderated by Financial Times Business Education Correspondent Jonathan Moules, the discussion saw input from:   

  • Jay Ha (GEMBA 2014), Co-founder of Persona & President of Red Branding and Trading Group. Jay is running his own private investment firm that has many start-up companies in its portfolio. He recently founded a new company that trades Korean beauty & fashion brands and products to overseas e-commerce and retail platforms including China and South East Asia.  
  • Min Ko (MBA 2016), Partner & International Affairs Director at First Respond, a leading Chinese social enterprise and the very first Certified B Corp in Mainland China dedicated to delivering high quality first aid training, services, and solutions to individuals and businesses.
  • Devon Nixon (MBA 2010), Founder and CEO, SoilTap China. Devon is also a strategic advisor for China-based accelerator “Unicorn” and cross-border platform America Innovates, focused on various efforts including Smart City, UNDP goals, and cross-border M&A.
  • John Yu (EMBA 2012), Founding Partner at Mytech China Venture Capital & Vice Chairman of Shanghai Venture Capital Association John is currently focused on ventures in the TMT, AI and intelligent manufacturing, consumption upgrade and educational industries.
  • Jason Xie (MBA2002 and Entrepreneurial Leadership Camp IV), Founder of Maitao.com. The company, which began as a WeChat group among CEIBS alumni, focuses on scenario-based education for children. It received angel funding from Shanda Capital in 2014, completed its A round of financing led by Kaiwu Walden Capital in 2015 and series B financing led by Fosun Group in 2016.  

From left: John Yu, Jason Xie, the FT’s Jonathan Moules, Devon Nixon, Min Ko and Jay Ha.

Throughout the evening, they spoke frankly as they fielded questions about what kept them going during the times they were close to quitting, whether entrepreneurs are born or made, what a venture capitalist looks for when deciding which companies to invest in, how to achieve work/life balance, and more.

One common thread throughout the evening was the huge role CEIBS has played in their entrepreneurial journeys. Many of the companies represented have multiple CEIBS alumni on staff, as investors and/or clients. The panellists also shared the view that having the right team, the right people around you, was the most important element of success.

The evening was moderated by Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship & Director of CEIBS eLab, Vincent Chang. “I hope this evening’s event has been helpful and that it may even provide the spark for new ideas, ventures and partnerships in the future,” he said as he bid the audience farewell. In addition to the CEIBS eLab, an incubator for entrepreneurial ventures created within the CEIBS community, CEIBS also nurtures the entrepreneurial spirit through its E-Platform, a high-quality integrated entrepreneurial innovation ecosystem comprising entrepreneurial education, incubation and investment. In July, the CEIBS MBA programme was ranked #1 in Asia in the Financial Times 2017 ranking of the Top 50 global MBAs. 

For more on CEIBS’ entrepreneurial spirit read CEIBS’ Start-up Culture.  

Participants gather for a group photo to mark the event. From left: Prof. Prashantham, John Yu, Jason Xie, Jonathan Moules, Devon Nixon, Min Ko, Jay Ha and Prof Chang. 

Charmaine N. Clarke