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START-UP LESSONS

Volume 4, 2016

By Charmaine N Clarke

Entrepreneurially minded students usually fit right in at CEIBS, which has a soft spot for those brave enough to try making it on their own. They can tap into the eLab, the school’s hip, on-campus incubator that doubles as a shared workspace; two funds that provide access to much appreciated capital; an active entrepreneurship club and just a general on-campus vibe that says: go for it!

“Before joining CEIBS, I had already heard about the eLab that started out as a small space above the canteen and now has its own dedicated space on campus. The eLab’s boot camps, lectures outside of the classroom, and other resources that the school makes available for students are quite impressive,” says Juemin “Arkham” Gan who already has two start-ups under his belt. His first company, Eastdigilife, had a simple business model to sell electronics online. But neither he nor his partners had the practical e-commerce experience needed to come up with a clear marketing strategy. Five months ago he initiated another project, Virtual Explorer, focusing on the online tourist industry. The project is now on hold and he is thinking the eLab may be one way to revive it – but has no firm plans yet. Arkham is sure of one thing, though, he wants to be an entrepreneur after he finishes his CEIBS MBA. “After I graduate I will pursue my dream of starting a tech-driven company that focuses on big data and artificial intelligence,” he says.

He is a member of CEIBS MBA Class of 2018 whose students come from a wide range of industries, broadening the wealth of knowledge classmates can share among themselves. For example Yihan “Coco” Zhou, who previously worked with Michelin China as an Innovation Analyst and Communication Manager for their incubator programme, has insights to offer on everything from crafting that first business plan to attracting VC funding, and then getting to IPO stage. “From my experience, failure is just as important as success to a start-up as one can pivot from the original idea to something else which might totally change the market,” she says. “My advice to entrepreneurs is to keep trying, testing, pivoting and eventually, you may just be able to provide the right product or service to the right customers.”
In this section of the Cover Story, read on for the fascinating stories of:

-  Andrew Kim, a trained lawyer with a knack for spotting needs and then translating them into viable businesses;
-  Shaolei Hong, a lyricist at heart who hopes to leverage his past experience as an entrepreneur and venture capitalist to do something that makes him happy while he makes a living;
-  Zoe Yang, who co-founded an education platform start-up in Beijing but was severely hobbled by her limited knowledge of how business is done in China;
-  Gary Ng, whose years of working in Silicon Valley biotech start-ups opened his eyes to opportunities in China; and
-  Chicco Tseng, a Taiwanese who launched a start-up in Shanghai only to be poached by the competition.