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Two sides of the coin – embrace challenges with an entrepreneurial spirit

28 Jul, 2021
img No one needs reminding of how unusual the past two years have been. Nonetheless, amid all sorts of challenges and disruptions to millions of people’s daily lives, students at HKBU School of Business have continued to harness their knowledge and creativity and knowledge to make an impact on both business and the wider society.

Presha Shrestha (BBA Entrepreneurship, Year 4) from Nepal and alumnus Kin Ting Ho David (BBA Entrepreneurship and Finance, ‘21) were awarded prizes in international and local competitions in 2021 for their creative and practical solutions to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on businesses and the world. A key theme in both their projects was to be a responsible and innovative entrepreneur.  

Presha was struck by the question when she first witnessed the scenes of everyone in masks and protection gear at the beginning of the pandemic – “What is going to happen with these big volumes of medical waste?” Her concern for the environment led her to create ViriDe, the first ever end-to-end medical waste management solution that minimises the environmental impact of the disposal process. It was originally her final year project, and eventually won her the first runner-up prize at the international entrepreneurship competition ‘SCG Bangkok Business Challenge @ Sasin 2021’.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started,” Presha shared, “I was lucky enough to partner with an engineer in India who could manage and realise the technology part, while I focused on developing the business strategies.” Evolving from a student project idea to a real business garnering funding from international investors, ViriDe is now at the pilot stage operating in a few hospitals in Hong Kong and India. Presha believes the overall ‘online learning’ experience in the past year, though not voluntarily wished for, has helped her get used to the virtual mode of meeting and working.

“There are always two sides of the coin, and we shouldn’t only focus on the dark side and ignore what the bright side brings,” said Presha, “the pandemic has given us the time and opportunity to rethink how humans have been treating the environment. With the help of technology and a responsible mindset, we can incorporate profit-making and do-good for our world at the same time. ViriDe is exactly doing this.”

The competition,  held online, was very challenging. As one of the few female contestants competing at the final round, Presha spared no effort to handle the questions from the judges, who were either academics or real investors from around the world, on technical issues and market analyses, to business model and sustainability as well as future developments. Presha was thankful for the whole-person learning experience at HKBU, and the training from Dr. Yik-man Wong, the team coach and Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Centre,  throughout the journey.

On the domestic front, recently named a ‘Star in the Making’ by the Institute of Financial Technologists of Asia (IFTA), alumnus Kin Ting David Ho (BBA Entrepreneurship and Finance, 2020) is going full speed towards building his start-up “FOODCHAIN” with his HKBU teammates, offering innovative financing solutions for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). A much-needed service especially during the pandemic, FOODCHAIN was awarded the Cyberport Creative Micro Fund grant of HK$100,000 earlier this year.

“The food and catering industry has been heavily hit by the pandemic, and SMEs have been among those finding it most difficult to apply for loans due to the lack of transaction records that are up to banks’ standards, especially during difficult times like this.” recalled David, “This is where we think we can help by leveraging blockchain and e-commerce.” FOODCHAIN is now an online procurement platform with transaction record management services, providing catering companies with validated transaction records that help their credit scoring. The idea has evolved a lot from its initial form, and such  pivoting “is essential in the workplace, no matter what position you are in.”

“At BBA Entrepreneurship, we are taught not only to be an entrepreneur but also an intrapreneur. We don’t have to aspire to build our own business in order to study this programme, but a mind-set to make changes. I am glad that I’ve chosen entrepreneurship for my undergraduate study as I am such an adventurous person who likes exploring new things and learn from the best. My abilities have been further sharpened over the past four years, and have been of great use now for my full-time job as a business consultant, as well as for my startup FOODCHAIN.”

Both having interned at start-ups whilst at  HKBU, Presha and David urge students to grab every opportunity to take adventures and gain out-of-classroom experience. “We always do case studies and learn from real-life examples as course materials. It’s just like a mini-MBA programme,” said David. “But nothing beats the golden opportunities to apply what we’ve learnt into real workplace for real business, so internship experience and overseas exchange are essential for us to live our University life to the fullest. These opportunities also allow us to cultivate our worldview, see what problems are out there and what we can do to make a change. After all, an entrepreneurial spirit matters, no matter what businesses you are in.”
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