Alex and his fellow teammate Michelle Li from Hong Kong Shue Yan University, won the KPMG Business Administration (BA) Paper 2018, one of the oldest international business plan writing competitions, organised annually by the Hong Kong Federation of Business Students.
"Limits, like fear, are often an illusion."
Flashback to a year ago. Me and my teammate were sitting in the auditorium, admiring how good the finalists were. We never thought that we could make into the final a year later and stand out from more than 150 teams to get the Championship. We feel so blessed. Thanks to the help of our mentor, we made miracles happen.
Think Big and Lose the Fear of Failure
The theme for this year’s KPMG Business Administration Paper was “Smart City”. We were required to create a profitable business plan that incorporated a smart city to enhance sustainability. At the very beginning, my teammate and I felt that it was hard to brainstorm an idea. We came up with a couple of ideas which were beyond anyone’s imagination. We were afraid to tell some ridiculous ideas, and thus we kept brainstorming until we thought one was perfect. This explained why we spent so much time on the idea generation.
We started to lose the fear of failure. We came up with a system named SMARTer, which helps Property Management Companies control their energy consumption level and create a better and smarter society. To be creative and stand out among more than 150 teams, we needed to lose the fear of failure.
Never Dream for Success, Work for It
How to question and criticise ourselves is a sophisticated art that we have learned from the competition. We were so excited when we knew we had been shortlisted to the semi-final round. At the same time, we had to put much more effort to develop our idea. SMARTer was just a rough concept when we first submitted our proposal. Some main items, for instance, the business model and the income statement, were not even mentioned in the preliminary report submission. In two weeks, we had to complete a detailed proposal, including the predicted income statement and its value proposition. We felt frustrated and hopeless as we didn’t know if our idea could fit into today’s real-life situation. We found our mentor and companies which were working in a similar field to understand more about the real-life situation and the feasibility of our idea. To ensure our idea was flawless and feasible, we kept questioning ourselves even after we completed the report. We created a prototype of our app and rehearsed before presenting our idea. It was tough, but you can never dream for success, you have to work for it.
Hard Work Pays Off
After the coaching workshop arranged by KPMG, we were told that we had quite a number of things to improve on, both our idea and presentation skills. We had meeting every day to fine-tune our idea and redevelop the prototype for our final presentation. The hardest thing for us to do, yet vitally important, was to prepare for the Q&A session. We predicted all potential questions that could be asked by the judges, and prepared over 25 slides for answering these questions. Luckily, our Hard Work paid off. In the Grand Final, our competitors came from various universities including HKU, HKUST and the National University of Singapore and more. They did a really good job in their presentations and prototype building, which made us feel stiffed and panicky. Yet, the show must go on and we had confidence in what we had prepared. Once you start believing in yourself, magic starts happening. We are so delighted that our hard work paid off and brought glory back to CityU.
Priceless yet Unforgettable Experience
What I have learned from the competition is way more valuable than the prize we won. How to brainstorm ideas, how to prepare for the Q&A session, and how to pitch and persuade judges are all things we have learned. Such experience not only broadened our horizons but also expanded our network by connecting us with other teams. It was without doubt an unforgettable experience.