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Students find inspiration in Silicon Valley

  • Jul 31, 2014
Students find inspiration in Silicon Valley

You can talk about innovation in the classroom, or read about it in a case.

But when you hop on a plane and go to Silicon Valley – one of the most important centres of innovation anywhere on the planet – that’s when you find out what it really means to be on the cutting edge of business.

The Hong Kong EMBA class of 2015 has just taken part in this experience. Earlier this month, the students travelled to Silicon Valley to meet entrepreneurs and executives from companies, such as Google, LinkedIn, Deutsche Bank and airbub, as part of the new entrepreneurship module of the EMBA program.

Here the students learned about idea generation, startups, rapid growth, multi-round financing, initial public offers, and ways to manage talent during explosive growth, all part of the day-to-day business environment in Silicon Valley.

EMBA Profile: Silicon Valley trip an inspiration for entrepreneur Mark Sims

Mark Sims, EMBA ’14, had always wanted to start his own business and his experience with the Ivey Hong Kong EMBA finally pushed him to make the leap.

The new entrepreneurship module introduced in 2013 and taught by Eric Morse, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Associate Dean, Programs, helped generate and hone his business idea.

“I had struggled to come up with an idea, but the program forced you to,” said Sims. “I realized you don’t have to have the best idea in the world. You just have to have an idea and the research to back it.”

Sims’ business idea was hatched while he was on the EMBAs’ inaugural Silicon Valley trip in August, where he credits the business incubator environment for spurring his creativity. By November, Sims had quit his job to focus on the business while continuing with the EMBA program. In February, he officially launched Go ‘N’ Golf Limited, a concierge service for golfers that brings equipment to and from the golf course and storage.

Sims also participated in Ivey Asia’s inaugural NEST Pitch Day on March 8, 2014. The School partnered with the business investment incubator, NEST, for Pitch Day events where aspiring entrepreneurs pitch to a panel of experienced investors for a chance at HK $500,000 in business financing and mentorship.

Morse, who was involved in the NEST Pitch Day, said business education and experiences such as Pitch Day, are critical for entrepreneurs.

“Events like the NEST Pitch Day open up people’s eyes to the possibilities of entrepreneurship,” he said. “It’s also a good chance to practice your presentation skills and get an idea of what investors want.

Thanks to feedback from NEST, Sims broadened his business model to include other concierge services, such as suitcases, bikes and surfboards, and launched Go ‘N’ Live - Self Storage Redefined several weeks later with Go ‘N’ Golf continuing as a sub-business. He said he also intends to participate in future NEST Pitch Days in 2014.

“The most important thing for me was the feedback. Being able to sit down with people like this who can help was very valuable,” he said. “I didn’t go to Ivey to become an entrepreneur, but I realized during the course that I was ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge. Not everybody is cut out to be an entrepreneur, but it’s important to encourage it.”