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Artificial Intelligence: This MBA’s Startup Is Revolutionizing The Supply Chain

For Florian Gamper, using artificial intelligence is the key to unlocking a more efficient business model

Florian Gamper is an MBA graduate from CUHK Business School who’s recent startup, Datacrag, is developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) software to streamline business decision-making.

With a background working in business intelligence and data management in Germany, when Florian was presented with the opportunity to work in Hong Kong in 2013 he thought, “why not!” Two suitcases packed, he was on his way for what he thought would be a one-year trip, but he’s since ended up making a life there.

Working in supply chain, Florian noticed that the methods used by companies were outdated. He wanted to make a change, but first he decided to pursue an MBA to get the skills necessary to launch his own startup.

After graduating with an MBA from CUHK in August 2016, he took the career leap and started up Datacrag.

How did the idea for Datacrag come about?

In my previous work experience in the supply chain, I had various clients with big company names. Across all of them I saw that they were not set up for fast or efficient decision making.

If a company wanted to make company-wide decisions, they would start large -scale business intelligence initiatives to extract the data from all the separate company departments. They’d then bring it together in a data warehouse and attempt to visualise it in reports to influence the decision makers.

This is very resource and time-intensive. On average, it takes about two years to complete and is always subject to miscommunication between the business and IT departments. I asked myself why companies still worked the same way as 25 years ago when there is new technology available that could be used for shortening this process.

How does Datacrag work?

We aim to abstract all the processes of a company and put them into a network that consists of notes and actions. Datacrag’s application reads all of this, maps it and automatically understands and updates the network so we can model the business and can create a systematic process that can make decisions. At the moment, we’re starting with the core supply chain, but hope to develop it over time so that it can address any part of a company.

With this network in place, all elements of the company will be connected and the time is lost is minimal. A real-life example could be stores communicating with factories. The store says we need a product and the factory tells them if they can or can’t produce it and the network can adjust instantaneously.

Why did you choose CUHK for your MBA?

For me, it only made sense to go to one of the big-name schools. You have to take a year out of work, so the reputation, internationally-recognised degree and increase in salary after graduation made CUHK worth the time out.

CUHK had the reputation, exceptional tutors and the classes that were most appealing to me. It also had the biggest alumni network, which I felt was important.

How did the CUHK MBA help you on your entrepreneurial journey?

Overall, the degree helped me develop the courage to start the company and gave me valuable insight into funding and Hong Kong’s startup culture.

A useful part of the MBA was the inside information on funding and schemes for entrepreneurship in Hong Kong. You cannot find this online; it’s not well documented. Professors who have been involved in entrepreneurship were a great help. One famous professor, Wilton Chau, started two of the main government funding schemes. Knowing about these was vital.

We’ve actually just gone through a seven-month application process for funding and are most likely going to be granted 2 million HKD in equity-free support.

I also got to learn about the startup locations in Hong Kong such as the Hong Kong Science and Technology Park and Cyber Port. These are like a miniature Silicon Valley. We are now integrated into the Science Park. We have three years here rent free and with subsidised utilities. With rent normally high in Hong Kong, this is a great opportunity.

What’s your advice for anyone considering an MBA?

It’s not about the grade; it’s about really learning something. Don’t do it just for the degree. Make sure you pick up and learn information that is relevant to you. You need to consider the MBA and what you want to get out of it.

Another big part of the MBA is about networking, so that you can contact other MBAs in the future and do business together. Do things with the other students that will be good contacts in future. I’m close to and in touch with some of the grads from my year and we push each other to develop and innovate.