Dustin Onghanseng undertook his MBA with one goal in mind: to start his own company.
He created uHoo—a smart air quality monitor that helps those with asthma, rhinitis and other allergies by monitoring the quality of the air you breathe indoors—while completing his degree.
In fact, during his MBA studies at Hong Kong’s HKUST Business School, Dustin—a former consultant at Deloitte—not only managed to meet his business partner, Brian Lin, and come up with his company vision, but also assembled a team of engineers to help build the product within the school’s highly respected engineering department.
uHoo is a personal venture, as Dustin has rhinitis and he found his allergies were triggered inside various buildings. His hope is that he can expand the company using his MBA connections and that the product will ultimately improve the lives of those suffering similar respiratory conditions by providing more data on the quality of indoor air.
Where did the idea for uHoo come from?
uHoo came from dorm room conversations. My co-founder, Brian, has asthma and I have rhinitis. Our allergies were often triggered inside dormitories, school and other buildings. We’d give feedback, but often nothing was done because there was no evidence there.
We decided to build a product to create awareness of this issue. It could provide information for building facilities teams to improve their work and also be more accountable, as well as help to solve issues of poor indoor air.
You can only manage what you can measure after all. This was the goal behind uHoo.
How has the HKUST MBA helped you in building your business?
During the course of the MBA program, I spent time in the engineering school of HKUST and I got to know people there.
When we started, a number of engineers, both undergraduates and PhD students from the engineering school, worked with us for free, simply because they wanted to be part of something that would positively impact people and the world.
The network I obtained from the MBA program will help me further develop uHoo. The friends and classmates I met at HKUST often offer to introduce me to people interested in partnering with us—this will help the company expand as we go forwards.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at HKUST?
I wanted to go for an MBA education for two reasons. First, my growth as a management consultant had plateaued. It wasn’t challenging anymore and the impact I was making was limited to my employer’s and my client's strategy and growth.
I wanted to start my own business, follow my passion, and build something focused on improving people’s health and the environment.
I was considering INSEAD for my MBA, but eventually decided to go for HKUST Business School. This was because it has a good engineering school where I could find engineers to work with on whatever business I eventually started.
I also thought the program structure was awesome. It’s a small batch of slightly above 100 students allowing you to make friends and really get to know people. There’s a diverse group of students with different nationalities, professions, and backgrounds, and the 16-month format felt just right.
What advice do you have for anyone considering an MBA?
It’s similar to the advice I’d give to anyone considering entrepreneurship. It’s about your state of mind—one where you are constantly creating and building new things to attain a vision and rolling up your sleeves to do it. My advice for anyone considering an MBA is simple: go for it.