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These MBAs Launched Their Dream Tech Startups After Business School

Find out how the Hong Kong University MBA helped three entrepreneurs launch successful ventures in FinTech, AgriTech and EdTech.

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Thu Jan 28 2021

BusinessBecause
Musheer Ahmed’s latest FinTech fair was attended by over 3,000 people, Ariel Lai's EdTech firm uses mindfulness to help improve children’s concentration spans, and Raymond Mak’s AgriTech company runs cutting-edge urban farms in Hong Kong. 

The three young entrepreneurs have each launched tech startups disrupting traditional industries, and they all have one thing in common.

Before launching their thriving tech startups, all three graduated from The University of Hong Kong (HKU) Business School's MBA program, where students are taught the business skills and expertise needed to successfully launch their own business ventures.


Switching to entrepreneurship 

Before coming to HKU, neither Raymond, Ariel, or Musheer had launched a startup before.

Musheer had worked as a fixed income and commodities trader in Bangalore, while Ariel held business development roles at corporate banks like HSBC and Citi. Raymond worked as a managing consultant at PwC before choosing to study an MBA in 2015.

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Despite having successful careers in these industries, each dreamed of pursuing their own entrepreneurial venture and felt an MBA would help them get there. 

“I come from an entrepreneurial background, my dad was a businessman, and I helped him throughout my childhood with various entrepreneurial gigs,” says Musheer.

“I always envisaged that I would be working as an entrepreneur eventually and the MBA helped shape that.” 

Ariel was laid off from her role at Barclays during the financial crash in 2008. Afterward she felt launching and running her own business would offer her a way of taking more control over her career. 

“I wanted to start a business 10 years ago but something was always missing, so I decided to go to business school to learn about the process,” she says.


Developing an entrepreneurial skillset 

Students in HKU's MBA program are taught a mixture of core modules, covering the fundamentals of business, and electives, which they can choose to focus on entrepreneurial topics. 


One key module for would-be entrepreneurs is the Business Lab program, where students learn the essential steps in turning an idea into a successful company. 

Classes cover subjects like researching target markets, developing marketing strategies, and generating revenue. Students are tasked with producing business plans of their own by the end of the course. 

Teaching is delivered by entrepreneurship professors who have launched their own startups in the past, alongside guest lecturers who are successful business leaders and entrepreneurs, giving students an idea of what they have to do to succeed. 

Since graduating in 2015, Musheer has used his entrepreneurial skills to set up Finstep Asia, a FinTech company which provides consultancy services to startups and corporates to help them innovate and grow.

He has also co-founded other FinTech related ventures, including the Global Impact FinTech Association, IndiaTech Hong Kong, and the FinTech Association of Hong Kong. 

"The Business Lab definitely helped to fine tune my entrepreneurial abilities, it was a really well structured program for learning how to launch your own startup,” he says. 

Raymond met his founding team and began developing his startup during the Business Lab program. Farmacy HK is an AgriTech company which uses technologies like full automation to create smart mobile farms which provide fresh fruits and vegetables to Hong Kong. 

“The Business Lab was one of the courses which really defined me as an entrepreneur,” he says, "we were able to say: ‘this isn’t just a good project, we can bring it into reality and make it a successful business." 

All three entrepreneurs were able to build a strong network at HKU which they could use to their advantage. 

While Raymond met his founding team members during the course, Ariel was able to use the new connections she made in her part-time MBA to secure funding for her first EdTech startup, Learnovate Academy. 


Learnovate uses technology to provide a suite of educational services and soft skill learning for children, including mindfulness training using virtual reality. 

“Usually in Hong Kong it takes two to three years to get first round funding for a startup but we managed to get that in the first twelve months,” she says. 

“It happened exponentially and all the professors and the alumni were helpful in connecting me with the right people, so it would have taken much longer if it wasn’t for HKU.” 


Managing a successful startup 

Around 22% of startups fail within their first year, and forming an idea and acquiring initial rounds of funding is often only the beginning of a very difficult journey. 

Continued success requires an understanding of a broad range of business functions.  

Raymond’s work as CEO of Farmacy HK sees him working with balance sheets, creating marketing campaigns, and liaising with investors on financial plans. While this means having a wide range of responsibilities, he believes he is capable because of what he learned at HKU. 

“All these skills come from my time in the MBA,” he says. 

For those considering making the jump to launching their own business, an MBA can guide you through the process and provide you with the network and skills needed to have continued success. 

For Ariel, it was essential in allowing her to follow her entrepreneurial dream, “Without it I wouldn’t have started my two businesses. I would still be in banking," she says. 


If you are interested in HKU's MBA programs check out their full-time and part-time webinars in February to find out more. 

Student Reviews

The University of Hong Kong (HKU) - MBA Programmes HKU Business School

Student

Verified

23/02/2023

On Campus

Academic

Very good academic, caes course amazing, ccs are all amazing, professors are excellent, the architecture and infrastructure is splendid, people here are awesome, made some really nice friends, and teachers support us

Hatim

Verified

6/02/2023

On Campus

Diversified culture

I highly recommend The University of Hong Kong to students all around the world because of their diversified culture, teaching standards, and the people which make the learning experience better every day.

Student

Verified

6/10/2017

A place where you best understand local and international cultures

With plenty of experiences available, HKU provides a plenty of experience for me to explore our own and other countries culture. She has excellent teaching and research staffs in the Department of Ecology and Biodiversity. Time allocate to students are considered sufficient and staffs are ready to reach anytime. Besides academic, she has various subsidised programmes that allow students to explore. This credit should be given to GenEd (general education) Office to provide different interesting programmes. These ranged from guest speaker giving talks on China-Hong Kong relationship; Contemporary art in Asia; or holding mini forum on geopolitics. Most, if not all, of which are free of charge!

Student

Verified

1/10/2017

Life at HKU

Pursued the SHS degree at HKU, academic and clinical staff members were very devoted and passionate. The academic program is under constant reviews, staff members are open minded and willing to modify the program with regards to students' opinions. Career prospect is good. Uni life is fruitful, many different activities for students to choose. Great facilities supporting learning.

Student

Verified

29/09/2017

Student Life in HKU

As an Accounting and Finance year3 undergrad student in HKU, the university provides lots of opportunities for me to learn and explore my interests. You could join a wide variety of activities, like being an committee member of societies and joining hall activities. As for me, I chose to join the winter exchange programme, be a committee member, and did volunteering servic and had latrine construction and volunteer teaching in Ghana, Africa. I also organized lots of activities for societies and had lots of meetings with company representatives. As for school work, it is okay normally but definitely u got a lot busier during November and April. You got a lot more free time compared to CUHK and HKUST. And of course, this is considered as the most ‘international’ uni in HK in a way that I could make friends coming from different countries. Just wanna add, HKU has a good location for foodie as its near Central, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui. For those who love night lifes dont miss this. I didnt speak of anything i dislike coz there isnt anything i dislike much, but if I do have to say, it is the hall life of many local students, such as having cheers at night and never sleeps that may disturb others.

Student

Verified

2/09/2020

Blended

Academics

I think it’s a great university that gives you a lot of opportunities in terms of academics as well as extracurricular activities. The education system is fairly westernized and the professors are good for the most part.

Student

Verified

3/11/2017

International, stratified and political

Adequate resources and very convenient campus with sufficient channels to expand your social and professional circle. Also politically active, and perhaps too biasedly so. Its law school is firmly established, with the longest history in Hong Kong. Practical and professional training, with a constant atmosphere of anxiety and competition that encourages a relatively focused and narrow vision of career outlook. Good range of extra curricular activities available.

Student

Verified

12/10/2017

Life in HKU

HKU provides students with lots of opportunities in multidisciplinary researches and experiences. This encourages students to widen their horizons and prepare for the future. The programme I attended organised both local and oversea field trips that allowed me to have the first hand experiences of relative aspects. It was very useful for my later career.

Student

Verified

6/10/2017

BSocSc

I am a graduate of the BSocSc programme several years ago. I appreciate that the programme provided a flexible choice of majors and minors. Even I was admitted into social sciences programme, I could explore various streams of studies in and out of the social sciences faculty, including global studies, human resources, politics, science and music. I did a double major in psychology and sociology. Among all learning experiences in lectures, tutorials, field trips…, I would say the internship experience was one of the most memorable part of my university life. The faculty offers a credit-bearing internship programme in which students can go to various NGOs to work on social issues, ranging from poverty, education to adjustment of ethnic minorities. Students can be placed locally or overseas, depending on placement quota, their personal preference and past experience. I went to a social service agency that serves adults who are intellectually challenged and have autism spectrum disorder. It was an eye-opening experience in observing how different professionals work together to provide training for those people and reflecting on how psychological knowledge could come into play. I was also able to gain some hands-on experience in leading an activity. There are more and more internship opportunities for university students. It is just another way to gain practical experience apart from applying for interns in government agencies or business companies, especially in organisations that would not openly recruit interns but only work with tertiary institutions. It should be noted that for some majors/courses, there are really a lot of people studying. When I was an undergraduate back then, we often expected a lecture with 100+ students and a tutorial with nearly 20 students. If you favour close student-teacher interaction in small classes, you may look into the enrolment of particular courses.

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