How can we be more entrepreneurial?

On the Wednesday afternoon of 2 December 2020, the UK Campus of Peking University HSBC Business School, together with the support of student entrepreneurs from Almost Founders, hosted a webinar entitled “Innovation and Entrepreneurship”.
The invited speaker was Dr Baoli Zhao, the founder and Managing Director of Allsee Technologies Ltd, a manufacturer of Digital Signage Displays. The company was awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation in 2007 and the company has been recognized for their flexible all-in-one Digital Signage solution that allows users, regardless of budget and IT resources, to implement future-proof commercial displays in a diverse range of settings. Furthermore, Dr Zhao is a mentor at Oxford University Innovation to help university spin-outs with Intellectual Property, new venture creation, investment raising, and technology marketing. Dr Zhao is also an Ambassador of the Be the Business movement that was established to bring together companies large and small to make the UK home to the most ambitious firms in the world. Thus we are very honored to have someone with Dr Zhao’s stature and expertise to lend his time and share his wisdom and wealth of experience on innovation and entrepreneurship to our students.
The webinar was very engaging and full of lively discussion between Dr Zhao and the students on the interface of nascent markets and personal as well as organizational capabilities for innovation. In particular, during the discussion, students who want to start entrepreneurial ventures, who are interested in setting strategy in dynamic markets, who want to promote social and technological innovation, or who are looking to consult and/or want to work in VC or PEs were instructed on the concepts and tools necessary for assessing, analysing, and intervening in entrepreneurial and growth markets and in emerging industry spaces.
Dr Zhao was very encouraging towards our budding student entrepreneurs. He advised all of our students to have entrepreneurial ideas; to look around us every day, identify problems and market gaps and from there develop their solutions of these problems innovatively and creatively. That’s when an idea for entrepreneurship and innovation is born! He also advised our students that in the development and execution of their ideas to think more than the present. In fact, they are advised to think 10 years ahead; they need to anticipate the market and the future so as to keep their business relevant for years to come.
While one might be bubbling amidst the excitement and positivity of starting a business venture, Dr Zhao also provided our students with words of caution. There are numerous pitfalls of entrepreneurship. He cautioned against rapid expansion and globalization unless the business understands fully the market and the culture of the regions where the business is looking to expand. He gave examples of how business which expanded too quickly or that they failed to understand the changing market trends were quick to fold. Dr Zhao offered our students a pearl of wisdom: know when to cut your losses. However, do not regard it as a failure but a learning opportunity. Learn from your mistakes and start again. Wise advice indeed for all our budding entrepreneurs.
Throughout the webinar, there were a lot of engagement between the students and Dr Zhao. The students were all very eager to learn from him and posed numerous questions. The lively discussion centered on the fundamental questions of how to organize for innovation, how to identify and build nascent markets, what drives the evolution of emerging markets, as well as the definition and recognition of the differences between ‘invention’, ‘innovation’, and ‘commercialisation’ within the viewpoints and roles of ‘entrepreneurs’.
It was indeed a very interesting and informative webinar where everyone in attendance learned a lot from Dr Zhao about entrepreneurship and innovation. We hope that Dr Zhao’s words of wisdom and encouragement would spur our students embark on a journey of entrepreneurial enterprises and innovative ideas. We look forward to bigger and greater things from everyone in attendance.
Selected student comments:
“Thank you for your amazing webinar today, also. It was the best one we’ve had up until now. Very inspiring, and we are very privileged to have had this opportunity. Thank you and wishing you a great day.”
“Hello Mr. Zhao! I really enjoyed it today, it was informative and I like that you kept it in a very good time frame. I had some webinars which were 2/3 hours long and after a time it’s hard to concentrate, and then you don’t know what to ask, because it was too much. Thank you also for answering the questions at the end. I hope that you can visit us on campus too!”
“Dr Zhao, thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience with us, it was truly a very insightful and motivating webinar. I really appreciate your support. Thank you so much!”

Written by Dr. Carryn Yong