Team 1: An Entrepreneurial Story of Success
Over the 12-day training session of Harmony Plus’s Future Entrepreneur Challenge (FEC), one of the projects from a group of high school students’ stood out. Among the many projects that tend to focus on mental illness, this team chose a relatively unusual but important topic — scoliosis. Though you’ve probably heard of scoliosis, this common disease is rarely paid attention to. Or more accurately, people have a basic understanding of it and don’t necessarily know what kind of pain the patient experiences. Two of the group members, Grace and Serene, had been previously diagnosed with scoliosis. Serene shared her personal story of scoliosis with her team: Diagnosed with scoliosis in October 2018, she felt lost and unsure. While she did not feel much physical pain, her anxiety became hard to control. After visiting various hospitals and rehabilitation centers in Beijing, Serene was instructed to wear a back brace to correct her scoliosis. However, the pain caused by wearing the brace for a long time and the constant fear of students discovering it made Serene feel uneasy and worried. Thankfully, Serene’s particular type of scoliosis was able to be significantly reduced with the help of a rehabilitation center. So when Serene learned about FEC and how one of the original entrepreneurial projects came from personal experience, she felt inspired. A personal experience like this often gives entrepreneurs a kind of empathic ability, in that they more easily sympathize with users and find better solutions. Naturally, Serene wanted to seize this opportunity in the hopes of creating a meaningful entrepreneurial project.
When Serene shared her dream with the members of her group, she got support from Grace, who had had the same illness. The other two group members, Bill and Shane, were also moved by the stories of Serene and Grace, and felt that the theme was unique and challenging. In the end, everyone expressed their enthusiasm and they started the project. Initially, the group wanted to use YouTube as a communication platform to launch a channel promoting scoliosis awareness. But entrepreneur and FEC teacher, Mr. Massi, shared his suggestions with the group members to help improve their project. Before anything could happen, market research needed to be done, along with the initial business plan. The establishment of a channel like this on YouTube may require special funding and extra manpower to maintain it. After speaking with Mr. Massi, the group chose to think about the problem from the perspective of investors and users. They did this by collecting relevant information from other students and doing research on the topic. One of the things they discovered was that many patients are using unprofessional or ineffective treatment methods. They also found that many teenagers do not know about scoliosis. By integrating these and other findings into their project, the group finally decided to design a scoliosis mobile app.
The group hoped that creating software would make it easier for patients with scoliosis to get online services from institutions and hospitals in real-time, as well as to share inspiring stories of rehabilitation. They also aimed to increase awareness of scoliosis with their app, to help more people. But as they worked, the team members encountered difficulties. The original business model of their project was to stay in the non-profit sector, but this left the cost high and with a lack of market competitiveness. To remedy this, the group worked with the rehabilitation center that Serene had gone to and negotiated a cooperation model. With a model like this, their app could charge a small amount for the users, which in this case would be the patients in the rehabilitation center. Although the profit model of the group was rough and the business model was relatively thin, this four-person group persevered. Combined with the help of Mr. Massi, who provided valuable insights and guidance, the group worked together to learn more about business knowledge and project management. They also revised and reformed the details of their project, and gradually, the team improved their app. As they grew more and more confident in their work, their teamwork and spirit developed as they worked toward their goal.
Serene shared her thoughts on her team’s entrepreneurial partnership: “Although you can learn about teamwork in school, you appreciate the power of unity in an entrepreneurial project like this. When everyone works together, every step becomes efficient. We encourage and understand each other. In terms of leadership, there is no one leader in the group. Instead, everyone uses their strengths. For example, Grace is calm no matter what and actively encourages everyone. At the same time, she is always able to summarize the ideas of team members well and organize them in an orderly manner. Bill is the one who has grown the most in the team. At first, he was confused about the project because he had not been exposed to scoliosis before. He also thought that the financial benefits of the project might not be worthwhile. But as the project progressed, Bill gained a new understanding of scoliosis. He was also inspired by his teammate, Shane. While Shane’s English was not the strongest, he was still active in completing the tasks assigned in the group. In a group like this, each individual is the leader and person in charge of the project. And together we all win.”
Through this entrepreneurial project, the students gained a deeper understanding of teamwork and leadership. They learned to divide labor effectively and make full use of their strengths while gaining more awareness of the entrepreneurial cooperation system. So when the final project exhibition came around, the group’s entrepreneurial project was greatly acknowledged by the investor judges. The original prototype of their scoliosis app, complete with rehabilitation hospital GPS and daily patient footprint tracking, turned out to be very user-friendly. As the judges gave their feedback, the team expressed their hopes to participate in the second-level courses of FEC to learn more about entrepreneurship and gain experience to help solve their app’s challenges. The group so loved their experience in FEC that Serene and Bill chose to start a chapter at their school, with Bill as president and Serene as vice president. They hope to provide a space for more students who are interested in entrepreneurship to explore and turn their ideas into reality, just like the platform given to them by Harmony Plus.