HKUST alums emphasize a strong team always brings better results for all.
Long before he found Maxus Tech with his friends, Mark Zeng had HKUST on his radar as he was looking for a graduate program in Hong Kong.
“I thought I would meet a lot of people from different backgrounds, and that I would keep in pace with the development of the technologies in Mainland, as HKUST probably had more exposure to technical progresses in Chinese market than say, schools in the US or the UK,” Mark recalls.
As a student in HKUST, Mark soon made a lot of friends, but little did he know he would bring them along as partners and find a company together someday. After Mark graduated, he took a job in the banking sector, and it would seem that he was set for life.
“We did not really know what we wanted to do when we graduated.” Mark said. “Some of us went into banking and some became software engineers, and some of us went to the media industry.”
But as fate would lead them to, Mark and his friends met in a reunion 2 years after they graduated, and the three HKUST alumni then came up with an idea: why don’t we start our own company?
Today, Maxus Tech, a budding startup founded by Mark’s team, is bidding to become a major player in Ubiquitous Computing. They developed a motion gesture sensor, called “Welle”, where one can turn any surface into a smart interface that tracks motion commands, and their invention made them champion of last year’s One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition.
“A team from a diversified background is key to our success. We have specialists in Engineering, Physics, and Marketing. Most of my colleagues are top in their fields,” said Mark.
Cathy Jim, a Chemistry graduate who got both her bachelor and PhD from HKUST and is now the director at RHT industries, a leading environmental engineering firm utilizing an air purification technology developed by HKUST, shares the same belief.
“As we develop our product, we often found that an opinion from our team is not enough. Consulting others, such as lawyers who helped with our patent application, gave us a much wider perspective.”
“A cross-discipline team that is willing to go through the tough times together makes everybody’s job easier,” noted Cathy, as she recounted her past experience with her teammates when they had to spend hours in sewage treatment facilities to conduct tests.
RHT’s air purification technology is now in use at landfill data collection centers, public restrooms in MTR stations and shopping malls, and hospital pathology wards. In 2016, RHT began selling its air purifiers in Pricerite, one Hong Kong’s leading household item retailers.
“My advice to students who wonder if they should start their own businesses is usually this: if you have an idea, just go for it. You have nothing to lose. Do it while you are still young — you will only lose time. Even if your business doesn’t go well, you will gain experience. You will meet a lot of people and it will help you grow,” said Cathy.