Hong Kong teams took second and third place in the Asia-Pacific FedEx Junior Achievement Challenge, a competition aimed at inspiring students with entrepreneurial spirit and business skills. A team from Singapore took the honours in the contest, which also saw teams from Malaysia and the Philippines.
In the challenge, students had to come up with a service or a product to make travel in Britain safer.
Both Hong Kong teams are from St Paul’s Co-educational College, and were friends before the competition. They say they’ll remain friends afterwards, too, despite trying to outdo each other with a good idea and marketing strategy.
Team Dots, comprised of Evelyn Tsui and Tanya Tam, took second place with their product, the “Secure Egg”. It is a compact, portable device that allows travellers to find the quickest route back to their hotel, confirm their location, connect to their families, or even summon the police at the push of a button.
“It took us almost a day to come up with a plan that we both agreed on,” says Tanya. “People always think their plan is the best, and we are no exception so there were always arguments going on. But teamwork is very important, so we combined the best parts of our ideas and finally came up with the ‘Secure Egg’.”
Both Team Dots members are off to university soon to study business. They thought this competition would be a good chance to gain some real world experience. Students from their school had taken part in the event in previous years, and the girls found their experience and advice encouraging.
Their local competition were Michelle Ng and Vanessa Kwang of Team Lohas. Their product “Kidsafe” is a children’s backpack that would limit how far children could roam before alerting a minder. They work in much the same way as an electronic ankle bracelet works to keep a criminal under house arrest, alerting the police if they cross any boundaries. With Kidsafe, parents and or teachers can use their phone to customise the safety zones, and if the child strays out of that zone the adult will receive an automatic alert.
“We had lots of disagreements in the process,” laughed Michelle. “There’s one thing funny about us. Whenever we argue, we reach a point where suddenly there will be silence, and we’re at peace again and we could listen to each other’s comments.” After that they could discuss things and come up with a plan, rather than waste time battling each other.
“We are straightforward with each other because we are great friends. We respect and trust each other,” she says. “This is the way to become a good team. Vanessa is better at research so I trust the statistics she gave me.”
Vanessa believes that the extra attention they put into the presentation paid off, and set their work apart. “We looked at what the previous teams had done,” she says, “and we were amazed by their work. We decided to try the same things, except we used video where they had used slides. I think including small video clips during the presentation really caught the judges’ attention.”
She believes the competition allowed her to feel what it was like to work in the real world. “We only learn from our textbooks in school, and we seldom do research,” says Vanessa. “This competition gave me the opportunity to research far beyond that, and learn more about marketing and the British market.”
Vanessa is interested in business, but she feels law is also interesting so she has not made a firm decision either way. Fortunately, she still has a year at school to make her decision.
Michelle also has a year of school left to decide what she wants. “This competition was a test, to see if I can make plans and not give up easily,” she says.
Tanya is more confident in her choices. “I want to be a public relations officer or management consultant,” she says, so she’ll start her studies in study global business at university this autumn.
Evelyn will also study business when she arrives at her university in Australia next month. She says there is a big difference between studying a subject and working at it as a job, so she hasn’t decided what her future career will be.