We’re often told we should “dare to explore and dare to dream”, but without a plan, a dream remains just that; a dream. There is a common mental “to-do” list that students have and they tick things off of it during their time at university: study, run a society, live in halls, pick up a part time job, and fall in love – not necessarily in that order. As far as I am concerned, there is a sixth item that needs to be on that list – dare to try.
During the autumn of 2016, while all of my friends were struggling to find a job after graduation, I set myself a one-year challenge and joined the Cyberport University Partnership Programme. The programme is an entrepreneurship initiative that would help me build networks, have new people to bounce my ideas off of and would provide me with coaching from experienced people.
My team and I had an idea that we wanted to come into fruition – we wanted to build a P2P currency exchange network. If someone placed a currency exchange order with us, telling us their desired exchange amount and the rate, we would match that person with another person who has what they’re looking for and are offering the best exchange. Our network, as an intermediary for these exchanges, would set up local banks in multiple countries. The plan was that eventually, we would be able to offer a better exchange rate than anyone else would be able to.
My team and I took this idea to Stanford University for further validation where, during an intensive week’s training and coaching in the Graduate School of Business (GSB), it went through multiple changes. We realised, for instance, that we could encounter money laundering and that we would need a huge amount of capital in order to comply with the Hong Kong Ordinance.
We remodelled our idea a day before our final pitch to the GSB judges. In the end, we suggested a P2P currency exchange platform that uses social interaction to match people with similar exchange needs in a specific location – for example, an airport, or the place you work, or somewhere in your school. Risk is mitigated because we’re using offline transactions, and platform users would avoid the high transaction fees that banks often charge.
The judges loved the idea, as low exchange rates and high transactions fees are problems that they face too – but our idea fell short on one thing: making a profit.
Still, there is room to develop the idea – we haven’t explored all the opportunities or possibilities yet. All we can do is try again. Every accomplishment out there in the world has started with an action, because someone out there dared to try.