By Gwen Gurley
In less than a week, my classmates and I will be setting foot in China; a part of the world I never thought I’d have the opportunity to visit. I have to say, it is going to be awesome.
This trip is certainly a lot more than a sightseeing adventure though. For the last seven weeks, my classmates and I have been meeting with our teams, researching the Chinese market, writing and rewriting business models, pitching our businesses and reaching out to experts and experienced business people, all in an effort to have the best business idea for China. Each of the teams is made up of four or five members and each team constitutes one business. In total there are 12 teams in the program with business models ranging from mobile travel apps, wireless internet service providers, and even a robotic cocktail making machine.
The members of the class are not only geographically diverse (we have classmates in College Park, Beijing and Tel Aviv) but they also have extremely different backgrounds. As you can imagine, this makes the process of building a business model with so many individuals extraordinarily interesting and rewarding. Every other week the students based in College Park meet to hear each other’s pitches and make suggestions on areas of development for each business. Our pitches are also videotaped and posted so that foreign-based students can leave feedback as well.
While preparing for the AdVENTURE Challenge: China competition hasn’t been easy, it certainly has brought all of us a great appreciation for the complexities of international business and entrepreneurship. In these last few days leading up to the trip, the teams will be meeting to finalize changes in their business models and continue with their research. But once we’re in China the work doesn’t stop there! We’ll still have prep time to rework our businesses in between sightseeing, company visits and meeting with our Chinese classmates at Peking University, a.k.a. Beida (pronounced Bay-da).
Beida is one of the most prestigious universities in China and was the first modern national university in the country when it was established in 1898 to replace the ancient university of Guozijian. Not only is Beida considered a top research university, but it is also widely recognized for the beauty of its campus as it is situated on a former royal garden with lots of green open space, a lake, and plenty of traditional Chinese architecture. While there, we will meet with our Chinese classmates and review our business models one last time before the competition is held there. Then, we’ll compete head-to-head in front of local business professionals, VCs and entrepreneurs, a winner will be announced and prizes will be claimed!
It feels like we’ve already been on this trip for the last several weeks, and the culmination of the journey in China is going to be truly amazing. Wish us luck and safe travels!
Gwen Gurley is a 1st year MBA student focused on Marketing Strategy and Business Development. She is a former teacher and small business owner who decided to follow her passion for business and entrepreneurship to the Robert H. Smith School of Business. She is currently working with local DC startup Betterific as their head blogger and content marketer. Upon returning from China she will begin a summer marketing internship with Distil Networks in Arlington.