Feature Friday! MARS Technology

Professor Dongxia Liu and Xiaohui (Sophie) Li, MBA ’21 are the co-founders of MARS Technology.

DC: What is your name, major, and graduation year?
Li: Xiaohui (Sophie) Li, MBA, Graduated 2021

DC: In two to three sentences, how would you describe your startup?
Li: As the climate change issues hit the media at an unprecedented rate, we want to help to prevent global warming by commercializing a methane conversation technology that can not only help methane emitters reduce greenhouse gas emission but also provide some value-adding products for their operations.

DC: At what point did you know you wanted to create your own startup?
Li: When I was in the full-time MBA program, we studied different industries and analyzed difficult business cases all the time. As I explored different career paths after graduation, a friend of mine came to me with a research project which has a great potential for commercialization. I felt excited to be able to use what I learned to make strategic decisions and steer the future of a real company. So we worked on the startup ever since. And I hope to develop both personally and professionally through my entrepreneurial journey.

DC: What or who is your biggest influence for your startup?
Li: Dingman Center has a great influence on my startup. Not to mention the prize from the Pitch Dingman Competition and funding from Terp Startup Accelerator. Dingman Center introduces many area experts and successful entrepreneurs to me. The journey through different programs makes me understand the entrepreneur path, structure my startup in a concrete way, it even improved my project management skill and self-awareness.

DC: How have the effects of the pandemic changed your company’s focus or ideas?
Li: Our company is a product of the pandemic, the social restrictions brought my partner and me together to work on the project remotely. And the virtual environment actually makes it more convenient for me to participate in different entrepreneur-focused workshops and accelerators.

DC: What updates or significant accomplishments can you share with us about your company from the last six months?
Li: Our startup came from a concept to a more realistic venture. As we talk with more and more mentors, industry experts, potential customers, and investors, our business model and market fit become more and more clear. We also establish a strategy going forward and plans for our funding application.

DC: What are you hoping to achieve during Terp Startup Accelerator this summer?
Li: I am hoping to primarily get into the startup circle and have some support along my venturing journey. I also hope to refine my business model and get a better market fit through primary and secondary research. Lastly, I have objectives to polish the pitch deck and business plan, as well as get the logo and website in place.

DC: If you could give advice to any aspiring entrepreneurs, what would it be?
Li: Even a successful entrepreneurial career may not be as glorious as people think. Be prepared for the humble inquiries and a roller coaster journey. However, it is highly rewarding to bring an idea to the market and see how you can make a difference in the world. So keep hustling!

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