Category Archives: AdVENTURE Challenge: China

AdVENTURE Challenge: China – Terps Tour Beijing

By Katie Tedrow

Just a few days ago, our Smith B-School delegation landed in Beijing. We enjoyed a day of visiting some of the city’s most historic sties, including Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden Palace. On Thursday, we took a different kind of tour. Though not historic, the stops on this leg of our journey were to see some of the most groundbreaking organizations impacting business and entrepreneurship in Beijing, China, as well as globally.

Our first stop was at the Zhongguancun Science Park, also known as the “Z-Park”. The Z-Park is a first class science innovation center that is home to over 20,000 high tech companies in Beijing. As Deputy Director General, Zhou Gouin, shared with us during our meeting, the Z-Park has been instrumental in supporting the growing entrepreneurial ecosystem in Beijing. The impact of the Z-Park to the local ecosystem is apparent by its sprawling 100 square mile, state of the art campus. Because of its global influence, it also has the ability to attract and retain some of China’s top talent.

We received a private tour and I’m still in awe of the technology we saw:


After our tour of the Z-Park, we had lunch in one of the campus’ cafeterias, followed by a visit to Lenovo, one of the top technology companies in the world, which was founded here in Beijing. We had a chance to play with some of Lenovo’s latest gadgets and learned the history of this leading brand. Quick fact: Lenovo was not the company’s original name. The company was originally known as “Legend” – Le and novo from the Latin root for innovation.


Our last stop was a biotech incubator where we met with the leaders of the organization and saw some of the scientists and entrepreneurs in action. In addition to space, the Biotech Center provides resources, such as connections to sources of capital and mentors. Our day culminated with a reception with our new Dean, Alex Triantis, at the Marriott Beijing. Attendees enjoyed networking with current Smith Executive MBAs, alumni and staff from UMD’s graduate programs based in Beijing.

tedrow_k (1)Katie Tedrow is a first year MBA student focused on Marketing Strategy at the Smith School of Business. She has over seven years experience in B2B marketing, client development and corporate communications, and has a passion for entrepreneurship, social value creation and leadership. Katie is VP of External Affairs for Smith’s E-Club and will be interning with a financial services firm in New York this summer.

AdVENTURE Challenge: China – Goodbye Hong Kong. Hello Beijing.

By Gwen Gurley

The AdVENTURE Challenge: China crew has spent several days in Hong Kong now. Many of us arrived several days early to experience as much as possible of this fascinating city, and the entire group (28 people!) has been together for the last three days. We’ve walked, metro-ed, bussed, toured, ridden in trams, on boats and ferries, soared through the sky in cable cars and just generally pounded the pavement. Some of us went to see the Big Buddha on Lantau Island, while another group of us went for fancy drinks at the Peninsula Hotel (Hong Kong’s oldest hotel), and several of us went out to clubs in Lan Kwai Fong.

The city is huge and delightful, much like New York City only with a million more neon lights, skyscrapers and pepole. Hong Kong has 7.2 million people living in it and it is still growing. The intense amount of commerce and development happening here is incredible to see. It is especially striking when you see the stark contrast of the old villages with the new development happening. On one side of the road you will see incredibly tall apartment buildings and on the other you will see village homes that were built by the people living in them. You can feel the city changing and growing.

Apart from enjoying the city itself and getting to know more about this fascinating part of the world, we took a tour of a Chinese factory yesterday in Shenzhen. Our group was able to visit the garment producing factory of KBL Group International Ltd. In order to get from Hong Kong to China you have to travel across the Chinese border. Once across the border and through customs we traveled to the area of Shenzhen where many of the manufacturing companies locate their factories. This factory employs over 3,000 workers and also houses and feeds them as well. We were able to see all the stages of the production cycle that go in to manufacturing knitwear garments and visit the dormitories of the workers. To top off the day we ate our lunch in the factory canteen and then got to try our hand at operating a garment panel linking machine. It wasn’t easy! The process is amazing to see from start to finish.

Trying my hand at linking garment panels. Not an easy job!

Trying my hand at linking garment panels. Not an easy job!

Early tomorrow morning we leave for Beijing where will have the final hours to prepare for our competition on Friday. Many of the teams have already made changes to their business models based on the information that we’ve discovered since being here. We will have the opportunity to meet with lots of professionals in Beijing in the next few days and I expect that there will be many more changes for the teams’ plans between now and Friday as well. Now it’s off to bed and then an early start to Beijing!

Gurley_G-21Aug13-14 (1)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.

AdVENTURE Challenge: China – Company Visit to Turbo Knitwear Fashion Co.

By Tiffany Lee

After the long flight, the entire group was finally in Hong Kong feeling excited to start the AdVENTURE Challenge: China. Today we were all early birds and met each other at 8 a.m. for the first company visit in China (actually, many of us woke up at 4 a.m. due to the jet leg). The company we visited today was Turbo Knitwear Fashion Co., Ltd, which is located in Dongguan, China.


Turbo Knitwear Fashion Co., Ltd is a company who manufactures clothes for American brands. The factory owner, manager and UMD alumnus, Steven Begleiter, and his colleague Simon showed us around the factory and the production process. It was AMAZING.

Here are some new findings I would like to share with you:

  • Many junior workers in the factory are only 16-25 years old. Also they have an average salary of 2000-8000 RMB depending on work experience. 
  • Some of the tasks in factory are easier and others are more complicated. The more complicated jobs require workers to have 3-5 years of training.10341766_10152169522491634_1263703755905812033_n
  • There is a “light” located on the top of many of the machines. If there is a problem with the machine or the manufacturing process, the light is turned from green to red. This enables both workers and manager to solve the problem immediately.
  • The materials of clothes 80% are sourced from China; 5% from India; 10% from Europe.
  • They offer workers dorms to live in and they have some food options. 80% of employee choose to live in the dorm.
It was a fantastic experience and most of us thought the tour was a little overwhelming. We probably imagined how factories work, but this was the first time we got close to the production process and the first line workers. We were able to see the dorms they live in, we tried the food they have there (yes, we had the almost same food as these workers did for lunch), we tried knitting, and learned the incredible labor that is required in the clothing factory.
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At the end of trip, Steven and Simon also kindly prepared gifts for all of us – a sweater with the University of Maryland logo.


I am loving the trip so far and I cannot wait to visit another company in Beijing.

See you all soon!

Lee_C-21Aug13-7Tiffany Lee is a first-year MBA student originally from Taipei, Taiwan. Tiffany is concentrating her MBA experience on marketing, and decided to go on the AdVENTURE Challenge: China to learn more about the Chinese market. She is most excited about using the subway in Beijing during peak traffic hours, although she may not find any classmates quite as courageous to join her. 

AdVENTURE Challenge: China – Arriving Early in Hong Kong

By Kallen Trachsel

I boarded a plane bound for Hong Kong “yesterday” afternoon.  Now, two days later, I am here, ready to explore Hong Kong and Macau.

I was lucky enough to meet an extremely outgoing local, Patrick, on the flight and I bounced my team’s business pitch off of him. Team’s idea: “Let’s bring customer-customized salads to China”. Patrick admitted he had mulled over the idea himself while completing his Bachelor’s degree at Penn State. He immediately made it clear that there is a complete absence of “Sweet Green”-like salad shops in Hong Kong, much less Beijing. His one misgiving about our idea was our current proposed location of launch, Beijing. While Beijing is the “DC equivalent in China in some ways”, he suggested that a city like Shanghai would be much more receptive to the idea of fast food salads due to the international nature of and the high number of expats in the city. I’m sure this bit of advice will make it into our final business pitch at Peking University! Also, Patrick elaborated on the “meal culture” of individuals in China. Chinese opt for in-and-out lunch options, while saving lengthy, formal sit-down dining strictly for dinner time with their families. It sounds like a quick and easy salad chain could be well received in certain cities in China.

With the 16-hour flight under our belts, a few of my classmates and I ventured to our hotel photo (9)on the Hong Kong Mass Transit Railway. It was a “smooth sailing” outdoor metro that connects the airport to three main stops in and around Hong Kong (If only DC had one of these out to Dulles!). Immediately upon arriving at our hotel on the Kowloon Peninsula, we treated ourselves to authentic ramen noodles with shrimp dumplings (can’t beat that) and immediately fell fast asleep.
It is 6 a.m. here now and I am raring to go; traditional lunch in Macau, visits to UNESCO World Heritage Sites (like the Ruins of St. Paul and the A-Ma Temple), a drive along Guia Circuit (Loocation of the Macau Grand Prix), and more!

Only a few more days until the rest of our U.S., China, and Israeli team join us in Hong Kong and the AdVenture Challenge: China is officially underway. Let the countdown begin!

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I started out my day bright and early – with a high speed ferry to Macau. The ferry was about an hour long, full of locals going to the casinos. All of the locals were teaming with excitement, hopping out of their seats and pushing each other to get a view from the window. Meanwhile, a local woman got seasick next to me and started throwing up. What a way to start a day.  Needless to say, it got better quickly. After we went through customs on the Macau end, we visited many stops listed below. Shockingly, the small island of Macau has 43 big casinos and outpaced Las Vegas last year in revenues.

  • Kun Iam Goddess of Mercy: A Buddhist foreign made bronze statue. It faced the wrong way – bad Feng Shui because it has back to water. Locals will not worship there. They also hate that such an expensive sculpture was foreign made.Inline image 4
  • Penha House: house of the former Portuguese governor.
  • Dr. Ho mansion: Owner of the largest number of casinos in Macau. His first wife of Ho now lives there.
  • Macau Tower: Tenth highest needle tower in the world and the highest jump in the world.
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  • Walked the 68 steps up to the original Catholic church (all but the face burned down) on the island. Why 68 steps? Because Chinese believed the number six means “continue” and eight means prosperity. The 68 steps mean “continue to prosperity”.
  • Next-door to the Catholic church ruins was the temple to the fire god. It is rumored to be the cause of the destruction of the neighboring church, which burned down.
  • Finally, we visited the Macau ladies market where I almost got duped into buying an overpriced necklace.
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More to come from the AdVENTURE Challenge: China.
Trachsel_K-21Aug13-3Kallen Trachsel is a first year MBA marketing student at the University of Maryland’s Smith School of Business.  She is thrilled to learn about the projected growth of new cities in China, the effect of the Chinese wealth gap on overarching GDP growth, and how a country with seven main languages overcomes this communication gap in business.  With regards to her new business pitch, Kallen is excited to explore the importance of food in Chinese culture.  She specifically hopes to answer whether there is a place for Western nutritious food trends in the Chinese holistic medicine approach.

AdVENTURE Challenge: China – Preparing For The Journey Abroad

By Bethy Hagan

All of a sudden, my flight to Hong Kong will take off in less than 24 hours. With finals, pitch preparation, and a bout of the flu over the last two weeks, I seem to have put packing and final arrangements on the backburner. But now it is the day before I leave and I realize I do not even have a suitcase! Today is certainly going to be a whirlwind.

To do list:

  1. Find a suitcase! Luckily, my parents live about an hour away and have generously offered to lend one to their poor student.
  2. Pick out outfits for daytime activities, company visits, and the pitch competition. With other trips, I typically visualize my day-to-day activities and go from there. This trip will be different. How do you visualize yourself in a place that seems completely dissimilar to your home? After much fretting, I gather together what I think should keep me clothed over the next two weeks. If not, a quick trip to the market is all that I’ll need!
  3. Call Bank of America. We need two different currencies while we are there. My head is spinning already.
  4. Flight check-in. Check!
  5. Water the plants. My petunias need constant TLC, so I will need to delegate that responsibility to my boyfriend while I am away.
  6. Secure a ride to the airport from that same helpful boyfriend! My United flight departs at 9:45 AM from Baltimore to Newark. I plan to give myself 1.5 hours to check my bag and go through security. Once I arrive in Newark I will connect with five or six other Smith students for our 16-hour flight to Hong Kong. That’s right, 16 hours.
  7. Which leads me to my next point: download movies for the plane. I have packed two books: 1) Divergent, which is over 400 pages and will hopefully keep me occupied for at least a few hours, and 2) Predictable Revenue, which was written by Aaron Ross, former Director of Sales at Salesforce. Have to have at least one educational book in there! In addition to these, I plan to download at least three movies to get me to China and back. Any suggestions?
  8. A trip to the grocery store for medicine and toiletries. It is safe to assume that finding medicine for an upset stomach or a headache will be nearly impossible once we arrive in China. I will be buying Ibuprophen, Nyquil (which might also come in handy on that 16-hour flight), Dayquil, Pepto-Bismol, and Sudafed. You can never be too safe.
  9. Make a copy of my passport
  10. E-mail last minute “pivot point” notes to my team for the pitch competition. Time is winding down on our pitches and we all must devote as much energy as possible to perfecting our pitches. The “pivot point” part of our pitches will explain how our business ideas have evolved over the last few weeks. Ours has certainly changed for the better!

There is certainly much to be done in a short amount of time. China will not wait!

Hagan_E-21Aug13-5Bethy Hagan is a first year MBA student and Dingman Venture Fellow from Baltimore, MD. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia. Following her degree, she worked for a sports startup in Santa Monica, CA in a variety of operations and program management roles. Through the Smith School and the Dingman Center she hopes to build her understanding of strategy implementation in order to assist in the growth and development of early stage companies.

AdVENTURE Challenge: China – Preparing For the Competition

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!

Gurley_G-21Aug13-14 (1)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.

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AdVENTURE Challenge: China – Pre-Travel Tips

Next week, a group of Smith School faculty, staff and students will travel to Hong Kong and Beijing for the AdVENTURE Challenge: China. This global experience will take students to Chinese startups, multinational corporations, venture capital firms and cultural sights. Along the way, students will be able to earn points by completing various challenges designed to push them outside of their comfort zones. Smith School MBAs will be joined by members of their cross-cultural teams from Peking University in Beijing and Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The trip will culminate with a business plan competition at Peking University.

Throughout the trip, students from the Smith School delegation will be sharing their experiences here on the blog. This first post is from first-year MBA student, Katie Tedrow. Stay tuned for more updates from the AdVENTURE Challenge: China.

The countdown is officially here. In less than two weeks, 16 of my fellow Smith MBA classmates and I embark on a seven-day trek through Hong Kong and Beijing as part of UMD’s China AdVENTURE Smith Experience course.

In true entrepreneurial fashion, the premise of the trip is a business pitch competition. Here’s the twist: the participating teams of MBA students are based in 3 regions of the globe: North America (College Park, Maryland, USA), Asia (Beijing, China), and the Middle East (Israel).

Before we step foot in Hong Kong, there’s much to be done. We’ve been meeting (many of us virtually) for weeks to develop our ideas, draft our business model canvases, conduct customer discovery, and practice, practice, practice!

We also have a lot of travel-related “to-do’s” while stateside. Here are some things to do before getting on the plane (thanks to our travel partner, WorldStrides, for some of these tips!):

  • Get your visa a few weeks in advance. For those who have not had the pleasure of visiting the Chinese Consulate, it is an experience unto itself. The office was abuzz with travelers, business people, families, and children — what I imagine may be a microcosm of what’s in store for us when we arrive in Hong Kong. The office is open from 9:00am-2:30pm. And they mean 2:30. On the dot. I learned this the hard way and had to use some of those b-school negotiation skills to make it in under the buzzer. Come prepared with all your documents. They run a well-oiled machine and this will make your experience all the better!
  • Contact your bank to let them know you’re traveling abroad. You don’t want to get stuck without cash in the Silk Market!
  • If you don’t want to go completely off the grid (or pay exorbitant roaming fees), ask your wireless provider for an international plan. There are also some great apps for FREE international texting that are worth checking out: WhatsApp, Viber, and KaKao, to name a few.
  • Make copies of all your important identification cards (license, passport, credit cards, insurance, etc.) and keep in separate place from your passport while traveling. Also make note of the international contact information for your bank and credit card company.
  • Get a good camera.
  • Pack extra tp, tissues and hand sanitizer. I’m told that tissue paper is a rarity in some parts of China, better safe than sorry!
  • If you’re not a fluent Chinese speaker, download a translation app. I’m trying out Pleco for our upcoming trip.
  • Invest in a couple good books, celebrity gossip business magazines, and download those movies you’ve been wanting to see for the 18-hour plane ride.

Now, I think we are ready to embark on this epic journey; see you in Hong Kong!

tedrow_k (1)Katie Tedrow is a first year MBA student focused on Marketing Strategy at the Smith School of Business. She has over seven years experience in B2B marketing, client development and corporate communications, and has a passion for entrepreneurship, social value creation and leadership. Katie is VP of External Affairs for Smith’s E-Club and will be interning with a financial services firm in New York this summer.