UCL has been hailed as a “shining example” for supporting student entrepreneurs by the Guardian in an article about whether universities are doing enough to help students start new businesses.
‘In a Minute’ UCL Entrepreneurship Guest Lecture: Josh Liu, Co-Founder and CEO, MinuteBox.
7 February 2012
This week’s guest lecture was no ordinary talk. Josh Liu has not made it yet: he “will probably make it”, he “hopes he will make it”. After studying Economics in Tarpey, Josh completed a Mba at Imperial College London.
Josh looks back at his academic achievements: the reason behind them? Family expectations, mainly, throughout his whole life. “They told me to study very hard, and I did”, Josh says. When it came to get a job, Josh again was encouraged to go for the very best: he was employed by Ogilvy & Mather, a terrific starting point.
Then, in Josh’s own words “reality hit me”. His job at the time was not satisfying for him, not meaningful for him; Josh quit, and started his own business. “Minute Box came to my mind, where everyone is an expert”. Minute Box: something that brings together people’s personal expertise in the era of the social web. Minute Box, a business which will exploit the live expert market, one which is fascinating and under-exploited. The advice system will work through forums, chats, web pages, enabling everyone to access expert advice live.
The three key words to describe Josh’s vision: direct, connect, context. The advice offered will be immediate; easy to ask and get; will aim to be the best. The first step for Josh will be to find his experts. “Think of yourself as a dot: we reach you, catch you, access your knowledge”. The second step, will be to keep up with the developing technology: move fast, create something –for instance- which will be used not merely on laptops but on smartphones as well. The very context which Josh is currently looking at is already dying away, he explains: the social web will be replaced by the “HyperNet”, the new technology wave of smartphones, with their multiple applications.
Execution – the magic word for success
Josh is optimistic. He sees big players, such as Google, less dominant now, and “lots of open doors for start-ups to technology”. The magic word for success? “execution”. For Josh, this is much more important than ideas: ideas are seldom unique, success comes down to how and in how long ideas are executed. First of all, three are the basic requirements for the kind of start up Josh wants to create: “a business guy, technology knowledge and user experience”. Secondly, it needs speed. Lastly, and this is no big surprise, it asks for money. “Play your game wisely: in finding funds, on time, with the right business size”.
Josh hopes to make it and he will make it. He will because not only does he “like seeing his ideas grow for zero somewhere” but because he actually works to make them grow. When asked what he likes best of his start up, he answers quickly: the mission behind it, the fact he can be useful to other people and to himself.
Written by Carolina Mostert, UCL 2nd year student studying Classics