Written by: Joey Lin
Edited by: Ping Tsai
Layout by: Gracy Wen
Photographs by: Chi-Wei Tai
Apr. 11th, 2021
With two months of Professor Wry’s guidance, six groups developed unique products and services and learned how to pitch them effectively. By order of presentation, Joey Lin, Sidney Liu, and Nicky Chao sought to develop MOBIO, a “hospital at home,” by integrating health care services into the convenience of a wristband. Ben Tsai and Tim Chou invented the aptly-named application ScanScan to scan any food product and see its food safety track record. Daniel Hsu, Kathelyn Tung, and Sanhorn Chen came up with TWWork, a service that shares workspaces. Alan Hsu, Ethan Meng, Joseph Lin, and Melody Liu have been working on Decadence, a custom cupcakes service, but ultimately decided to switch to HARBO, which aimed to make nursing more accessible to the elderly through automation. Chiwei Tai, Dennis Hsu, and Rick Ning pitched PROlife, a referral and dropshipping service. Last but certainly not least, Ben Tsai, Ping Tsai, and Vanessa Lin created Loop, a simple but convenient bathroom-search app.
The judges drew upon their expertise to evaluate the feasibility and potential of each product. Mr. Nathan, a digital marketing veteran, questioned “what is the service” that MOBIO is providing. Mr. Frank, a returning judge, instructed HARBO on the costs of switching ideas at the last minute, saying that “I would’ve loved your cupcake idea as long as you defend it well.” Professor Yang, an expert in robotics, AI, and automation, would have liked to hear more about implementation from the groups with Internet-based services.
Members of Loop, Ping Tsai (left), Vanessa Lin (right), and Ben Tsai (not pictured 😭)
Mr. Steve, who’s engaged in “helping clients apply design thinking into business strategy,” felt that the topics the students picked are centered around SDGs and that it is important for the competitors to broaden their perspectives. He also pointed out that TWWork’s data on market size collide with his own research. Mr. Alan Wei, a venture capitalist who also helps design business models and policy, was concerned with how both TWWork and PROlife can differentiate themselves from competitors.
As the competition came to an end, the judges discussed among themselves before declaring Loop the winner of the IECY. While the other teams were understandably disappointed, the experts reassured them that they performed just as well as professional entrepreneurs. Mr. Wei revealed that ScanScan, the runner-up, was actually initially tied with Loop, but the extra effort that Loop’s group put in in the pitch pushed them over the edge to first place. He claimed that ScanScan has a more complicated business model than Loop, and if they can execute the model well they can create a high bar for new entrants in the food safety business.
Mr. Wei and Mr. Steve both agreed that participants should “think about something that would make you go wow,” but also evaluate whether this idea is worthy to “dive into for five to ten years.” Mr. Wei described how he sees business as a three-dimensional image: “The x-axis is the stage of your business, y-axis the industry segments, and z-axis the potential of your business.” He urges participants to consider all three axes to effectively scale their ideas. Mr. Steve echoed his concept: “Crazy ideas give you a very different starting point, and after a series of validations and checks, you will end up somewhere else instead of being reduced to the conventional.”