*Under the current COVID-19 development, Startup Semester Programme has to be postponed to Fall 2021. Stay tuned!

Student Sharing 2019

Startup Semester Programme Fall 2019

Miss Sophie Han Jiatong

Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) (Finance Concentration), School of Business

Attending Cal's Startup Semester Programme is the best and rewardable decision that I have ever made in my university life, which definitely reshaped my behaviours, mindset and even personality. It gave me a clearer direction and goal for my future career, and broadened my social network, as well as my horizons and interests. Besides, based on my personal belief “Work hard, play hard”, I also had so much fun with friends coming worldwide, which altered large numbers of stereotypes from my past experiences and reminded me to keep a much more open-minded attitude towards this multicultural world.

I have achieved all of my goals which I set for myself before the Programme, of course, more than expected.

1. Enjoy Every Team Project

All of the elective courses I selected in Cal were project-based and team-based, which challenged me a lot in the first few weeks, e.g. how to work smoothly and efficiently with teammates from diverse backgrounds, especially with groups of English native speakers, and balance workload between individual assignments and teamwork. Luckily, working hard and contributing continuously helped me better mix with my teammates who were all smart and sterling. It also enriched my knowledge from other fields like computer science and mathematics.

2. Learn Tech Knowledge

As a business student, I always like to explore more technology-related knowledge, especially on how tech improves work efficiency on traditional industry like Finance. At the end of the semester, I acquired insight of tech development through a series of tech sessions, lectures from tech professionals, as well as my classmates from tech-related backgrounds.

3. Get out of My Comfort Zone

Shooting and editing vlogs as a producer and influencer, learning how to prototype a mobile application as a designer, expressing my own insights in front of the whole class, debating with groupmates when there were disagreements, pitching my own start-up ideas for group forming, chatting with industrial professionals at the first meeting… I have accomplished so much that I dare not to try before, and it was much better than my imagination.

4. Come back with a Clear Future Career Plan

Working in a start-up accelerator like Y Combinator or Plug & Play is one of my dreams. Fortunately, I attended a class which briefed me the current entrepreneurial ecosystem in Silicon Valley, and the development of accelerators which led me to a better understanding of this industry. I am sure this is an amazing job that will bring me excitement and sense of accomplishment. Thanks to this class, as an awesome beginning of my journey in accelerator industry, it fostered me to work hard for my dream, e.g. getting a summer internship in YC and PnP.

At last, I really want to express my great appreciation to the donors and my own department - Department of Finances and Decisions. Without their generous support and kind help, all of my personal growth and developments that I have mentioned before would never come true. Besides, I also would like to say "thank you so much" to the best friend and supporter during my Berkeley journey - HKBU Knowledge Transfer Office. Thank you so much for providing such a wonderful opportunity for HKBU students which opened a window towards a larger world outside Hong Kong and helped me achieve my dream from the very beginning to the end in terms of every detailed process and kind reminder. I definitely would like to promote entrepreneurial spirit on HKBU campus by sharing my study experience in Cal to encourage more and more HKBU students to start their own innovation-related career and creative life style.


Miss Khor Mi-jing

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Biology (Biotechnology Concentration), Faculty of Science

The journey has finally come to an end which was full of joyful and valuable experiences at Cal. To me, every moment of these 4 and a half months is unforgettable. I have learnt and grown so much not only in classes, but also from the people and environment I was in.

At the very beginning, I was nervous and intimidated due to my own insecurities triggered by an unfamiliar environment. During our first practice pitching with all the other students from Startup Semester, it was the first time I panicked and stuttered when speaking in front of people. However, I appreciated the moment as it forced me to confront my insecurities and irrational belief that I was not aware of. Only after recognising the issue, then I could overcome it. Gradually but certainly, I believe I have gained more confidence in myself throughout the semester, building upon the results based on my own effort and by learning from the attitude of all the confident people around me.

Undeniably, the encounters with people were one of the most memorable moments during the studies. Startup Semester allowed me to interact with people who dare to dream and take actual steps to realise them. One of my friends in the programme told me she was planning to start a business. Yet she only had a very rough idea, no team, no financial plan but she knew she was going to do it. I am not sure if she is going to succeed, but I do believe that she is a person who will take actions. Knowing that a person who is around my age having the courage to take the first step was a great push for me to start something.

On top of the motivation and inspiration, Startup Semester had also equipped us with useful hard knowledge that would be helpful to start a business. There were simple steps that could boost our efficiency and sustainability for a business. Business ideas should not be restricted or fixed but we should have a relatively systematic method to manage these ideas. In short, as a science major student who has almost zero exposure to the business field, the significant change in perspective is the biggest takeaway for me.

Memories made with my HKBU friends were definitely the most joyful part during the entire journey. I felt so lucky to have them as roommates. With them, I had the courage to do things intuitively, accomplishing so many first times in my life.

It was the shortest and longest 5 months in my life and I really appreciated the people that supported and provided me the chance to embark on this journey. Especially, I would like to say thank you to all the donors, Faculty of Science and KTO. I have enjoyed every single day of it and I have never felt this fulfilled. Although vague, I have a small clue of what I wanted to do in the future and hope to continue this journey by grasping more opportunities while preparing for it and fortunately, someday I could discover my true passion.


Mr Francis Lin Tong

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Computer Science, Faculty of Science

Time flies, 5 months, from 1 August to 28 December, passed as fast as if it was only a moment. Everything that had happened before was still vivid in my mind, as if I were still at Cal, racking my brains for the courses, and surprising myself for the small happiness in life. After returning back home, I slowly flipped through the photos, while my mind was pulled back to the first day of class.

To be honest, the first day was totally different from what I expected. No introduction, no game, I sat down in confusion. Then we were immediately divided into groups and went out on the street in pairs to conduct interviews. I was with Marine from France. At that time, I was still nervous and wasn’t dare to talk to strangers randomly. Thanks to Marine, she guided me to interview a few people and I felt much better. The whole interview went well.

The rhythm of life became much more regular after semester started. There were also many interesting moments, such as the first time to see the acapella performance, watching the football game, astronomical stargazing and night hiking. We also made three field trips which led us to learn about manufacturing, accelerator & incubator and nanotechnology laboratory in the Silicon Valley. It was exciting to see previously inaccessible areas come to life.

Travelling with friends was also a must. We went to Universal Studios in Los Angeles, skied together at Lake Tahoe; we also travelled across the whole U.S., watched night scenes in Chicago, sat around a small homemade Christmas tree in New York, and exchanged gifts, etc. All those people I encountered in this journey, my friends, my lecturers and many other people, may be just passers-by in my life. But I thank you all for being a part of my life, and thanks for letting me be a part of yours too. Last but not least, tons of thanks to the donors, Department of Computer Science and Knowledge Transfer Office. I sincerely express my gratitude to you for sponsoring and supporting me to go to Cal to study entrepreneurship. Without you all, I could not go through all of these so smoothly. I can’t say anything else but thank you.


Miss Crystal Gao Jiaying

Bachelor of Business Administration (Honours) (Entrepreneurship Concentration), School of Business

Fruitful, is the word of my choice, to describe my life in Cal, and the overall experience of the journey. I have never imagined that I could improve myself to the current extent in such a short period of time. The journey not only enhanced my entrepreneurial skills, but also broadened my scope, and changed my way of seeing the world.

To be honest, I was more than a little nervous when I was adapting to the environment in Cal. After a few weeks, my life in Cal started getting better, I wasn’t scared about raising questions and opining my views. I tried to be more expressive, even, after a few more weeks.

The best lecture, in my opinion, was the Silicon Valley course. This course included the analysis of the problems start-up companies always face – How to be innovative and move faster than their competitors. Besides, it really gave me valuable insights about how the accelerators taught start-up companies to sell their own products. I was quite interested in learning this process for turning the initial great idea into convincing and attractive products. After this field trip, I thought about how I could transform my theories into an idea and develop myself into a more talkative and persuasive person.

In addition, we also had great fun in the leisure time. At the end of November, we had a visit to Stanford University for the big game. I enjoyed it so much and I realised how fortunate I was, having the opportunity to partake in this programme.

Though I have graduated from Startup Semester Programme, the knowledge I learnt would never come to the end. Lastly, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all of the donors, Knowledge Transfer Office, School of Business and Department of Management for offering me this valuable opportunity to study in Cal. I will continue to bear the entrepreneur mindset and make use of the knowledge and skills learnt in Cal to pursue my start-up dream in the future.


Miss Judy Li Chen

Bachelor of Communication (Honours) in Journalism (Data and Media Communication Concentration), School of Communication

Three years ago, I joined the first elevator pitch challenge conducted by Knowledge Transfer Office and I really enjoyed the coaching session, mentoring and the final pitching. This led to the start of my exploration on entrepreneurship.

With a passion in digital media and big data, I chose data and media communication as my major study and I started to brainstorm ideas for competitions such as ‘The Data and Media Hackathon’ organised by School of Communication and Faculty of Science. Although I was not awarded any prize, my interest towards entrepreneurship increased. One of the goals during my university life was to join the Startup Semester Programme and study in Cal. I put ample effort in preparing the application and interview. There are no words to describe how excited I was when I was informed the selection result. I started to imagine what I could achieve in Cal and immediately set a goal for myself.

I decided to focus more on digital marketing and building global network and connection. Of course, travelling and immersing myself in the community were definitely on my to-do list at Cal as well.

After the semester, I harvested more than I expected. The most valuable knowledge I learnt is self-branding. To be a successful entrepreneur, it is of vital significance that you brand yourself so that your start-up would also benefit from your personal branding. Also, my personal network has been significantly expanded with students, professors and mentors. Some of them have become my best friends too!

I am really grateful to HKBU and Cal for offering me the chance. Also, I really appreciate every donor who propelled me one step closer towards my goals. I realised, during the journey, who I want to be and what I want to work on in the future. If there was a chance to keep a period of time, I would love to stay in 2019, the time in Cal.


Miss Rhona Lyu Chen-yu

Bachelor of Communication (Honours) in Journalism (Data and Media Communication Concentration), School of Communication

In the twinkling of an eye, I have already graduated from the Startup Semester Programme in Cal and it was a refreshing experience for me. I gained a lot, not only entrepreneurial knowledge, but also different friends with various backgrounds, and many suggestions about my future career.

Not only entrepreneurship-related courses, but there were also media courses with other topics, such as product management, Silicon Valley, challenge lab and gender study. The courses in Cal were very diverse and challenging, in which we had to build our own project like a real start-up business, including generating our annual proposal and conducting market researches to guarantee data accuracy. Although our business idea was not perfect, we still devoted our own expertise into the project for improvement and enhancement.

Apart from the general courses, there were numerous field trips, guest talks and also company visits, like visiting Google and Facebook headquarters, during the semester. We were lucky to be arranged three field trips to see the actual operation of the start-ups in Silicon Valley and interact with the founders for their insights and perspectives.

Apart from the study, there were numerous chances for me to connect with people from all over the world. We had networking parties, travelled together and exchanged views on further study and career development during the weekends. One of the most impressive students I had met was a French guy who was almost 30. He shared with me his reason for joining this programme, and his experience working in an international brand. There was no doubt that there were lots of insightful sharing, and also career suggestions during our daily conversation, which inspired me a lot and also led me to reconsider my future career.

To sum up, this Startup Semester experience not only equipped me with the knowledge, but also expanded my global connections, which helped me a lot in shaping my career direction. The experience was fruitful and memorable for me and helped me with my whole person development.

Finally I really want to thank the donors, KTO and Journalism Department. Credits go to their efforts and generosity. Really appreciate their great help for my meaningful learning experience in Cal.


Miss Sherril Wang Xuemeng

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Mathematics and Statistics, Faculty of Science

Throughout my journey in Cal, I learnt a lot, travelled a lot, and experienced what I had never imagined. I did not only gain knowledge related to entrepreneurship and business throughout this semester, but also understood the framework and process better.

I took a variety of project-based courses which required multi-tasking skills and strong team cooperation. In one of the courses, all of my teammates were from different backgrounds and majors, and we needed to work out an entrepreneurial idea as our final project. It was challenging with lots of conflicts and compromises. However, my group eventually won the pitching competition of that class, and presented our idea in a university-wide meeting.

I also enjoyed courses such as Newton Series, which invited excellent people from all industries to share with us their experience of entrepreneurship and start-up journey.

Personally, I broadened my horizon and understood myself better due to great learning atmosphere in Cal. Trying to understand others from different angles and communicating with all my efforts, I stepped out of my comfort zone by participating in a wide range of activities and acquired more understanding about this huge world and myself. I became more confident, better at time management and communication. With the passion of knowing, discussing and exploring, I am determined to be a better student, innovator and entrepreneur in the future.

Also, I would like to thank those who made this opportunity happen, Knowledge Transfer Office for organising this programme and all the donors for offering us sponsorship that relieved our financial pressure; and Faculty of Science and Department of Mathematics for introducing me to this amazing programme and nominating me to be a part of it. None of my experience would have happened without their efforts.


Mr Thomas Wu Ho-hoi

Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Applied Biology (Biotechnology Concentration), Faculty of Science

I am grateful for being selected to participate in the Startup Semester programme. As a Biotechnology student, this programme doesn’t seem to be related to my major studies. Nevertheless, the truth is that this programme is indeed not solely about entrepreneurship, but also covers multiple aspects – science, technology, communication and even art. I have polished my communication skills, developed entrepreneurial senses after the 5-month voyage.

Learnt about practical business knowledge

After intensive training, I have gained thorough understanding about various business concepts and grasped sophisticated knowledge such as different advanced marketing tools, constructing value proposition in concluding company’s missions, utilising personal profile in summarising customer feedback, and employing positioning map in analysing market condition. As someone with zero business background before, I consider this a significant achievement.

Learnt to be innovative

I always believe that creative ideas are like sparks, sudden and spontaneous, but by no means to be generated manually. Nevertheless, it is indeed not 100% true. After attending Prof Rachel Powers’ Product Design class, I was convinced that innovation could be stimulated through a well-structured linear flow i.e. Design thinking process. As someone who dedicated to work as a biological researcher in the future, the design thinking approach serves as a great tool to unleash my creativity to uncover the mysterious areas that remain scientifically untold.

Learnt about the up-to-date science and technology

Notable professionals were invited to be the guest lecturers in many occasions to share with us the latest scientific and technological development happening in the Silicon Valley, as well as those cutting-edge inventions, inspiring visions and predictions concerning the future development.

Learnt through working as a team

In most of the classes, the instructors required us to work in groups with classmates from diverse backgrounds, which was interesting yet challenging. Conflicts could be easily occurred if the cultural difference was not handled properly. Working in a group composed of highly diverse backgrounds, our group spent a great deal of time to come up with the best mode of communication that fitted everybody. For me, it was surely a helpful experience for my future career since international cooperation is common in regards to laboratory works.

Learnt in a friendly setting

Apart from the aforementioned benefits, the positive learning atmosphere pervaded the Cal campus was very enjoyable. Teachers and staff there were particularly warm-hearted. They would thoughtfully offer a helping hand to anyone in need. Deepest gratitude to those who assisted me along the journey.

Lastly, I would like to express my utmost gratitude to all the donors, Biology Department, Knowledge Transfer Office and IT Scholarship Secretariat. Without their support, my trip would not be so perfectly accomplished.