Already, for his fashion apparel startup Barbell Apparel, he has been making inroads into China, sourcing materials in Shenzhen. On his trip for the boot camp, he visited a manufacturing plant, and Barbell may begin to source entirely from China, he says.
“We like to get ourselves into the Asian markets,” Eng says, describing Shanghai as the “Silicon Valley of Asia: readily available capital and an ecosystem that’s a good fit for entrepreneurship.
‘A GOOD TIME TO DISRUPT’ IN CHINA
“I feel like China still has a lot of room to grow,” he says. “It’s reemerging. Especially with the time and age now, with so much innovation going on. It’s a good time to disrupt here.”
For Barbell, whose motto is “Athletic Fit Denim. American Made,” Eng and his partners raised $750,000 on Kickstarter, the second-highest-ever sum on the crowd-funding platform for a fashion apparel company.
Before working in fashion clothing, Eng founded a tech-education startup called Enrolio and a company called English Beyond, a profitable venture recruiting recent college graduates to teach English in China, he says.
He plans to apply for the CEIBS MBA program, to enter next fall at the latest, and take the entrepreneurship concentration, he says. He’d like to launch a venture while in the program, finding co-founders among his peers, and tapping into the school’s networks. “That’s what the CEIBS leverages, that guanxi, the relationship building,” he says. “I did tech. And I did education. I’ve done apparel. I feel like health care and biomed is the next space. China was using copycat technology. Now they’re doing a lot of innovation.”
Kundan Kumar, India
During a lecture at the CEIBS boot camp, Indian engineer Kundan Kumar was Shanghai-ed, so to speak, into playing the straight man for marketing professor Yi Xiang’s comedic takedown of another participant. In a discussion on the case of Kraft struggling to sell Oreos to Chinese, Xiang asked participants for ideas on the problem. “Chinese people like spicy food,” one Chinese student proposed. Xiang turned to Kumar. “Do you like spicy food?” he asked, and received an affirmative answer. “Do you like sweet biscuits?” “I love sweet biscuits,” Kumar replied. Xiang turned back to the Chinese student. “So your point doesn’t help.”
Kumar’s attendance at the camp was facilitated by winning 50% off the fee in a contest hosted by the school on StudentCompetitions.com. “Also I wanted to learn more about an MBA in general and an MBA from a top school like CEIBS,” he says. He has an undergraduate mechanical engineering degree from the M. Visvesvaraya Institute of Technology in India. Earlier, he’d planned on pursuing an MS in engineering, but his corporate experience with TATA Consultancy Services, providing software and process solutions to clients in Shanghai, has turned him toward an MBA, he says.
“My choice of schools will be where I can get good financial assistance/scholarship and which is also good with ranking,” says Kumar, 24.
A NEW PERSPECTIVE ON AN OLD COUNTRY
He hasn’t decided whether he’ll seek an MBA in China, he says, but the boot camp has him strongly considering CEIBS. “The arguments presented by various professors and lectures gave me a different perspective of how we used to think about China as a country and its people as a cheap workforce. Now it’s much different and the government has also realized it.
“(China) will influence the West the same way the West influenced other parts of the world. It has great untapped potential in terms of money and service.”