Hong Kong University of Science & Technology is the alma mater of Ken and Bianca, Clare.AI’s co-founders. The school is a strong supporter of entrepreneurship, and organizes an annual HKUST One Million Dollar Entrepreneurship Competition to foster entrepreneurship in student and alumni. In the past, the school has provided a fertile ground for startups, including famous drone company DJI.
As a startup company, funding is important, as is the support from academia. Ken and Bianca then decided to apply for the 7th HKUST Entrepreneurship Competition. We knew there would be tough competition, but any challenge is a useful exercise for us.
The timeline was intensive, but also comprehensive. After submitting rounds of presentations and executive summaries, we were selected as one of the final 12 teams to compete in the Grand Final from almost 100 submissions.
Email from HKUST notifying us on our shortlisting
On June 8th, Clare.AI was part of an exhibition open to the HKUST community, public, venture capitalists, investors and angels. During this half-day event, the Clare.AI booth was greeted by many interested parties who were curious about the AI powered chatbot we were developing and our vision for the future. We talked to lots of people from various backgrounds and experiences and were so happy we got to share our story.
Bianca at the HKUST exhibition
After the exhibition, we took part in an Elevator Pitch competition where representatives from each of the 12 finalists were required to make a pitch about the company in 90 seconds. Within these 90 seconds, it is important to make your pitch engaging and exciting while hitting key points such as: What the company does, how it is different, and why it is better than other options in the market. We realized the need to distill our idea and hard work to 90 seconds to catch people’s attention.
Bianca pitches in front of 3 judges during the Elevator Pitch Competition
June 9th was the business plan presentation day. On this day, each competing team had 10 minutes to present and explain the full business plan as well as the practicability and fundability potential of the plan execution. The presentation was followed by a 12-minute Q&A from a panel of three judges. After this presentation, Clare.AI was one of six finalists chosen to move onto the final round of the competition in the afternoon.
Bianca, Ken, David, and Connie represent Clare.AI at the Final Round Business Plan Presentation
We had to wait for the results over the weekend after presentation. On Monday, there was an Award Ceremony which still went on despite a Typhoon 8 signal. Clare.AI won second place at the competition and a cash prize of $200,000 HKD. There were many fantastic start-ups with incredible ideas, and we are proud to have finished second out of this impressive pool of candidates.
Time is the most valuable resource for startups, and we have learned how to work together as a team. It was particularly helpful that the comments were from investors because they receive many business plans and review startups on a daily basis. They gave us insights on the competitive market landscape.
If you didn’t manage to catch us at the exhibition and are interested in learning more about us and what we do, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow us on our social media platforms!