These Under-30 Entrepreneurs Share How They're Changing the World
It’s not every day that you encounter an entrepreneur who has founded their own thriving business before the age of 30.
Jessica Lam, Brian Wong, Cathy Han, and Ian Crosby all share a seemingly instinctive business sense, a passion for their respective ventures and the coveted claim of being listed as one of Forbes 30 Under 30. Not only that, they are all UBC Sauder alumni.
“There was a lot of inspiration just from my peers,” Jessica Lam, founder of an air quality monitoring company in Beijing, says of her educational experience.
And given the business school’s reputation for developing market disruptors who challenge the norm, it’s not surprising that all of them share an alma mater.
We found out how all four have applied their university degrees to their career and went on to change their industries for the better.
The environmental advocate.
For Lam, environmental issues should always be a priority.
That’s why she founded Kaiterra, a startup that creates products designed specifically to monitor air quality and provide users with accurate readings in real time. One such product is the Laser Egg, a smart air quality monitor that can control Apple HomeKit appliances like air purifiers and humidifiers automatically within the home to keep the environment clean and healthy.
"I believe the world is an amazing place -- awe-inspiring. We won’t have that if we don’t fix the environment,” she says when asked about her company’s mission.
Lam knows that her business can help not just individual customers, but serve as a useful tool for big decisions when it comes to how the country’s environment is evaluated overall.
“We have a huge amount of data regarding air quality,” she says. “The data that comes from our devices [can] be used to track where pollution is coming from and… pinpoint that source.”
Kaiterra has grown more than 500 percent over the last three years and now has clients like the BBC, Shangri La Hotels and the NBA. The company has an international presence with offices in New Delhi and Beijing, and its products are for sale in Apple Stores, on Amazon.com and on JD.com.
The mobile advertising mogul.
Brian Wong knows the importance of living in the moment. It’s the whole premise behind his company Kiip, a mobile rewards network that promotes brands by providing consumers with tangible rewards like free music downloads or beverage coupons during relevant interactions on a mobile device. Kiip now has 150 million users and big-name clients like Pepsi, Amazon and Disney on its roster, with Wong at the helm as CEO.
Wong graduated from business school at just 18 years old. As VP of UBC’s Marketing in the Commerce Undergraduate Society, he used his time at UBC to develop the skills involved in managing a business and being an effective leader.
With three Forbes 30 Under 30 awards under his belt, Wong is now managing offices in Silicon Valley and New York and is a mentor for current students at his alma mater.
The fashion retail researcher.
Since appearing at New York Fashion Week alongside designer Marc Jacobs’ fall collection in 2012, Cathy Han has taken the fashion retail world by storm with her software company, 42 Technologies.
The analytics company uses data collected at the till to create customer profiles and monitor which products are the most popular. Store owners can then use that data to recommend new products to their customers and ultimately improve their sales.
Simply put, “42 brings online intelligence to offline retail,” Han explained to UBC Sauder News. Han is a member of the most recent Forbes 30 Under 30 cohort.
The small-business software guru.
Ian Crosby wants to eradicate a commonly acknowledged pain point among entrepreneurs: balancing the books. After graduating from UBC Sauder’s Bachelor of Commerce program in 2008, he went on to found Bench, a bookkeeping and accounting service for small business owners, and was listed as one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2016.
Bench allows entrepreneurs to invest their energies into growing their business rather than dealing with the minutiae associated with bookkeeping, paving the way for small businesses across all industries to flourish without getting bogged down by balancing the books.
“I knew I could make bookkeeping better and easier for small business owners,” Ian says.
Developing his own understanding of what makes a business succeed through his experience at UBC Sauder was an essential part of being able to identify this need, and set the stage for the founding of his company.
The journey to success.
Reflecting on how she got to where she is today, Lam explains, “Having that direction, having that curiosity…that was the first part of it. I certainly sought out all the global aspects of UBC Sauder while I was there.”
Like her fellow alumni, she learned from the very beginning to challenge the status quo, which has set the stage for her current and continued success
“Being more open minded, globally minded, is what UBC Sauder puts forward as really valuable.”