How One Student Took On the 2015 China Thinks Big Venture Challenge

Mar 2 2015

From February 25 to March 1, 2015, sophomore student Yixu Aileen Lin represented NYU Shanghai at the 2015 China Thinks Big Venture Challenge, a three-day entrepreneurship incubator at Harvard University, where competitors developed and refined business ideas contextualized in China.

At the China Thinks Big Entrepreneurship Conference—the premier U.S.-China relations conference at Harvard—Lin’s entrepreneurial ideas were judged before professors from the Harvard and Greater Boston communities, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, angel investors from Silicon Valley, Harvard Innovation Lab, and others.

"It was definitely overwhelming but so rewarding,” Lin said, explaining that members of her team took leave due to upcoming midterm examinations. She rose to the challenge of revising the 15-page pitch draft, building financial models, preparing presentations, elevating pitch speeches, delivering shark tank pitches, and attending the Harvard Business School Entrepreneur Conference by herself.

Up against hundreds of applicants narrowed down to a final round of 11 teams, Lin—now her own one-woman team—achieved third place for her business idea of launching an art e-commerce social entrepreneur platform that offers consultation toward artistic design and sells innovative handicrafts. With plans for Shanghai to be the initial starting point for the next five years, Lin hopes to address the lack of art appreciation and confidence in the city while bridging the language of business and finance with the artist world.

Inspired in part by her volunteer experience at the 10th Shanghai Biennale and an internship at Art+Shanghai Gallery, Lin expressed that she was “born in an art family” and feels this venture stems from something innate.

When asked how these experiences at Harvard would shape her advice to fellow students, Lin was quick to say, “Don't narrow yourself down in one career right away. Do something you feel uncomfortable about but passionate about. Be diligent, but have the guts to fail and make mistakes. Be brave."

Written by Charlotte San Juan