NYU Shanghai Students Will Represent China at L’ORÉAL Competition World Finals in Paris

Apr 12 2019

Three NYU Shanghai students have won the National Championship for China in the L’ORÉAL BRANDSTORM 2019, a global business innovation competition that challenges students to brainstorm innovative branding and marketing ideas for the cosmetics industry, and build feasible business cases. The 27-year old contest draws more than 34,000 contestants annually.

“Team Timeless,” consisting of Angela Zheng ’21, Jennifer Tao ’21, and Eileen Shiang ’21, defeated 11 other groups selected from 7,300 participants across 360 campuses in China. On May 23, Zheng, Tao, and Shiang will represent NYU Shanghai and China at the World Finals in Paris, competing against 74 other teams from around the world.  

For this year’s challenge, students were tasked with leveraging online services and innovations  to create a concept for a skincare product for health-conscious consumers. Team Timeless chose to create a product with anti-aging properties and designed digital platforms to improve user experience.

“We were trembling at the China final, not out of nervousness, but excitement to introduce our idea to people,” Tao said. On the day of the China final, the team went through four rounds of pitches, presenting their ideas to L’ORÉAL leadership for hours. Team Timeless and another NYU Shanghai team, "Team iSkin" (Qu Jiayun ’19, Wei Hongyu ’21, Danial Zamiri ’21) survived to become two of four groups to advance to the final round and make their pitches directly to L’ORÉAL China CEO Stéphane Rinderknech. 

The members of the winning three-woman team are all business and marketing majors who share a passion for the cosmetics industry. “We love skincare, and we want to find a career path in the cosmetics industry,” Zheng said. “We also see ourselves as entrepreneurs.”

In the lead-up to the competition, Shiang and Tao were responsible for doing research on the science behind skincare and drafting the presentations, while Zheng took on competitor analysis and graphic design.

“All we did for the last few months was eat, sleep, and work on L’ORÉAL,” Shiang said. “We spent over 100 hours on the final presentation.”

Rachel Wang, Campus Recruitment Manager at L’ORÉAL, highlighted the team’s strengths. “The Timeless team dynamic is excellent and their presentation skills are great,” Wang said. “Compared to other students, their English was better, they were more strategic, and they learned faster.”

“Teamwork was the most important thing that we learned along the way. No matter how good your product is, if the team chemistry is not there, your presentation is going to seem uneven,” Tao said. “Good teamwork conveys ambition, motivation, confidence, and passion.”

To prepare, the team took turns playing judges and contestants, mooting every possible question they might face from a judge. “We would be extremely critical of our project and switch roles between judge and team member until every possible question was answered,” Tao said.  

Assistant Dean of Business and Clinical Assistant Professor of Business Raymond Ro said he was not surprised by the team's success. “Their mindset in preparation for the competition can be summed up in three words: determined, dedicated, and diligent. Their success is not a coincidence: They researched fields of medicine, science, marketing, and finance; they learned new computer programs; and they practiced their pitch like a concert trio in preparation to perform at Carnegie Hall. ”

At the Global Championships next month, Team Timeless will compete for an “intrapreneurship” award for innovation and entrepreneurial instincts. L’ORÉAL will also sponsor the global champions for three months as they work to transform their concept into reality at the Paris startup incubator, STATION F.

In total, three NYU Shanghai teams, "Timeless," "iSkin," and "Super Rise," (Li Miaoer ’21, Xu Yitong ’21, Chen Qianyi ’21), were selected to compete in the China final round. Team iSkin finished in third place.