Jie Cheng: Exploring startup opportunities

By Jie Cheng. Posted June 12, 2014.

New business opportunities aren’t just for students with a business degree. Engineering students also have advantages to engage in start-up activities. Generally, because engineers have the technical skills to tackle real world problems and they have experience with patents, they will fare well in the start-up market.

Last year, I entered the “Chunhui Cup’s 8th Overseas Students and Scholars Startup Business Competition” in Guangzhou, China, which is co-hosted by the People’s Republic of China’s (P.R.C.) Education Ministry and Ministry of Science and Technology.  It is also partially sponsored by the P.R.C Educational Affairs embassy in the United States.

The “Chunhui Cup” is one of the biggest and most influential startup business competitions open to Chinese students and scholars across the world. In the preliminary competition, each contestant or team of contestants submits its own startup business plan.  This plan should be creative, practical, and financially feasible. This plan is then evaluated by committee members.

Evaluation committee members come from venture capitals, business incubators, and enterprise circles. They review and critique the plan according to its technical levels, investment prospects, revenue forecast, and opportunities for industrialization. The most pragmatic and feasible plans then enter the final in Guangzhou.

Jie Cheng in Guangzhou

I was one of those finalists. My plan was to provide QR-code-based coupon management and circulation solutions upon which social network is built to establish brand recognition. My plan was considered to have a clear technical route, significant creative points, competitive advantages and very good market prospects, according to the committee’s comment remarked.

Because of this experience, my eyes were opened to start-up business opportunities. I found out that the UNL Center for Entrepreneurship has two types of start-up event each year. During the fall semester, it has a “3-2-1, Quick Pitch” and during the spring, it hosts the UNL New Venture Competition.

I hope this encourages engineers and other graduate students to consider the potential in start-up companies. I know I will take the great opportunities presented to me and make the most out of them.

As Dr. Yong Zhao from the University of Oregon says, "The world needs creative and entrepreneurial talents who are globally competent to take advantage of the opportunities brought about by technology and globalization and tackle the tough challenges facing human beings.” — Zhao, Yong. (February 2013.) Tech Forum- Chicago 2013.

For more information about UNL and Nebraska resources for entrepreneurs: