Kellogg Two-Year students Rochelle Hua and Cindy Ye, along with McCormick graduate student Kevin Shi, all ’15, took top honors at the Suzhou New District, technological innovation and entrepreneurship leader competition last month. The team won $5 million yuan (RMB) — or more than $800,000 in U.S. dollars — in cash and prizes for co-founding a food and nutrition startup in Suzhou, a major city in the Jiangsu province of Eastern China.
The startup, Kosmode Biotechnology Co., Ltd., focuses on commercializing food science technologies for general consumer use. Their first proposed product is a cranberry-based supplement that would help cure urinary tract infections.
Hua thanked Clinical Professor of Marketing Tim Calkins — and his biomedical marketing class — for providing the inspiration to develop the startup.
“I truly value my Kellogg experience,” said Hua, who spent five years working in the food and nutrition field — including a stint at Abbott — prior to Kellogg. “I am here to learn and apply it in a market that flourishes. The award is an affirmation.”
LATE NIGHTS AND HARD WORK YIELD SUCCESS
Prior to Kellogg, Ye was an analyst and later associate for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where she focused on the food and beverage industry. Shi, who is the startup’s CEO, founded a number of lean startups before pursuing a Masters in Information Technology. Shi is also a member of the Kellogg Entrepreneurship Organization.
The team came together in March 2014 and submitted an 86-page business plan to the competition one month later. “There were definitely many late nights and lots of hard work,” said Shi. “But it’s great fun to visualize our ideas into tables, graphs and of course prototype products.”
Last September, the team traveled to Suzhou to give a final presentation on Kosmode to a number of veteran entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. In December, the team learned they beat out more than 2,600 teams to take the top spot.
With the win, Kosmode received $1 million yuan in cash, $2 million in government investment and $2 million in low interest loans. “Winning the competition is the first step, and we have many more steps to go,” said Ye. “But with the Kellogg experience, I appreciate teamwork a lot more.”