As a student entrepreneur, Guo Tianzi was so busy that she almost missed the interview. She came into the interview room in a hurry, but once she sat down, she became calm, poised, and confident. Tianzi was busy registering her own fluorophosgene nanotechnology company, whose core technology could be applied to resin’s nano-coating. Guo Tianzi is not the only SUSTech who ventured into entrepreneurship, but she is probably the only one to combine entrepreneurship with research and commercial production.
Tianzi is a person with discernable goals: she had decided to become an entrepreneur at a very young age and got excellent grades to lay the solid foundation for entrepreneurship. She heard about SUSTech in the eleventh grade and was instantly drawn to it. After research, she believed SUSTech’s leading research and faculty resources, as well as Shenzhen’s entrepreneur-friendly environment, are highly compatible with her academic and professional pursuit.
During the interview section at SUSTech’s independent recruitment examination, she was asked why she wanted to go to SUSTech. Tianzi answered without a doubt: “I want to achieve entrepreneurship through research!” When reflecting on her spontaneous answer, she said: “I was so focused on my dream that I wasn’t afraid of anything. I actually didn’t know much about the future and the complexity of entrepreneurship, but I have the positive attitude. Fortunately, the interview panel didn’t think I was overconfident. They actually gave me a lot of encouragement and advice, especially Professor Cheng Xin from the Department of Materials Sciences and Engineering. Their words played a big part in the successful foundation of my company.”
SUSTech’s residential college system brought students of different backgrounds, concentrations, and majors together. Tianzi took the opportunities and founded a study group at her college, with members coming from over 20 provinces. “Despite having chosen different majors, we all shared the passion for knowledge and burned the midnight oil discussing physics, linear algebra, and many more.” The friendship fostered at the study group laid an excellent foundation for Tianzi’s research and entrepreneur team.
During sophomore year, Tianzi and her peers were working on Professor Sun Dazhi’s project on carbon fiber composite. It is an innovative and promising research field, but it also means a lack of equipment, previous experience, and experts’ guidance. Tianzi and her peers were not afraid of the obstacle, and they eventually made some breakthroughs after a year of hard work.
However, Tianzi and her peers soon found more difficulties in carrying on the carbon fiber composite project: the upcoming performance test required very advanced laboratory conditions and devices, which was not available at SUSTech or elsewhere. Tianzi was not willing to give up the project, so she decided to work on the problem from a different angle. She recalled that the project team developed a number of core technologies, one of which could be applied to resin’s nano-coating. After realizing the technology’s large commercial applications, she transformed her research project into the foundation of her own fluorophosgene nanotechnology company. As the second best student at SUSTech’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Tianzi was already admitted as a Ph.D. candidate of the Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy at the University of Hong Kong (HKU), but she followed her dream and chose to become an entrepreneur instead. This is not a decision based on emotions, and Tianzi proved that in the following remarks.
“Many people may think I am irrational for choosing entrepreneurship over HKU, but I actually found many advantages for fresh graduates to engage in entrepreneurship. For one thing, the clients usually make great offers and gave me lots of encouragement simply because I am a student. For another, Shenzhen is a city with many entrepreneurs, including the clients who really empathize with us and share their entrepreneurship experience with us. Lastly, the Shenzhen Municipal Government has passed and implemented many favorable policies for entrepreneurs, especially for young people like me.”
Tianzi placed great emphasis on teamwork and led her teammates in research and development (R&D) for the company. In the meantime, she invited an older peer from the particular class of education reform to operate and manage the company so that she could spend more time on R&D, which is the core of any startup business.
Towards the end of the interview, Tianzi thanked SUSTech for making her entrepreneur dream come true. She believed SUSTech does not only support students in research and teaching but also in innovation, teamwork, diversity and critical thinking. She wishes SUSTech all the best, while we anticipate the success of her own startup business.