Start-ups are hard, that much is true. But they're also immensely rewarding, and can take your life in an epic direction, unlocking adventure and (hopefully) success along the way. But it takes guts and determination, and a lot of careful thought about your future, especially when considering the pros and cons of leaving a more traditional career path. So how do you make it and what does it take to succeed? Just ask iX alum, Christopher Huang.
Cofounder and CEO of TempEasy - a revolutionary foodtech startup that aims to make adopting a plant-based diet easy with the mission of eradicating protein-energy malnutrition, Chris knows what it means to hustle. The key? A growth mindset.
But how does this all relate to iX? Chris explains.
"I heard about iX from my brother, Andrew Huang. He studied at Duke whilst I was at Oxford. There wasn't much of an iX presence in the UK at the time, but I was keen to do something different with my summer, and explore a beautiful city, so I went for it."
What makes iX different to traditional university
"Whilst I was at iX, I did the Management Consulting course. It was completely different from my university experience at Oxford. At uni I studied an integrated Masters course in Biochemistry - it was a Bachelors and a Masters crammed into four years. It was hectic, and it also meant that I never had any formal education in anything business related. iX was the first opportunity for me to explore a field that was completely different to one that I was familiar with. It was refreshing!"
"How do we set-up an Ecommerce platform? The question above was thrown at me on Day 1 of our internship at PriceCheck - South Africa’s leading price comparison website - by the CEO. Rather than feeling lost, I felt excited. Excited because I felt that the lessons I had learnt from the iX consulting course had prepared me for that moment and that the work I would eventually end up doing will be impactful and worthwhile."
"Although the course did not prepare me to tackle this specific question, it equipped me with the necessary tools to analyse the situation, to devise clever solutions, and to ultimately present our findings in a coherent and effective manner to the executive team at PriceCheck. From performing market analyses using Porter’s Five Forces, to understanding how we are positioned within the market using STP mapping, to developing dynamic financial models on Excel from scratch, the iX course prepared me to address a wide range of business problems, if not all, with confidence. The amount of autonomy and responsibility that we were given was truly incredible. From the start we were hosting our own meetings with third party companies, to help forge alliances and negotiate deals."
"Doing the internship and taking part in the iX consulting course was one of the best educational decisions that I have ever made, and pivotal in my following career moves, as I explain. I would thoroughly recommend anyone to do the same!"
From iX to McKinsey
"My time at iX laid down the foundation for me to get a place as a Summer Business Analyst at the McKinsey London office, where I was selected to join a cohort of 12 from over 7,000 applicants. There was no way I could have gotten that internship, and subsequently a full-time role at McKinsey, had it not had been for the 8 weeks that I spent in Cape Town learning about the fundamentals of business, and how it can be applied to consulting. The internship I had at PriceCheck really allowed me to put theory into practice and reinforced what I had learnt."
From McKinsey to Start-Up
"Making the decision to leave a cushy career path wasn't easy. However, I think the biggest learning outcome I got from iX was a growth mindset."
Sounds weird, but the time I spent at iX taught me to keep an open mind and heart, to think big, and to constantly strive to be a better version of myself day after day. This is a lesson that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
"So rather than playing it safe, I lept into TempEasy, and truly believe in what I do every day. We've had our fair share of working from tiny apartments, hustling to raise funding, and there are new challenges every day. But it's a dream to be able to break new ground in the space of sustainable nutrition and foodtech. In 2018, we won “Best New High Protein Food & Beverage” in the Bridge2Food Plant-based Protein Innovation Awards for our first product - a protein-rich tempeh crisp."
TempEasy's Protein Crisp
We already have demand for 660 pounds of our product per day from two large Indonesian retailers, which is twenty-times our current production capacity!
Check out TempEasy's award-winning Cambridge Pitch below:
Where to next?
"We're currently based in London, and are looking for advisors and investors to join us on this journey, as we hope to grow our range of products. In particular, we're looking for investors with experience in the food industry or green-tech focused venture capital."
On describing iX to a student
iX is intense, and a whole lot of fun! If you're a student, you should attend because, if nothing else, you are guaranteed to have a Summer that you will never forget, and make friends that you'll cherish for a long time."