Social Innovation team profile
“Through our research, we discovered that there are many Asian entrepreneurs who want to start a business but are not supported financially, by society or even by their own families,” Aisha said. “We are trying to change that.”
In Brooklyn, NY, team M8s from Edward Murrow High School has set out to raise awareness for and normalize the growing presence of Asian Women in business. These eight rising leaders – Yu Han Wang, Aisha Shi, JiaLi Dong, Cruz Anthhony Gomez Lopez, Grace Liang, Mattia Pronzato, Yasmin Benzruioi and Lia Murphy – have been involved with Virtual Enterprise International, a nationwide organization that provides students with authentic business experiences to prepare them for the future.
The M8s decided to test their skills by entering Intuit’s Fall 2022 Social Innovation Challenge because they were intrigued by the prompt: “How might we help underrepresented aspiring entrepreneurs access resources to help them start their business?” Their idea? A streaming reality show called “Where’s Home?”
The show, which will be sponsored by successful business leaders and organizations, would help aspiring Asian women become entrepreneurs through mentorship, collaboration, networking, and funding. Why broadcast the competition? To take Asian female entrepreneurship mainstream.
“When something is on TV or streaming media, it gains credibility,” Yu Han said. “Society gets used to seeing it, and it becomes normal and accepted. Today, Asian-owned businesses are not the norm in the U.S., and we feel a reality show featuring Asian female entrepreneurs would help society get used to the idea.”
As five of the team’s members are Asian females, researching the issue was particularly relevant. “Through our research, we discovered that there are many Asian entrepreneurs who want to start a business but are not supported financially, by society or even by their own families,” Aisha said. “We are trying to change that.”
Friendly competition makes for good programming
To launch the show, the team would solicit contestants via social media and traditional marketing campaigns, and after interviewing 30 candidates, narrow their choices to 3-5 contestants with the strongest, most viable business ideas. These contestants would be paired with mentors and given $10,000 grants from donating organizations toward developing their ideas.
“Through our research, we found that Goldman Sachs, Hershey and L'Oreal often support women in business, so we would target them first for contributions,” Yu Han said.
Throughout the course of the show, contestants would develop their innovative business ideas with the help of their mentors and compete for a $10,000 prize. A panel of judges would vote on a winner, based on a number of parameters that indicate progress and personal growth. Rather than a fight to the finish, candidates would be encouraged to support each other and collaborate to improve upon their ideas.
“As Asian individuals, it’s critical that we support each other,” Yu Han said. “Encouraging the viewer audience to engage and vote for their favorite contestant would reinforce the awareness and support we hope to generate for Asian female entrepreneurs.”
JiaLi added that viewers would have to pay a small amount to be able to vote, which would provide another revenue stream and additional support for the show to continue. Winners of each season would become a member of the judge’s panel for the following season.
Not only will the show raise awareness for the problem, it will actually help to solve it. “All of the participants will be actually developing their business ideas, and have the opportunity to be successful,” JiaLi said. “We hope other female entrepreneurs will be inspired and decide to step out of their comfort zone and achieve their dreams.”
New skills for future endeavors
Team M8 made the competition’s Finalist Round, and they also sharpened valuable business skills throughout the challenge. “In addition to learning to communicate and collaborate effectively, I was able to develop my organizational skills,” said JiaLi. “I’m interested in pursuing a career in business, and I feel I acquired many skills that will form a foundation for that journey.”
“It was essential to collaborate from the start and listen to different voices, while incorporating the research we conducted,” said Aisha.
Yu Han added that the challenge helped them develop a deeper understanding for the process of solving a business problem. These are skills they’ll be able to take with them and put to use in future academic and professional endeavors – whether ecommerce, fintech, psychology or business management, as these are the interests that drive team M8.
Will “Where’s Home?” air anytime soon? We hope so!