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2024

Fireside Chat with leaders in sustainability and entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship and Sustainability are undoubtedly some of the hottest topics in the recent decade. What better ways are there to spend a Friday afternoon learning from renowned sustainability advocate Natalie, as well as leaders of the travel tech unicorn Klook - Eric and Kenny?

Sustainability and advocacy from the forefront - A youth changemaker’s perspective

Natalie, who just came back from COP28, shared her journey in founding V’air - a pioneering social enterprise promoting ecotourism. She mentioned that she started the organization back in college when she was still in Year 1 and encouraged Hong Kong youths to follow their passion and take the first step toward entrepreneurship. “Don’t be limited by your age, even youths are capable of making a change. Just explore more, marry up your experiences, and understand what stakeholders in society needs”. 

Natalie believes eco-tourism can bring a lot of benefits not only to the planet but also people and culture. Referring to the SDG wheel on her badge from COP28, she explained many mistakenly thought that sustainability is only about the environment, but there is much more than that.

I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation as it allowed me to rethink the significance of sustainability. The general public are always exposed to news regarding greenwashing and stakeholder debates, but maybe if we all focus on taking meaningful actions, a sustainable society will bring unimaginable benefits to everyone.

When asked about her thoughts on the future outlook, she is positive: “The tourism industry is working hard towards sustainability. For instance, the government is banning single-use plastic in hotels next year. Little by little, we are getting there.” 

Advice from leading entrepreneurs on building successful businesses - What’s the secret sauce?

Eric and Kenny, being at the forefront of innovation, shared hot tips on building and scaling a startup. “Company success is not only about utility, it’s not only about selling at the cheapest price. You have to demonstrate your brand value, what makes you different” Not only does Klook strive to provide a joyful experience that synergises with the orange logo, but also emphasizes sustainability. They utilize technology to digitalise the traditional travel experience, ranging from bookings to insurance. Digitalisation saves a lot of paper, and the impact is huge when it extends to travellers in multiple countries. 

When asked about how they dealt with setbacks, they used the 3 difficult years of COVID-19 as an example: “Every challenge is an opportunity” - we need to be adaptive. In the face of travel bans, Klook actively explored alternatives including virtual tours, and the domestic market performed unexpectedly well during the pandemic.

Increasing amount of Gen Z youths are interested in entrepreneurship. A lot have thought of starting their own innovative projects, but not everyone has the experience and right mindset to build a successful one. What we have learnt today from Eric and Kenny is undoubtedly invaluable, and not only for running startups - these takeaways and inspirations are applicable to all sorts of endeavors, they are the mindset for succeeding in all industries and careers.

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