“If we have no aspirations in life, how are we different from a dead fish?”
For Bianca Ho, co-founder and COO of Clare.AI, her initial passion to realise a childhood dream has been the cornerstone of her entrepreneurial journey.
Bianca wanted to become a CEO when she was in Primary Six, when she was asked to write an essay about her future goals and aspirations. After graduating from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology with a degree in global business and economics, Bianca worked for three years at an investment bank as an analyst. While many people consider working at a multinational corporation to be a dream job, what Bianca valued the most was how the job broadened her perspectives, taught her about the structure and processes of a world-class enterprise, and solidified her love of technology.
“I have always had a passion for technology, and I hope to forge a career in technology.”
The ever-meticulous and prepared Bianca did not rush headlong into entrepreneurship. Instead, she formulated a business plan that detailed everything from fundraising and core products development to future market expansion. She even listed all of the skills that she would need and the steps it would take to implement her plan.
At the top of the list was the key skill of all start-ups: pitching.
After leaving the investment bank, Bianca joined a young translation company and later an online customer service company to be in charge of its overseas business expansion. While overseeing the company’s marketing and business development, Bianca frequently communicated and collaborated with clients and pitched new solutions. She experienced first-hand the hurdles that start-ups must face when marketing their products.
“Working at a start-up taught me about iteration and learning from repeated trials and mistakes.”
During this process, Bianca observed many of the difficulties that customer service agents face. For example, in addition to enduring immense pressure from clients, these agents must regularly handle much basic and tedious work. Indeed, many customer service agents balk at jobs that require such mundane tasks, making it difficult for companies to hire the customer service agents that they need.
Bianca also noticed how tech applications were beginning to change traditional industries. Many hotels and restaurants started accepting orders or answering enquiries through mobile apps. This inspired Bianca to develop an AI chatbot software to alleviate the workload of customer service agents. She found a like-minded partner who works in technology development, Ken Yeung. Together, they co-founded Clare.AI.
“To start up is like becoming a parent; you will never be ready for it.”
Aware that there is no short cut to entrepreneurship, Bianca and Ken joined different start-up activities and competitions. These occasions enabled them to listen to the comments of potential clients and to improve their product for its future launch.
After joining one of Cyberport’s hackathons and achieving good results, Bianca and Ken decided that it was time to start seeking clients for Clare.AI and to launch their product.
In the beginning, Clare.AI targeted financial institutions in the Asia-Pacific region. As a start-up with only a few members, convincing these established corporations to use Clare.AI’s product often required grappling with the client companies’ policies and human resources establishments. Yet, even though they encountered different problems every time, Bianca accepted each hurdle as a new opportunity.
“Every failure takes you closer to success!”
Realising a dream is never easy. In addition to solving problems every day, maintaining positivity has been key to Clare.AI’s success.
Bianca enjoys making desserts in her free time and sampling the desserts of different countries. From choosing the dessert style and selecting the ingredients to tasting different flavours and experimenting with different recipes, Bianca knows that failure is part of the process. But, so long as she keeps trying, she will one day concoct the right recipe for the best taste.
This process mirrors Bianca’s entrepreneurial journey. She began with a business idea. She joined a start-up to become better prepared. She sought support from the Cyberport Incubation Programme and met more clients and investors through the Cyberport Entrepreneurs Network and Cyberport’s many activities. She overcame failure, kept trying, and identified Clare.AI’s direction. All of these were essential to Bianca turning her dream into reality, and to finding that sweet taste of entrepreneurship for which she has longed since primary school.