How do you turn a business idea into a real business?

3 minute read
Jiaxian Shi and teammate taking part in a challenge

This question haunted me long before I came to Oxford. In my former company, I worked on a project in which I was supposed to help my colleagues in our headquarters to introduce a newly developed product into the local market. However, the project was never executed smoothly. 

I cold-called dozens of customers and paid visits to many of them all over the country. The result was disappointing – no one was interested in the product and the project was eventually terminated. This bitter experience became one of the reasons that I made up my mind to figure out the mystery of success in innovation by joining the MBA programme at Oxford.

The experience has not let me down. With all the basic knowledge and skills gained in Michaelmas and Hilary, the Entrepreneurship Project (EP) programme commenced, accelerating to the climax in Trinity. In the EP, my team innovated a new service in art tech and pivoted the business model for it. It was a good chance for me to put all I had learned in the past year into practice. 

This included testing operation theories, managing tech companies, finance and accounting, and most importantly, all the experience in innovation and entrepreneurship – hands-on sessions, challenges, competitions, hackathons and projects. Only then did I realise that I had already participated in so many activities. I was no longer the amateur in transforming innovative technology into a feasible business case. I think I have found the answer to my question.

The journey was no overnight success. One needs to be patient and keep the momentum along the way. From GOTO (Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford), a mainly analytical project, to the EP, a more practical experience, the Oxford MBA courses are well designed to lead you gradually onto the summit. 

The MBA never challenges you with unrealistic targets that are too far away to reach, but it is never merciful enough to let you get too complacent.

It is like physical training in which one should do your best every day to achieve satisfying results. I am at the end of the training now. With a more practical part-time project, in which I was responsible for developing a data/AI strategy for an ed-techup, I feel I am now confident enough to face the challenges in the real business world.

It is now time to take the last step of my MBA journey, yet the first step into the new career ahead of me. I hope I can put all that I learned during my time in Oxford into practice to make a positive impact on society. I’m excited for the future of a completely novel business world.

Main photo: Jiaxian Shi and his teammate, Hakim, during the AI for Climate Change challenge at the Oxford Foundry.