Feature Stories


Journey of Futurepreneur: Fly Higher with QualiFly

Many entrepreneurs use their own stories as the inspiration for their ventures. Jason CHEUNG (MARK & MGMT, Class of 2023), the winner of the Hong Kong Top 10 Outstanding Tertiary Students Award in 2022, is one of them. As a co-founder of QualiFly, Jason is here to tell us his story of being an entrepreneur helping juniors learn effectively.

Inspiration from the Struggle in Studying 

QualiFly is an education technology start-up that provides a personalized learning platform for students based on their learning abilities. It uses AI technology to analyse the performance of the students through different exercises and provide personalized revision materials for the students based on the areas they are struggling in. Students can monitor their performance trends based on the reports generated by the platform and effectively improve their learning performance by watching the recommended videos

The inspiration for establishing QualiFly can be traced back to Jason’s primary school days, when he studied hard but his efforts did not pay off. “I tried my best to revise everything I learned from school, but I barely saw any proportional improvement.” Through trial and error, he was able to find more effective and efficient methods to learn as he grew up. Still, although he overcame these difficulties, he wanted to help students who are in his younger self’s position by enhancing educational opportunities. “I think the curriculum designs in Hong Kong and many Asian countries are not very effective for students to learn. I always wondered why there aren’t any solutions or resources that can help students improve academically in a more fun and interactive way.”

This marked the beginning of Jason’s mission-driven project-turned-business. At HKUST, he began to learn more about entrepreneurship and running a business. “That’s when I had the aha moment. Why don't I actually start a business to provide solutions to students who are struggling with their studies?” Jason then shared his thought with one of his high school friends and they got the ball rolling in Year 2.

Although the market was there, Jason soon found out that initiating their own business was a much lengthier process than expected. “We spent a lot of time polishing this idea by looking at the market and talking to different stakeholders in the education industry – the students, parents, teachers, etc. Through meetings, idea exchange and engaging collaborators in the education sector, we learned there’re lots of aspects specific to start-ups that we need to consider in our plans in order to thrive.”

Insights gained from the HKUST Community 

As the team polished this starting idea, Jason found the up-to-date and broad range of business knowledge useful when solving problems for QualiFly. “Our initial thought was to integrate and apply technology in order to provide quality learning for students. This notion actually came from a Business foundation course - ISOM 2010 Introduction to Information Systems, where I learned concepts like collaborative filtering and what AI is in general. It taught us how some successful firms, like Netflix, utilized algorithms to drive sales and match products according to customers’ preferences. Even though I’m not from a technical background, it inspired me to use these core technologies and applications in our platform to provide personalized learning journeys for our students.

Aside from the exploration in class, Jason found the strong entrepreneurship culture in HKUST encouraged him to kick-start QualiFly and explore different solutions for his start-up. As the President of The BASE, Jason thinks that joining this society is a precious experience for him to go deeper into the start-up ecosystem and gain the most entrepreneurship-related knowledge. “Through organizing different start-up events, interviewing entrepreneurs, and exchanging knowledge with experienced entrepreneurs, students and faculty, I was able to draw a thorough picture of what the start-up ecosystem is like, what are some crucial factors that helped start-ups survive, and how to make the right decisions.”

On top of the strong entrepreneurship culture, Jason highlighted how the HKUST alumni network gave him a broader view of the business world outside the start-up ecosystem. “I have talked to alumni from different industries through the Career Mentorship Program and they provided me with very unique insights about doing business. Some of them are entrepreneurs and would think from the business perspective, while others who work around to the start-up ecosystem like investment banks and venture capital firms shared their thoughts on how to pitch investors and secure funding through the way we pitched our idea to help us improve. These chats were about gaining different yet very core advice which I can discuss with my team.”

Besides learning from the insights and advice from different seniors and entrepreneurs, Jason believed that gaining hands-on experience through the resources in HKUST boosts the way he starts and runs a business. Through SBMT 3200 Corporate Project, a course run by the HKUST Business School for students to work on a semester-long project with a corporate partner, Jason gained a lot of exposure to the real commercial world and insights that were applicable in his own business. “I worked with Nike Hong Kong Limited on the implementation of the ChatBot for the customer service department. At that time, we do a lot of research and analysis and got the chance to talk to the executives. I think the most memorable part was the final presentation, where our team was presenting something that not everyone is going to like straightaway, and the executives gave us various comments and questions on that. It was quite a stressful moment, but it resembled an environment similar to that of pitching my start-up to the investors. With this exposure, I have been able to get a sneak peek of how the business world in general makes decisions and hone the soft skills that are essential to ace different industries, whether it’s building your own start-up or going into more traditional careers.” He also added that joining the International Consulting Club at HKUST to receive more training in management consulting has further enhanced his business knowledge by interacting with different industry players.

Next Steps to Fly Higher

As for now, Jason and the team will continue to build QualiFly by applying technology in learning solutions and soliciting new partnerships with different schools and users. He hopes that educational technology would continue to grow and empower the next generation with better learning assistance in their studies. “Ed-tech is a very special industry because the education sector tends to be less open-minded towards technology. It's difficult to be the pioneer of this sort of tech trend and alter how students actually learn. I hope we can help students to perform better from efficient learning, so they have more time for other interests and passions.” Alongside scaling up the start-up business, Jason will also continue to grow his business acumen after graduation and to gain more industry knowledge through exploring different jobs and commercial career paths.

As a student entrepreneur, he has some advice on the process of creating a start-up from scratch. “The great thing about being young entrepreneurs is that we have more capacity to fail, so don’t be afraid of trying. We just gradually modified our idea and continue polishing everything we can think of so that we can keep on providing a better product. Not being shy about sharing ideas and trying to learn from the expertise of different team members are also important to gradually build up your own business.”