Xinyang (Amy) Hong, Co-founder of M.A.D. Edu


Amy is the co-founder of M.A.D. Edu, a start-up aimed to make STEM education engaging and memorable. M.A.D. Edu communicates the frontier research findings to audiences that are difficult to engage (i.e.: remote villagers, school children and international students) by creating games based on research finding. M.A.D. Edu has received the Try It Award from the OxfordHub in 2016.  

Q: What is your background?  What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
A: I’m a full-time PhD at the Zoology department here in Oxford and a part-time natural history photographer. I’ve always had an keen interest in science communication and business. Being an entrepreneur means I can combine my expertise in multiple fields to solve problems in the real world.

Q: What is your definition of entrepreneurship?
A: Being an entrepreneur means inventing new ways to solve problems and making an impact for the world.

Q: How and when did you know your idea was good enough to develop it?
A: After discussing the idea with my co-founder, we applied to join the VIEW business training workshop hosted at the SAID business school. Surprisingly, we got in! That was the moment we started taking things seriously which led to our other awards and funding. 

Q: So what would you say are the top 3 skills that needed to be a successful entrepreneur? Why?
A: Creativity – for finding the solution to a real world problem,
Communication – for communicating the solution to other people,
Persistency – to push through when it gets tougher. 

Q: What is your favourite part of being an entrepreneur?
A:  My favorite part is to listen to other people’s comments and to improve my products accordingly. I love it when I get positive feedback about my product but I also understand constructive criticism will help me grow further.

Q: What individual, company or organization inspires you most? Why?
A: Very difficult to choose just one – I like the ones that made positive impact about the world: the old lady who turned pineapple leaf to leather textile; the Eole wind turbine which generate water out of wind etc. The point of invention is to make the world a better place.

Q: If you could have 5 minutes with the above indiv/company/org, what would you want to ask or discuss?
A: I would ask them, what do they think the future world would be like?

Q: What has been your most satisfying or successful moment in business?
A: The most satisfying moment would be, when we were commissioned by NGOs to make games for STEM education purpose. 

Q: What would you say have been some of your mistakes, failures or lessons learned as an entrepreneur?
A: Don’t try to do everything by yourself, dedicating jobs for others and trusting others make collaboration and development easier. 

Q: How have you funded your ideas?  Are there any sector-specific awards/grants/competitions that have helped you?
A: Oxford is a great place for social enterprise, there are many funding/awards around, i.e.: ROBIN, OxfordHub etc.

Q: What is good about being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire?  Bad?
A: Pros: Lots of free training and experts for help, many willing volunteers, talents available for almost every single problem you can think about!
Cons: Expensive to hire, expensive to live in the city.

Q: If a new entrepreneur or startup came to you looking for entrepreneurship resources, where would you send them? (Anything Oxfordshire especially!)
A:  Said Business School is a good starting place, there are lots of people willing to help there! If they are from STEM background, I’d also introduce them to MPLS enterprise which has got fantastic resources.

Q: Any last words of advice?
A: Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in what I do or just simply want a chat.