Fujia Chen is the Co-founder of A little bit brilliant (former Oxford Space Structures), which revolutionize baby products by using space technologies. The first product SpaceCot is a fast-deployable and light weight baby travel cot, which has been featured as ‘the best baby travel cot’ (Mother & Baby 2017) and won numerous awards in UK and internationally. It has been selling in UK, France, Spain and China, and soon will be launched in Germany, Japan, Korea, US and Canada in 2017. The company is at the seed round with 3 employees. Before this, Fujia obtained her MSc degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Imperial College London and DPhil in Zoology from University of Oxford. She was also a materials engineer from Williams F1.
I was trained as an aeronautical engineer and a materials scientist. During my DPhil study in Oxford, I got a chance to study in Said Business School for a Strategy Innovation Program funded by MPLS. This has helped me to explore a new world of entrepreneurship, which turns out to fundamentally change my career track.
With an academic background of science research, I tend to find entrepreneurship share a lot of similarities with academic research. You are facing an unknown world with your humble new ideas. You would need to work hard to explore it, through getting supports from other people, doing many trial and errors, being creative to find new ways and getting a lot of failures all the time. But the process is fun, and you may get something no one has ever thought of.
I got the idea of SpaceCot when I was studying in Said Business School. I have got a lot of support from the teachers and mentors who have helped me to nail down the idea. We have got grants from European Space Agency, UKTI and Innovation UK plus some private funding in 2014. That was the time that I knew at least this idea was good enough to get support and develop.
Confidence, positive, calm. There will be thousands of times that things do not go well. But eventually what does not kill you make you stronger. So being confident of yourself, being calm to face the failures, and being positive to continue the process are very important.
Being able to create something completely new.
When I saw our product being received by the customers
I spent a lot of time doubting myself at the very beginning. I thought I had no experience or funding, and I had never built a product before. It was also the time that a new project got a lot of questioning from investors and customers. Self-doubt can help you find your own mistakes. But too much self-doubts is simply waste of time. I wish I could go back to tell myself to be confident of myself.
We have received £200k+ from European Space Agency, UKTI and Innovation UK, together with £400k+ from private funding.
Being an entrepreneur in Oxfordshire is very helpful at the beginning. I have got a lot of support from Said Business School and other local entrepreneur networks, which has helped to start my project. However, when the project starts to develop, Oxfordshire proves to be too small for a consumer product project. We moved to London to join the incubator in Google Campus, and then to China for building our manufacturing facilities. Now we are selling all over the world.
I would highly suggest Said Business School. There are lot of courses and lectures which are very inspiring for young entrepreneurs.
I have seen a lot of Oxford alumni who have become successful entrepreneurs. I hope to see more young students are joining us in this fun journey.
EnSpire Oxford is a University of Oxford initiative to help connect people to the entrepreneurship resources they need, and to promote entrepreneurship across Oxfordshire.
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