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Podcast Show Notes Ep 015: “Redefining the future of education” with Natalie Chan, Founder & CEO of OWN Academy

Listen to the full episode on your favourite podcast player:

In this episode I’m delighted to chat with Natalie Chan, Founder & CEO of OWN Academy and one of the most inspiring education innovators in Hong Kong. OWN Academy bridges classrooms and the real world by giving secondary school students practical industry experience with companies like New York Times and Cartoon Network, helping them to discover their unique talents and career path. Natalie will be sharing more about their programmes and industry partnerships, the challenges and future for OWN Academy, and her experience and insights from Davos.

What we talked about: 

  • Natalie’s career journey going from corporate to becoming a film producer, to discovering her passion for education 

  • The power of media in helping her create positive impact that reaches many more people 

  • Do 12 year olds kids of this generation really know what they want to do with their lives? How OWN Academy help students discover their talents and the wide range of career opportunities that are available

  • How they are making it possible for secondary school students to get experience working with companies like New York Times and Cartoon Network

  • Natalie’s criterias when choosing companies to work with 

  • OWN Academy’s biggest challenges and goals as a forward thinking education innovator

  • Natalie’s own role models and mentors

  • Her experience at Davos and insights on education and future of work

Natalie’s advice for mission driven creative entrepreneurs:

” Figure out your business model first (…) Ultimately to be sustainable and really make an impact you have to have a business model that supports it, so figure out how to make money. “

End of Season 1

This is the final episode of Season 1 of The Innovate for Growth Podcast. We’re going to be taking a short break while preparing our next season with some amazing guests lined up, including an international children’s character and TV show creator, a Tai Chi master and an author documenting the stories of Hong Kong’s traditional tradesmen and women. Until then, stay tuned!

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Other podcast interviews from The Innovate for Growth Podcast you might like:

Ep 001: “Should your brand be podcasting?” with Sam Book & Surmayee Tetarbe, Sassy Media Group

Ep 002: “Innovation in Hong Kong – where are we heading?” with Patti Hung & Kate Okrasinski, MAKE Studios

Ep 003: “The Business of Fine Art” with Jaime Lau, The Spectacle Group

Ep 004: “Making of the real life Marvel Tesseract and the artist entrepreneurial journey of a world renowned cold glass sculptor” with Jack Storms, The Spectacle Group

Ep 005: “Discovering the Uncharted Territories of Helicopter Aerial Hyperphotography – a story of chance and serendipity” with Antoine Gaussin, The Spectacle Group

Ep 006: “How can brands adopt sustainability and scale positive impact on the environment? ” with Sonalie Figueiras, Green Queen

Ep 007: “When Creativity meets Sustainability” with Diana Chen, The Purpose Business & Creative Mornings HK

Ep 008: “Will Fashion ever be Sustainable in the Future?”with Kate Padget-Koh and Kanch Porta-Panjabi, Fashionable Futures

Ep 009: “Reducing Fashion Waste and Pollution at Scale” with Christina Dean, Founder & Chair of Redress, Founder & CEO of The R Collective

Ep 010: “Making Fashion Recycling Easy and Rewarding for Parents” with Sarah Garner, Founder of Retykle

Ep 011: “From Print to Digital First – Transformation and Innovation in the world of News Media” with Malcolm Ong, South China Morning Post

Ep 012: “Solving Social Issues through Kindness” with Jeff Rotmeyer, ImpactHK & Love 21 Foundation

Ep 013: “Empowering Women Entrepreneurship in Developing Countries” with Helen McEachern, CEO of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

Ep 014: “How Press Freedom Concerns Led To The Very First Crowd Funded News Organisation in HK” with Tom Grundy, Hong Kong Free Press

Ep 014: “How Press Freedom Concerns Led To The Very First Crowd Funded News Organisation in HK” with Tom Grundy, Hong Kong Free Press

In this episode, I talked to Tom Grundy, Founder and Editor in Chief of Hong Kong Free Press, the only crowd funded English news media organisation in Hong Kong. We’re going to chat about what led him to start HKFP, how it’s been able to sustain itself as a non-profit news organisation with a growing presence in Hong Kong, and his thoughts on innovation and technologies when it comes to journalism.

What we talked about:

  • Tom’s inspiration behind starting HKFP and his entrepreneurship journey from being an English teacher and popular Hong Kong culture blogger who started ‘Hong Wrong’ blog to launching a news media startup
  • Building multiple income streams to ensure HKFP can be self sustainable as a non-profit
  • The importance of transparency and reducing barriers for people to donate when raising money through crowd funding
  • Changing consumer attitude towards paying for quality journalism
  • Recent political climate and local protests resulted in an increase in job applicants
  • Growing their audience through having a presence on multiple social media platforms and automating social media content publishing
  • His thoughts on innovation in journalism and the challenge of adapting new technologies as a news startup
  • Opportunities for news and media startups in Hong Kong

Tom’s tip on what it takes to be a good journalist:
Have the discipline to remain as objective and neutral as possible.


Hong Kong Free Press

How Brands can fuel the Sustainability Movement and accelerate the achievement of Global Goals

Guest post by Anita Varshney, VP Strategy & Innovation at SAP Next-Gen, a Purpose Driven Innovation University (Edited by Tracy Tsang)

Leading businesses today have mastered building authentic and long-lasting emotional brand rapport with their customers. As businesses around the world join in the sustainability movement, they have the potential to empower communities and impact economies in an enormous way. By instilling a strong sense of purpose and building emotional connection with consumers, change makers are able to lead and fuel these global social movements with their brands.

With ten years remaining to fully realise the transformative 2030 agenda for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, policymakers’ unwavering attention and a laser-sharp focus on the implementation of these global goals are required now more than ever.

Global enterprise leaders can play a significant role in leading climate change initiatives and sustainable transformation. In order to make a difference at scale, every business must commit to putting communities ahead of profits, and incorporate social impact into their business above and beyond seeing it as a tick-box Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) exercise. Successful brands will be those that continue rising to the challenge to address the big picture issues humanity faces.

So how can brands help to fuel the sustainability movement? Three ways businesses can incorporate sustainability into their brand strategy and inspire businesses to go beyond the traditional role that branding and marketing typically play for businesses.

  1. Redefining brand engagement:

    Shallow engagement driven by “likes” or “retweets” will give way to real engagement. Comments signify a deeper and more meaningful engagement in general, enabling brands to start a dialogue with their community.

    Impact marketing requires going beyond selling the value proposition to selling behavioral change. When it comes to movement building, inspiring people to take action proves most effective. When others amplify your message within their own communities, it leads to greater organic reach and credibility. Whether it’s the investors or investees, the community, or employees within organizations — the collective voice can help tell the story.
  2. Brands can redefine industry standards:

    Brands focused on authentic content and not just influencers will emerge as winners. Stories built on real-life experiences and implementable ideas promote deeper engagement and an opportunity for companies to innovate, develop their own business models, products and services based on real customer use cases.

    These interactions result in lifelong customers, who will engage, give feedback, and join the brand’s innovation community. The passionate, committed employees can then use this feedback as valuable input for the next prototype or idea. This process enables customers to redefine industry standards through crowdsourcing efforts from global community members who care more about the planet and want to lead sustainable lifestyles.
  3. Brands driven by partnerships:

    When sustainable brands come together, they develop alliances within ecosystems of organizations who want to see business as a force for good. They find ways to work together, share and amplify through their networks, and exponentially grow the movement to drive behavioural change.

    Partnerships can successfully amplify messaging for small teams with lower budgets and compressed timelines, as businesses collaborate in the movement to achieve the 2030 Global Goals.

It’s time for us to build purpose into the business model itself and to go beyond a mission-driven, do-no-harm approach to actually creating new value that leaves the world a better place than it found it. Given that the Experience economy is at all-time peak, let us use brands to help maintain wealth in communities, build an inclusive economic system that creates benefit for citizens and the environment.

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Simple augmented selfies and Snapchat Lenses – a more effective way to grow your brand?

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

I was at a family dinner when I watched how my niece played with B612 app for well over an hour trying out different augmented selfie lenses (traditional AR lenses with characters walking around seemed much less interesting to her). Most of these were fairly simple 2D AR selfie lenses. The important part is that they enabled her to be in a different setting or become a different character for a short moment and make funny video clips with it.

That’s when it dawned on me. This is how AR should be for brands.

In fact, I’ve since seen this happen over and over again with different age groups. This explains why selfie lenses integrated apps (Snow, B612, Tik Tok, Snapchat lenses etc) are growing fast. Snapchat has the data to back it up. 70 million Snapchatters are using Snapchat lenses every day, spending on average 20-30 seconds on each lens before sharing it with their friends.

Even before Lens Studio was open to public, many well known brands from different industries have already been partnering with Snapchat to launch successful Snapchat lens campaigns. Granted that these are a little more complex than the typical Snow/TikTok lens, the principle is largely the same. Here are some examples:

AR and selfie lenses are no longer just a marketing gimmick, but are proving to be a significantly more effective way to grow brand awareness and engage the Gen Z and Millenials. Below are my thoughts on why this is:

1) Not ad like

Nobody really like being sold to, and Gen Z/Millenials of all people are most allergic to anything that seems too ad like. Snapchat lenses, even when created by brands, are more like fun micro experiences that people actually enjoy.

2) Built for organic and viral growth

Being integrated with social network and a camera based app means that augmented selfie lenses are inherently shareable, leading to creative user generated content that organically grows brand awareness. Going beyond just passive video content, this enables your community to also share the experience (using Snapcode or URL) with their own friends and cross promote on other social networks.

3) Brand engagement

Lens campaigns are a great opportunity to get your online community participating in a brand experience and crowdsourcing interesting original content created with your branded selfie lens through challenges and giveaway campaigns calling for best clips.

4) Cost effective

Whether you are looking to increase brand/cause awareness, drive app installation or increase traffic to retail and online stores, lenses distributed organically or through paid acquisition have proven to be more effective than passive ad content in achieving marketing goals. With the release of tools like Snapchat Lens Studio and Spark AR Studio, development is also now much more feasible for smaller brands.

5) Connecting offline and online communities

This applies to lenses with its own tracker code in particular (or in Snapchat Lenses case, Snapcode). The possibility of adding a tracker/Snapcode associated with your branded lens onto product packaging or other printed marketing material e.g. posters, adds the ability for brands to bring their offline customers or passerby to their online community.

6) Adds value to your brand’s product/retail shopper experience

An opportunity for brands to get creative and go beyond micro entertainment experience to add value to their product/retail shopper experience. Examples of this might include: product try on ( and connecting it with tutorial and ecommerce, location based unlocking of special offers or limited edition products, or upselling complementary products

7) Brand differentiation

Nowadays with social media content and ads overload, it’s increasingly difficult for brands to stand out and make an impression on potential customers with traditional digital marketing. By contrary, augmented selfie lenses are micro experience that delights, and when done well adds magic to your brand experience that makes it something remarkable.

Have you considered creating your own branded lenses? If not, what’s stopping you? If you have run AR lens campaigns for your brand in the past, how did the results compare to traditional ads? What worked and what didn’t? Let me know in the comments.