Connecting her interests in fashion and technology, Kai Cui is unafraid to create a meaningful impact through her entrepreneurial ventures. 

Kai Cui’s (Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Master’s Program 2019) excitement of solving problems and creating something innovative drew her into entrepreneurship. 

“We all grow up with dreams to change the world and entrepreneurship is the best way to do so. It gives you the autonomy to put your creativity to a mission that you truly care about. It challenges you to build a strong product and team that can withstand uncertainty. It also rewards you with great self-actualization.”

U-M’s Centre of Entrepreneurship planted a seed in Kai that spurred her to join a startup after graduation and later have her own startup as well. 

While walking past CFE’s office at the Duderstadt Center one day, Kai picked up a flier and looked the courses up online. She found two of them particularly interesting – Project Management and Consulting (ENTR 560) and Innovative Business Models (ENTR 520).

“As of today, I am still in contact with Prof Amy Cell, the super charismatic teacher I had for Project Management and Consulting. We would learn basic startup concepts such as business model canvas, minimal viable product, customer persona and financial projections. There were occasionally guest speakers with industry experience sharing their stories,” said Kai. “I met many students from different majors with curiosity and creativity to do group projects with. It was a fantastic learning experience.”

Kai is grateful for the materials and resources that she has been exposed to through CFE’s classes as they have been tremendously helpful to her. Through hands-on activities like field trips to local businesses, Kai gained a deeper understanding of how businesses are run by making observations, and estimating the cost and revenue of the businesses. 

Kai has discovered a strong interest in sustainable fashion. Currently, she is applying data science solutions to fashion’s sustainability through her start-up Carbon Tag that is the first carbon emission calculator for consumer fashion products. 

“My vision is that the carbon emission labels on fashion products will be as prevalent as the nutrition labels on food products.” 

She has recently been working with Fashion Enter, PVH group, Welsh Wool Mills and other collaborators in the UK for an open-loop garment recycling project proposal funded by Innovate UK. It’s been quite an exciting opportunity for her as it helps demonstrate alternatives both producers and consumers can opt in.

Kai’s advice for current students is to not be afraid and be bold. 

“Having the thought of changing the world to a better place is crazy. Making money by doing that is more crazy. The odds for your attempt to be successful are minimal. But don’t be afraid to try it, give it a real shot, be brave and be bold. You might make it happen,” Kai said.  

Interested in ENTR courses? Take a look at our course offerings here. 

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