Scott He MBA 16
Big Bang! Business Competition winner flexes entrepreneurial—and intrepreneurial—muscles
Scott He began his undergrad studies at UC San Diego as an aspiring bioengineer, but soon discovered a passion for business and marketing. “I was especially drawn to the economics courses, particularly market dynamics and entrepreneurship,” he says.
After earning his bachelor’s in international relations: economics, He worked for a few years in diverse roles, from market research, analytics to managing campaigns. “While these positions gave me a lot of experience, I wanted to have a bigger role in managing products and strategy for a company. It was this goal, combined with a desire to be in Silicon Valley, that brought me to the UC Davis and the GSM.”
Today, He is a business development lead at HP in Palo Alto, Calif., applying his strategic thinking, marketing, communication and project management skills in the tech leader’s dynamic Palo Alto headquarters. He enjoys the strong “intrepreneurial” ethos and the freedom to innovate and forge his own path.
He is also flexing his entrepreneurial muscle. He and his business partner, Nicolle Ma, joined forces in fall 2017 to found Los Angeles area–based Compassionlit. The startup was one of five finalists in this year’s Big Bang! Business Competition and received both the $10,000 Health Sector Award, sponsored by Bayer Crop Science, and the $5,000 Global Poverty Alleviation Award, presented by the UC Davis Blum Center for Developing Economies, for its novel, affordable phototherapy device to treat underserved jaundiced newborn babies.
Give us the backstory: how did you get involved in Compassionlit and the Big Bang!?
Compassionlit was created by my teammate, Nicolle Ma, who has a MS. in biology, a B.S. in human biology, a B.A. in psychology and an extensive background in healthcare. Having known her since high school, I was thrilled to hear about her idea, and wanted to provide my business experience to take Compassionlit to the next level. The Big Bang! was the ideal way to test and grow this idea into a full-fledged company.
I had previously participated in the Big Bang! when I was a full-time student at the GSM, and can attest to its value in helping startups. While I did not reach the final round before, I learned a great deal each time I participated. It is with these previous years of experience that I approached Big Bang! again this year, and we were thrilled to advance to the final round and win $15,000 in prizes.
Give the elevator pitch for Compassionlit.
In developing world countries, severe jaundice is a life-threatening condition for newborns. Over six million newborns either do not have access to adequate treatment, or cannot receive expensive treatments. Compassionlit is a portable, battery and solar-powered, low-cost patent-pending phototherapy device designed for underprivileged families. By using a combination of blue light and our unique design, we can more effectively cure jaundice than other devices on the market.
What was most valuable insight, skill or information you received participating in the Big Bang!?
The most valuable insight I have is in finding a key competitive advantage, a feature that distinguishes our product and building our business model around it. In addition, being able to network and finding others willing to help us is an invaluable skill to have. Fortunately, Big Bang! gave us a great number of opportunities to network with industry experts, which in turn elevated our product to the next level.
What’s next for Compassionlit?
In addition to getting our patent, we want to start our pilot studies within a year. This means furthering our partnerships with nonprofits like the Rotary Club, and getting their support in getting our product off the ground. Our prize money will help us fund the first batch of pilot studies.
What are you passionate about in your work at HP? And at Compassionlit?
Despite being a large corporation, HP is composed of numerous smaller groups, teams that embody an incubator environment. I can innovate and forge my own path in this environment, building new business partnerships that redefine how our products and services reach consumers. This spirit of entrepreneurship is what I love the most about working at HP.
Similarly, at Compassionlit we are in control of how our product is positioned, who to target, and what our strategy is. Figuring out these key questions is what makes our work challenging and exciting at the same time.
Where is your career headed?
I would love to continue my career and play a greater role in directing our international marketing efforts at HP. My hope is to have an impact on launching products in Southeastern Asia. Full-time entrepreneurship is a definite possibility as well, especially if my skillset can help take Compassionlit to new overseas opportunities.
How has your UC Davis MBA experience helped shape your success?
The MBA program has helped me truly redefine my career trajectory, and allowed me to find my ideal position. Through establishing a foundation with our coursework and leveraging the various networking opportunities, I built up my profile and strengthened my candidacy for a marketing role. More importantly, I have been fortunate to connect with a very diverse and talented cohort of professionals, who are now making an impact in each of their respective industries. It is these connections that I feel truly makes the GSM experience unique and valuable.
How are you making a positive impact in the world?
By building partnerships with businesses to create innovative solutions for consumers. At HP, this means redefining how people use our products, and building better experiences for them both at home and at work.
For Compassionlit, our vision is to revolutionize jaundice treatment worldwide. We have an opportunity to really improve the lives of underprivileged newborns, one device at a time.
What is the most significant thing that’s happened to you since graduating?
Without a doubt, Compassionlit is the best thing that has happened to me since graduation. From an initial idea for a phototherapy device, to presenting our solution in the Big Bang! finals, Nicolle and I have come a long way in creating a profitable company. We would never be here without the support of our mentors, advisors and feedback from the Big Bang! judges along the way.
Your favorite GSM memory?
All the times we went out on Thursday evenings after our classes had ended. Davis downtown has some great bars for us to kick back and relax, and it was an absolute blast getting to know my classmates better.
How do you support and participate in the GSM now?
By attending networking events in my area and connecting with present MBA students. Not too long ago I was in their shoes myself, looking for employment opportunities. I do my best to understand what their strengths and interests are, and refer them to opportunities suitable for their backgrounds.
I would highly recommend everyone in the MBA program to participate in next year’s Big Bang! Business Competition. It is a rare opportunity to really test your business skills, get valuable feedback and potentially win some awards as well! Whether or not you plan on becoming a full-time entrepreneur, the Big Bang is a great complement to your classes and an excellent way to grow your network. It has been one of the highlights of my UC Davis experience.