What’s your story?
Established in September 2015, Urban Spring is a startup with a purpose to reduce the consumption of single use plastic bottled water by installing well-designed and well-maintained water refill stations. Well井 is an innovative Smart Water Station with data collection and analysis, with its filter usage and other operating conditions remotely monitored by a service centre that ensures the water refill network is reliable and be trusted to refill filtered potable water in public areas. Since its launch in 2017, over 5 million single-use plastic bottles have been avoided.
What excites you most about your industry?
With so much focus in sustainability and the heightened awareness of the damage of single-use plastic has on our land, water and air, there are many untapped opportunities to engage government, corporates and schools to install more water fountains. With COVID, there is an increase demand for better designs that address hygiene concerns. This is exactly where our product and service differentiate. Despite slower economic activities, there are opportunities for our product to replace conventional products.
What drives you in business to push beyond what other people consider normal?
There is so many myths. It fascinates me how marketing and intense advertising get people to think bottled water is of better quality and safer. They even got people to have an impression that it is cool to carry a bottled water that is produced and travelled miles away in the other half of the world. People’s misunderstanding of tap water drives me to work on more education and thoughtful communication about the facts and science behind tap water and water filtration. Changing people’s perception and behavior is a challenge.
What have been the most useful skills you have learnt and applied in your journey?
I had a lot of opportunities to learn about people management and development skills when I worked in a corporate. Those skills and experiences have been very useful. Building and developing a team is the key to any business or any operations. Without good people, a good idea or a good product does not mean anything.
Every person has a strength. It is a leader’s job to unleash each team member’s potential so that their strength can be maximized to support the growth of the team and the company.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Do not be afraid to take risk and experiment.
“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” T.S.Eliot
Who inspires you?
I have 2 other co-founders. They consistently challenge me in a positive way and inspire me to think big.
What have you learnt recently that blew you away?
COVID has driven a lot of people back to using more single-use plastic especially with the increased demand for food delivery and take-aways. There is a need for more awareness building of sustainable alternatives and ways to consume despite the hygiene concern.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
Recruit and build a senior c-suite team earlier. The business has grown quickly and I wish there is more leadership bandwidth to support our acceleration locally and regionally.
How do you unwind?
I love hiking. I hike at least once a week. Walking in the woods is a delight. I am lucky to be in Hong Kong where a variety of hiking trails are accessible within 30 minutes radius of the city. The power of nature is an inspiration to all of us. On the first morning of 2021, a group of friends and I met at 4am and hiked up a hill to watch sunrise. It was amazing start of a year and the breakfast we had was the best that I had in years.
What is a major mindset change, belief shift or ‘ah ha’ moment that you’ve experienced in relation to your business?
I was presenting what Urban Spring did to a class of 10-year-old young persons. A boy came up to me after and said to me “Make Hong Kong Great Again.” I have always been proud that we have created a Hong Kong product but did not realise it could have meant so much to our potential customers and users too. This remark has motivated me to do more and faster than we plan to do in schools.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Factfulness by Hans Rosling
We all need to have a better understanding of data and the world we are in.
Shameless plug for your business:
We provide reliable indoor or outdoor filtered water solutions at homes, offices, companies, hotels or public spaces. Our product and service differentiate from other market players because we provide above-the-market standard in servicing water refill stations by a professional team. Our signature water refill station is an award-winning design that is sleek and modern that address the hygiene issues commonly identified in conventional solutions.
How can people connect with you?