[Startup Spotlight – Ann Chen]
Entrepreneurship does often lend itself to the question of ‘what if’ leaning a business away from its initially steered direction toward the ideal. It’s compelling to imagine what the world would look like today if either W. Colgate had not produced the ‘Cashmere Bouquet’ soap in 1866, nor without the existence of Procter & Gamble’s ‘Ivory’ in 1879. And, we all have our own practices of personal hygiene complied or avoided in fighting the coronavirus pandemic, for better or worse.
Ann Chen the entrepreneur is merely one of four Ann Chens. She is one of the Olympic gold medalists in history, TV host, and by all accounts, hardly less remarkable as an author. When Chen joined the STARTBOARD incubation program, she already knew what she wanted. Sitting around the meeting table one late Friday evening, Chen and Mason Lin (STARTBOARD’s Project Manager) were discussing the details and direction to transform her vision into reality- The Sustainable Soap.
Ann Chen was sharing the vision of her ideal startup with Mason Lin during the mentoring session.
For in an eerie way, the soap ideas each entrepreneur left us seems complete, as though nothing more left to be said. It is difficult to imagine soap going beyond cleanliness or skin-nourishing, difficult to imagine soap going beyond the chemical reaction between lye and oil ingredients. Ask yourself: What more could we have expected from a bar of soap?
[The Social Entrepreneurship]
Peter Drucker defined the social enterprise as any business creation that does not only pursue financial objectives and profitability but mainly a certain social change. According to Digital Minister Audrey Tang, diverse forms of social innovation have been developed in Taiwan in the past 20+ years, tackling a wide range of social issues. This leads to a culture shift in redefining success: The success of a social enterprise is the success of ALL involved.
The nearly-expired cooking oil can do a lot of good- Ann Chen (24th April 2020)
In 2017 alone, 12,000 tons of waste cooking oil (WCO) are discarded in Taiwan. The nearly-expired oil is under the umbrella of the WCO- to this, Chen asks, “Are we really discarding that much of WCO at the expense of other people who do not have anything?” Due to its chemical composition, recycling WCO seems the most cost-effective option as it contributes to a growing negative environmental impact such as greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, vapor explosion, to name a few.
[The Sustainable Soap Project]
With all these considerations in mind, Chen initiated The Sustainable Soap Project. The objective of this project is to maximize the utility and value of the nearly-expired cooking oils across Taiwan. Instead of ending up in landfills, Chen desires to reuse the nearly-expired oils and transform them into scrumptious-smelling soaps. Meanwhile, all soaps are free of packaging to embrace the spirit of zero-waste. Chen’s first company has been so successful. It inspired her to start a series of handmade soap workshop events for the disabled group, availing them to become business leaders of their community.
Ann Chen is always trying her very best to help people around her. The fragrance of home-made soaps is not only because of aroma of flowers but also with the positive impact of social innovation and SDGs. Ann Chen sets an amazing example for female entrepreneurs, athletes and social innovation advocates. The Olympic gold medalists does not stop her becoming the best herself, neither does the title of business owner. Now, Ann Chen is ready for the next match which is fighting against pollution and waste. No matter who is going to win this match, Ann deserves our respect and applause because she is fighting for each of us and our mother nature.
(Group Picture STARTBOARD team and Ann Chen)
Written by Annjil Chong
Edited by Mason Ching-Yen Lin