Sara Jane Ho – a businesswoman and a Hong Kong girl at heart – does it all. She established her finishing school (Institute of Sarita) in 2013, is a managing partner for investment company Fengchao Value and is now launching GenTree, an app that makes shopping suggestions based on a daily reading of your feng shui.
GenTree is being billed as an e-commerce personal development retail platform with specific content, for specific times. What does that really mean? It’s an app that combines 5000 years of traditional Chinese face reading with modern day artificial-intelligence technology, all designed to help you make more intelligent purchasing decisions. And besides the shopping element, everything from lifestyle tips to the latest investment opportunities will also be shared, for a real 360-degree experience catering to China’s ever-growing market.
Due to be unveiled in time for Chinese New Year (Chinese language first, although we’ve got our fingers crossed for an English version soon after), GenTree is aiming to tap into a millennial demographic that appreciates the cultural significance of feng shui but who want to use it in a way that complements their hectic, modern lives.
We had a quick chat with Harvard Business School-graduate Ho about how GenTree works, and whether feng shui really can help you shop smarter.
Feng shui and shopping. How did this come about, why is it something that people should be interested in?
I believe in feng shui, I grew up with it, running around Hong Kong. The Chinese in general believe in spiritualism, Yijin Jing (Yin Yang), the five elements and more.
Discovery is now what everyone craves. The old app model – where you just open up an app and sell stuff – is gone, everything now needs to be engaging, relevant and customised. The facial recognition of our app does that. It is based on 5000 years of Meiyang Chang, which is the old Chinese way of face reading. It’s a very cultural thing, it’s a way of telling your fortune.
So how does face reading work through the app?
It’s based on your micro gestures; it tells your fortune immediately based on your ears, eyebrows, nose, chin, mouth, tongue, but your fortune also depends on the time of the reading and the space of the reading. We do all of this through facial scanning.
And after you’ve been scanned?
Based on your score, we recommend the products you should buy and content you should watch – like video, podcast or written content – to improve your destiny. We’re divided into health, wealth, love, career and more, and our products can be organised using the five elements: wind, fire, water, air and earth.
What kinds of shopping suggestions can come from your reading?
Let’s say from our reading we can tell you’re lacking the fire element, so we’d suggest a candle or birds, because in feng shui birds are the symbol of fire.
One of my clients – a private banker – used the beta test, and her wealth score was low so our app recommended a meteorite ring. Within a week of wearing that ring, she signed on a very big account. Now she’s one of our biggest supporters.
I personally try it out every day, I think my app can tell when I’m really stressed because it starts recommending sleeping masks or earplugs!