Some of Hong Kong’s most exciting and ground-breaking start-ups are run by female entrepreneurs. We break into their busy day, asking for advice that will inspire you to make it on your own. Today, we speak to Queenie Man, founder and CEO of The Project Futurus.
Young entrepreneurs are on the rise as the new generation looks for more career fulfilment and seeks to make an impact on society – on their own terms. It’s an opportunity to carve out your own niche, and while there’ll always be a level of risk you’ll need to shoulder on your own, nothing beats the joy of finding start-up success and doing something you love.
But what does it mean to be a successful entrepreneur? We ask the city’s strongest Female businesswomen about their scalable start-ups and social enterprises.
Queenie Man, Founder and CEO of The Project Futurus.
Queenie Man is the founder of The Project Futurus, a social enterprise promoting the future of ageing. The movement’s philosophy is based on the belief that the key to social innovation is to see and feel the world with empathy. Man and her team are committed to creating an “age-positive” and supportive environment through education, advocacy and community service.
Tell us about your business. What do you do?
The Project Futurus is a social enterprise that promotes the future of aging. We believe that the key to social innovation is to see and feel the world with empathy. We are committed to creating an age positive and supportive environment for the aged through education, advocacy and community service.
We have a platform and mascot named “Captain Softmeal” where we host regular softmeal making workshops and create contents for caregivers and individuals with swallowing difficulties. We also go into school campuses to spread age positive messages to students.
Tell us about your best and worst work day.
My best day at work so far was the launch day of our latest community program “Sensory Restaurant on Wheels” (流動五感大茶樓) where we recreated an immersive nostalgic “yum cha” experience for elders who live with dementia at the elderly homes. The project aims to improve elders’ appetite, provide cognitive stimulation of the five senses and provide a joyful experience. The first launch day was most memorable. Not only did they gobble down the freshly made dim sum softmeal, but the elders also moved along with the music in the background. We were very pleased to see how well the elders reacted to our program. This was one of the best days at work.
The worst day at work happened just recently when the fifth wave of COVID outbreak took place in early March. Despite our best efforts in protecting our elderly residents at our care homes, a majority of our residents and colleagues contracted COVID, while some elders did not make it. This feeling of helplessness and loss of lives was definitely the saddest days.
What is a normal workday like?
In addition to my role at The Project Futurus, I also operate and manage a few elderly homes. To me a typical workday is packed with back-to-back meetings and site visits. I split my day in half: starting early at the elderly home to train care staff, design programs and participate in resident activities. I then return to the studio to meet with community collaborators, train staff, and teach classes. My day usually ends late at night with content development and video editing projects.
What advice would you give to someone looking to startup?
Have a clear vision and brand purpose on what you want to deliver. Surround yourself with people who share your vision. Running a start-up or a social enterprise can be at times challenging, think out-of-the-box and be agile to grasp on opportunities that could help your start-up.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you do now?
If I weren’t doing what I do now, I will probably be still working as a brand consultant putting together pitch decks, designing brand strategies, formulating customer experiences which I still enjoy doing now.
What has been your biggest hurdle? How did you overcome it?
My biggest hurdle, which also is a key success factor for any socially driven start-ups, would be to have a team of like-minded colleagues who share the same passion and have the tenacity to do what it takes to deliver the social mission, especially when there is no precedent. Frankly speaking, it hasn’t been easy but I tried to identify each team member’s strengths and position them in the right role where they can apply their former experience and knowledge, and add value to the work we do.
How hands-on are you?
I have a typical type A/ENFP personality where I am very hands-on with everything I do, from planning to execution. I am pretty much involved in the day-to-day operations at The Project Futurus. I personally respond to messages on Facebook/Instagram, teach softmeal workshops, write proposals, film and edit videos for Youtube, etc. I like to engage with our clients and followers directly and be able to help in ways that are relevant to their needs.
How do you define success? Do you consider yourself to be successful?
Success to me is when I’m trying my best, and when I can use my experience to influence and bring positive impact With the nature of my work, success to me is measured by its social impact – how well the public perceives our work and social mission, how well students understand aging and how it relates to them, etc. I am glad our work is slowly getting recognized by the community. We would not be able to do what we do without our followers’ support and encouragement. My vision is to be able to transform aged care and reimagine the future of aging. I still have a long way to go but I am confident about what’s to come.