Hong Kong Startup BYT competing at the Chivas Venture
Michelle Bang, the CEO and co-founder of BYT, tells BeFast.TV more about the concept behind the project and the details of her participation in the Chivas Venture competition.
Michelle: The concept of BYT is borne out of Redress, the charity with a mission to reduce waste in the fashion industry in 2007. BYT is the affordable luxury up-cycled fashion brand and social impact business, which I set up with my partner, Christina Dean, the founder of Redress.
We have ambitious and audacious plans for BYT to be an exciting, best case example of how fashion can be a force for good; from design, up-cycling, exemplary social standards to innovative business models. Christina and I are committed to demonstrating that through creativity and a robust business strategy that BYT – with thanks to our significant expertise and networks from Redress’ 10-year legacy working in this field – can be a high quality and accessible up-cycled fashion brand. Some of BYT’s profits will go to charity Redress.
BYT is currently in a global competition with the Chivas Venture and representing Hong Kong, with crowd voting which began May 9th till June 12th. Each voter can make his choice once for the 5 week period at this link here. Also, there is a weekly event on Facebook, which voters are sharing with their communities here
Every vote counts for us, and each vote will help us fundraise to help us grow and make a difference.
What made you apply for the competition?
Michelle: I was encouraged to apply to the Chivas Venture competition by Philo Alto, a fellow member of the Nonprofit Scholarship Committee for Harvard Business School and who acted as a previous judge for the Chivas competition. Philo does incredible social impact advisory work through his organization Asia Value Advisors, and he is a leader in the philanthropy advisory and social impact space in Hong Kong.
The Chivas Venture competition was set up in 2014, and since then around 6,000 entrepreneurs have applied already in hope to get USD 1 million investment that the Fund invest in winning startups yearly. How does “Chivas” assess startup applications?
Michelle: The Chivas assessment is very detailed and requires much information from each startup that applies. Each participating country holds its regional competition. This year, 30 startups each representing their own country with an approx total number of 3,000 applications came through. So it starts off with a fairly detailed application, and from there, candidates from each country get shortlisted down to approximately five finalists to pitch on a live stage to a panel of judges in their country. The winner gets to attend a weeklong accelerator program at Oxford with the other country winners and then moves to a crowd voting period and a final pitch in a selected city.
The Chivas Venture competition has provided BYT a 360-degree platform from a mentorship program with industry leaders and professors to global promotion. It is worth to mention that the company has become a part of a wonderful community of like-minded people who want to make a deep social impact through the business. We are so grateful to have been selected for the whole of Hong Kong!
How do you feel about other projects that competing with you? Any of them that worth the attention from your point of view?
Michelle: I feel passionate about all of the causes that all of the other projects are representing. I wouldn’t be able to choose just one!
Through the Chivas competition, I now have mates for life in 29 other countries around the world. We are all committed to help and support each other along the way after an incredibly inspiring accelerator week together at Oxford, and being on this competition journey together.
What are the expectations from the contest?
Michelle: Expectations from the Chivas Venture have been surpassed for me. I’m just enjoying the journey and grateful for the support that we’ve been receiving through having been selected as the Hong Kong winner to move on to the global competition. We’re excited for what’s ahead. We’re now in the crowd voting period and needing help here – every vote counts and equates to dollars that we are using to help fight global climate change, to reduce fashion’s enormous waste, to employ budding sustainable designers and disenfranchised garment works, and to support Redress’ charity work.
To help us with voting, people can vote here at the link, and it helps to spread their support to their Facebook networks. Anyone with a Facebook account can vote for us, including students!
What would be the next steps for BYT after the competition?
Michelle: Next steps for BYT after the competition is to showcase our first collection on Sept 7th, 2017 at our sister charity Redress’ EcoChic Design Award competition. Not only will we be showcasing our collection for immediate retail on our e-commerce platform and at Lane Crawford, but we will also be offering the first prize ECDA winner a chance to work with our team. We already have exciting fabrics and collaborations in place post-launch, and expansion plans into men’s to provide a sustainable solution for men. So exciting times ahead for us!