Sam Chi (MBA ’11) is the founder and CEO of Icecold CO. Ltd., the first and leading company in China providing closed loop light therapy technology in insomnia treatment. Chi enjoys working to build new, innovative companies, is a huge fan of science fiction and believes technology is the key to change the world for the better.
1) What impact has Rady had on your career progression?
Rady helped me in two ways. First, it taught me how to operate a company. I started a company before joining Rady, but as the company grew, I realized that I did not have the necessary skill sets, such as the knowledge in accounting, finance, marketing and operations, to successfully manage a company. Rady has a great team of faculty members that I learned so much from and I am applying what I learned from them to my current company, a leading corporation focusing on sleep quality improvement and monitoring. I am now raising Series B investments. Without my two years at Rady, I would not be where I would am today. My time at Rady connected me with many well-established companies to build my network. This is very important when one decides to move into a new professional field.
2) Has your Rady MBA enabled you to change industries or functional areas or even achieve a promotion?
Before joining Rady, I was mainly in the research and development field. When I started my Rady education, I chose most of my classes in marketing and venture capital, as I saw them to be the most relevant to my interest and future career. After graduating from Rady, I joined Mindray, the largest medical device company in China, working in the international marketing department. This transition from research and development to marketing was important for me to gain much experience in a different field, and eventually I got enough resources to start my current company in the field of sleep care.
3) What event or realization served as a “turning point” for during your Rady School and/or professional career?
I consider joining Mindray after Rady a turning point in my professional career. It helped me realize the career transition from working in research and development to being a marketing professional. More importantly, this job was a tremendous opportunity for me to quickly build a necessary network in the health care industry in China, which laid a great foundation for me to start my current company.
4) Tell us a fun fact about you, or something people may not know about you.
My background is in biochemistry and medical care, but my friends all know that I am a big fan of Sci-Fi movies. I have watched most films directed by George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, and Christopher Nolan more than once. I also have a plan to produce Sci-Fi movies on my own in the future. If you are also a science fiction fan, I think we will have a lot to talk about.
5) What was the most valuable thing you learned while at the Rady School?
Time management. As the head of a company, I need to multitask almost at all times. Without good time management and prioritizing, there is no way for me to finish the work while maintaining high quality. The busy Rady life gave me great training on how to prioritize and optimize the use of my time and energy.
6) What advice do you have for prospective students?
Time is limited – if you think about doing something, go for it. Rady focuses on entrepreneurship, and offers many classes such as Lab to Market, which teaches you how to commercialize a technology. I would say that there is no better place than Rady to prepare you to start a company.
7) What is the best thing about being a Rady alumni?
Rady alumni and faculty have a very close relationship. Even Dean Sullivan and Ernest Rady are willing to spend time meeting with us in person to learn about our projects and offer their help. This will inspire more alumni to start up their own companies and in turn to build a healthy feedback loop for both its alumni and the Rady School itself.