Students purr after scooping pet funeral prize

A group of students have scooped the 2017 Deloitte Summer Innovation Camp thanks to their inventive special pet funeral service idea.

A group of students have scooped the 2017 Deloitte Summer Innovation Camp thanks to their inventive special pet funeral service idea.

The competition, held to encourage people to participate in the establishment of an inventive environment, had attracted more than 2,000 university students from all over the world, and 40 of them entered the final in Shanghai.

The finalists received training in design, innovation, business and other related topics during the five-day camp and worked out their own programs in randomly divided groups.

The judges said the students all showed care about social needs and the value of innovation with their projects covering various areas, such as proper treatment of dead pets and baby care service for working parents.

Students purr after scooping pet funeral prize

The champion team of the 2017 Deloitte Summer Innovation Camp poses with Yu Lizhong, principal of NYU Shanghai.

The five members of the champion group came from Fudan, Nanjing, Sun Yat-sen universities, as well as the University of International Business and Economics and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Li Antao, from Fudan, the team leader, said their first idea was to create a language service project as one member was a Spanish major. But the camp mentors said it was infeasible.

They then had a brainstorm and decided to help pet owners cremate their beloved animals and bury the ashes under trees in Inner Mongolia.

They chose the topic as some of the members had raised pets and knew some owners loved their pets so much that they grieved after the animal passed away.

“It’s both philanthropic and environmental, both are popular now,” said Li.

They had also did a market survey in shopping malls and vets, which further convinced them the idea was feasible.

“There are professional crematoriums in every city and many social organizations are planting trees in Inner Mongolia,” Li told Shanghai Daily. “We only have to arrange the cremation service and subscribe trees for them. 

“After that, we will show the growth condition of the trees with photos or videos regularly to console them,” said Li. “There is widespread wilderness in Inner Mongolia and it’s more meaningful to plant trees there than in cities like Shanghai. 

“And also, it’s much more cheaper.”

Li said they also planned to provide extended services, such as psychological consultation and arrange travel for those who wish to see the trees where the ashes of their pets were scattered.

“We can also write emails to them in the name of their pets, or make products with the pets’ hairs,” said Li.

Li revealed they learned a lot in the Deloitte camp from lecturers with academic knowledge and business experiences, such as business models, methods of market survey and analysis, as well as how to visualize their thinking.

“As a student of sociology, I had no idea about a business model before,” he said. “But during the camp, we learned how important it was.”

Li said as all the members studied different majors, they tended to do what they were good at respectively but neglected other aspects when developing their idea.

“But with the models, we can cooperate with each other to make our project better,” he said. 

“I have never thought about startup previously because I thought it was too far away from me. But now I think it could be one of the career choices for me in the future.”

Li said all the members of the winning group will continue with their university study and would not commercialize the project immediately, even though they had won a 10,000 yuan (US$1,517) prize money from the competition. 

There will be plans in the future to take the project forward and make it a real business.

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