How a traveler wins $200K prize and becomes a Pioneer
Honestly, I don’t expect to win. Just giving myself another try and see how it goes.
It’s late 2019 while I am insanely flying between Europe, Asia and North America to build a company working on healthcare and climate change. Prior to this, I work on a design tool for VR/AR and try to write my first book.
It starts from a visiting trip in Switzerland. I am invited to join an international challenge. Upon arrival, I break up with a team mate and play solo during three weeks with a project about climate change. The ironic part is that my computer does not work, so I spend time on low code tasks, talking to people, calling actions and offering help. An interesting part is most of people around me are innovators in healthcare industry.
At the end of challenge, I suddenly map an old project to a problem of another participant and his cohort - those are senior white residents living on mountains. This story leads to unexpected discovery about how vulnerable our economy and financial system are towards climate change. Accidentally, there is a big strike led by Sweden teenager to evoke actions from political leaders for green new deals.
At that moment, I am at Geneva, the World Capital where the UN is located. And to be honest, the reaction is super underwhelming. Climate change is a big topic. But it’s more like a story of sinking developing countries and polar bears. People know about it, but very few take actions. In my opinion, skipping class to protest is not the right way. My young adulthood also has a lot of disappearance, but to join creative activities and organizations to build a solution. Somehow that healthcare project looks super helpful to provide evidence-based context to send the right message. So I decide to drop everything behind and try to build a Silicon Valley style startup called BlueSkin.
A few days later, I travel to Paris. Interestingly I attend a lecture of an economist known for cultural learning. He shared his academic view about a new economy and AI. Being so immersed in climate change and healthcare, especially after taking an online course to learn its under awareness, I felt super frustrated after hearing his long silence about how politicians treat climate change. (Later, I learn that he won the Nobel Prizes twice and one of them is Nobel Peace Prize for the first climate change report ). This lonely experience helps me return to Pioneer Tournament after a half year. (If you don’t know about Pioneer, check it out here.)
In the next few months, I travel to talk to an insurance firm, raise fund, do research and set up networks with top big tech companies and communities. However, this leads to more burn out and exhaustion due to an intensive travelling schedule. When I win a Pioneer Tournament, I lose a server and a domain once and almost run out of cash. However, it is not fast enough. A month later, news of a bush fire sweeping Australia spread on the internet. When returning to my home country, a new unknown disease is detected. Soon after that, an epidemic turns to a pandemic. And all traveling is canceled and this includes my trip back to Valley.
2020 is a year of climate change and healthcare. We have never seen so many ground breaking records about damage and loss. The world is torn apart with national lock down and strict healthcare policies driven by CDC guidelines. There are more extreme and weird weathers. From Australia bush fires, it comes to California glass fire on the West Coast and stormy seasons on the East Coast (And early 2021: The historic blizzard in Texas!)
My original goal with BlueSkin is about evoking awareness to take actions. It’s about prevention, protection and early treatment as soon as possible.
Now, everything becomes too obvious.
This is no longer an intellectual topic of scientists. This is no longer a story of a far away unknown locations or animals in developing countries. All residents in San Francisco Bay Area probably can’t forget the daily red alerts of hazardous air quality. People can smell and even taste how badly it is. Also, the orange sky with unknown fog or smoke makes us feel like living on Mars.
I do hope this experience will wake up more people to join a force of change. Everything happens faster than we can predict.
And we are running out of time.