When Michael Shang came to the University of Nebraska–Lincoln from China to get his MBA degree he did not realize the educational experience itself would help him create a new startup business. The company called Easy Transfer
evolved from Shang’s experience as a Chinese student studying abroad. He needed a way to easily manage his finances from one side of the world to another.
“When I came to Lincoln one of the first things I had to learn was how to receive and transfer money from China to the U.S.,” Shang said. “It was difficult because I was in a totally unfamiliar environment and still learning how to communicate in English.”
Working through the financial complexities of an international student, along with what he learned in the UNL MBA program began to formulate ideas for a new business in his mind. One thing Shang discovered early at UNL was the MBA program did not just teach students how to generate income.
“Part of the awesome experience of the UNL MBA program is it gets you to think about helping others,” he said. “A lot of people in business just focus on making money but at UNL we learn both how to be successful in business and make a contribution to society.”
While interning at Nelnet, a student financial management company in Lincoln, Shang participated in research that examined how the global market could better serve the financial needs of international students. He learned how fellow Chinese students pay tuition and found out they were much like him. They needed more efficient tools to transfer money. He also began to make connections with co-workers at Nelnet which helped lay the groundwork for Easy Transfer.
“I learned from my internship there was a market for an international student financial services company,” he said, “but I still needed the practical classroom experience I got at UNL. They taught me the real world applications that I use now in my business. I learned how to work in groups, make presentations and most importantly, I learned how to communicate with people from different countries.”
Shang was also impressed with the faculty and staff at UNL.
“Everyone at Nebraska was helpful to me. They are all very kind and welcoming. When I took my first class here I was afraid I might not be able to communicate very well. The people here helped me in many areas including the written class projects.”
Another difficult part of getting an MBA degree is passing the GMAT entrance exam. Shang explained that the written component of the GMAT is often the most difficult for international students.
“The good news for most Chinese students is we are well studied in math. However, passing the verbal part of the exam can be quite difficult. I worked with a private education company for many months in China to learn English, and I still had to take the GMAT three times before I was able to pass it. The main point is to keep studying and know it is not a big deal to take it more than once regardless what part of the test is most difficult.”
Shang, who worked at a finance company in Hong Kong for three years after receiving his undergraduate degree in Beijing, China, is now busy building his company by networking with former Nelnet employees, U.S. banks and universities. He is currently focused on helping serve Chinese students but believes the marketplace is broad enough to eventually provide financial services for international students from all over the world.
Published: May 31, 2013