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International Youth Day Special: The story of Cleanxband

AUG . 13 2021
Peking University, August 13, 2021: The International Youth Day is celebrated annually on 12 August to acknowledge the potential of youth as partners in today's global society, and recognize the contributions, regardless big or small, that the young make in their community and society.

The Day gives an opportunity to celebrate and mainstream young peoples' voices, actions, and initiatives, as well as their meaningful, universal and equitable engagement. Our student journalists get in touch with various aspiring Pekingers who took the leap forward and achieved what they believe in.

The story of Cleanxband

Gabriela Benita is a final year undergraduate studying at Peking University's Yuanpei College, majoring in communications. Her brother Michael Dwirianto, also a fellow Pekinger, graduated in 2017 from the School of International Studies. Together with their twin brother Moses, the trio recognized the urgency to promote a clean-hand lifestyle in their native country back in Indonesia, amid the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. Cleanxband was then founded by the siblings in 2020 during the pandemic.

Family team behind Cleanxband

The team was inspired by China's swift reactions and how the government dealt with the pandemic swiftly and effectively. In particular, they were captured with the idea of "勤洗手 戴口罩 多通风 少聚集". This very catchphrase struck conversations between the trio, and they would like to do something meaningful to help. This was when they recognized the challenge of how "washing your hands regularly or frequently" has an underlying assumed condition to be met, that is the convenience of finding a place to stop by to sanitize them. Furthermore, right after our hands are clean with hand soap or a sanitizer, our hands will still be quick in picking up bacteria and viruses again once we come in contact with other surfaces.

With this in mind, an idea sparked in the siblings - to invent a hand band or bracelet which contains the liquid sanitizer, a way more accessible and effective way for users to sanitize their hands with limited contact with other surfaces.
After many rounds of designing, product iteration and optimizing, Cleanxband was finally born.

What are some challenges you faced along the way, and how did you overcome them?

Gabriela: Regardless of what it is, you will be faced with a lot of challenges when you have to create something from scratch. There were a lot of complications between expectations and reality. To name one of them was during the earlier stage of our product development. We gave our design sketches to the manufacturer and explained the concept of the product design and functions we are looking for. We got really excited when the product sample was done, and we couldn't wait to try it out. Unfortunately, the first round of product samples was not even close to what we briefed, and we had to go through a lot more rounds of meetings and optimizations to finalize its adjustments and the final product. Time was really tight, as we want to launch the product as soon as possible, especially when the demand in the market was high during that period.

Michael with the Cleanxband products (on the left), and colour variations of the Cleanxband

Another notable and rather interesting challenge to us was how our biggest marketing channel did not allow us to promote our product. At that time, products and things related to Covid-19 such as medical and face masks, hand sanitizers are not allowed to be advertised on big marketing platforms which were readily available in the market. This was one of the biggest hurdles we were met, especially when we are not even equipped with the tools to reach our potential customers. Relentless as we can be, we ventured into other channels and started reaching out to local organizations and communities which we can contact, such as schools, universities, offices, banks, cycling and skateboard communities, coffee lovers; essentially spreading the net as far as we can. Fortunately, we are glad that the community and organizations were willing to listen, relate and even support our mission. If I could summarize how we overcame this one challenge, it is by not giving up and keep looking for ways despite the many obstacles and challenges that stand in front of you.

A lot of people say that it would take a lot of experience or funds to start off something new, what is your view on this?

To a certain extent, it is undeniable that the more experience you have in one field, the less detours that you may take. However, there is always this to think about: If you never tried it, you would never know. To me, courage is one of the most essential things you need to start a new business. You can always build something with very minimal cost to try out the idea and test it in the market. If it works, scale-up.

Interestingly, this question really reminds me of the show on Discovery called Undercover Billionaire. The show depicts the scenario where three business titans are placed in three different cities which were unfamiliar to them with only $100 in their pocket. They are challenged to build a $1 million business in just 90 days. Highly recommend this show!

What would you say to fellow aspirings youths?

Keep learning and keep moving forward! We live in an era where we have plenty of access to information with just a few clicks away. The accessibility and speed we are living in today is a privilege, let's make use of it.

On a side note, never be afraid to try out the things you love and believe strongly in. Maybe soon enough you will find yourself do very well in things you enjoy doing and find a sense of purpose in it. Don't be afraid to fail, be afraid not to try.

Written by:Goh Chia Chia
Edited by: Pu Hairui
Photo credit to:Gabriela Benita