Venus Loi is not your average Macau girl. A former urban data analyst and an organizer of Startup Weekend Macao she is also the curator of Macau’s first TEDx event, TEDxSenadoSquare! We sit down with Venus and talk about how she managed to bring such a grand idea sharing event to Macau, what to expect from it and how she wants it to inspire us.
Congratulations on bringing the TEDxSenadoSquare event to Macau – how long did it take you to make it happen?
We had this idea more than a year ago. It took a bit of time working with the TED main organization to get our ideas together and how to bring it to Macau. I guess the organizing process was about half a year. We’ve maintained an open communication in discussing logistics which took up the bulk of that time.
We have a very small team of around seven but everyone is open-minded. Each one specialises in various fields such as events and design so we all complement each other. We are also supported by the Cultural Institute of Macau that provided us the beautiful venue, historical Dom Pedro V Theater.
The theme of TEDxSenadoSquare was Ripple, what were the speakers sessions about?
Ripple was the theme that we took a while to come up with. When we proposed it to TED, we wanted something that will bring about an effect. The ideas shared may not have a huge impact in the beginning but we hope to inspire. Much like ripples on water surfaces, we wanted to supply you with ideas and one day, these ideas may influence a decision in your life! It’s not about major changes but the ideas that affect our decisions.
We had a diverse group of speakers. One of them is an educator and book author. We also had a guest from Hong Kong who shared certain philosophies applicable in our daily lives and how we might view things around us differently. There was also an architect who talked about how to use city space or urban space effectively and integrate it into our lives more creatively. There was a total of nine great speakers.
You are born and raised in Macau. How has the city changed over the last decade?
I love Macau very much! I was away for a few years but I have seen the changes and with good changes, there are also bad ones. The change in visitors coming to Macau for instance. It’s great that we are attracting international tourists because it’s really a gorgeous place. However, I am just concerned about how the city is handling it. That being said, I am confident that the Macau government will be able to develop a great way to sustain it.
You were an urban data analyst—what does it entail?
I was previously an urban data analyst indeed. I did some analytical work for transportation in Macau. It involved analyzing people’s behavior and we’ve had some interesting discoveries. In Macau, people are actually used to walking as a primary mode of transport as opposed to the common belief that most people drive and are not environment-friendly.
What factors are important for a good quality of life in a city?
I think it’s how we feel while walking on the street. I enjoy spending outdoor time in Macau and spaces like Nam Van Lake or the UNESCO area. Safety is also important and I do feel safe in Macau.
Macau is a hyper-urban city on its own and located close to Hong Kong and Shenzhen. What do you think makes Macau stand out in the region?
I think it’s the culture of Macau. Macau is very unique and there are a lot of things to explore. You can see it from the architecture which makes such a lasting impression. I like the cobbled streets with Portuguese influence and also the welcoming character of the locals.
What are some challenges Macau faces as a city?
For young people, I think it might be their career prospects. There is not enough variety of opportunities in the city. Macau is quite centered on tourism and within those similar industries so it can be quite challenging.
As an economically developed city Macau has a lot to offer to its residents and locals. What are some of your favorite activities in the city?
I love rowing! I am part of the Macau team and compete as well. It will be my third year of rowing and my next competition is in Korea. I also love exploring local food.
Macau is also recognized as a Creative City of Gastronomy. What are some of your favorite restaurants in the city?
I love Grand Lapa Macau’s Naam Thai Restaurant. For more casual outings such as grabbing coffee, I like going to Rethink Coffee Roasters. I also love going to this traditional yum cha restaurant, Noble House Restaurant—my family and I have enjoyed many wonderful meals there! For cakes, Rocca Pâtisserie and Anco are my top picks.
You are also one of the organizers of Startup Weekend Women Macau. How is Macau’s startup scene? Is it any different for female entrepreneurs?
We recently held a female edition of Startup Weekend in Macau and saw the difference in attendees and audience. There isn’t a huge network of entrepreneurs yet but perhaps more factors affect it as well.
You must be so busy with all the projects you are part of, as well as full-time job! Any tips on work/life balance in Macau?
It helps a lot that Macau is a small city. I treasure my morning time. I try not to work, wake up early and usually reserve that time to do yoga or make myself breakfast or rowing. It’s about doing something that clears my mind.
Connect with Venus Loi on LinkedIn here.