Social networking entrepreneur extraordinaire
Bowen Pan is one of the most promising young figures to emerge from New Zealand’s start-up scene. He is the founder of uniFriend, the country’s first social networking site for students. uniFriend won runner-up at the 2006 Velocity $100k
Challenge, and it went on to employ 15 part-time staff before eventually merging
with a South African company to become Original Steps.
Bowen graduated from the University of Auckland in 2008 with a Bachelor of
Engineering (Honours) and Property degree and a slew of scholarships under his belt, including the $100,000 Fulbright Platinum Triangle Scholarship in Business.
Bowen declined this prestigious scholarship in favour of joining the Stanford Fellowship to study an MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in Palo Alto, California.
A proven high achiever, entrepreneurship plays a crucial role in Bowen’s life. He has
worked at a number of high-profile tech start-ups, including TradeMe (where he
helped launch TreatMe), MyLuxBox (as the Shanghai company’s entrepreneur-in-
residence), Anne Lutfen (as a product and business consultant in Turkey) and
Dropbox (as a product manager intern). In addition, he has worked on a number of
start-up projects, including co-founding in 2012 the free online legal service LawSpot.
Through these diverse experiences, Bowen says he has learnt a key lesson: “Think
big, start small, fail quickly and scale fast”.
Bowen is now working as a product manager at Facebook, helping to create products that impact millions of users around the world.
Having immigrated to New Zealand from China at the age of nine, and now living in
Silicon Valley, California, Bowen says it is important to remember where you come
from. “Be confident about what you can bring from New Zealand. People remember
you for who you are and what you’ve done, not for what your job title says. Be confident in your craft and product, and you’ll do well.”
Find out more about uniFriend on LinkedIn here.