The gen­er­a­tion of start-ups

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By YU RAN in Shang­hai


Busi­ness- own­er­ship is fast-be­com­ing a pre­ferred choice of in­creas­ingly am­bi­tious univer­sity grad­u­ates in Shang­hai, even in the face of a lack of start-up funds and work ex­pe­ri­ence.

In a poll con­ducted by the Shang­hai Sta­tis­tics Bureau, 29 per­cent of 2,071 fi­nal-year stu­dents said they would “like to” run their own busi­ness, yet only 8.4 per­cent said they ac­tu­ally planned to do so. Still, the num­ber of young peo­ple start­ing their own busi­ness upon grad­u­a­tion has been on the rise in re­cent years.

“There are many stu­dents pop­ping out cre­ative ideas to make money from op­er­at­ing busi­nesses, which seem to be less com­pli­cated and far away from our univer­sity life,” said Gong Yiqi, a 21-year-old fi­nal-year stu­dent from Shang­hai Jiao Tong Univer­sity, who is plan­ning a mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion with two class­mates in an in­cu­ba­tor called iS­tart in Shang­hai.

It was a pro­ject aimed at univer­sity stu­dents to save money us­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion, and re­ceive prof­its by fill­ing out cer­tain online ques­tion­naires or pro­mot­ing online ac­tiv­i­ties or­ga­nized by the com­pa­nies de­mand for ex­po­sure.

“We are will­ing to see if our con­cept will be ac­cepted by the univer­sity stu­dents. If not, we prob­a­bly will switch to our backup plans to find se­cured jobs as we have al­ready learned from our first wa­ter test­ing,” said Gong, who is plan­ning to launch the ap­pli­ca­tion named Savemiao in Septem­ber.

Since 2013, ev­ery sum­mer has been de­fined as the “most dif­fi­cult sea­son for job hunt­ing in history” and the sit­u­a­tion is no bet­ter this year.

The num­ber of univer­sity grad­u­ates in China will reach an un­prece­dented 7.49 mil­lion this year. As a re­sult, the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion re­leased an an­nounce­ment last De­cem­ber, en­cour­ag­ing univer­si­ties to set up flex­i­ble ed­u­ca­tional sys­tems so that stu­dents can be al­lowed to sus­pend school­ing and set up their own busi­nesses.

Un­like Gong, who has a back-up plan to find a job, 23-year-old Chai Jie, a re­cent grad­u­ate of Zhe­jiang Si-tech Univer­sity, has had the en­tre­pre­neur dream since his first year of univer­sity stud­ies.

“I’ve pre­pared for over three years to launch my own com­pany, in terms of know­ing suc­cess­ful en­trepreneurs through so­cial events and train­ing my lead­er­ship abil­i­ties in the Stu­dent Union,” said Chai, who now runs Hangzhou Jiepai Cul­tural Cre­ative Co Ltd, an an­i­mated advertising com­pany in Hangzhou, East China’s Zhe­jiang province, with a team of about 20 peo­ple.

Chai started his own busi­ness in 2014 with 150,000 yuan ($24,165) and chose the cul­tural and cre­ative in­dus­try com­bined with the idea of vivid an­i­ma­tion, in or­der to at­tract more online com­pa­nies, which have great de­mand on show­cas­ing their prod­ucts to ne­ti­zens.

“In­stead of per­suad­ing and mo­nop­o­liz­ing the clients with our own thoughts, we fo­cus more on sat­is­fy­ing them with in­no­va­tive high­lights af­ter learn­ing what the mar­ket re­ally re­quests,” said Chai.

How­ever, many of the stu­dents polled — from 16 of the city’s higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions — said a lack of fund­ing chan­nels was a ma­jor stum­bling block to start­ing a com­pany, while oth­ers cited their own lack of life skills as the pri­mary hur­dle.

“Un­sta­ble cash flow re­mains the top risk for us star­tups as most of the new grad­u­ates fail to last very long due to lack of money or sense of mar­ket. That’s also why I didn’t choose to de­velop an ap­pli­ca­tion, which re­quires con­tin­u­ous funds,” said Chai.

As his de­ter­mined goal, Chai and his team aim to cre­ate a re­source plat­form of an­i­mated com­mer­cial ad­ver­tise­ments in the near fu­ture.

The trend has gained much sup­port from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment. Premier Li Ke­qiang has en­cour­aged the en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit among young peo­ple ever since he took of­fice in 2012. Af­ter he presided over a re­cent ex­ec­u­tive meet­ing of the State Coun­cil, an of­fi­cial state­ment was re­leased which said “China should em­brace the trend of mass entrepreneurship and in­no­va­tion in the In­ter­net age”.

“It is a pos­i­tive sign that more young peo­ple are inspired to put their cre­ative thoughts into prac­tice, but they also have to take pro­fes­sional sug­ges­tions from in­cu­ba­tors and ex­pe­ri­enced busi­ness­men to re­duce the fail­ure rate,” said Zhang Zhen­ning, se­nior con­sul­tant at the China-HR Tal­ent Re­search Cen­ter.

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