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Young dreamers, future tycoons

ICE    Public:Think    Datetime:2012-5-31
Just like those who pursued their American Dreams in the last century and traveled to the western United States to start their lives from scratch on virgin lands, there are a group of youngsters at XMU who dream of starting their own business. They are graduates of the new century from well kown universities who have easy access to a comfortable nine-to-five life, but instead, have chosen to earn their living in their own way. Their dream of starting their own business supported them through difficulties and hardships and motivated them to go on.

Cincin Impression, making money with campus culture
-Story of Guo Longxing, graduate of XMU School of Physics and Mechanical & Electrical Engineering in 2008

´Cincin´ is the owner and initiator of the studio ´Cincin Impression´ which trades in campus culture. His original name is Guo Longxing, a graduate of XMU School of Physics and Mechanical & Electrical Engineering. He dubbed himself Cincin because, according to his BBS post Graduation Story, ´Cincinnati, its pronunciation touches something deep in my soul´.
Cincin Impression Studio actually started from his first self-published picture album Cincin Impression, which focuses on the scenery of Xiamen University. Guo began pursuing his interest in photography in the second semester of his senior year, when all his classmates were shrouded in sadness. He took many pictures of XMU and of the many scenic spots in Xiamen.
Speaking about the concept of Cincin Impression, Guo explained that its foundation was too vast to generalize he referred to it as all that he understood and retained after many years of being immersed in the richness of campus culture. At first he just followed a simple idea: to try his best to capture beautiful moments and share detailed memories of XMU with all those who have visited or studied at XMU.
As more and more pictures were uploaded and forwarded online, Guo thought he could take his project further before graduation. ´The pictures could do much better if they were turned into an album, with each picture combined with words to remind us of our cherished past. what a great idea for a graduation gift!´ It was this idea that led to the birth of the Cincin Album.
So Guo carefully selected suitable pictures and called for partners who could do cover design and text editing. Soon he was joined by Milan, a junior majoring in graphic design, and Swift, his roommate who offered to edit texts. After choosing a printing house, one major problem remained…financing the project. They tried every means possible and raised about 30 thousand RMB yuan which barely paid for the first 1000 copies.
The albums made their appearance at the XMU flea market and sold very well on the first day, but later Guo found that they had received counterfeit banknotes totalling 800 yuan. This seemed to forebode more bad luck that was to follow: in contrast to the albums initial strong sales, Guo´s albums gradually lost their appeal. In the end, Guo had to look for other ways to earn the money to pay the printing house.
But rather than give up, Guo Longxing´s will to win was rekindled. He continued to publicize his products on XMU BBS, and also made money working part time jobs. Finally he cleared the debt of nearly 10, 000 yuan.
At this point, Guo began again. He kept asking himself: What path should Cincin Impression Studio follow? ´The albums were bound to be overstocked, because I, as the leader of this studio, did everything in a rush, without considering the overall concept and proper planning!´ he said.
After learning from his failure, Guo abandoned his ungrounded daydreams, and paid more attention to the market. Now he considered survival to be of the utmost importance. He recruited a student from the School of Economics to deal with marketing, because the weakest point of his first project he believed had been that none of his team knew anything about marketing and thus missed many opportunities to promote their product.
At the same time, Guo read many books on marketing to improve his overall knowledge in this area. At the end of 2008, his reorganized Cincin Impression Studio successfully turned his concept of Cincin Impression into reality. Their first series of postcards contained more than 10,000 designs. ´This time, we did a much better job of publicizing our product before selling!´
Guo´s next plan is to set up his homepage. Since his products are designed on the basis of XMU campus, he could promote XMU culture through its beautiful scenery. He aims to develop Cincin Impression into an open platform wherein more people could get involved, to keep the studio running while create a unique campus culture.

Artist going into business
-Story of Han Yi, graduate of Art College of XMU in 2009

Han Yi graduated from the Art College of Xiamen University in 2009. Just like a stereotypical art major, his appearance is serene yet alternative. But he differs from most others in that he has a talent for running a business.

A Daring, Determined Pursuit
Though many art graduates may engage in art education, Han Yi in his senior year was determined to start his own business, ´I owned a studio during my college years, where my team regularly produced some short films. So I simply registered a company on the basis of the studio after graduation.´
His Xiamen-based company is called Jomu Films. The company is involved in a wide range of projects including advertising, short films and animation production. According to Han, ´My team is made up of youngsters who love life and the pursuit of cinematic art. We dedicate ourselves to creating in an atmosphere of freedom and confidence.´
Han´s love for film began in his college years. ´I put forth considerable effort in learning film producing, and even made a short film about dreams.´ Han believes having a clear goal is of the utmost importance in running a business. His dream has motivated him to overcome many obstacles and move forward in this endeavor.

A young artist-businessman
Art majors are often stereotyped as being inept in business, while in fact Han possesses both artistic ethos and business sense. ´I had been selling SIM cards and second-hand bikes in my college years. I bought second-hand bicycles from graduates and sold them to newly arriving juniors from the Zhangzho campus.´ Recalling the past, Han could not help smiling.
When asked his opinions about the current competition in the cultural market of Xiamen, Han said, ´I believe our approach is unique and our philosophy is cutting edge when compared to many television advertising companies.´ As for suggestion to those who dream of going into business, Han said, after seconds of thought, ´As far as I am concerned, a businessman needs three qualities. The first is resilience. In reality there are more troubles than one expects, and only with resilience can he keep going. The second is the ability to learn of your own accord. Knowledge previously acquired may not always be useful in the ever-changing environment, and that´s why he needs to continue to learn. The third is courage. One needs courage to stick to his dream in the face of adversity.´
Han himself succeeded with the help of these three elements. To quote a line from the film, ´Dreams may come´: he documents his ideas with his camera frame by frame, and so he weaves his dreams into reality thread by thread.

´A star of young entrepreneur´
-Interview with Zhang Tianchang, graduate of XMU School of Public Affairs in 2010

Dream simply come true
Interviewer (I): Would you please briefly introduce yourself and your company?
Zhang (Z): I came to Xiamen University in 2006, and focused two things in the following four years: one was running a student club and the other was starting my own business. And through both of these I won two precious awards from the university-´Star of Student Club Manager´ and ´Star of Young Entrepreneur´. Then in 2010 as I was about to leave the university, I set up Nondoo.com. The website serves as a special micro blog for universities. With subscribers specified, students could have easier access to principals, professors and other officials. And it makes it possible for students to easily exchange between different universities. Another point that is worth mentioning is that we initiated a bulletin board for electronic posters where information about jobs, lectures and parties could be published and discussed.
I: What did you set up that website for?
Z: I intended to make life more convenient.
I: What occasion spurred you to start your business?
Z: It was during my second year when I often found my roommates playing computer games such as World of Warcraft. Then I had the idea of setting up a virtual community. I imagined how wonderful it would be to combine web games and e-commerce. I never stopped trying to fulfill my dream and prepared to start my business.

Support overcomes any adversity
I: Did you undergo any difficulty during your experience? If so, how did you overcome them?
Z: Well, three elements are crucial in business: project, talent and finance. Any one of the three could break down at any time for any person. A project may not always fit in to the ever-changing environment, so I make adjustments and amendments constantly. It is impossible to find a perfectly suitable employee, so I trained those with less talent when I had to. Funding is bound to be a stumbling block for young businessmen. So I set up a funding source, however meager it was, to guarantee the company´s survival. Having acquired the three key elements, I focused my mind, for I believe that opportunity favors only the prepared mind.
I: Could you discuss any help you received during your experience?
Z: Support from friends was definitely the most helpful, and I mean not just financially. Some friends of mine also started their own business and we often encouraged each other. Now although a few of them have given up, they never cease to support me.
I: Could you share with us some stories or experiences so far?
Z: It´s been two years since the foundation of my company in November 2008. I have gained things that are much more important than monetary profits, that is, like-minded friends, trust, support, and proof of my capabilities. It is not easy to succeed, especially for students in college, and I´d like to compare the odds to that of winning a lottery, or perhaps higher. But when I led my team to participate in a marathon and heard some cheering spectators referring to us as ´a company founded by a XMU junior´, I had my first taste of success.

´Dreams lead us forward´
I: What are your future plans?
Z: I will definitely keep running my business, continue operating Nondoo.com and I will explore new projects with my team.
I: Any advice on college students who share the same dream as you?
Z: I´d like to share my motto, ´Believe in myself, keep to myself and encourage myself´. Many students make the mistake of regarding business as an extracurricular activity and wrongly aim at gaining social experiences. And for a business, teamwork is important but difficult to master.

Teamwork fulfills dreams, as confidence does life
--Story of Liu Jinlong, graduate of XMU School of Economics in 2008
´Run into your ideal life´ is the slogan of Xiamen-based shantuan.com as well as a precise description of its founder Liu Jinlong´s life and work.

Giving up a steady job for business
Finance major Liu Jinlong graduated from XMU in 2008 and eased his way into China Ping An Insurance Company where he could have had an easy nine-to-five life.
But Liu was never satisfied with just an uneventful job and a decent salary. ´I don´t enjoy the nine-to-five life. There have been many examples of those accustomed to such life, whose dreams and passion wore away in only two to three years,´ Liu said. ´I never ceased dreaming of starting my own business during my two years´ work in Shenzhen.´ He set up ´Business Tide Venture Capital Fund´ with XMU alumni in Shenzhen so as to accumulate funds while awaiting the right project. Actually the student club Liu ran in college was named ´Business Tide´. He learned a lot in the club, especially that ´teamwork is of the utmost importance in starting a business.´

Comparing projects without complaining
This team of alumni tried out several of their ideas. At first they planned to engage in seafood trade in Xiamen, because Xiamen boasts the advantages of location, advanced seafood industries and a mature foreign trade system. However, after their investigations they found that the seafood market had a high threshold of expertise and investment.
´Later we saw the profits of ´list economy´ in ´Hurun Rich List´, but with further study, we found it would be difficult to emulate. So we turned to the internet industry since so many stories of entrepreneurs starting from scratch arose in this industry.´ Liu said. He had thought about online education, but then gave up the idea because of its high-tech cost. While sticking to his dreams, Liu kept looking for the right project, believing that his success was just a matter of time.

Grasping the opportunity and Growing
´By chance, I noticed the trend of group purchasing. Seeing its great success in the U.S., we were eager to try it in China. We built up our website within one day.´
Since the establishment of their website in November 2009, Liu´s company has grown from a small workshop of several persons and several computers to a rising power in the group buying market with more than 30 employees. ´To tell the truth, we didn´t expect such rapid growth within such a short time.´

Unremitting work paying off
Quitting his job and starting his own business, Liu successfully ´ran into his ideal life´, and he ran quickly. In terms of advice, he simply said that ´I think the experience of going into business is so valuable to youngsters. Two types of people are better at doing business well, one being those who master certain knowledge, like Bill Gates; the other being those who share. The latter type has a broad mind and willingness to communicate.´ In addition to personal characteristics, Liu emphasized the importance of teamwork which paves the way for success.
The U.S. group buying giant Groupon is about to enter the China market, confronting Liu with new challenges. The confident XMU alumnus does not flinch but gets fully prepared. ´Opportunities go side by side with challenges,´ he says.
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