What is the secret to being a successful Entrepreneur? This is probably the question I am most eager to find the answer to during my MBA programme. So many students raised hands when asked whether they want to start up their own business. I believe they are just looking for the recipe for success like me.
I started to look for the answer by joining the Entrepreneurship Club. The experience of planning and organising the club event was so exciting and I hope to use the MBA Blog as a continuous discussion on entrepreneurship and as a means to promote the Entrepreneurship Club.
I would like to share stories of Chinese entrepreneur legends, founders of the two biggest internet giants in China; “Baidu” and “Alibaba” (Same business as Google and eBay respectively). It might be interesting to the people who are curious about what is happening in China and to people who are looking for inspiration on the way to building their commercial empire.
With the recent world record $150 Billion IPO filing of Alibaba, Jack Ma became the name known across the world. Jack Ma is the founder of the E-commerce giant Alibaba and is a stakeholder at Alipay, its sister company. He is now officially the richest man in China. Alibaba processes more goods than eBay and Amazon combined!
Jack Ma failed the university entrance exam three times, then graduated in 1988 with a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Hangzhou University (a university has never been notable before Jack became famous). In school, Ma was elected student chairman. He became a lecturer in English and International Trade after graduation.
At first he started building websites for Chinese companies with the help of friends in the US. At a conference in 2010, Ma revealed that he has never actually written a line of code nor made one sale to a customer. He encountered a computer for the first time at the age of 33.
Robin Li (Li Yanhong) is the co-founder of the Chinese search engine Baidu and is ranked as the seventh richest man in mainland China with a net worth of US$9.6 billion as of September 2015. He is ranked as 119th richest man in the world.
Li studied information management at Peking University (the Top one University in China) and the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York. In 2000 he founded Baidu. Li developed the Rankdex site-scoring algorithm for search engine page ranking, which was awarded a U.S. patent. He later used this technology for the Baidu search engine.
From the stories of these two achievers in business in China, maybe we can make a conclusion that the education background and the knowledge are not the determining factor for success. Entrepreneurship is something beyond that. It is about grabbing the opportunity, being insistent, and turning an idea into a profitable business.
Talking about insistence, I couldn’t forget to mention the most admirable Chinese businessman for me – Chu Shijian.
Mr. Chu is the China’s former “tobacco king” who built a struggling tobacco firm into the country’s largest and most profitable cigarette producer in the 1980s. Chu, however, was jailed for life on corruption charges in 1998. After he was released on medical parole in 2002, Chu started growing oranges on 160 hectares of land in the mountains of southwest China’s Yunnan Province.
The “Chu’s Orange” is named after 85-year-old Chu Shijian. Today, his fruit farm produces 8,000 tons of oranges a year, generating 30 million yuan (US$ 4.95 million) in annual profits. Most of Chu’s oranges are sold online (a sample successful story of e-commerce as well).
I cited this story to show that the success of an entrepreneur could be temporary, failure and setbacks can happen along the way. True entrepreneurs will have the power to re-start and embrace the success again.
Ying Wu ~ Full-Time MBA