A student's innovative bid to become an entrepreneur

He Xueguang Photo: Sino-US.com

In August 2015, He Xueguang dropped out of Tianjin Polytechnic University and plunged into business. With experience gained during high school, he currently operates an e-commerce company named Wonderful Lamp, which targets student buyers with customized products like cup and bolster printed with consumer's name or avatar.

The 22-year-old earned his first pot of gold by selling Christmas hats to his schoolmates after a New Year's gala where he popularized Christmas hat as a hard-to-get commodity by replacing bouquets that should have been presented to performers with Christmas hats.

He does not think that his marketing skills are inherited from his father, who was a vegetable vendor making light of customer service.

A naughty but smart boy

In his middle school teachers' eyes, He was an unruly student who always did not do homework, played tricks on classmates and made face during the class. But surprisingly, he often managed to get his name onto the list of good academic performers.

He recalled a fierce conflict he had with a female teacher, who was too angry to give lessons to his class. "Finally, the teacher did not enter our classroom for as long as two weeks, which forced the principal to persuade me to leave the school for a month," he said. But he returned to school after he ranked at the ninth place in the final examinations in that term.

Even now, the young entrepreneur likes male teachers much more than female teachers all because of that conflict. "Female teachers would not allow me to join the examinations because I skipped too many classes. But male teachers would at least give me the chance to take part in the examinations. And I surely knew that I could pass them," noted he.

Marketer-turned entrepreneur

Before establishing Wonderful Lamp, He worked as a marketer for Jiedaibao, a peer-to-peer (P2P) online lending platform in China, for two months, during which he led his team to develop over 10,000 customers, many of whom were university students, creating net profits worth nearly 200,000 yuan.

He ascribed the success to his marketing strategy of rapidly dropping in on students living in the ground and top floors of the dormitory buildings in Tianjin's universities, leaving few opportunities to other sales teams which also focused on those two floors.

In the face of limited marketing expenses allocated for the Tianjin area, He told his team members to only pay a student user 5 yuan in return for registration, compared with other salesmen who usually paid 20 yuan.

"The strategy won the hearts of the students, because they would think that we earned less than those who paid 20 yuan," said He, adding that his team succeeded in increasing orders after the marketing expenses were cut, which had led to the resignation of 90 percent of Jiedaibao's sales team in Tianjin.

At present, the team He established during his time in the P2P lending firm has become the core team in Wonderful Lamp, which already has strong knowledge about the student market in Tianjin and developed enough marketing skills.

In June, 2016, Wonderful Lamp received 500,000 yuan in the first round of investment. And the company's value is now estimated at 5 million yuan.

Support policies

He's angel investor is Zhao Yintao, who has invested in scores of startups in China.

"I found He to be brave which was different from entrepreneurs born in the 1970-80s and which made the investment in his company the fastest in my career, even though he apparently looked deviant and did not even have a complete academic transcript," said Zhao.

The products of He's company ranging from mobile phone protector and bolster to cheap suits for interview and bicycles meet students' needs of seeking customization and distinction, said the angel investor.

"I know what university students need. And Wonderful Lamp is the right company established for meeting their needs," added Zhao.

Since May, 2015, the Chinese government has released a series of support policies to encourage university students to start their own businesses. So far, about 20 provinces have rolled out such support policies, with some even allowing university students to have flexible study time in order to better develop their businesses.

"Without those support policies, I would not be allowed to temporarily suspend my study at the university for my business," said He.

(The article is translated and edited by Ding Yi.)

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