Business / Economy

Startups reap the benefits of learning

By Meng Jing (China Daily) Updated: 2015-05-06 07:27

A raft of programs now aim to offer vital business basics to new generation of entrepreneurs, reports Meng Jing.

Forget running a successful multibillion dollar business empire-it seems that sharing knowledge has become an even more attractive pursuit for some of the country's best-known business tycoons.

First, Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, held a lecture for the first batch of students at Hupan College, a new institution in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, dedicated to turning businesspeople into great entrepreneurs.

Then, days later, Liu Qiangdong, head of Inc, announced the setting up of Zhongchuang College-an "entrepreneurial ecosystem", offering professional support to those hell-bent on working for themselves.

The two new courses supported by the high-profile entrepreneurs, however, are not exceptions in China.

An increasing number of training schools and startup incubators have been blossoming as the country embraces a growing wave of mass entrepreneurship and innovation.

Stanford Ignite, a business skills certificate program offered by Stanford Graduate School of Business, is arguably the best example.

Bethany Coates, assistant dean at the school, who is in charge of the two-month program that welcomed its first batch of students in Beijing last year, said she expects future numbers to be strong.

Her budding young hopefuls will be given a rigorous grounding in the business fundamentals needed to branch out on their own.

"The regulatory environment in China is changing rapidly, with the government coming out and saying strongly, 'we believe in entrepreneurship and innovation'," said Coates.

"We are seeing the culture change as well, with entrepreneurship being embraced as a viable path for a successful young person.

"That's so important because there are tremendous risks involved of being an entrepreneur. Even in the best circumstances, nine in 10 startups fail," she said.

Ignite took in 30 students from various backgrounds in its first group. Coates refused to disclose the number of applicants it had received for the course, but said she is confident the program's 62,000 yuan ($10,000) fee will be very competitive, as what Stanford can offer is unique.

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