Business / Economy

Students living a new type of life by turning entrepreneurs

By Zhou Mo (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-24 09:48
Students living a new type of life by turning entrepreneurs

Li Fangwei, a graduate from Hunan province, works as a designer at a technology and innovation company in Zibo, Shandong province. Last year, the city set up an entrepreneurship center for graduates that offers favorable policies to encourage budding businesspeople to start their own companies. [YAN SHENGTING / CHINA DAILY]

Liu Zhenyu has his own thoughts of how university life should be spent.

"Games, movies and soccer do not necessarily have to be the only themes of a student's four-year existence," he said.

"Instead, I'm encouraging them to get together to exchange thoughts and ideas on how to become the country's next big potatoes."

Along with fellow student Yang Honghao, the 21-year-old suspended his studies last year in Guangzhou to create BEPOTATO, a startup platform which aims to help young people realize their entrepreneurial dreams.

Raising funds via crowd-funding, mostly from other students, the two have opened five cafe-based operations in Guangzhou and Shanghai, all located near universities.

Individual shareholders have just topped 1,000.

"The investors are outstanding leaders and entrepreneurial pioneers at universities. In our cafes, they can get to know each other, exchange ideas and spark new ideas," Liu said.

Celebrities and famous businesspeople are also invited to share their thoughts and experiences with the young businesspeople.

The startup is also expanding its presence online through social media, and Liu said the company's official WeChat account has roughly 1.5 million users. "Through this combination of online and offline channels, we hope to create a sharing business community," he said.

This kind of entrepreneurial activity is spreading like wildfire in Guangzhou, given its huge student population.

According to official statistics, around 24,000 individuals created their own companies from January to November this year in the city, and 3,000 of them were university students.

Of the 376 projects recognized at the city's annual entrepreneurship contest for university students, 235 have become registered companies, the biggest of which is generating annual revenue of around 500 million yuan ($77.5 million).

A staggering 700,000 university students took part in this year's contest.

Ouyang Weimin, Guangzhou's vice-mayor, said the government will continue to raise its investment in technology in an effort to promote such innovation and entrepreneurship.

"We plan to increase our technology funding to more than 10 billion yuan by 2017, that will be 2.7 percent of the city's GDP being ploughed into research and development," Ouyang said.

The provincial capital plans to build 900 new high-tech companies in three years, he said.

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