A camera that started it all ...

Updated: 2019-11-29 07:38

By Edith lu in Hong Kong(HK Edition)

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The whole story started with a camera when Alan Lim was just 21 years old.

At 11:30 pm on a regular day in 2002, he was browsing through eBay, an online shopping and auction website, when he decided to buy a second-hand camera after having saved up 5,000 pounds ($6,450) from his internship.

He spotted one and was ready to place an order. But before he pressed the button, the thought emerged that it was nearly midnight, and the vendor would have to ship the item the next day. And, if the order were to be placed the next morning, the camera was likely to be 5 pounds cheaper since electronic appliances tend to see their value depreciate over a short period.

However, it turned out to be the reverse - the camera's price had soared from 284 pounds to 443 pounds by 9:55am the next day - something that was way off Lim's budget. He had no idea what really happened overnight.

He continued to monitor the price curve over the next few days and found that as eBay was just an auction website at the time, the price would tend to rise as more people checked in about the product.

Rainy days and soccer game days were typical examples. On days when soccer games are on, everyone would go out to watch it instead of shopping online. Thus, prices of products would tend to fall. In contrast, on rainy days, most people would prefer to stay at home surfing the internet, causing prices to go up.

Based on such a phenomenon, Lim did a study of weather forecasts and football schedules. By selling products on cold, wet days and buying on football days, Lim, who was then a final-year university student, managed to earn almost 2 million pounds.

"I had never thought it would be a probable business. At first, I didn't see it as a full-time job, but over time, it was quite profitable. And there's nothing for me to lose," he recalls.

All these laid the foundation for his company to grow. He had started his own business at the right time as e-commerce started to boom.

"I was just doing the right thing at the right place, at the right time. If I were to start my business now, it may not be possible for me to succeed. So, I was quite fortunate," he says.

"My management style is bad. Even until now, I have to admit it's quite bad. It's because I have never been trained by good managers before. I have to learn everything through mistakes."

Since he lacked relevant working experience, he had to find his own way to organize everything.

To improve his management approach and leadership style, Lim joined a network called Young President Organization and met other young entrepreneurs, many of whom come from the second generation of some major companies.

As the youngest member of the organization, Lim never hesitates to ask elder entrepreneurs when he comes across a problem.

He says he only attends meetings when someone in the room is smarter or more experienced than he is, so he is able to keep improving himself each day.


A camera that started it all ...

(HK Edition 11/29/2019 page8)