An early setback often inspires later success, and this certainly appears to be the case for Alvin Lum. With his team mates, the University of Hong Kong (HKU) BBA law student worked hard on an entry for a business case competition in his second year.
Unfortunately, they came up short, with the judges awarding the top prize to a rival team. Initially disappointed, Lum soon realised there was no reason to be deterred. Instead, still convinced he had a great business concept, he did what seemed most logical - to set up and run an actual company using the team's business plan.
"The competition ignited the whole thing," says Lum, who took time out from his studies to guide the initial phase, but who will start his bachelor of laws next September. "Our clients now include [non-government organisations], small businesses, and even HKU. We help them with print design, websites, branding, and ways to integrate social media," he says.
Lum stresses that this is no part-time venture or short-term student project. With colleagues, he is forming a design studio, and putting into practice lessons learned in class.
"Basically, it will continue to run as a 24/7 business," he says. "We might turn down non-viable projects and I will have to adjust my time commitments [during the semester], but these are business decisions. Being able to serve NGO clients makes it pretty meaningful, and we are seeing more and more referrals coming in."