Nikki Wicks
Sep 23, 2014

'Don't out-Chinese the Chinese', and other rules for creative entrepreneurs

SPIKES ASIA - Those who are not afraid of controversy, to challenge, take risks and inspire others often make the most successful creative entrepreneurs”, read the introduction blurb for the second seminar of the morning, titled ‘Creative Entrepreneurs in Asia.’

'Don't out-Chinese the Chinese', and other rules for creative entrepreneurs

Please see all of our Spikes Asia 2014 coverage here

Julian Boulding, founder of thenetworkone, introduced two speakers with two very different stories to share on starting a new business. Before bringing out the guests, Boulding pointed to a number of “divisions starting to appear within the industry,” and said that people need to decide which side they’re on, noting the differences between creative and data and entrepreneurs and analysts.

In his talk, Andrew Lok, creative director and founder of Civilization in Shanghai, shared his 10 lessons since starting his own venture in 2012. The session started with a video that Lok created to bid farewell to big agency life, featuring a tortoise and a tombstone bearing Lok’s name. “I’ll be back”, read the final words, as a hand burst out from beyond the grave like a scene from Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Since launching Civilization in September 2012, Lok said he had grown his Shanghai agency to an annual revenue of RMB 20 million, with 30 staff working on a number of blue-chip clients.

His 10 lessons for creative entrepreneurs in Asia were as follows:

1. No local partner. No way.
2. Don’t invest too much.
3. Learn to share with other agencies.
4. Nobody has the answer.
5. Marketing in China is a small place.
6. Don’t out-Chinese the Chinese.
7. Trust everybody. Once.
8. Hire young second jobbers.
9. Promote and fire quickly.
10. Whenever possible, produce it yourself.

The second speaker of the session was Daryl Arnold, founder of Newton Circus in Singapore, a technology company that collaborates with individuals from different areas of experience and expertise to create communities and services for that are “good for people, planet and profit”

Arnold gave the example of Silverline—a mobile and home assisted living service designed to help seniors. The Silverline initiative used crowdsourcing to raise $50,000 for the project that has since partnered with Intel to take the service globally.

“In partnership with Intel we have a global partner to help us take Silverline to America and Europe,” said Arnold.


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