Startup to foster scientific temper among youth

By OUYANG SHIJIA | China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-08 08:26

After Liu Yang took a break in 2014 from his graduate program at Peking University, he founded Mars Club, a Beijing-based startup devoted to education. To improve his odds of success, he enrolled last year in a one-year free entrepreneurship program run by the Entrepreneur's Training Camp at the university.

Starting a business can be difficult for young entrepreneurs, as many of them lack work experience, market skills and funds, said the 28-year-old.

"The camp helped me a lot, I gained knowledge and experience from prominent professionals and industry tycoons, which made it easier for me to manage our team, and also to reach for more resources, such as networks."

Liu's inspiration for starting his own business came from his personal experience as a part-time tutor. He knew that the majority of Chinese students learn scientific and technological knowledge mainly from textbooks. His goal now is to guide them from a very young age to develop a scientific temper.

Liu has set up 11 centers in Beijing to teach topics such as robotics and 3-D printing to students aged 6 to 12. His Mars Club also operates in Wuxi and Nanjing of Jiangsu province. Business was good last year, he said, with revenue hitting 20 million yuan ($ 2.9 million).

At the university training camp, Liu was among 82 people selected from nearly 1,300 applicants. The program offers four courses over a year, each lasting up to four days. The school also organizes tours on Sundays to one of the members' enterprises for sharing and learning.

"The training program not only teaches business knowledge and skills, but also provides a platform for information exchange and communication," he said.

"For young entrepreneurs like me, I need a platform to talk about my pressures and concerns, which I hardly can discuss with my employees."

The lack of funding and inexperience have often been cited as obstacles to starting any new business in the country, according to a report released by the Renmin University of China.

But Wang Jian, founder and CEO of the training camp, is optimistic.

He said China is building a national mass entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem to enable a better environment for entrepreneurs.

For Wang, his goal is to create a rich entrepreneurial atmosphere on and off campus.

Supported by the alumni association at the university, the training camp provides a variety of entrepreneurship programs as well as access to funding.

Last year, the camp offered services to 11,400 people.

Wang attributed the boom in entrepreneurships to an innovation program launched by Premier Li Keqiang in 2014. He said Li's initiative had sparked a huge interest among young people, leading to a big spike in the number of startups the following year.

"The idea stimulated new vitality into our nation's economy. With the support of the government, more actions are on the way in eliminating roadblocks to entrepreneurship," he added.

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