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在线翻译:
szdaily -> People
Young man helps startups get going in Shenzhen
     2014-September-19  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

    Tan Yifan

    cicitan2011@gmail.com

    SIX months ago, few locals, especially Chinese, had heard of Startup Grind, a nonprofit event set up for entrepreneurs who need inspiration, education and connections. But as Yan Yan, director of the Startup Grind Shenzhen chapter, and his teammates promoted the project, which was initiated by Derek Andersen and Spencer Nielsen in California, the United States, and powered by Google for Entrepreneurs, hundreds of locals began attending his events to share startup stories, fresh ideas, the newest information, their passions and dreams.

    Yan, 24, a local sales manager at Bafo Technologies, in his iconic black T-shirt with the Startup Grind logo, told Shenzhen Daily that the idea of seeing and helping an enterprise grow from ground zero is just as cool as reading about how the kingdoms were set up in the Three Kingdoms period (220 B.C. - 228 B.C.). That excitement is one of the driving factors that keeps him on track to reach his goals.

    Joining Startup Weekend

    When Yan arrived in Shenzhen two years ago, he wanted to meet new people and find his niche.

    “The easiest way for me to get to know people is to walk up to them and start a conversation,” Yan said. “That is how I met my boss when I was traveling in Singapore and how I met the organizer of Startup Weekend Shenzhen.”

    Yan said he came across California man James Filbird at Civic Center when Filbird was spinning a top. “I greeted him and later we became friends,” Yan said. “He then told me about Startup Weekend and introduced me to Mike Michilin, who set up the event in Shenzhen.”

    Similar to Startup Grind, Startup Weekend is also a nonprofit event that originated in Seattle, Washington, the United States, to help entrepreneurs build up their own empire. In addition to sharing ideas and getting inspiration, though, the event encourages participants to form teams and compete for investments within 54 hours.

    Yan said he liked the idea and immediately joined the team as a volunteer.

    “I was impressed by the people who accepted the challenge at the event and were able to create their products within just 54 hours. People took turns standing up, presenting their ideas to the audience and enticing them to join their teams,” Yan said. “Once the groups were formed, participants exerted all their effort to make a product and vie for investments from the invited investors.

    “Most of the participants worked around the clock with the help of professional instructors,” Yan said. “The participants were all very professional and efficient. They impressed me with what they were capable of.”

    Yan said he learned that the best resource is not money, but people who have young, positive attitudes that can lead a team and gain experience.

    “I’ve seen people such as Guo Lie [CEO of MYOTee] grow from nothing to a successful entrepreneur within a short period of time with the help of Startup Grind,” Yan said. “I then realized and agreed with Guo that the city’s weakness was not the lack of talented people or a labor force, but was the immature business environment — there were not enough opportunities for business startups to share information and socialize.”

    Grinding ideas with more people

    While thinking about more ways people could benefit from networking events like Startup Weekend, Yan met Mike Gasiorek, an American-born Polish student, who showed him another possibility.

    Startup Weekend helped Yan fulfill his goals of meeting awesome people and discovering the potential of putting people together, but Yan’s adventure was just beginning when Gasiorek volunteered with Startup Weekend and began to chat with Yan.

    “Gasiorek was a genius at communication. He could make friends with attendees at a high-level forum like Bo’ao Forum within an hour,” Yan recalled. “He started chatting with me, and said he wanted to organize a new event in Shenzhen called Startup Grind, which he said was powered by Google.”

    Gasiorek founded the Shenzhen chapter and ran it with Yan’s help. But Gasiorek went back to the United Stated very soon afterwards because he needed to return to his university.

    Yan then took over the event along with Fabian Knopf and organized several events over the next six months.

    “We invited successful entrepreneurs to the event to speak, and we encouraged people to get to know each other and share their thoughts in a light atmosphere,” Yan said. “But after a few events, there were still not very many participants. I was frustrated and thought about shutting down the event.”

    Yan said he started to question what he was doing and lost confidence.

    “But then, Laurent Le Pen, a French man with Omate TrueSmart smartwatch project, attended the event, and he told us that he had just raised US$100 million through kickstarter.com.

    “We were all impressed, and both Le Pen and the audience were happy about it, which made me think that there must be some value to the Startup Grind events. The key is to work more,” Yan said.

    Le Pen’s story inspired Yan to keep going. Now, with six teammates, Startup Grind Shenzhen is a popular event in both Chinese and expat communities.

    “Startup Grind [Shenzhen] has grown into a team of 22 volunteers from countries such as China, Germany and America. I am sure it will grow even more popular, and I know someday we can invite business magnate like Li Ka-shing (CEO of Cheung Kong),” Yan said.

    “Startup Grind has introduced me to entrepreneurs I would not have had a chance to meet otherwise,” said a woman surnamed Liu who works with a trust company. “It has helped me to see things in a different angle and introduced me to Yan, who is powerful in his execution.”

    Defining his own path

    Yan said the most important thing he learned along the way was to make his own decisions.

    “You need to decide things by yourself. Learn to define your own path instead of letting other people tell you what to do,” Yan said.

    He said he made nearly all his own decisions when he studied in Guiyang No. 1 Middle School, which claims to be the best senior high school in Guizhou Province.

    He hasn’t attended college even though he spent his last one year of high school in the United States.

    “I was very disappointed with the high school in my hometown because students were under huge pressure to take the National College Entrance Examinations and were told to enter top universities,” Yan said. “I thought I didn’t need to follow others to be a success. So I transferred to a school in America and then realized that I didn’t want to receive formal education anymore.”

    “I tried various jobs after I graduated. I moved from one city to another. I was not sure about my future when I slept on the street at night in Shanghai, but I knew I wanted to start my career at a place where there was no ceiling,” Yan said.

    “If I can’t see the ceiling of my business, I know it is the right path. That is the path I am on now,” he added.

    “Learn to define your own path instead of letting other people tell you what to do.”

    — Yan Yan, director of the Startup Grind Shenzhen chapter

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