A Talk with?Ningbo?Looyoo’s?Young COO
Written by (作者): Jojo Chen 陈姣姣
Photos by (图片来源): Ningbo Looyoo?宁波楼友会
Ego Group is one of the most familiar faces in the Ningbo business community. Ego Lady Fashion Mall and Ego Digital Market are some of the most well-known and best places for shopping in the city center. One thing many people don’t know about, though, is Looyoo Makerspace, a platform geared towards helping up-and-coming start ups that opened at the end of last year on the 2nd floor of Ego Digital Market.
Looyoo Makerspace covers an area of 2000 square meters and includes the Looyoo Café, Ego Health and Ecology Experience Center and the Office Space. The Office Space has over 170 workstations each with a monthly rent of 400 RMB, the perfect place for burgeoning startups and young companies to set up shop. Meeting rooms, presentation rooms, and leisure space are within the Office Space are also open to renters.
Makerspace holds 3 to 5 activities for entrepreneurs and investors every week, including Demo Day, Dialog with?the Boss, Looyoo Open Course and more. Renters can also enjoy abundant welfare policies, including the ability?to obtain 100,000-300,000 RMB in seed funds after passing an evaluation, being given priority for investors interested in cooperating with Looyoo, and the offer of publicity channels through mainstream media. At present, many startups have entered the Looyoo Makerspace, including Q Car Washing, Mizhuang Wealth Management, Tongfang Unite, Qucheng Legal Services, Xiaoye Radio, Tommy Design, Dario, Yunshangtui.com and more.
A Young Team & COO
What surprised us most about Looyoo was that the average age of their operation team members is 22-years-old. For instance, current partner and COO Xianfeng Yang was only born in 1992. With such a young team, the?entire workplace atmosphere is relaxing and energetic. We were able to speak with Yang about the enterprise,?meeting up with him at the Looyoo Café over a cup of coffee. When asked why Ego chose him to run the Looyoo?project, Yang responded with an understatement: “Maybe my entrepreneurial experience attracted them. Besides that I just like trying hard.”
Even though Yang is under 25, he already has 5 years of entrepreneurial experience. After entering the Ningbo?Institute of Technology, he immersed himself with a group of students who were fond of travel but unable to follow their passion due to inadequate support services on campus. To remedy the issue, he set up a travel agency on campus with the help of his classmates. The project made smooth progress, enabling Yang to earn tens of thousands in RMB. Since the low and high seasons of tourism were distinct with nothing to do after busy spring and autumn periods, he started out on another project, opening a seafood restaurant and making full use of resources from his hometown of Zhoushan.
Unfortunately, seafood prices were too high for students to afford. Consequently, the business failed after?only half a year. That didn’t stop Yang though, and in 2003 he began working to establish WeChat public platforms and develop mo bile apps for businesses. This caught the attention of Ego Group, who approached Yang in 2015 and enlisted his services as a partner of Looyoo Makerspace.
Yang’s previous entrepreneurial experience contributes well to his current work. Yang tells me that his experience has lent him more of an entrepreneur’s mindset. He always tells his team that don’t have to start their own business, but they must do things with an entrepreneurial spirit.
The Uniqueness of Looyoo
There are roughly 22 innovation parks in Ningbo, some of them state-run and others private. So what’s so unique about Looyoo? There are four points.
First, up until now, Looyoo has established 21 entrepreneurial bases across China. It’s expected that this number will jump to 100 this year, providing more convenient channels for entrepreneurs to start their businesses. Because some programs consider Hangzhou and Shanghai to be the best markets to get the ball rolling, Looyoo provides Ningbo and other cities across the country as options for companies that want to start out with a little less competition.
Second, Ego Group has run the Ego Digital Market for almost 20 years, cumulating excellent property management skills. Ego has also operated a high-tech innovation park for over a decade, giving them an understanding of the?demands of entrepreneurs. This relevant experience and resources can be used well in Makerspace.
Third, compared with other parks, Looyoo enjoys differentiation advantage. Looyoo has set up different themes for different cities. For instance, Looyoo Hangzhou is more focused on O2O because of rapid development of information and technology there. There is more focus on cooperation with colleges and universities in Shaoxing,?and Ningbo is more focused on cultural innovation. Exchange is a great way to bring in new ideas and concepts.
Finally, Looyoo started earlier than other parks in many cities, starting up in Hangzhou in March 2014. Since then,?it has incubated over 40 entrepreneur teams, with financial resources totaling over 400 million RMB. Thus, there is?the advantage of abundant resources from an early start.
Current Operations & Looking to the Future
When asked about the current operating conditions of Looyoo Makerspace in Ningbo, Yang told us because they had started a little later here, some difficulties had popped up in the beginning. Due to an undertaking of?entrepreneurial programs that had not been propagandized, a majority of entering teams were college students with relatively low stability. This led to the fact that though signature rates were high, there were low attendance rates. Through positive adjustments this year, things have changed. At present 156 of the total 170 workstations?have been rented, and the utilization rate has reached 92%.
The biggest challenge Looyoo Ningbo faces now is lack of talents. With a development of programs, more talent is needed to run them. Another is generating an activity driven entrepreneurial base. Yang says they held nearly 100 activities in the past three months and that they hope to hold more. Therefore, sustainable innovation is required in all activities and operation models.
We ended our talk with Yang giving a message to young individuals wishing to start their own business. He tells us that when Prime Minister Keqiang Li began encouraging people to start their own businesses, there was too much emphasis on entrepreneurship and little on innovation. The drawback is, those who do pay attention to innovation often ignore an important aspect: that all innovation should be based on an understanding of the industry in which?the innovation is made. For instance, one of the most successful programs at Makerspace is Faster, which provides door-to-door home appliance repair services. The CEO has 15 years of experience, but he had to deepen is?understanding of the industry to better the service, increasing the speed in which repairs were carried out and managed. “Therefore,” Yang concluded, “if young people want to increase the success rate of their?entrepreneurship, they need to accumulate relevant experience in the field rather than starting blindly towards innovation.”
Ending the visit with this sincere answer, we look forward to see how Yang leads his team to create a brighter future for entrepreneurs and startups here in Ningbo.
宁波楼友会云创空间占地约2000 平米，包括楼友会咖啡、颐居草堂和联合办公区。联合办公区共有170 个工位，每个工位的租金为400 元/ 月，并返还相应咖啡券。办公区内的会议室、演示厅和休闲区也对入驻人员开放。云创空间每周为创业者及投资人开展3-5 场活动，包括演示日（Demo Day）、对话Boss、楼友会公开课等等。入驻团队还可享受丰富的政策福利，包括可通过评审获得10-30 万不等的种子基金、优先推荐给楼友会合作投资方、提供宁波主流媒体的宣传渠道等。目前，宁波楼友会云创空间已有Q 洗车、米庄理财、同方联合、集合联想、衢诚法务、小也电台、唐美设计、高远文旅、云上推等多家创业团队入驻。
尽管年龄不足25 岁，杨贤峰已经有了五年的打拼经验。2011 年进入浙江大学宁波理工学院以后，他发现大学生普遍喜欢出游，而相关配套服务并未形成规模，就和同学合办起了校园旅行社，这个项目进展顺利，一年时间就赚了好几万元，成功收获人生第一桶金。由于旅游业淡旺季分明，春秋两季忙完一阵之后就会无事可做，杨贤峰又利用老家舟山的海鲜
资源，和朋友一起合开了海鲜餐饮店。这一次可就没有这么走运了，由于海鲜价格较高，不适合学生群体，他们在半年以后以散伙告终。2013 年移动互联网势头猛劲的时候，他又敏锐地捕捉到商机，开始尝试微信公众平台的搭建与移动APP 的开发。2015 年，颐高集团想在宁波创办基地的时候，集团负责人机缘巧合认识了杨贤峰，双方聊得很投机。于是，杨贤峰专门到杭州文三路去了解了楼友会创业咖啡的运作模式，回来之后就决定成为宁波楼友会的事业合伙人。
在国家创新政策的推动下，光是在宁波，市级以上创业园就已经达到22 家，其中既有政府主导的，也有民间资本创立的。楼友会到底有什么独特之处呢？杨贤峰为我们总结了四点：首先，迄今为止，楼友会已经在全国范围内建立了21 个创业基地，2016 年计划开拓到100 个，为创业者搭建起创业高速空路。好的创业项目在入驻的时候可能会考虑宁波市场比较小，企业发展起来想进军杭州上海的时候怎么办，楼友会就可以为企业提供异地办公的条件和拓展到其他城市的地面基础；
其次，颐高集团运营数码城近20 年，积累了良好的物业管理能力，运营科技创业园的历史也已超过10 年，深谙创业者的需求，相关经验和资源都可以辐射到云创空间；
最后，就全国范围而言，楼友会在杭州的起步相对较早，2014 年3 月21 号开业至今，共孵化了40 多个团队，融资总额超过4 个亿，成果颇丰，各方面资源也非常丰富，具有首发优势。
当问到宁波楼友会目前的经营状况时，杨贤峰告诉我们，由于入驻宁波地区比较晚，刚开始时有点困难，创业项目没有有力传播，主要是以在校大学生为主，签约率好，但稳定性差，导致实际办公人数少。年后经过积极调整，已经比较好地扭转了局势。目前空间内170 个工位已经出租了156 个，使用率高达92%。“那么，现阶段在宁波楼友会的经营上，最大的挑战或者困难又是什么呢？”“一方面是人才补充，随着项目发展，需要积极扩张团队；另一方面是作为活动驱动型创业基地，我们在今年前三个月已经做了近百场活动，后面还会推出更多，在活动类型和操作模式上需要持续创新。”