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SUPD Student Profile: Gan Lu
Gan Lu is a Year One student at SUPD. He is the class monitor for the 2016 SUPD class. He is from A Ba Zhou, Si Chuan province. Unlike most other students, he is the mastermind behind a successful start-up, a Folk Culture Street complete with lodging, food, travel, shopping and entertainment near the JiuZhai Valley National Park entrance. This start-up is one of the eight projects that stood out amongst the 2000 plus submissions for the National Entrepreneurial Activity Week in 2015, and received attention and approval from Premier Li Ke Qiang.

Jiuzhai Valley is locally known as Jiuzhaigou (Chinese for “Nine Village Valley”). It is a national park located in the Min Shan mountain range, Northern Sichuan in South Western China. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
What did you do after graduating from college?
I went to work at an education training organization for three and half years between 2009 and 2012. It was the “in” industry at that time, and this particular organization was just starting. I was in charge of locating new markets and managing our talents. This meant that every city that I went, it all started from scratch; new city with no foundations, no connections and no one to work with. The organization only provided money. I had zero experience of course, since I just graduated, but I had to do it. I went from Beijing to Shanghai at the end of 2009, Wenzhou in 2010 and Xiamen in 2011, and in every place it was like having a start-up.
I have an advice for students who are aspiring entrepreneurs: Work first, go into the field of your interest and work. You wouldn’t know how the market is like and where the opportunities lie when you are in school.
Tell us about your first start-up experience, and your take away from it.
My first attempt at a start-up was at the end of 2012, when I returned to Beijing. I decided to do education training too, since I was rather familiar with the industry and had accumulated some resources and connections by then. I ran it for a year, and it wasn’t turning out well.
I am very grateful for this failure, and for me to experience it early in the game. There is much to learn from this experience. Don’t be afraid of failure, because it is inevitable. Looking back, during the days when things weren’t going well, it was really painful for me. But you have to accept it and things need to move on.
How did your second start-up come about? Did you go into it right after your first one?
In 2013, I went back to my hometown to attend a high school classmate, Zhou Qiang’s wedding. He was in the architecture industry and told me about an opportunity. He brought me to Jiu Zhai Gou County Zhang Zha Town Peng Feng Village. Being a geography student, I was sensitive to location and geographical features, and thought that this area had several advantages. It was near the National Park entrance too. The two of us clicked together immediately and decided to develop a Folk Culture Street there. We rented 70 plus shops from the local villagers, remodified them and opened them up for merchants. It became a central commercial location for food, travel, hotels and entertainment.
You must have been asked this question many times, but I’ll ask again, why did you choose to go to graduate school after such a successful start-up? And why not MBA, but urban planning?
It’s a personal choice that I made for my own life. I’ve always enjoyed learning and hope to learn even more in the best university in the country. You may say that economically speaking it’s not worth it, but in the long run the benefits will show. The value of knowledge is worth more than MBA’s commercial values. Also, my hometown is a small place, and you’d get trapped in your comfort zone.
You are the elected class monitor, what made you run for the position? I remember, and I’m sure everyone in the class remembered what you said while running for the position. You said that you really like to help people, and it makes you happy.
Yes, this is one of my life mottos. I really do feel happy and contented whenever I can help someone, and that’s what drives me to help others. It’s not for anyone else or for praise.
We are a few months into our first semester here at SUPD. You’ve certainly done a great job bringing the class together because everyone in the class enjoys each other’s company, and had a high particpation rate in the recent Sports Cup. How do you, as a class monitor and leader, manage the class?
During the first few months of the new semester, people are generally more available and that’s how I managed to organize a couple class gatherings and outings and people got closer. As we progress into the semester, people are busier and it’s not realistic to have these gatherings again. Instead, I plan to organize more informational sessions that are of use to the class, like alumni coming back to discuss their job application process. I am older than most of the people and the age gap allows me to be more experienced when helping my younger classmates. All in all, I hope that everyone in the class can be like brothers and sisters.
Last but not least, please give a word of advice to anyone who’s thinking of a start-up.
First, is to give some serious thought about what you are going to do with your start-up, and how to go about actually doing it. The first step is always the hardest. Second, most of the start-ups fail not because of itself, but because of you giving up. So hang in there, no matter how disappointed you feel or how hard it is. The last and the most important one, is to anticipate failure, because it is inevitable. Always take into consideration the worst case scenario and if it happens, learn from it. Failure is not the worst, what’s worse is you being beaten by it. 

(Yang Wandong, SUPD's  Reporter)