The first time I met Jessie Kwok, a Year 2 student majoring in Financial Journalism at HKBU, she courteously handed me her name card bearing the title “Chief Operating Officer” (COO).

 

“Wealth could be created by releasing idle spaces which originally had no value.” With this idea, Jessie, in partnership with three friends, founded LeDo Ads, which aims at providing an integrated end-to-end service for advertisement placements. COO is not just a title on paper. Responsible for marketing, last summer she traveled across Hong Kong to pay a personal visit to each and every shop they had earlier identified to introduce them to their business concept: “Did it ever cross your mind that the idle spaces in your shop could generate money? Through our platform, you could put most of those spaces on lease and make extra money every month without lifting a finger.”

Walls and tables make a solid publicity campaign

Idle spaces exist at many conspicuous spots, for example, external walls, café tabletops, checkout counters and even staircases. Such spaces, which have been lying idle, could serve as a medium for reaching potential customers that falls within the budget of many small and medium enterprises unable to afford high advertising fees. LeDo Ads fulfils the demand of both the renter and rentee, creating a win-win business relationship.

However, things didn’t work out smoothly as planned. Given her youthful appearance and student identity, many shopkeepers initially took her words with a grain of salt, or considered her a nuisance to their business. Some even spoke foul language and asked her to leave their premise immediately. Despite this, Jessie bore no ill feeling and did not feel embarrassed. She persisted in moving them with sincerity. Subsequently she succeeded in inviting nearly 200 shops to join the platform in under three months. “I live in Ma On Shan and study in Kowloon Tong. I used to commute only between these two districts. In these few months, I’ve been almost everywhere in the 18 districts of Hong Kong.”

The platform has been operating for about a year now and has accumulated nearly 500 advertising spots, ranging from cha chaan teng, snack shops to bookstores. As for advertisers, tutorial schools, drama troupes and even mobile game developers have signed up for their service. “A Mainland mobile game developer wanted to enter the Hong Kong youth market so they contacted us to put their game QR code stickers onto the dining tables of 24 restaurants all over Hong Kong. On the day of the launch, the game recorded the highest download rates among game apps.”

Seizing every opportunity for exposure

As a journalism student, Jessie understands very well that exposure is as important as hard work. With this in mind, she and her team have been proactively taking part in various exhibitions and competitions, seizing every promotion opportunity to get the name of their company out there. They have captured a number of awards, namely Hong Kong LCT Award 2017, Outstanding SME Award and (Best Business Solution) Bronze Award, as well as Hong Kong Young Entrepreneur Award 2016. Recently, through LinkedIn and other social media platforms, she successfully approached some large enterprises including a credit card issuer which invited the young entrepreneurs to discuss business opportunities. 

Jessie thinks that the flexibility, willingness to take initiative, a good nose for business and cheekiness acquired through journalism training at HKBU can all be applied to her startup, at the same time the knowledge and broadened perspectives gained from running her own business are also extremely useful to her journalistic works. At present, she needs to have regular meetings with her team every Thursday and Friday. Every week is a hectic cycle: “Though I’m busy, my class attendance rate is over 90 per cent. I never skip class unless I fall sick.” Every day she goes to bed at midnight and wakes up at seven in the morning sharp. “Even if I have morning classes, I could spare one hour to handle my work beforehand.” With such vigour and passion, it’s little wonder she could make her startup dream come true so quickly; quite a feat for someone so young.