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IVE graduates raise more than $20,000 to start a start-up company

During the epidemic, five IVE Higher Diploma in Games and Animation graduates each contributed about $5,000 and raised more than $20,000 to set up an IT solutions start-up company to provide tailor-made solutions for clients to assist digitization and enhance operational efficiency. After experiencing the peak of the epidemic, the company's cumulative turnover has reached nearly $1 million over the past three years, and its clients cover a wide range of industries, including social enterprises, clothing retailers, and community The company's clients include social enterprises, clothing retailers, community websites, etc., quietly contributing to the promotion of intelligent development in Hong Kong.

The five owners, Yuen Man Kit, Kong Yun Tat, Chan Chung Yee, Yeung Kong Hei and Lam Chun Fong, graduated from the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE) in 2019, and the opportunity to start up their own business came from a game competition. In the game, Yuen recalled that the five of them "collaborated on the development of The Pig City, a family game that combines VR and AR technology, which was competing with more than a hundred teams around the world in an international game design competition, and was eventually shortlisted as a finalist. The Pig City has been competing with more than 100 teams worldwide in an international game design competition, and was finally selected as one of the top ten finalists. In order to improve the game, we set up a booth in the market for the public to try out the game, and the response was great. We received a lot of useful suggestions to improve the game, and even earned a few hundred dollars! This 'first bucket of money' gave us the idea to start our own business," he said.

The five of them studied graphic design, interactive game development and digital visual effects at the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (IVE). Participating in various topical studies and industry collaboration projects at the school provided them with the opportunity to practise their web design skills, laying a solid foundation for their future business ventures. They have also participated in a number of large-scale computer game design competitions, such as the Global Game Jam Hong Kong where they won the "Global Vision Award", "Best Mobile Game Award" and "Best Interactive Game Award".

A year after graduation, they co-founded Whiss Tech, an IT solutions startup specializing in website design, game design and development, online stores, artificial intelligence, mobile app development, and Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality system development.

Starting a business in the midst of an epidemic is fraught with uncertainties. YUEN Man-kit, who is in charge of web design, said that the biggest challenge in the early stage of setting up a company is to grasp the actual needs of customers. Many customers have many and extensive requirements, and they want to digitize their business, and they also have great demands for the design of the website and the interface of cell phone apps, and controlling the cost is the biggest "headache" for new entrepreneurs, YUEN Man-kit laughed and said, "In the early stage of the company, we tried advertising our company online, hoping to raise its profile. At the beginning of our business, we tried to advertise on the Internet in the hope of raising our company's profile, but we spent several thousand dollars in a week, which almost made our company unable to make ends meet. It is a true picture of the early days of their business, when they were paying tuition fees and gaining experience at the same time.

Nguyen Van Kiep laughed that he had to overcome a lot of difficulties when he started his business, "There was a hard time at the beginning of the business when we were faced with insufficient capital, lack of customers, and the epidemic. During that time, we took various short-term courses to improve our new skills and knowledge; we also tried to sell our company's services to our classmates and close friends in order to expand our customer base, and we advertised our services on different social media platforms in order to cope with lack of visibility. It took a lot of ups and downs to get our business on the right track," he said.

The company has been in operation for exactly three years, and compared with the first year, this year's turnover is almost three times that of the first year. Jiang Yunda said that the result was unexpected. Now that the company's operation is getting on track, the five members of the company have their own roles to play. Jiang Yunda discusses with customers to understand the technical support they need, then analyzes their business model, and then each member of the team designs a solution to solve the customer's problem.

They have also built online stores for fashion stores, combining database management and user interface design to display products in a graphical manner. Mr. Kong pointed out that the online store platform he developed provides a one-stop interface to manage customer information and purchase records to ensure data security, and combines AI and cloud technologies to add an AI Chatbot function to address customers' needs," said Mr. Kong. Bread, the person-in-charge of one of the customers' fashion stores, praised the platform for the increase in business turnover, "The reason for setting up the online store at the beginning was just to reduce customer service work, but they never imagined that they would come up with the IT solution of AI Chatbot, which can answer customers' inquiries about orders, exchange and return arrangements in real time, etc. Together with the follow up by our colleagues, a lot of customers have praised us for the more considerate service, which has enhanced the efficiency of our work, as well as our sales. In addition to our work efficiency, our turnover has increased by nearly 20%!

The five of them will continue to embark on the entrepreneurial path in the future," said Jiang Yun-tat, "The five members hope to diversify their development in the future, in addition to web design, they will also be involved in the provision of different IT solutions, such as website front and back-end troubleshooting, server updating and maintenance, as well as mobile game design and development, and so on, and I hope that the company will continue to expand.

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