Shanghai Entrepreneurs: Gina Li

By Alyssa Wieting, May 15, 2017

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Shanghai is a city of entrepreneurship. In our series, 'Shanghai Entrepreneurs,' we talk to people from different backgrounds and businesses about their motivations, experiences and what they have learned along the way.  

Originally from Gansu, Gina Li moved to Shanghai in 2003 to study at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics (SUFE).  She started her career as an events manager, and later became an entrepreneur. Her first business was a marketing and advertising company, which provided her the opportunity to organize over 1,000 events within five years. In 2013, she co-founded Beach Creative, an agency that targets more influential brands and focuses more on product development and design. Here, she tells us a bit about her experience.

Tell us what you do in less than 50 words.
I work with talent from all around the world, collecting the best ideas from developed countries and bring them to the local market. I drive our team to greatness by motivating them to work harder and find new challenges to reach for. 

Why did you choose Shanghai?
There is a very famous set of pictures comparing Pudong in 1993 and in 2013. The drastic change and the speed of development is amazing. I would say that’s exactly why I chose Shanghai. When my mom took me to Shanghai for the first time, it was the summer of  1993. After that, I came back to Shanghai another three times before moving here in 2003. 

The entire Pudong, the metro and everything around was consistently changing and, at the same time, you could still see the beautiful heritage buildings and streets that tell stories of the city’s past. It gave me a strong, invigorating feeling. It has been inspiring and exciting to be able to witness this transformation. 

What was your motivation and inspiration for starting your business?
As part of the generation that was born to change and grow with the country together, I always wished that I would be able to create something truly valuable to the market. China has been putting a lot of focus on supporting product development and manufacturing businesses. But, at the same time, we do need to admit there is a lack of local talents with experience and successful innovative spirit to continue growth. 

"You will feel even more confident when you are strong enough to point out your own weaknesses and you’ll also gain the trust of others"

At the same time, I’ve met so many expats, who have been successful overseas but find it hard to adapt to the China market and have had to take big changes to localize and fit in. When I see both sides of the coin, I think understanding and communication will drive and lead to a lot of potential in the future. This is why I started Beach Creative with a group of very talented and devoted people from all around the world, to help make ideas comes true with good value. 

What is the greatest lesson you have learned?
When you aren’t 100 percent confident in what you are doing or the outcome of something you’re working on, you shouldn’t try to cover up the part you’re unsure of.  Always be honest with yourself about what is worrying or stressing you out so you can find the root cause and try to make up for what’s missing. 

This is a common problem I see here — everyone rushes to make a commitment just to be able to fulfill project requirements. We all need to be honest when it comes to communication, and trust me, you will feel even more confident when you are strong enough to point out your own weaknesses and you’ll also gain the trust of others. 

What trends are shaping the way business is done here?
Many intellectual and knowledge-intensive businesses are being developed, but because of the market’s quick changes and technological upgrades, many businesses tend to focus on a long-term business model. We’re seeing more and more sustainable business models now than ever before. 

Where do you see your company in five years?
I see our company continuing to do what we do best — challenging ourselves to envision and develop future innovative ideas and experiences. Our passion to create will not change, but we will find new sources of inspiration to feed our hunger for creating meaningful products and experiences, always and forever. 

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