Shanghai Entrepreneurs: Jordan Campbell

By Alyssa Wieting, November 14, 2016

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

Jordan Campbell is all about business and events, bringing the best entertainment to his clients in China. Born in Scotland and brought up in various places around the world, including Greece, the Middle East and South America, Campbell moved to Shanghai a decade ago and is now mixing business and pleasure with his event agency Verve. Doing large-scale events, such as recently teaming up with Michael Owen to create China’s largest branded five-a-side football tournament, Campbell’s entrepreneurial skills are proving to be a success. Here he tells us about his company and what it takes to make it in Shanghai. 

Elevator pitch: tell us what you do.
I run Verve, one of Greater China's most dynamic event and activation agencies, helping clients to engage their customers, staff and guests. We also have a sports division that creates memorable experiences for our sports clients, as well as creating our own intellectual property for large scale, multi-city tournaments. Our talent division provides staffing solutions for all our events – from F1 girls and promotional talent to performers and emcees.

Why did you choose Shanghai?
To be honest, I initially came to Shanghai to experience a new city and culture. After arriving I became immersed in it and wanted to become a part of the fabric of the great rise of China.

What inspired to you start your business?
I realized there was a huge gap in the market for experiential marketing, creating truly engaging events and promotions. I figured that if I could take on the challenge of starting a business in China, then I could do it anywhere. I believe it has accelerated my personal growth significantly, compressing decades of experience into a few short years.

“I think every entrepreneur, no matter how self-confident, doubts or questions themselves at various stages along the journey”

What was your ‘a-ha!’ moment?
I think every entrepreneur, no matter how self-confident, doubts or questions themselves at various stages along the journey, particularly near the beginning where the road ahead is so unclear. I don’t have one ‘a-ha’ moment per se; it was more like a series of lights going off in my head that illuminated this path and made me realize, “Wow, with Verve we are truly onto something.”

What is the biggest no-no for doing business in Shanghai?
For me it would be simply not sticking to your word. There is a lot of currency in such a competitive market of delivering on your promises. We are very selective with our clients, as we want to build a bond of trust with them, so that both parties benefit from the relationship. Life is too short and business is too valuable to not be enjoying the journey together.

What is the craziest thing you have done for your business?
I take calculated risks all the time, always trying to test new ways of doing things. Some are highly successful, some fall flat on their face and we go back to the drawing board. I think the key as an entrepreneur is to go with your instinct, trust your gut, and if an idea doesn’t work, you simply learn why and move on to the next one – there’s no point in dwelling when the momentum is quickening from all angles.

Who is your personal business idol?
Elon Musk. He sees the world in a different way, strives to achieve things most deem impossible and remains focused on delivering the best and most innovative ideas the world has seen in a long time.

Give us three words that you need to make it as an entrepreneur in Shanghai.
Tenacity, passion, ambition.

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