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Rob Jia Fan, a 2014 UIC Accounting graduate, has been listed in the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 as well as Hurun China Under 30s To Watch 2019. He is the founder and CEO of Beeplus, a business that designs and provides exquisite co-working space. 

This year, Jia Fan’s company has established a Beeplus scholarship to support UIC students.

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Jia Fan is selected by Forbes for their under 30 China List

Born in 1991, Jia Fan’s love for entrepreneurship began with a "temporary" decision during college. At that time, he did not expect that after six years, the initial four-person team would become a business with nearly 500 employees and annual revenue of 180 million yuan.

Jia Fan's achievements have already been noticed nationally and internationally. He has been selected by Alibaba Group's 30 globally selected 2014 global dreamers and 2016 Zhuhai and Macao Top Ten Entrepreneurship Leaders. He has become a model for youth entrepreneurship in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.

贾凡等UIC同学首次探访陈家寨小学

Jia Fan and other students visiting a Primary School during their university time

An entrepreneurial journey like Jia Fan’s doesn’t have success without hardship. In the past six years, he has experienced adversity during the early stages of entrepreneurship, the anxiety of ‘capital winter’, as well as the full expansion of the product line. Looking back at this extraordinary journey, Jia Fan is most grateful for the self-improvement that he developed at UIC.

This year Jia Fan established the ‘Beeplus Scholarship’, in order to give back to his alma mater and encourage young students to develop in all directions. The scholarship is designed for three UIC students to receive it every academic year. Each of the three outstanding students who performed well in social services, community activities and business practices, will be able to receive 50,000 yuan each. “I hope that through this scholarship, more students will be able to pay attention to the value of community and business practices, and it also encourages those who are willing to spend time learning and growing in these practices,” Jia Fan said.

Bee设立校友奖学金图为汤涛校长接受Bee代表2014届公共与广告专业奥日其朗捐赠支票

President Tang Tao receives the scholarship donation from the Beeplus

The scholarship breaks through the norms of traditional scholarships which usually focus on students' academic performances and instead, it looks at the talents of those who can adapt to the challenges of modern society.

The birth of this scholarship can be attributed to Jia Fan's experience during his university life. One of his biggest achievements was building the first Hope Primary School that had been initiated and established by university students in China.

Jia Fan led more than 50 college students to four cities in Guizhou, Inner Mongolia and Hunan, and launched nearly 3,000 volunteers to carry out street fundraising. Finally, they successfully raised 1 million RMB. With the support of the local government of Nayong County, Guizhou, the Hope Primary School was completed and put into use in September 2013. The People’s Daily published a special report on their achievement in a full-page version, and highly praised the group’s courage to pursue dreams.

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The opening of the Chenjiazhai primary school in Guizhou

Going back to his university years, Jia Fan led the Interest Club that he founded, to establish a series of campus activities such as ‘Hall of Fame’, ‘Youth Hall’ and ‘Black Swan Dance’. These activities still continue today on campus. One night, after preparing for a Hall of Fame meeting, Jia Fan and several of his partners went to a restaurant at the Tangjiawan Railway Station and stumbled upon a nearby commercial store that was unoccupied. They immediately thought that the location was perfect for a restaurant and to attract good business. “Just do it,” this is the lifestyle that Jia Fan likes to follow, so, during the summer of his junior year, he spent three months creating his first restaurant.

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Jia Fan and the Beeplus team

Entrepreneurship is different from operating an Interest Club or volunteering for charity activities. Jia Fan said at the beginning they worked so hard, they barely slept. His routine would be waking up at four o'clock in the morning to purchase wholesale vegetables and meat. They then would prepare for the afternoon business. Although it was tiring, their hard work resulted in positive feedback and after three months, the restaurant profited. After perfecting the operation and management, they opened two more restaurants.

In the first place, Jia Fan only wanted to earn four years of tuition with the restaurant and then he wanted to study abroad. After seeing the fruits of his labour, Jia Fan gave up the plan to study abroad and embarked on the road of entrepreneurship.

Jia Fan had a dream of uniting a team to do something meaningful, and his team's success made them want to achieve more. That team he dreamed of became the most valuable thing for his entrepreneurship.

蜜蜂科技公司获第二届珠海大学生创业大赛创业实践组金奖贾凡右一代表团队领奖

Beeplus wins the gold medal at the 2nd Zhuhai University Entrepreneurship Competition

People were surprised when Jia Fan took the leap from the restaurant business to co-working spaces. However, for Jia Fan, the seed for this idea was inadvertently planted during his time at UIC.

In 2013, due to his team winning first place at a national innovation challenge, Jia Fan was given the opportunity to visit the US. When he visited Silicon Valley in California, he was inspired by the working environment of Google. “A new definition of future office” came to Jia Fan's mind. It was in 2015, after a year of thinking over the idea that Jia Fan founded Zhuhai Beeplus Technology Co., Ltd. and began a new exploration of office space and social networking. "We are young, and we want to be involved in a cool company," he laughed.

Since expanding his business, Jia Fan has added several business partners to his team. All the ten co-founders of Beeplus graduated from UIC. Jia Fan is very grateful to this team who has followed him and experienced many challenges together. Based on the successful experience he had at UIC, he also brought a kind of ‘college culture’ into the management of the enterprise. He established a class and tutor system in the enterprise, maintaining a state of continuous learning and mutual growth.

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Beeplus opens its first project in Zhuhai in 2015

In just four years, Beeplus has successfully expanded with branches in Zhuhai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Beijing and Shanghai. Beeplus maintains a compound growth, and in June 2019 it was valuated at about one billion yuan.

Bee办公区

Beeplus co-office space

Beeplus went very modern with its co-working space to achieve a youthful and energized atmosphere. The lobby has a special design that offers a nice social environment that includes a lounge area offering many different drinks, a craft beer bar and a 24-hour super kitchen.

Beeplus opened the first 3,000 square metres super bakery in the business district of Shenzhen this year on 1 January. In the trial operation stage, the maximum number of visitors in the bakery was nearly 30,000, which became one of the most popular shops in Shenzhen.

Beeplus超级烘焙工坊

Beeplus super bakery in Shenzhen

What surprised people about the huge bakery was that it only took 100 days from project establishment to final competition. Jia Fan is extremely proud and explained how his team had incredible execution ability and will go all out for any project.

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Jia Fan's team returning to his alma mater

Jia Fan said that the secret to leading a team is that there must be common values and views that are recognised by the team, which is related to whether the team can go on for a long time. “Sometimes you should encourage yourself as well as encourage the entire team to look in the long term. Many problems are no longer a problem when viewed in the longer-term dimension.”

In the second half of this year, Jia Fan became the youngest innovative visiting scholar at Yale University, where he was joined with 29 other entrepreneurial elites. It is likely that this will be a new opportunity to inspire him for new ideas.

Editors: Samuel Burgess, Deen He, Lauren Richardson (MPRO)
(with thanks to the ELC)