Students make modest splash with cash

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 August, 2004, 12:00am

Students facing the challenge of investing $100,000 in just five days at a business summer school are still in the black - having pledged just $3,000 of it.

The South China Morning Post reported recently how entrepreneurs-cum-teachers Tom Cassidy and his cousin and godson Ben Thomas put up the cash for students aged 14 to 18 to invest in whatever schemes they could plan within five days that they thought would make money. They would be allowed to keep any profits, although the pair said they were prepared to lose the whole sum.

They launched their Business School after learning that research by Chinese University showed that only 3.2 per cent of Hong Kong's working population were engaged in start-up enterprises compared with 10.5 per cent in Shenzhen and 11.6 in the mainland generally.

After an introductory session on business principles at Business School's IFC One office, the German Swiss International School students came up with schemes that included selling silk flowers to hotels and other establishments, a custom T-shirt business, digitising people's CD collections for MP3 players and holding a 'LAN party' - computer game contest - for 30 teams at a local cybercafe. After discussions, only the T-shirts and LAN party were considered viable.

The customised T-shirt business is to be developed over the next year, with the LAN party scheduled to be held in Central on September 11.

Mr Cassidy, 36, a physics teacher at German Swiss, said he was surprised the group had pledged such a small amount, preferring instead to go for long-term planning.

'We weren't expecting that,' he said. 'But we're happy with the way they have chosen to use it.' He added both he and Mr Thomas thought the pupils' business plans had turned out well. 'I would think they'd be able to double their money by next year,' he said.

And what was the students' verdict? Krishna Murthy, 16, said: 'We learned a lot of skills, from how to make calls and what to say and do when you meet people, to organisation and efficiency.' Jackie Lam Chi-yiu, 15, said: 'They helped us stay focused and taught us how to stay on task.' And Pearl Ho Ting-ting, 14, added: 'It was definitely the best week of my summer.'

The students will be out and about in 'Counterstrike' costumes in Causeway Bay this afternoon, starting 4pm outside Sogo,to publicise their LAN party .