Nancy Yung 容慧心BSocSc 2002
Gary Leung 梁鈞浩BSc(ActuarSc) 2002
Startups are not a recent trend for fresh graduates. Nancy and Gary, now husband and wife who graduated from Faculty of Social Sciences nearly 15 years ago, also walked away from stable career paths after spotted a gap in the market to found Red Publish 紅出版, one of Asia’s leading publishers.
The pair met when they were studying at HKU. After graduation, Nancy became a secondary school teacher. “I published a book with five other authors, and my story was based on my teaching experience. Gary then spotted a business opportunity, that of providing one-stop publishing solutions for individual writers and organisations, so we decided to start our own publishing house in 2003.”
Running a startup business is never an easy journey. Nancy recalled the hard times during the first few years of the business. “We lacked money and experience. Our revenue was not sufficient to break even. So, from meeting clients, editing and proofreading, typesetting, designing, marketing, accounting, administration, to book fairs and warehouse logistics, we did almost all the work by ourselves. I still remember once I was in charge of almost 30 titles alone and all of them had to be published in three months for the Hong Kong Book Fair. This was the craziest time I have ever experienced.”
To sustain their publishing business, Nancy and Gary took part-time jobs to earn extra money, as well as opening their own distribution company and bookstore in the hopes that by expanding their business scale they could attract more customers, although both closed after around a year in business.
Failures don’t stop determined entrepreneurs. In the ensuing years, Gary developed other successful businesses to help support Red Publish and, since then, Nancy and Gary have signed famous authors and published many bestsellers. Red Publish has also transformed from a self-publishing focused company to a more traditional publisher. “Our revenue, distribution network and reputation became better and better,” explained Nancy.
Today, Red Publish is a team of ten, plus a group of freelancers who help the company meet its peak season’s deadlines. Currently, it is one of the top five publishers in Hong Kong by publishing volume. Their recent publications, one of which is about the famous cat Tsim Tung Brother Cream 尖東忌廉哥 who lives in Tsim Sha Tsui East, have received a lot of media attention.
People may tend to think that entrepreneurs are somewhat innovative. But having innovative ideas are not enough. Nancy and Gary view their journey as a living, breathing example of their motto “No Pain No Gain”. Nancy advises startup newcomers to “never start a business just because you get tired of your current job, because it is much harder and more stressful to run a business. Find an area in which you have great passion. The passion is so great that even you earn very little money, you are still willing to devote your time and effort with no regrets. With such degree of determination and perseverance, you will succeed eventually in some way.”
Never start a business just because you get tired of your current job, because it is much harder and more stressful to run a business.